Texas Finance Professor Sifts Data for Signs of Rigged Markets; SEC’s New Strategic Plan

Oct 12, 2018

Texas Finance Professor Sifts Data for Signs of Rigged Markets; SEC’s New Strategic Plan

Oct 12, 2018

First Read

Hits & Takes
JLN Staff

A total of 37,989,245 options contracts traded yesterday and cleared at the OCC. That makes it the fourth best day by volume in OCC’s history.~JJL

Bob Zagotta is now serving cryptocurrency exchange Kraken in a strategic leadership role. He also plays a mean guitar and is the frontman for The Simpletones, which rocked the house last night at the ALTSO Rocktoberfest.~JK

Nouriel Roubini testified to the US. Senate Banking Committee yesterday and his testimony was titled “Crypto is the Mother of All Scams and (Now Busted) Bubbles, While Blockchain Is The Most Over-Hyped Technology Ever, No Better than a Spreadsheet/Database.~JJL

If you want to donate to the Fearless Girl National Youth Leadership Training Fund to support leadership development in girls coming into Scouts BSA in February, you can do so via Facebook using this LINK. There are no fees taken out when you donate through Facebook.~JJL


FIA Expo Preview with Walt Lukken


FIA Expo is October 16-18. In this video, FIA President and CEO Walt Lukken discusses what to expect from this year’s gathering of more than 4,500 attendees representing 1,250 companies.
Watch the video »


John Lothian News Sits Down With FIS


John Lothian sat down with John Omahen of FIS Global in the office of John Lothian News to discuss new initiatives at FIS and Omahen’s take on industry issues. During this discussion, Omahen comments on a new FIS margin product and even interest in cryptocurrency products.

Watch the video »


The Complex Realities of a Cybersecurity Program
Mark Morrison, OCC Chief Information Security Officer
As October is Cybersecurity Awareness Month, I’d like to share what I believe are some significant cybersecurity issues that don’t always make it into today’s headlines.

***** I thought every month was Cybersecurity Awareness Month.~JJL


Football clubs dive into wild world of cryptocurrencies; Sponsorship deals to promote initial coin offerings take off just as regulators crack down
Hannah Murphy and Murad Ahmed – FT
Cryptocurrency may not seem like an obvious next step for Brazilian footballer Ronaldinho Ga˙cho. But the former Barcelona star, who retired at the start of the year, has been busy promoting his own “digital gold”, the Ronaldinho Soccer Coin, to his 18m followers on Twitter.

*****I have the feeling this will merely end up as a footnote on a Wikipedia page.~SD


The Bikinis Are Gone, But Change Is Slow for London’s Metal Boys
Lynn Thomasson and Lucca De Paoli – Bloomberg
Some traders kept their risque corporate parties at LME Week; In the year after #MeToo, there’s more focus on gender issues
Strip clubs, lap dances in limousines, and waitresses in bikinis. For decades, there’s been a very seamy side to the nightlife at London’s annual get-together for the metal-trading world. The sexist entertainment at LME Week parties has been chronicled by British tabloids for years, but it’s starting to change — slowly. At this year’s LME Week, some companies kept the risque corporate events. Others have given it up.

****** Progress is slow, but it is progress.~JJL


Thursday’s Top Three
Our top story of the day yesterday was Bloomberg’s A $1 Trillion Powder Keg Threatens the Corporate Bond Market. Second went the NFA obituary In Memoriam: NFA Remembers John J. Conheeney. Third was Bloomberg’s piece on Liquid Network, New Crypto Consortium Seeks to Alleviate Liquidity Problems. Have a great weekend everybody.


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Lead Stories

This Texas Finance Professor Sifts Data for Signs of Rigged Markets; John Griffin, who discovered the Bitcoin-Tether connection, seeks to expose “the fruitless deeds of darkness.”
Matt Robinson, Nick Baker – Bloomberg
At the height of Bitcoin mania in December, when the price of the digital currency was climbing toward $20,000, finance professor John Griffin started digging into 2 terabytes of trading data – equal to a tenth of all the text housed by the Library of Congress.

SEC’s New Strategic Plan Puts Investors, Innovation, and Performance at Top
The Securities and Exchange Commission today announced a new strategic plan to guide the agency’s work over the next four years with a primary focus on investors, innovation, and performance. The plan’s goals reflect the agency’s commitment to its longstanding mission while leveraging the opportunities and addressing the challenges that come from fast-evolving markets, products and services.

Let’s innovate our way out of climate change disaster; Economic growth does not have to destroy the planet
Tim Harford – FT
What are the limits to economic growth ó and have we already recklessly exceeded them? Such questions were raised (again) this week by (another) alarming report about climate change. Many of my environmentalist friends are convinced that economic growth itself is the fundamental problem.

British PM May briefed inner cabinet on Thursday evening that Brexit deal close
British Prime Minister Theresa May briefed her inner cabinet on Thursday evening that a historic Brexit deal was close, the Financial Times reported on Thursday.

As markets swoon, finance chiefs urge US, China to cool it
Elaine Kurtenbach – Associated Press
The heads of the World Bank and IMF appealed Thursday to the U.S. and China to cool their dispute over technology policy and play by world trade rules, as tumbling share prices drove home potential perils from a clash between the world’s two biggest economies.

Coinbase’s Adam White is joining Bakkt as its COO
Frank Chaparro – The Block Crypto
Adam White, Coinbase’s fifth employee and the person who led the development of its institutional-aimed businesses, is joining Bakkt, the cryptocurrency venture at ICE, the parent company of the New York Stock Exchange, people familiar with the hire tell The Block.

Trump says the Federal Reserve caused the stock market correction, but he won’t fire Chair Powell
Michael Sheetz and Thomas Franck – CNBC
President Donald Trump continued to attack the Federal Reserve on Thursday, saying Chairman Jerome Powell is being too stringent with monetary policy and is making a mistake.

Supreme Court denies exchanges’ request to take up high-frequency trading case
Declan Harty – S&P Global Market Intelligence
The U.S. Supreme Court has rejected a request from the largest U.S. stock exchanges to hear a case over whether they systematically favor high-frequency traders.
Brought in 2014 by a group of pension and retirement funds along with the city of Providence, R.I., the case has raised questions over whether exchanges owned by Intercontinental Exchange Inc., Nasdaq Inc. and Cboe Global Markets Inc. sell and offer products that illegally favor Wall Street’s fastest traders over larger, slower-moving institutional investors.

World’s Biggest ETF Bleeds Assets But No Liquidity Crunch
Yakob Peterseil and Sid Verma – Bloomberg
SPY loses $6.6 billion in 17th-biggest daily withdrawal; ‘Orderly selloff’ seen as bid-ask spread tight vs February
ETF investors finally got out their white flags Thursday, but what followed was an orderly surrender in the benchmark S&P 500 fund.

Exchanges, OTC and Clearing

Shanghai oil exchange invites applications for market maker role
The Shanghai International Energy Exchange (INE) on Thursday invited companies to apply for a market maker role on its flagship crude oil futures contract, launched in March.

TMX Explores Important Market Linkages with China; Senior TMX Group leaders meet with Chinese officials to advance efforts to establish global access hub to Chinese bond market
TMX Group senior executives were in China this week to meet with Chinese government officials and business leaders to further relationships in the region and TMX Group’s client-focused global growth strategy.

Former SEC head resigns from LSEG board to join Bloomberg; Mary Schapiro was chair of the SEC from 2009 to 2012 and joined LSEG as a non-executive director in 2015.
Hayley McDowell – The Trade
The former head of the US financial regulator Mary Schapiro has resigned from her position as a non-executive director at the London Stock Exchange Group (LSEG) and has joined Bloomberg

LCH SA to clear Euronext stocks traded on Turquoise; LSEG announced plans to adds Euronext Growth stocks to its Turquoise MTF last month.
Hayley McDowell – The Trade
LCH SA is extending its clearing services for multilateral trading facility (MTF) Turquoise to include Euronext stocks that are traded on the platform.


Blog: Now is the Time for Real-Time Risk Analytics
Hanweck Blog
With the 3.1% decline in the DJIA and 44% spike in the VIX yesterday, we wanted to dust off our bullhorn and re-emphasize why real-time risk analytics are critical in successfully managing trading risk in a volatile market.

Thomson Reuters unit rebrand lauded in rap; Employee of Blackstone-acquired Refinitiv tries to lift morale with choice lyrics
Eric Platt – Financial Times
The rebranding of Thomson Reuters’ financial and risk businesses to “Refinitiv” has been widely lampooned. But even as newly minted Refinitiv employees gird for a stinging round of cost cuts after its $17bn leveraged buyout by Blackstone, the company has found one fan pledging allegiance to the new corporate brand.

New York State Department of Financial Services challenges OCC authority on fintech charters
International Law Office
On 31 July 2018 the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC) announced its decision (the Fintech Charter Decision) to begin accepting applications from fintech companies for special purpose national bank charters.(1) The OCC has indicated that it will not grant a charter to a fintech company that wishes to accept deposits or engage in fiduciary activities (for business plans that involve purely fiduciary activities, a limited purpose trust charter may provide an alternative vehicle) (for further details see “OCC to issue fintech charters”).

Rocky Mountain fintech: How Denver is evolving as a hub for financial innovation
Monica Vendituoli – Denver Business Journal
Fintech-related deals in the Denver metro and Boulder metro are booming. But can the area keep up with competition on both coasts?


Ex-Donald Trump adviser Gary Cohn joins blockchain start-up; Former Goldman Sachs president calls Spring Labs project a ‘unique opportunity’
Hannah Murphy in London – FT
Gary Cohn, Donald Trump’s former top economic aide, is now an adviser to a blockchain start-up that hopes to use the nascent technology to overhaul the way banks share credit data.

Seeking Sanctions Resistance Through Blockchain Technology
Yaya Fanusie – Forbes
“Digital currencies could provide a way for both Iran and Russia to avoid U.S. dollar transactions, as well as a possible replacement of the SWIFT interbank payment system.”
–A senior Iranian economic official during a May 2018 meeting in Moscow.

Report: SEC Expands Crackdown on ICOs, Regulatory Ambiguity Remains
Helen Partz – Coin Telegraph
The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has expanded its crackdown on Initial Coin Offerings (ICOs), putting “hundreds” of projects at risk, according to a recent joint investigation by Yahoo Finance and Decrypt Media published, Oct. 10.

Coinbase is shutting down its fund aimed at big investors as it pivots to a new retail product
Frank Chaparro – The Block
Coinbase, the cryptocurrency exchange operator, is shutting down its index-fund as it shifts attention to a new retail offering, a person familiar with the situation told The Block.
The poster-child of the cryptocurrency market in the U.S., Coinbase in March announced its aspirations to launch a market-value-weighted index fund to offer accredited investors and institutions exposure to the digital currencies trading on its exchange.

Ether Creator Claims He’s No Billionaire in Twitter Crypto Fight
Olga Kharif – Bloomberg
Vitalik Buterin lists holdings of 2nd-biggest digital coin; Revelation comes amid dispute with critic Nouriel Roubini
Vitalik Buterin, one of the most influential people in crypto, says he’s not a digital-currency billionaire.

Bitcoin is the ‘mother of all scams’ and blockchain is most hyped tech ever, Roubini tells Congress
Kate Rooney – CNBC
Global economist Nouriel Roubini, one of the few who predicted the 2008 financial crisis, is making sure U.S. senators don’t miss his warning on cryptocurrency.

Disrupting The Auto Industry: How A New Blockchain Is Breaking Traditional Boundaries
Dr. Pragya Agarwal – Forbes
The auto industry is 15% of the global retail economy. It is massive, fragmented and rife with problems. Data shows that 81% of people do not enjoy the car buying process, and only 8% considered car salespeople as trustworthy. However, the digital economy is transforming the car buying process. Already, 97% of the total customers purchasing research online beforehand, and 72% of these would buy online if they could.

Cryptocurrency theft hits nearly $1 billion in first nine months: report
Gertrude Chavez-Dreyfuss – Reuters
Theft of cryptocurrencies through hacking of exchanges and trading platforms soared to $927 million in the first nine months of the year, up nearly 250 percent from the level seen in 2017, according to a report from U.S.-based cyber security firm CipherTrace released on Wednesday.

New Open-Sourced Innovation Aims To Reduce The Risk Of 51% Attacks
Roger Huang – Forbes
Since the very beginning, 51% attacks and the threat of double spending have been an existential issue for proof-of-work blockchains (which constitute the majority of blockchains, including bitcoin). The 51% attack, skewered in HBO’s Silicon Valley and noted as early as 2014 by mainstream media outlets like the Guardian, refers to the problem of having concentrated computing power dedicated to mining a blockchain turn malicious in an attempt to defraud the blockchain.

Sorry Civil, ‘crypto-economics’ and ‘constitutions’ won’t save journalism
Jemima Kelly – FT
On Tuesday, Forbes put out a release boasting that it was the first “major media brand” to experiment with Civil, a project that is trying to build a “decentralised marketplace for sustainable journalism” on ó you’ll never guess ó the blockchain.


The Gloom Encroaching on Trump’s Stock Boom
Peter Eavis – NY Times
The good times President Trump brought to the stock market may be ending. The Standard & Poor’s 500-stock index is down nearly 7 percent from its peak in late September, and the Nasdaq index, which includes many hot technology stocks, has fallen nearly 10 percent from its high. Doubts appear to be overwhelming investors’ bullishness. They are concerned that Mr. Trump’s bellicose trade policy will disrupt corporate America’s supply chains and push up costs. Mr. Trump’s tax cuts have contributed to a ballooning fiscal deficit. Borrowing costs have also risen this year, which could dampen investment.

Trump Gives Investors Good Reason to Be Scared; Fiscal recklessness, impending trade war ó no wonder markets are getting jittery.
Editorial Board – Bloomberg
This week’s fall in stock prices was about as unsurprising as President Trump’s explanation for the setback ó “The Fed has gone crazy,” he said. Expect more of the same over the coming weeks and months, as the U.S. economy adjusts to the withdrawal of the Federal Reserve’s post-crash monetary stimulus, and a reckless administration persists in testing investors’ nerve.

Trump Attacks the Fed as Stocks Fall and the Midterms Loom
Binyamin Appelbaum – NY Times
President Trump responded to falling stock prices on Thursday by continuing to throw rocks at the Federal Reserve, which he has described as “crazy,” “loco,” “going wild” and “out of control” for slowly raising interest rates against the backdrop of a booming economy.

Facebook Takes Down Hundreds of U.S. Pages It Said Spread Misinformation; The social network said the accounts broke rules against ‘coordinated inauthentic behavior’
Nick Kostov – WSJ
Facebook Inc. has taken down hundreds of U.S. pages and accounts that were spreading false or misleading political content ahead of the midterm elections, in one of the social network’s most aggressive efforts to stop misinformation spread primarily by Americans.

If the Treasury names China a currency manipulator, it’s purely political
Colby Smith – FT
On Wednesday, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin warned China against “doing competitive devaluations.” A week earlier, at an event sponsored by the conservative-leaning Hudson Institute, Vice President Mike Pence accused China of using “an arsenal of policies inconsistent with free and fair trade” to get ahead. Currency manipulation made the list, as did intellectual property theft and industrial subsides “doled out like candy.”

Elizabeth Warren Lays Into Crypto
Ted Knutson – Forbes
Potential 2020 Democratic presidential contender Elizabeth Warren took two major swipes at cryptocurrency today.


SEC Revives Push to Finish Long-Awaited Swaps Rules; Commission votes 4-1 to reconsider proposal on capital and margin for security-based swaps
Gabriel T. Rubin – WSJ
The Securities and Exchange Commission took a step toward completing long stalled rules for brokers selling securities-based swaps required by the 2010 Dodd-Frank financial law.

SEC Chair Jay Clayton Says Quarterly Reporting Won’t Change ‘Anytime Soon’
Dave Michaels – WSJ
Public companies won’t get a break from quarterly earnings reporting in the near term, an idea that President Trump asked U.S. regulators to study.
The Securities and Exchange Commission may weigh the idea of moving to six-month reporting for smaller firms, but “I don’t think quarterly reporting is going to change for our top names anytime soon,” SEC Chairman Jay Clayton said Thursday.

SEC Reopens Comment Period for Capital, Margin, and Segregation Requirements for Security-Based Swap Dealers and Major Security-Based Swap Participants
The Securities and Exchange Commission today voted to reopen the comment period and request additional comment (including potential modifications to proposed rule language) on the proposed rules and amendments for capital, margin, and segregation requirements for security-based swap dealers and major security-based swap participants and capital requirements for broker-dealers.

SEC Stops Fraudulent ICO That Falsely Claimed SEC Approval
The Securities and Exchange Commission today announced that it has obtained an emergency court order halting a planned initial coin offering (ICO), which backers falsely claimed was approved by the SEC. The order also halts ongoing pre-ICO sales by the company, Blockvest LLC and its founder, Reginald Buddy Ringgold, III.

Podcast: CFTC Talks EP067: FIA CEO Walt Lukken
This week on CFTC Talks podcast, we review the state of the futures and options industry with FIA CEO Walt Lukken…

Effective date of amendments to NFA Bylaw 1303óDefault and deemed request to withdraw membership
NFA Bylaw 1303 gives NFA the authority to deem a Member’s failure to pay certain fees as a request to withdraw from NFA membership. The CFTC recently approved amendments to NFA Bylaw 1303, which will become effective on October 31, 2018.

Investing and Trading

A Crash Course for Investors on the Lingo of (Legal) Weed
Jacqueline Thorpe – Bloomberg
With Canada set to legalize recreational use of marijuana on Oct. 17, the world appears on the cusp of a cannabis boom. Spending on recreational pot will surge to $32 billion globally by 2022, triple its current size, U.S. research firms Arcview Market Research and BDS Analytics say. At least three Canadian pot companies have stock market values of more than $10 billion each, and new companies are popping up by the day. Investors looking to break into the marijuana market may need to hit the books first. Just don’t call it “high” school.

A Guide to Cannabis Investing; From pot stocks to ETFs, these are the marijuana companies to know.
Mark Glassman, Silvia Killingsworth – Bloomberg
In the past year, cannabis stocks outperformed gold, Bitcoin, and the broader market. As investors buy into the frenzy, the biggest pot companies are seeing their valuations soar. And the largest among them, as tracked by Bloomberg Intelligence’s Global Cannabis Competitive Peers Index, have price-to-sales ratios in the triple digits. Canopy Growth, which is valued at $11.4 billion, currently trades at a price-to-sales ratio of 132, and Aurora Cannabis, valued at $9.2 billion, trades at 106. GW Pharmaceuticals is at 231. For comparison, Apple and Amazon.com have p-s ratios of about 4.

100 Million Barrels: The World Hit a Daily Oil and Liquids Record
Dan Murtaugh – Bloomberg
3Q production rises to 100.3 million barrels a day, IEA says; OPEC, Americas and biofuels lead increases in global output
The world is pumping out more oil and other petroleum liquids than ever before.


Robinhood launches its own trade-clearing system as customer growth surges
Kate Rooney – CNBC
Robinhood spent two years quietly building its own clearing system so it wouldn’t have to rely on an external firm to clear and settle transactions or take custody of assets.
The move positions the online brokerage to be able to scale faster and expand into more areas of financial services, its CEO says.
The Menlo Park-based start-up also announces it has 6 million customers, up from 5 million in August, and 4 million in May.

JPMorgan Reports Higher Profits Despite Trading Dip; The banking giant said third-quarter profit rose as consumer businesses helped overcome weaker trading
Peter Rudegeair and Emily Glazer – WSJ
JPMorgan Chase & Co. JPM -3.00% said Friday that third-quarter profit rose as the bank’s consumer business helped it overcome weaker trading.

Man Group Starts Jersey Unit to Join Biggest Money Managers
Nishant Kumar – Bloomberg
Man Group Plc, whose assets have soared to a record after posting better-than-expected inflows, said it plans to incorporate a new holding company in Jersey in a move that aligns its corporate structure with some of the world’s largest money managers.

Lloyd’s Scottish Widows awards £30b asset management job to BlackRock
The Star
Lloyd’s Banking Group owned Scottish Widows has appointed BlackRock to manage £30bil of assets in index strategies while it is also seeking a strategic tie-up with the world’s largest asset manager.

Man Group shares perk up on record assets under management
Federica Cocco – FT
Shares in Man Group on Friday rose as much as 5 per cent, one of the largest opening increases on London’s mid-cap index, after the biggest listed hedge fund reported record funds under management.


China Swoops in on Canadian Oil That’s $50 Below U.S. Crude
Bloomberg News
Heavy oil grades sought to replace shrinking Venezuelan supply; Use of bitumen seen rising as China focuses on infrastructure
Chinese oil buyers are making a beeline for a bargain across the Pacific. With Canadian oil over 60 percent cheaper than U.S. benchmark West Texas Intermediate and global marker Brent, China’s refiners are being lured to the heavy, sludgy crude. That’s because — apart from being a source of fuel — it’s rich in bitumen, a black residue used to build everything from roads to runways and roofs.

IHS Markit launches Chinese bond market indices
Business information provider IHS Markit (Nasdaq: INFO) today announced the launch of new onshore Chinese bond market indices in alliance with ChinaBond Pricing Center Co., Ltd. (CBPC), a subsidiary of China Central Depository and Clearing Co., Ltd. (CCDC), the leading pricing provider for the world’s third largest fixed income market.


Police still not investigating Leave campaigns, citing ‘political sensitivities’
Adam Ramsay and James Cusick – OpenDemocracy UK
Months after Scotland Yard received ‘substantial’ evidence of potential criminality by pro-Leave groups, nothing has happened. Is the police probe destined for the political long-grass?

A Cautionary Tale for How Brexit Summit Can Collapse; Britain and the EU seem closer than ever to a deal, but Salzburg showed the mood music can quickly change.
Ian Wishart – Bloomberg
A summit next week is being heralded as Brexit’s defining moment. The U.K. wants a deal. The European Union expects a deal. But in private, both sides warn it could be a disaster – at least on the face of it.

John Lothian Newsletter

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John Lothian Newsletter

We visit more than 100 websites daily for financial news (Would YOU do that?)

“John Lothian and Company… our industry intelligence.”

Rick Lane

CEO, Trading Technologies

Past JLN Newsletters

Crypto Nomads: Surfing the World for Risk and Profit

Crypto Nomads: Surfing the World for Risk and Profit

First Read $51,906/$300,000 (17.3%) ++++ Hits & Takes John Lothian & JLN Staff The STA is holding the 88th Annual Market Structure Conference in person on October 6-8 at the JW Marriott in Washington, DC with the title "The Great Return." That is a very good...

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