Renato Mariotti for Illinois Attorney General; A Former Prosecutor and Current JLN Reader Is The Best Choice For Illinois AG
John Lothian – JLN
Democratic Attorney General candidate Renato Mariotti stopped by the John Lothian News offices in the Chicago Board of Trade Building on Tuesday, March 6 for a sit down video interview. He has been a John Lothian Newsletter reader since 2012, and he used the market and industry knowledge he gained from reading the newsletter to bolster his success as a federal prosecutor.
Mariotti is a former prosecutor in the US Attorney’s office in Illinois who is seeking election to a public office for the first time and is trying to replace Democratic insider Lisa Madigan. I endorsed Mariotti in JLN last week and this interview gave me a chance to validate even more my decision to endorse this political newcomer.
While in the US Attorney’s office in Illinois, he brought the first spoofing case and received a conviction for Michael Coscia after just 40 minutes of jury deliberation. Today, as a defense attorney, he works with industry firms and individuals who need his help defending against the legal risks present in the trading world.
For the rest of this commentary, click HERE. Our video interview with him will be published later today.
Hits & Takes
CFTC Commissioner Brian Quintenz yesterday gave what may be one of the finest speeches from a CFTC Commissioner I have ever read. It was timely, historically researched, data based and persuasive in its support for self regulation. Well done Commissioner.~JJL
If you ever wanted to see how A Leg To Stand On is changing lives, this is the article to read and video to watch. So many of our readers have contributed to the Rocktoberfest events and this one shows how your contributions really make a difference – The Danger Underfoot from the New York Times.~JK
According to the newly released Tabb/Hanweck Options Liquidity Matrix covering February’s trading activity, the industry averages for bid/offer spread was $0.356, trade size was 15.7 contracts and trade value was $7,463. Specifically, the smallest bid/offer spread went to Cboe C2 ($0.14), the most contracts per trade went to OMX PHLX (24.8 contracts) and the largest average trade value went to Cboe ($23,125). Also, in line with February 2017, penny options accounted for 70 percent of the total options volume.~SD
Amid all the tariff talk, China acknowledged that its myriad financial holding companies pose liquidity risks.~SD
Yerkes Observatory closing after 100 years on lakefront
Scott Williams – Lake Geneva Regional News
After more than a century of scientific exploration on the shores of Geneva Lake, the renowned Yerkes Observatory is ceasing operations. The University of Chicago, which owns Yerkes, announced today that it is closing the facility effective Oct. 1 and shifting all programs and services to Chicago.
***** Charles Yerkes was a former stock and grain broker who got involved with Chicago’s mass transit. He donated $300K to build the observatory in Williams Bay. He was also involved in London’s underground transit system and managed to “thwart an attempt by J. P. Morgan to enter the London underground railway field.”~JJL
Bitcoin Is Ridiculous. Blockchain Is Dangerous; The true believers won’t stop until they’ve remade the world. Some of it will be thrilling. Some of it will keep us up at night.
Paul Ford – Bloomberg
On the days when Bitcoin crashes, a holiday atmosphere takes over in my corners of the internet. People tweet screengrabs of Reddit fights. It’s always good fun to watch strangers grieve as their digital nonsense nickels melt into slag.
***** Quote of the day: “It’s always good fun to watch strangers grieve as their digital nonsense nickels melt into slag.”~JJL
Thursday’s Top Three
Yesterday’s top story was the Wall Street Journal’s Hong Kong Exchange May Have Reached Its Peak. Second went to Michael Unetich‘s interview with GDAX’s Adam White in 5 Questions with Adam White. Third goes to the ongoing Citadel layoff show in the Chicago Tribune’s Ken Griffin’s Citadel cuts 45 people as gutting of Aptigon stock unit deepens
121,620,236 pages viewed; 23,031 pages; 212,004 edits
Spot Trading appears to have shut down operations
Lynne Marek – Crain’s Chicago Business
Chicago trading firm Spot Trading has closed its doors, according to an online message, after a series of worker reductions in recent months as the industry has consolidated.
EU banking watchdog sets out ‘roadmap’ to regulate fintech
Huw Jones – Reuters
The European Union’s banking watchdog set out a “roadmap” on Friday to help plug gaps in how the rapidly evolving financial technology sector is regulated, but urged caution in tackling cryptocurrencies.
EU probes UK tax treatment of commodity derivatives; Brussels investigates whether Britain’s approach on trading breaks single market rules
Philip Stafford and Rochelle Toplensky – FT
The EU is investigating whether Britain has failed to respect single market laws by not imposing enough tax on commodity derivatives trades, according to the UK Treasury.
Market-making giant Citadel Securities shuns cryptocurrencies; Cryptocurrencies like bitcoin continue to fight for acceptance in mainstream finance
Samuel Agini – Financial News
One of the world’s leading market-making firms has decided that trading in bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies is too risky, underlining the assets’ struggle for acceptance in mainstream finance.
How China Is About to Shake Up the Oil Futures Market
Sungwoo Park – Bloomberg
China, the world’s biggest oil buyer, is opening a domestic market to trade futures contracts. It’s been planning one for years, only to encounter delays. The Shanghai International Energy Exchange, a unit of Shanghai Futures Exchange, will be known by the acronym INE and will allow Chinese buyers to lock in oil prices and pay in local currency. Also, foreign traders will be allowed to invest — a first for China’s commodities markets — because the exchange is registered in Shanghai’s free trade zone. There are implications for the U.S. dollar’s well-established role as the global currency of the oil market.
Trade Spat Just Noise as ECB Edges to Exit
Richard Barley – WSJ
The past few weeks have seen financial markets swing to and fro sharply, with fears around trade and protectionism now added to the mix. But central banks like the European Central Bank aren’t changing direction.
China’s Li Keqiang Index: Headwinds for Commodities?
Erik Norland – CME Group
The official growth rate of China is of intense interest to economists and investors worldwide. The gross domestic product of the world’s second largest economy is also subject to a certain degree of skepticism. Observers ponder over its unusual stability and unfailing ability to fall within the consensus estimate. Among the skeptics is none other than Li Keqiang, the Premier of the People’s Republic of China. His remarks to a U.S. diplomat a decade ago describing the official GDP as “man-made,” inspired The Economist to create an index of his three preferred measures of economic growth in China that now bears his name: the Li Keqiang index.
Swift says blockchain not ready for mainstream use; Progress needed before technology can handle bank cross-border payments, messaging service says
Martin Arnold – FT
Blockchain technology needs to make more progress before it can handle the billions of dollars of daily cross-border payments between the world’s banks, Swift has concluded after testing the new system on its interbank messaging network.
US proxy advisory industry draws regulatory scrutiny; SEC commissioner has asked companies for comment on an industry dominated by two players
Robin Wigglesworth – FT
The influence of corporate governance advisory groups is drawing scrutiny from US regulators and politicians, as the shift towards passive investing hands them ever more clout in corporate America.
EU regulator rolls out trading caps for bulk of stock market
Huw Jones – Reuters
The European Union’s securities watchdog said curbs on trading shares in the “dark” or off public exchanges across the European Union will be rolled out on March 12 and cover the bulk of blue-chip stocks such as HSBC and Unilever.
Federal Court to decide whether tokens issued through an ICO are securities | By Clifford Histed – FinTech Law Watch
In a criminal case in Brooklyn, New York, a federal court has been asked to decide for the first time whether tokens or coins issued through an initial coin offering constitute “securities” under U.S. securities laws.
Exchanges, OTC and Clearing
Brazil Hedge Funds Take Stake in Argentina’s BYMA on Growth Bet
Paula Sambo, Carolina Millan and Ignacio Olivera Doll – Bloomberg
Brazilian hedge funds have amassed a 10 percent stake in the operator of Argentina’s stock exchange and are seeking to exert their influence.
Coinbase snags an executive from the New York Stock Exchange as it tries to become the Google of crypto
Frank Chaparro – Business Insider
Count this as a sign that Coinbase is snagging talent to build the Google of crypto. Coinbase, the cryptocurrency trading platform, hired an executive from the New York Stock Exchange, according to a blog post out Thursday.
Coincheck to Start Compensating Victims from Next Week
Arnab Shome – Finance Magnates
Japanese cryptocurrency exchange Coincheck announced that it will begin the compensation process to the victims of the theft of $530 million worth of NEM tokens from next week.
NEX strives for ‘community focused’ approach as the ‘other London stock exchange’
The exchange’s chief executive said that one of the key offerings from NEX was the level of engagement, rather than having to “fit the box the exchange wants you to fill”
Dark pools hit by MiFID II caps after delay; European watchdog releases figures for January and February on double volume caps after delaying initial publication due to insufficient data.
Hayley McDowell – The Trade
The European Securities and Markets Authority (ESMA) has published data on the MiFID II dark pool double volume caps (DVCs) following a delay earlier this year, with hundreds of stocks affected by the restrictions.
Cboe Chairman and CEO Ed Tilly Kicks Off Day Two of Cboe RMC, Provides Thoughts on VIX, Volatility and Risk Management
Day two of Cboe RMC U.S. 2018 kicked off with Ed Tilly, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Cboe Global Markets, welcoming approximately 300 attendees to this year’s event, the 34th annual Cboe Risk Management Conference.
Euronext announces quarterly review results of the CAC family indices
Euronext today announced the results of the quarterly review of the CAC family indices. The changes following the review will be effective from Monday 19 March 2018.
Equity Index Derivatives: Futures and options on the CECE EUR Index: Last trading day and final settlement day for the March 2018 expiration
The Management Board of Eurex Deutschland and the Executive Board of Eurex Z¸rich AG decided with immediate effect that the last trading day and final settlement day for Eurex futures and options on the CECE EUR index shall be 14 March 2018 for the March 2018 expiration. This is due to exchange trading holidays at Budapest Stock Exchange Hungary on 15 and 16 March 2018.
Cross Currency Haircuts: Adjustments as of the end-of-day batch run on 14 March 2018
Please find attached a specification of Eurex Clearing’s Cross Currency Haircuts effective with the end-of-day batch run on 14 March 2018.
TMX Group Wins Information Technology Deal of the Year
TMX Group was awarded the Information Technology Deal of the Year by Canadian Dealmakers at their annual gala event last evening in Toronto. The awards honour excellence in mergers and acquisitions, recognizing Canadian companies and individuals whose transactions have significantly impacted their industry through innovation and growth; establishment of best practices; enhancement of customer needs and products; and creation of value.
SFC and Exchange sign addendum to MOU Governing Listing Matters
The Securities and Futures Commission (SFC) and The Stock Exchange of Hong Kong Limited (Exchange), a wholly-owned subsidiary of Hong Kong Exchanges and Clearing Limited (HKEX), have signed an addendum (Addendum) to the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) Governing Listing Matters (Notes 1 & 2).
Women In ETFs At Swiss Exchange
As part of the International Women’s Day, Women in ETFs rang the stock exchange bell at SIX Swiss Exchange.
On 8 March 2018, SIX Swiss Exchange acted as a host for the fourth bell ringing of Women in ETFs (WE). The event was part of a global bell ringing in celebration of International Women’s Day. Over 60 stock exchanges around the world joined the UN Global Compact, Sustainable Stock Exchange Initiative, UN Women, the International Finance Corporation, World Federation of Exchanges, and Women in ETFs in raising awareness about the importance of gender equality to both business and sustainable development. SIX Swiss Exchange is proud to host this event for the fourth time in a sequence.
Barchart Expands FinTech Exchange Conference to Two Days
Today, Barchart, a leading provider of financial market data and technology, has announced the dates for FinTech Exchange 2018 (FTX), their annual event which focuses on technology within financial markets and trading. Marking its fourth consecutive year, FTX has been expanded into a two-day event that will be held on April 25 and 26 at Venue SIX10 in downtown Chicago.
Bitcoin classes are coming to Chicago-area universities
Ally Marotti – Chicago Tribune
At DePaul University, cryptocurrency has worked its way into a class called Foundations of Finance.
Comparing Bitcoin to Beavers: Using Darwinian Theory to Address the Evolution of Cryptocurrencies
Shanna McEachern, IPC Systems – TABB Forum
Some investors predict the total value of cryptocurrencies issued will surpass $2 trillion by the end of 2018. With numbers like that, can the argument still be made that cryptocurrencies are just a fad, or is this the natural next step in the evolution of capital markets? And do digitally currencies have any place in an institutional investment portfolio?
Sierra Leone Secretly Holds First Blockchain-Powered Presidential Vote
Michael del Castillo – CoinDesk
Behind the scenes of Sierra Leone’s presidential election Wednesday, a second, perhaps larger milestone was quietly achieved.
Crypto Miner Bitfarms to Invest $193 Million in Canadian Centers
Camila Russo – Bloomberg
Backbone Hosting Solutions Inc., a cryptocurrency mining company, said it plans to invest C$250 million ($193 million) in computing centers in Sherbrooke, Canada.
The Bitcoin Landscape; In a decade, bitcoin has grown from an obscure proposal for a virtual currency to an entire ecosystem of companies and services. How does it all work?
Colin Wilhelm, Patterson Clark and Todd Lindeman – Politico
In a decade, bitcoin has grown from an obscure proposal for a virtual currency to an entire ecosystem of companies and services, all scrambling to capitalize on the more than $100 billion in estimated total bitcoin holdings.
This Is What Happens When Bitcoin Miners Take Over Your Town; Eastern Washington had cheap power and tons of space. Then the suitcases of cash started arriving.
Paul Roberts – Politico
Hands on the wheel, eyes squinting against the winter sun, Lauren Miehe eases his Land Rover down the main drag and tells me how he used to spot promising sites to build a bitcoin mine, back in 2013, when he was a freshly arrived techie from Seattle and had just discovered this sleepy rural community.
Businesses turn to software robots for office work; New wave of automation could take over the jobs of millions of cubicle dwellers
Richard Waters – FT
Software robots have become one of the hottest fads in business automation, as a new wave of AI is poised to sweep through the back-office functions of large corporations.
OpenFin universal standards initiative draws cross-industry support; Consortium aims to establish universal connectivity standards for industry desktop applications.
John Brazier – The Trade
An initiative to establish universal connectivity and standards across the financial industry’s desktop applications has received support from a number of cross-industry financial institutions.
Donald Trump agrees to meet Kim Jong Un; Landmark summit looms after US president accepts invitation from North Korean leader
Katrina Manson in Washington – FT
President Donald Trump is to meet Kim Jong Un within weeks, the first summit between the US and North Korea, after Pyongyang offered to suspend nuclear and missile tests.
Paul Manafort Pleads Not Guilty to Tax, Bank Fraud Charges; Trump’s former campaign chairman placed under additional home-confinement requirements; Virginia trial set for July
Aruna Viswanatha – WSJ
Paul Manafort, President Donald Trump’s former campaign chairman, pleaded not guilty to tax and bank fraud charges in federal court in Virginia on Thursday, setting up the prospect of back-to-back trials stretching through the summer into Mr. Manafort’s business dealings.
Keynote Address by Commissioner Brian Quintenz before the DC Blockchain Summit
Good afternoon and thank you for that very kind introduction. As an alumnus, I’m always happy to be back at the McDonough School of Business. It’s great to be with you here at the DC Blockchain Summit. I want to congratulate Perianne and the Chamber of Digital Commerce on hosting such a fascinating event with such robust participation by the DLT and cryptocurrency community. What you have accomplished in advocacy and connectivity in such a short period is incredible.
Merrill Lynch to pay $1.25 million penalty in SEC settlement: statement
Merrill Lynch has agreed to settle U.S. charges over allegations that it did not properly prevent unregistered sales of a software company’s shares on behalf of a China-based issuer, the Securities and Exchange Commission said on Thursday.
Merrill Lynch Charged With Gatekeeping Failures in the Unregistered Sales of Securities
The Securities and Exchange Commission today announced settled charges against Merrill Lynch, Pierce, Fenner & Smith Inc. for its failure to perform required gatekeeping functions in the unregistered sales of securities on behalf of a China-based issuer and its affiliates.
PBOC governor says Bitcoin not a legitimate method of payment
China does not recognize Bitcoin and other digital currencies as legitimate forms of payment, the central bank governor, Zhou Xiaochuan, said on Friday.
‘Pharma Bro’ Shkreli to be sentenced for defrauding investors
Brendan Pierson – Reuters
Martin Shkreli, the former drug company executive who made headlines by jacking up the price of a lifesaving drug before he was found guilty of defrauding investors, is scheduled to be sentenced on Friday.
A top regulator’s close ties to Wall Street damage one of its most crucial functions 10 years after the crisis
Pedro Nicolaci da Costa – Business Insider
The Federal Reserve is supposed to be a public institution, yet every president of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York has worked for Wall Street before or after his tenure at the regional central bank.
Lehman to Pay $2.4 Billion to End Crisis-Era Mortgage Claims
Tiffany Kary – Bloomberg
Judge rules on mortgage-backed securities from pre-2008 loans; Hedge funds and institutional investors own payment streams
Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc.’s bankruptcy estate will pay $2.38 billion to compensate for its role in the previous decade’s mortgage crisis, a federal judge decided, far less than the $11.4 billion some hedge funds had sought.
Massachusetts’ securities regulator investigates Wells Fargo Advisors
Elizabeth Dilts – Reuters
Massachusetts Secretary of the Commonwealth William Galvin said Thursday his office is investigating possible customer abuses by employees of Wells Fargo & Co’s brokerage division.
Investing and Trading
EU and asset managers clash over ‘sustainable’ investing plan
Huw Jones – Reuters
The European Union has proposed making it a formal requirement for asset managers to consider “sustainability” when picking investments, a move the EU’s 23 trillion euro ($28.5 trillion) funds industry swiftly dismissed as a “tick-the-box” exercise.
Investors Prepare for the End of ECB’s Corporate Bond Buying; After two years and $8.42 billion in average monthly purchases, the central bank is one of the largest buyers of such debt
Mike Bird – WSJ
The European Central Bank became one of the world’s biggest corporate bond buyers two years ago, and now investors are asking what happens when the buying stops.
Bitcoin prices fall below $9,000 ó a 24% decline for the week
Cheang Ming – Bloomberg
Bitcoin fell below $9,000 during Friday afternoon Asia trade, extending losses seen earlier in the week when it dropped below the key $10,000 level.
Soaring Treasury Bill Rates to Test Markets, Warns HSBC’s Major
Sid Verma – Bloomberg
HSBC’s famed bond bull Steven Major has a bearish warning as short-term dollar funding costs swell to levels last seen in the financial crisis.
Cobalt price hits highest level since 2008 on electric car demand; Potential increase in royalties payable to DRC government has also pushed up prices
Henry Sanderson – FT
The price for the battery metal cobalt has hit its highest level since 2008, prompted by rising demand from electric cars and the prospect of higher taxes in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Bitcoin Dealer Plays Cat and Mouse With Banks Closing Accounts
Raine Tiessalo – Bloomberg
Finnish company Prasos has had four accounts closed, one left; Closures followed ten-fold transaction volume growth in 2017
The company exchanges cryptocurrencies into euros, and relies on banks to help it with those transactions. But banks are increasingly saying no to Prasos and firms like it, for fear of getting into trouble with anti-money laundering rules. Prasos says it’s now waiting and hoping regulators will set clear guidelines that allow it to continue doing business.
At Goldman, Blankfein Touches a Nerve With Powell’s Return
Dakin Campbell – Bloomberg
After White House stint, she’s rejoining bank with a promotion; It’s stirring some debate inside the highly competitive firm
Dina Powell’s departure from the White House offered Wall Street the chance to enlist a rare set of skills: an industry insider who can also navigate President Donald Trump’s inner circle. Lloyd Blankfein seized it.
UBS warns of MiFID II’s impact on profits; Swiss investment bank’s annual report outlines potential revenue impacts of MiFID II unbundling and changes to OTC derivatives trading.
Hayley McDowell – The Trade
UBS has warned MiFID II’s rules on unbundling and changes to over-the-counter (OTC) derivatives trading will reduce revenue potential for certain businesses.
TradeStation Partners with GDAX to Deliver Free Real-Time Spot Data for Crypto
Victor Golovtchenko – Finance Magnates
Securing solid data sources for cryptocurrencies has been one of the main challenges for brokers and their clients. US-based online broker-dealer TradeStation, which is a subsidiary of Japanese Monex Group, has announced that it is teaming up with GXAD to deliver rep-time spot data rates on four cryptocurrencies for free.
Morgan Stanley Fires Two 50-plus Year Brokers in Boston
Mason Braswell – Advisor Hub
It’s been a tough few months at the Exchange Place branch of Morgan Stanley in Boston, where the firm has fired a pair of brokers with 100 years of experience after two junior members of their seven-person team were barred from the industry amid federal fraud charges.
SAXO Bank Posts Record Monthly Trading Volumes in February at $612 billion
The Industry Spread
Denmark based multi-asset brokerage house, SAXO Bank has netted record trading volumes in the month of February at $612.1 billion across diverse asset class. The two consecutive record-setting volume numbers in January and February have boosted the company’s operating metrics which witnessed slowing trading activity and revenues in the second half of 2017. The February numbers are boosted by the massive spike in volatility mainly due to rising bond yields and inflationary worries. The numbers are also one of the best for retail FX broker outside of Japan.
BNP Paribas failed to book trades in Germany for a week; Revelation over 2015 glitch caused by botched systems upgrade comes in lawsuit by day trader
Caroline Binham and Claire Jones – FT
A botched systems upgrade by BNP Paribas prevented the French bank from properly booking structured-products trades in Germany for a week, potentially affecting thousands of trades.
Tillerson tells Africa that China finance imperils their sovereignty; First senior Trump official to visit continent questions Beijing’s investment drive
John Aglionby and Katrina Manson – FT
Rex Tillerson has warned African governments they risk forfeiting their sovereignty when accepting money from China as the US secretary of state began the first visit to the continent by a senior Trump administration official.
China’s War on Pollution Will Change the World
Jeff Kearns, Hannah Dormido and Alyssa McDonald – Bloomberg
China is cracking down on pollution like never before, with new green policies so hard-hitting and extensive they can be felt across the world, transforming everything from electric vehicle demand to commodities markets.
Swedish Krona Still on Shaky Ground After Worst Loss Since 2009
Love Liman – Bloomberg
Currency may lose support as housing troubles weigh on economy; Risk of global trade war could add to krona weakness, ING says
The Swedish krona’s troubles seem far from over even after its worst slump since the global financial crisis.
Hedge Funds Are Placing Record Bets That Danish Stocks Will Fall
Christian Wienberg – Bloomberg
Hedge funds only target very specific Danish stocks, ABG says; Short interest is rising as hedge funds have more money
Hedge funds have placed record bets that Danish stocks are set to decline, in a development that has local investors sitting up and paying attention.
International Women’s Day 2018: Why this year’s event is more important than ever
Caitlin Morrison – City AM
There is more work to do, but the City is already changing for women (Source: Getty)
International Women’s Day never passes without fevered debate around whether it is really necessary, but this year there are more arguments than usual in favour of dedicating a day to women.
UK makes Brexit promise to Gibraltar on financial services
Catherine Neilan – City AM
The UK government has pledged to give financial services firms based in Gibraltar market access until 2020, in a bid to give greater certainty to those living on The Rock.
The Changing World of Art Financing
Abby Schultz – Barron’s
If you’re at The Armory Show of 20th and 21st century art this weekend and are considering the purchase of a sculpture by Samuel Biggers, an emerging artist who often obliquely tackles political themes, you might consider snapping a photo of the piece and sending it to Andrea Danese, CEO of Athena Art Finance.
****Tired of blue chip stocks? Try borrowing against your “blue-chip” art. Apparently, Danese used to be a credit derivatives specialist. That background isn’t surprising with quotes like, “Our major concern is always liquidity, if we have to sell the artwork, and price volatility.”
A Warning Cry From the Doomsday Vault
Humanity’s food security is at far more risk than you realize.
Jonas O Bergman – Bloomberg
On this winter day, the world was upside down: it was raining in the Arctic Circle and snowing in Rome.
Fake news travels far faster than the truth
Tom Whipple, Science Editor – The Times
A lie, it is said, gets halfway around the world before the truth can put its boots on. Scientists have updated the proverb, albeit less poetically, by discovering that a lie is also 70 per cent more likely to be shared on social media.