Trading Technologies Names New Chairman and CEO; IG Buys Tastytrade as Retail Investors Embrace Derivatives

Jan 21, 2021

First Read

$26,351/$300,000 (8.8%)


Why Do You Hire a Super Salesman to Run Trading Technologies?
Tim Geannopulos replaces Rick Lane as Chairman and CEO of TT
John Lothian – John Lothian News

Rick Lane is out at Trading Technologies as CEO and chairman, but still with the company in a non-titled supporting role for the time being, at a time when the company is rumored to be in the midst of a sale.

Tim Geannopulos, the former global head of sales at Trading Technologies and a major TT shareholder, is in as the new CEO and chairman, returning to the company after a stint as a consultant and start-up investor and fintech executive.

So why is this change occurring at a time when the company is reportedly for sale? There is not an easy answer, but my question in the title gives part of the answer, I think.

To read the rest of this commentary, go here.


Hits & Takes
JLN Staff

Joe Biden was inaugurated as the 46th President of the United States yesterday, but it was Trading Technologies that claimed the big news of the day with a change in leadership. Rick Lane is out as chairman and CEO of the global provider of high-performance professional trading software, infrastructure and data solutions and Tim Geannopulos is in as chairman and CEO.

Meanwhile, tastytrade was sold to IG Group, giving the British spread betting company entry into the fast growing individual trading brokerage space in the U.S.

Oh, and the U.S. stock market hit record highs yesterday, evidently liking something it saw in the day’s news. Biden set a record for the biggest gain in the stock market from election day to inauguration day, with the S&P “finishing 14 percent higher” on Inauguration Day than it was on Election Day. The President with the previous record? Herbert Hoover.

There was a hidden message in the new White House website aimed at recruiting coders to the U.S. Digital Service.

Our friends at Hong Kong Exchanges and Clearing Limited (HKEX) announced the launch of a cash-settled Mini USD/CNH (US dollar/Offshore Renminbi, or RMB) Futures contract — a smaller-sized contract to complement the popular USD/CNH derivatives products. Smaller is better these days.

Speaking of HKEX, they reported on LinkedIn that “today was a #record-breaking day in the Hong Kong markets! Securities market #turnover set an all-time high of HK$302.5 billion, while #StockConnect Southbound turnover notched a fresh record of HK$99.07 billion.”

Yesterday I was interviewing Olivier Raevel for the Open Outcry Traders HIstory Project video series when he was interrupted by a call from another journalist. Raevel, whom I met when he was head of commodities at Euronext, had some big news to talk about. Reuters reported that “French IT services provider Logaviv and market operator Griffin will launch Europe’s first agricultural commodities over-the-counter (OTC) market, with contracts initially targeting wheat, corn and rapeseed, they said on Wednesday.”

Raevel, now a managing director Europe at Griffin Markets & president of Griffin Markets Europe, was a marketmaker on the IPE and a board member for ICE when the exchange was still a project, trying to build an OTC market to compete with Enron Online.

Susan Estes announced on LinkedIn that “OpenDoor Securities has ceased operations as of this morning, January 13, 2021.” OpenDoor Trading was launched as the first women-owned and operated bond trading platform in the world. Chris Fererris was an Advisory Board member of the firm.

The Tower of London is down to seven ravens. Not good.

I will be selling Bernie Sanders mittens through Amazon. They are the latest thing and I meme it.

There were no new donations to our JLN MarketsWiki Education GoFundMe campaign. So far we have had 115 donations. Support our efforts to preserve industry history by contributing to our GoFundMe campaign.

Have a great day and stay safe and treat people the same way you want to be treated: with respect, equality and justice.~JJL


So far this month, bitcoin miners have made $700 million, an $8 million increase from December’s total mining revenue of $692 million, according to data from The Block. Good news for Galaxy Digital, who recently announced they would begin not only mining bitcoin themselves, but also providing financial services for miners.~MR


Ricardo Manrique Talks Global Index Trends Amid New Exchange Competition

Ricardo Manrique is the head of strategy for FTSE Russell and has a great perspective on the global index business after having significant roles at other index companies, including MSCI, STOXX and Dow Jones.

With a global battle waging between exchanges over the FTSE Russell and MSCI indexes, as well as the rise of individual investor traders (Robinhood), John Lothian News interviewed Manrique over Zoom to talk about the index business and factors like ESG, Brexit and day traders and how they are influencing the global markets.

Watch the video »


Sponsored Content
【Special Report】 First year anniversary workshop of TOCOM/JPX Electricity Futures

Asia’s Most Successful Electricity Futures at Tokyo Commodity Exchange (TOCOM)/Japan Exchange Group (JPX) celebrated its first year of listing in a co-hosted webinar with Quick Corp. on December 15, 2020. The event was attended by over 250 people from 152 companies.

At the workshop, Mr. Hatakeyama, Director-General for Commerce and Service Industry Policy of METI gave an opening remarks and Mr. Ishibashi of Astmax Trading, Inc. gave a keynote speech on Electricity trading and Risk management. In the panel discussion, traders from different power companies shared their experiences in using TOCOM Electricity Futures and their internal risk control systems. They pointed out that there is still a huge opportunity in Electricity Futures market in Japan and requested the exchange to list new products such as those covering the Hokkaido and Kyushu areas and change the product design to extend contract months.

For more details, please refer to the following link


Joe Biden and the restoration of the American republic; Inaugural address was a call for a return to US norms and values
The editorial board – FT
Since at least the time of Abraham Lincoln, US presidential inauguration speeches have contained appeals to unity. Rarely since then has unity been such a central or oft-repeated theme as it was of Joe Biden’s address on Wednesday — but rarely, too, has American democracy felt as fragile as today.

*****Restoration is a good word.~JJL


An Ancient Form of European Money: Bronze Rings, Ribs and Blades; Because the objects had a standardized weight, scientists suggest they were a form of currency used some 3,500 years ago.
Becky Ferreira – NY Times
The modern world runs on a constant flow of money that has its roots in simpler proto-currencies pioneered on regional levels by ancient peoples. A pair of archaeologists believe they have identified a very early example of commodity money in Europe, used some 3,500 years ago during the Bronze Age, with denominations that took the form of bronze rings, ribs and ax blades. People at this time frequently buried collections of these ubiquitous items, leaving a wealth of scattered “hoards” across the European continent.

*****Bronze rings were the bitcoin of their day.~JJL


Wednesday’s Top Three
Our top story Wednesday was the picture President Joe Biden posted on Twitter of the two First Couples standing in front of the reflecting pool looking at the Washington Monument. Second was an opinion piece from The Financial Times, The American republic’s near-death experience, about Ex-President Trump’s attempted “coup” and the continuing danger to U.S. democracy. Third was What Time Does Biden’s Inauguration Start? A Viewers Guide From How to Watch to the Schedule, from the Wall Street Journal.


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Lead Stories

Trading Technologies Names New Chairman and CEO; Tim Geannopulos to lead TT’s plan for growth and expansion
Trading Technologies International, Inc
Trading Technologies International, Inc. (TT), a global provider of high-performance professional trading software, infrastructure and data solutions, today announced effective immediately, Tim Geannopulos has been named Chairman and CEO of TT.

IG Buys Tastytrade as Retail Investors Embrace Derivatives
Tom Metcalf and Joe Easton – Bloomberg
U.K. firm’s deal worth $1 billion targets ‘informed’ traders; Pandemic volatility has given boost to investing from home
Britain’s IG Group Holdings Plc agreed to buy online brokerage Tastytrade Inc. for $1 billion, predicting retail stock traders in the U.S. are about to embrace derivatives. “We see a secular shift in the market for self-directed investing and trading,” IG Chief Executive Officer June Felix said in an interview on Thursday. “Individuals will be taking more control of their financial outcomes and financial wealth, and this fits perfectly into that,” she said. “Derivatives is the next step.”

IG expands in US with $1bn tastytrade acquisition; Deal gives spread betting specialist a position in the world’s biggest derivatives market
Daniel Thomas – FT
IG Group is to buy US-based online brokerage tastytrade for $1bn in its largest ever acquisition as the British spread betting company seeks to gain a stronger foothold in the booming retail investor market. IG is acquiring one of the fastest growing retail investor businesses in the US futures and options market, while tastytrade will be able to use IG’s global infrastructure to expand its services internationally.

Trading Technologies appoints new CEO as Rick Lane steps down; Tim Geannopulos returns to Trading Technologies as chief executive and chairman as Rick Lane steps down to pursue another opportunity.
Annabel Smith – The Trade
Chicago-based technology provider Trading Technologies (TT) has appointed its former global head of sales, Tim Geannopulos, as chairman and chief executive. Geannopulos replaces Lane who is leaving the firm to pursue a new opportunity, the company confirmed, but he will remain at TT to oversee the client migration to the TT platform.

US joins global vaccine efforts on first day of Biden administration; Fauci says America will sign up to WHO’s Covax programme to ‘advance multilateral efforts’
Donato Paolo Mancini – FT
Joe Biden’s administration will join global efforts to make Covid-19 vaccines and drugs available around the world, reversing the position of his predecessor Donald Trump and ushering in a new era in health diplomacy.

Bridgewater’s CEO on Inequality, Uncertainty, and Polarization; David McCormick, who runs the world’s biggest hedge fund manager, says it’s time for corporate executives to speak out.
Erik Schatzker – Bloomberg
David McCormick, the chief executive officer of Bridgewater Associates, isn’t a typical hedge fund honcho. He’s a former Army Ranger who cleared minefields in the first Gulf War and a Princeton Ph.D. who served as President George W. Bush’s undersecretary of the Treasury. He now runs the company Ray Dalio founded, which manages $140 billion, much of that for pension funds.

If Corporate Diversity Works, Show Me the Money; Nasdaq wants to mandate wider representation on its companies’ boards but has little proof of the benefits.
Arthur Levitt Jr. – WSJ
Corporate directors are called on to do a few important things: Hire a CEO and oversee management, provide strategic direction, protect and promote the interests of investors, and ensure the company’s books are honest. Now, many claim, directors should also represent the country’s demographics.

Why does Davos Man get it so wrong? World Economic Forum should put global leaders in the audience to listen to social workers, virologists and reporters
Simon Kuper – FT
We don’t know yet what will happen in 2021, because the World Economic Forum’s meeting in Davos has been called off. Normally at this time of year, political and business leaders gather in the Swiss ski resort to reveal the future. Now we’ll only discover what’s coming when they meet in Singapore in May. Actually, scratch that: most Davos predictions are worthless. There is no VIP crystal ball.

Fund managers speak out after crypto funds crackdown; Concerns rise that FCA decision could push investors into ‘wild west’ market of underlying securities
Ed Moisson – FT
Managers of cryptocurrency investment products have hit back at the UK regulator’s warning to consumers against putting money into the high-risk investments. The UK’s Financial Conduct Authority has banned the sale of cryptocurrency-related derivatives, including exchange traded notes, to retail investors. It also renewed last week its warning that anyone investing in crypto assets “should be prepared to lose all their money”.

Chinese Telecom Carriers Ask NYSE to Make Another U-Turn on Delisting; Companies say they operated in accordance with laws and regulations, and followed regulatory requirements of listing venues
Chong Koh Ping and P.R. Venkat – WSJ
China’s big telecom carriers asked the New York Stock Exchange to rethink their planned delisting, the latest twist in a to-and-fro about whether they should be allowed to trade in U.S. markets.

Market Infrastructures: Evolution And Outlook, By Andre Cappon, Yanlin Zhu, Kevin Mellyn, Stephan Mignot, Guy Manuel, Marina Alcalde, The CBM Group, New York NY, January 16 2021
Exchanges, and more broadly “market infrastructures”, are the critical plumbing of the capital markets. Driven by the growth of capital markets, the importance of these infrastructures has been increasing. Their evolution has been remarkable and has generated very strong returns for savvy investors.

ECB Just Can’t Escape Grip of Virus on Economy: Decision Guide
Carolynn Look – Bloomberg
No change to interest rates or QE expected at Thursday meeting; Lagarde has said recovery on track despite renewed lockdowns
European Central Bank officials will confront a frustrating outlook when they hold their first policy meeting of the year on Thursday, as stricter lockdowns and a slow vaccine rollout across the region threaten to leave the economy jammed up for months on end.

How Covid-19 Vaccine Rollouts Will Pump Through Global Markets; Markets where vaccines are rolled out rapidly may be beneficiaries, but the greater impact could be on the laggards
Mike Bird – WSJ
The rollout of Covid-19 vaccines is finally under way. Markets are already showing that the speed of local rollouts matters quite a bit—but global vaccination campaigns will also ripple through financial markets in some unexpected ways, including in places that have successfully controlled the disease.


Fauci Pledges U.S. Covax Support in Re-Engagement With WHO
Corinne Gretler, Thomas Mulier, and James Paton – Bloomberg
U.S. to honor financial obligations to UN agency, Fauci says; Country to take part in Covax global Covid vaccine program
U.S. infectious-disease chief Anthony Fauci pledged his country’s commitment to the World Health Organization, including membership in a global effort to deploy Covid-19 vaccines.

Thailand Approves AstraZeneca Vaccine Amid Second Virus Wave
Prim Chuwiruch and Randy Thanthong-Knight – Bloomberg
Approval is Thailand’s first for novel coronavirus vaccines; Sinovac shots expected to get Thailand’s nod next month
Thailand approved AstraZeneca Plc’s Covid-19 vaccine for emergency use, paving the way for the country to begin inoculating its 67 million people amid a resurgence in the coronavirus cases.

UAE Approves Russia’s Sputnik Covid-19 Vaccine for Emergency Use
Reema Al Othman – Bloomberg
The United Arab Emirates approved Russia’s Sputnik V vaccine for emergency use on Thursday, amid a surge in coronavirus cases in the Gulf nation. “Study results have demonstrated the effectiveness of the vaccine in triggering a strong antibody response against the virus, its safety for use, and its compliance with international safety and effectiveness standards,” state-run WAM News Agency reported.

AstraZeneca Factory Tackles Flooding in Latest Vaccine Challenge
Suzi Ring – Bloomberg
Wales factory sought support from local council overnight; Astra shot key to U.K.’s 15 million February vaccine target
A vaccine factory in Wales producing a Covid-19 shot from AstraZeneca Plc and the University of Oxford faced flood threats overnight in the latest challenge to the U.K.’s ambitious rollout plan. Wockhardt, a facility in Wrexham, sought support from the local council Wednesday evening over fears production could be affected as Storm Christoph raged and forced people from their homes. There was no disruption to the plant and no emergency services were called, according to a spokeswoman for the factory.

Covid vaccination sites out of reach for hundreds of thousands in England; Immunisation rollout risks exacerbating income, ethnic and geographic divides, FT analysis shows
John Burn-Murdoch and Sarah Neville – FT
Hundreds of thousands of people in England without access to a car will struggle to reach their nearest Covid-19 vaccination centre, according to an analysis by the Financial Times that will deepen concerns of a postcode lottery in the UK’s ambitious immunisation programme.

England’s lockdown fails to suppress rise in Covid transmissions; Imperial College study shows ‘no evidence of decline’ and slowly increasing R number
Clive Cookson – FT
The lockdown in England has failed so far to suppress coronavirus transmission, according to the latest survey, which indicated a “worrying” possible uptick in infections.

New Zealand’s delayed vaccine rollout threatens early Covid success; Government accused of complacency as health experts warn of fast-spreading strains
Jamie Smyth – FT
New Zealand’s “go hard, go early” strategy to combat Covid-19 attracted global praise and eliminated local transmission of the virus. But the country’s slow rollout of vaccines is putting people at unnecessary risk and threatens to delay its economic recovery, critics warned.

Biden to use wartime powers to boost production of Covid supplies; Administration warns of shortage of vaccine syringes, N95 masks and testing components
Kiran Stacey – FT
The Biden administration has identified critical supply shortages of 12 items needed to help fight the coronavirus pandemic and promised to use wartime powers to help solve them.

An Iowa airport will conduct coronavirus screenings of all outgoing passengers.
Niraj Chokshi – NY Times
The airport in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, will conduct mandatory coronavirus screenings for all outbound passengers starting on Monday, one of the first airports in the country to take advantage of a decision to allow such evaluations by the Federal Aviation Administration last month.

Europeans Clash With Pfizer, BioNTech Over Covid-19 Vaccine Deliveries; Governments allege shortfall in deliveries is endangering their immunization campaigns
Bojan Pancevski and Giovanni Legorano – WSJ
Tension is rising between European authorities and Pfizer Inc. and BioNTech SE after officials said the companies had unexpectedly cut their deliveries of Covid-19 vaccines and put their immunization schedules at risk.

Germany’s Virus Deaths Surpass 50,000 Since Pandemic Began
Andrew Blackman – Bloomberg
Officials worried about faster-spreading mutations of disease; Merkel to brief reporters on virus response later on Thursday
Germany’s coronavirus fatalities passed 50,000, underscoring the urgency facing Chancellor Angela Merkel’s government to check the spread of the disease and guard against new mutations.

Moderna on Track to Make 100 Million Vaccine Doses by End of March, CEO Says; Timetable would meet Biden’s goal for first 100 days; Stéphane Bancel says drugmaker is monitoring virus mutations, ‘very rare’ allergic reactions to its shot
Peter Loftus – WSJ
Moderna Inc.’s MRNA 0.10% leader said the drugmaker is on track to produce enough doses of its new Covid-19 vaccine to help meet President-elect Joe Biden’s goal to administer 100 million vaccine doses in the first 100 days after he takes office on Wednesday.

Exchanges, OTC and Clearing

Euroclear launches fixed income liquidity data service; LiquidityDrive data service to cover more than 460,000 global corporate and government bonds and combine executed trade settlement data with custody activity data.
Joe Parsons – The Trade
Euroclear has launched a new data service to provide market participants in-depth liquidity analysis on all fixed income instruments settled at its central securities depositories (CSDs).

ETF & ETP Statistics 2020: Sustainability, Themed ETFs and Cryptocurrencies in Investor Focus; Invested assets in the ETF segment rise to 788.1 billion euros / Xetra Europe’s leading stock exchange for sustainable ETFs
Deutsche Börse Group
The demand for passive investments via Exchange Trade Funds (ETFs) and Exchange Traded Products (ETPs) continued to grow in 2020. As Deutsche Börse reports in its current annual trading statistics, the fund assets of the ETFs tradable on Xetra reached a record value of EUR 788.1 billion at the end of the year (2019: EUR 709.8 billion).

HKEX to Launch Mini USD/CNH Futures
Mini USD/CNH Futures to launch in the first half of 2021, with contract size of US$20,000;Developed in response to market demand from smaller corporates and individuals, allowing for more precise risk management;Complements existing HKEX RMB currency products, such as USD/CNH Futures and USD/CNH Options
Hong Kong Exchanges and Clearing Limited (HKEX) is pleased to announce the launch of a cash-settled Mini USD/CNH (US dollar/Offshore Renminbi, or RMB) Futures contract — a smaller-sized contract to complement the popular USD/CNH derivatives products, further diversifying HKEX’s suite of currency derivatives to support the risk-management needs of global investors.

Initial Listing of the Methanol CFR China Specific Origins (ICIS) Futures Contract
CME Group
Effective Sunday, February 21, 2021, for trade date Monday, February 22, 2021, and pending all relevant CFTC regulatory review periods, New York Mercantile Exchange, Inc. (“NYMEX” or “Exchange”) will list the Methanol CFR China Specific Origins (ICIS) Futures contract (the “Contract”) for trading on the CME Globex electronic platform (“CME Globex”) and for submission for clearing via CME ClearPort as noted in the table below.

Taiwan Futures Exchange Received CFTC’s Commission Certification For TIP Taiwan BIO Futures
The Taiwan Futures Exchange’s (TAIFEX) TIP Taiwan Market Biotechnology and Medical Care Index Futures contracts (TIP Taiwan BIO Futures, ticker symbol: BTF) have received Commission certification from the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC). The TIP Taiwan BIO Futures, launched on June 8, 2020, can now be offered and sold to persons located within the U.S.

SET Extends Fee Cut Measures To Help Listed Companies Get Through COVID-19 Crisis, Effective From January 2021
The Stock Exchange of Thailand (SET) Group announces the extension of aid measures for listed companies affected by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. The measures comprise 1) Extending period of an annual registrar fee cut for listed companies and an annual fee cut for those participating in Opportunity Day, and 2) Imposing an additional annual fee reduction measure to encourage listed companied to deploy digital services supported by SET to ease their financial burden. The relief measures are due to take effect from January onwards.

Nasdaq Saw Strong Growth In Norwegian Derivatives In 2020
Nasdaq (Nasdaq: NDAQ) today announced year-end figures for its Norwegian derivatives offering. In 2020, market share in Nasdaq´s single stock options continued to lead the market, with an 88 percent share of open interest and 78 percent share of traded volumes at the end of the year. Over the last two years, the market share for single stock options has increased from 16 percent to 88 percent.

DTCC’s MF Info Xchange Adds Two Way Communication and New Notifications Supporting Wide Spectrum of Announcements
The Depository Trust & Clearing Corporation (DTCC), the premier post-trade market infrastructure for the global financial services industry, today announced that its MF Info Xchange service, the first offering of its kind to standardize communications for the mutual fund industry, has been recently enhanced with additional key capabilities to bring new efficiencies to the mutual fund communication process and meet evolving client needs.


Ant Group’s Valuation Seen Dropping to $108 Billion on Crackdown
Bloomberg News
Ma’s Alipay service valuation may plunge by half: BI’s Chan; China proposes new measures to curb market concentration
Ant Group Co.’s valuation may be cut further under new measures proposed by China to curb market concentration in its online payments market, according to new estimates from Bloomberg Intelligence.

Crackdown on Jack Ma’s empire gathers pace despite reappearance; Beijing increases pressure on Ant Group hours after tech billionaire breaks public silence
Tom Mitchell and Ryan McMorrow and Sun Yu – FT
Jack Ma is back. The Chinese billionaire’s re-emergence in a video after a three-month absence reassured investors concerned over his fate and prompted a rally in the shares of Alibaba, the ecommerce group he founded.

Genesis launches trade capture application for FX and rates trading desks;The application was developed in partnership with XP Investments, the US-based subsidiary of Brazilian broker-dealer XP Investimentos.
Annabel Smith – The Trade
London-based capital markets software provider Genesis Global Technology has launched a trade capture application for foreign exchange and rates trading desks with prime broker integration. Named FX Prime, the application supports FX option trade capture for single- and multi-leg strategies, as well as FX spot, FX forwards, FX swap, FX non-deliverable forwards (NDFs), FX NDF swaps, and interest rate swaps deals.

JPMorgan is still adding AI researchers in London and New York
Sarah Butcher –
JPMorgan is still at it. In-line with Jamie Dimon’s enthusiasm for cloud computing and machine learning during last week’s investor conference call, the bank is building out it’s rarefied AI research labs.

Fintech startups and unicorns had a stellar Q4 2020
Alex Wilhelm – TechCrunch
The fourth quarter of 2020 was as busy as you imagined, with super-late-stage startups reaching new valuation thresholds at a record pace, and total venture capital funding in the United States recording its second-best result of all time. That’s according to data released recently by CB Insights, which complements our look back at 2020’s venture capital year in America from yesterday. At the time, we noted that American startups raised an average of $428 million each day last year, a sum that helps illustrate how rapid the private markets moved during the odd period.

Pragma Launches Execution Algorithms With Deep-Learning Capabilities For Equity Trading
Pragma, the independent algorithmic trading technology provider, has launched a new generation of deep-learning enabled execution algorithms.

smartTrade Reports Successful 2020, Looks Forward To Strong Growth In 2021 http://
smartTrade Technologies, a provider of multi-asset electronic trading solutions headquartered in Aix-en-Provence, France, today reports on a successful 2020, propelled by strong investor confidence and the proven resilience of its sector-leading technology.


It Looks Like Wall Street Is Running Bitcoin, at Least for Now; Professional investors getting into crypto are in for a wild ride, and so is anyone who follows them.
Vildana Hajric – Bloomberg
A lot of investments have gone berserk lately, but none stand out quite like Bitcoin. Its price quadrupled in a matter of months to touch a record high of more than $41,900 in early January, propelling the cryptocurrency back into the limelight less than three years after a spectacular 75% crash. (It traded at around $36,400 on Jan. 19.)

BlackRock Takes First Step Into Crypto Exposure in Two Funds
Annie Massa – Bloomberg
Vehicles add leeway to trade cash-settled Bitcoin futures; Views on Bitcoin have evolved at world’s biggest asset manager
BlackRock Inc. is adding Bitcoin futures as an eligible investment to two funds, the first time the money manager is offering clients exposure to cryptocurrency. The world’s largest asset manager filed updated prospectuses for a pair of funds including cash-settled Bitcoin futures among assets they’re permitted to buy. The filings for BlackRock Strategic Income Opportunities and BlackRock Global Allocation Fund Inc. appeared on the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission website Wednesday. Derivatives using cash settlement do not require delivery of the underlying asset.

New York’s investigation of cryptocurrency Tether hits fresh delay; Parent company faces allegation of ‘covering up’ loss of $850m in company and customer funds
Eva Szalay – FT
New York’s investigation into the Tether cryptocurrency and its parent company has suffered a fresh delay, leaving investors uncertain over the outlook for one of the industry’s most closely watched cases. iFinex, which owns both Tether and trading platform Bitfinex, has agreed with the New York attorney-general to push back the production of documents that will inform the course of the inquiry, according to a filing in a New York court late on Tuesday.

Fund managers speak out after crypto funds crackdown
Ed Moisson – FT
Managers of cryptocurrency investment products have hit back at the UK regulator’s warning to consumers against putting money into the high-risk investments. The UK’s Financial Conduct Authority has banned the sale of cryptocurrency-related derivatives, including exchange traded notes, to retail investors. It also renewed last week its warning that anyone investing in crypto assets “should be prepared to lose all their money”. However, industry figures say the ban and warning are short-sighted because they are likely to increase risks for retail investors and run against wider market demand, with institutional investors increasing investment in cryptocurrencies.

BlockFi launches OTC trading desk for institutional crypto investors
Yogita Khatri – The Block
Crypto financial services firm BlockFi has launched an over-the-counter (OTC) trading desk for institutional investors. The service will allow BlockFi’s clients to process large trades directly between themselves, instead of relying on exchange order books. BlockFi said its OTC desk will operate with traders based in the U.S. and Asia to serve institutional and ultra-high net worth clients worldwide. The desk will support spot trading in cryptocurrencies such as bitcoin (BTC), ether (ETH), and litecoin (LTC). BlockFi already provides liquidity for CME’s bitcoin futures, as well as offers a trading account. Rebuts Craig Wright’s ‘Meritless’ Copyright Claim on Bitcoin White Paper
Daniel Palmer – Coindesk
“We will continue hosting the Bitcoin whitepaper and won’t be silenced or intimidated. Others hosting the whitepaper should follow our lead in resisting these false allegations.” So said, an independent open-source project that aims to support bitcoin (BTC, -5.55%) development, in a response on Thursday to an attempt by nChain chief scientist Craig Wright to force the site to take down its copy of the bitcoin white paper. While bitcoin was created by the pseudonymous Satashi Nakamoto, who has yet to be identified, Wright has repeatedly made claims that he is Satoshi and, apparently contrary to the ethos of the founder, is attempting to claim he owns the copyright to bitcoin’s intellectual property.

Former Ripple advisor Michael Barr to head OCC: Report
Yogita Khatri – The Block
Former Ripple advisor Michael Barr is reportedly expected to head the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC) under Joe Biden’s administration. The Wall Street Journal reported the news, citing “people familiar with the decision.” If named and confirmed by the U.S. Senate, Barr will succeed Brian Brooks, the former Coinbase executive who served as Acting Comptroller from May 2020 to January 2021. Barr is currently a dean at the University of Michigan Ford School of Public Policy. He previously served in Barack Obama’s administration as the Treasury Department’s assistant secretary for financial institutions, where he helped architect the 2010 Dodd-Frank Act. The OCC is an independent branch of the Treasury Department and regulates all national banks, as well as federal branches of foreign banks.

Bitcoin Option Traders Hedge Against Downside Risk as Price Dips to Near $32K
Omkar Godbole – Coindesk
Amid another price downturn Thursday, bitcoin options traders appear to be becoming less bullish on the immediate prospects for the cryptocurrency. The one-week put-call skew, which measures the spread between prices of short-term puts and calls, has risen to a five-week high of 14%. The skew had bottomed out near an extremely bullish -33% just a week ago, according to data source Skew.

Nebraska Lawmaker Introduces Bills That Would Permit Banks to Custody Crypto; Senator Mike Flood hopes to pass the bill in order to make Nebraska a financial technology hub and create new jobs.
Tanzeel Akhtar – Coindesk
A Nebraska senator has introduced two new bills that would allow the state’s banks to offer custodial services for digital assets. Republican Senator Mike Flood introduced the new legislation at the first session of the 107th state legislature on Tuesday. Legislative bill 648 (see below) relates to the “Transactions in Digital Assets Act,” outlining requirements for banks providing custodial services and a classifications of digital assets and related technology such as smart contracts and private keys. Banks seeking to offer custody services would need to give 60 days notice to Nebraska’s Director of Banking and Finance and comply with the provisions of the bill.

Silvergate results show Q4 momentum as bank starts year with a $200 million follow-on public offering
Aislinn Keely – The Block
Silvergate’s Q4 earnings show the bank has kept up its momentum to close out 2020. CEO Alan Lane says 2021 plans include examining additional ways to monetize the bank’s payments network, especially through lending. With the earnings report came an announcement of a follow-on public offering of $200 million in Class A shares.

Lawyer for Bitfinex, Tether says firms are almost finished producing documents sought by NYAG
Aislinn Keely – The Block
A new court filing indicates that the New York Attorney General has received much of the information it has sought from iFinex, the parent company of stablecoin issuer Tether and crypto exchange Bitfinex.


Crises facing Biden threaten to create vicious cycles; New US president must combine agile political manoeuvring with smart economic policy
Mohamed El-Erian – FT
When Joe Biden became vice-president 12 years ago, he joined an administration dealing with a major economic heart attack in the form of the financial crisis. Today, the new president leads a country confronting not a single but multiple self-reinforcing crises. Responding well will require supplementing smart economic policy design with agile political manoeuvring at a time when financial markets remain focused on a “pedal-to-the-metal” Federal Reserve.

China imposes sanctions on Trump officials including Mike Pompeo; Beijing targets former US secretary of state and 27 others for violating its sovereignty
Demetri Sevastopulo and Yuan Yang – FT
Beijing has imposed sanctions on several former Trump administration officials, including ex-US secretary of state Mike Pompeo, accusing them of having “seriously violated” China’s sovereignty.

Markets, and the World, Have One Task for Biden; Everything rides on distributing vaccines swiftly and fairly.
John Authers – Bloomberg
Everyone Agrees: Vaccines Matter
Now that America has at last installed its 46th president, on a day thankfully free of surprises, there is an unusually clear moment of alignment. It isn’t political; that may remain elusive. Rather, President Biden has a clear task that people of all political persuasions can support, and which could boost the economy and markets in the U.S. and the rest of the world. Succeed, and all kinds of vistas of possibility open up before him. Fail, and he could be a lame duck within months.

Biden revokes KXL permit in blow to Canada’s oil sector, Ottawa disappointed
Rod Nickel, Nia Williams – Reuters
U.S. President Joe Biden on Wednesday formally revoked the permit needed to build the Keystone XL oil pipeline (KXL), dashing Ottawa’s hopes of salvaging the $8 billion project that the struggling Canadian crude sector has long supported.

Keystone XL Couldn’t Survive a Changed Climate; The pipeline project belonged to a bygone era for oil and politics.
Liam Denning – Bloomberg
In purely chronological terms, the opposite of a “Scaramucci” could arguably be called a “Keystone.” The Keystone XL pipeline expansion was first proposed almost 13 years ago. On Wednesday, newly installed President Joe Biden killed it. Again.

China Needs to Tame Its Wolf Warriors; An aggressive foreign policy has only cemented anti-Chinese hostility around the world. It’s time for Beijing to play defense, not offense.
Taisu Zhang – Bloomberg
If there was ever a time for China to press its economic and geopolitical advantages, now would seem to be it. The United States is reeling from an ever-worsening coronavirus pandemic and what many consider a failed coup attempt by Donald Trump and his supporters in the waning days of a disastrous presidency. American soft power has declined precipitously, while the viability of U.S. political institutions is being called into question as never before. Europe, too, is struggling to contain the pandemic, not to mention the political and economic fallout of Brexit.

Biden Administration Considers Reversing Trump’s ESG Rule Change; The “Financial Factors in Selecting Plan Investments” rule was the only Department of Labor regulation listed for review.
Tim Quinson – Bloomberg
The Biden administration is taking steps to possibly reverse the decision by Donald Trump’s U.S. Department of Labor to make it more difficult for fiduciaries of retirement plans to direct money to ESG-focused funds.

SIFMA Statement on Biden-Harris Inauguration
SIFMA today issued the following statement from Kenneth E. Bentsen, Jr., president and CEO of SIFMA, on the inauguration of President Joseph R. Biden, Jr :

Is the financial transaction tax dead?
Matt Friedman – Politico
Remember the financial transaction tax?
It’s looking like the exchanges’ threats to move out of the state if New Jersey imposes the tax may have worked (the exchanges even met with the governor of Texas).


FCA proposes CMC fee price cap
The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) has published proposals to introduce a price cap on the fees claims management companies (CMCs) charge their customers in relation to claims for financial products and services.

Gensler Expected To Be An Aggressive Enforcer As SEC Chair
The aggressive enforcement approach that helped Gary Gensler revitalize the once-sleepy Commodity Futures Trading Commission is expected to soon permeate the nation’s top securities regulator. President-elect Joe Biden’s transition team announced on Monday that Gensler, a former Goldman Sachs banker and chairman of the CFTC during the five years that followed the 2008 financial crisis, has been formally nominated to serve as the next chairman of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.

Tyson Foods to Settle Price-Fixing Claims; Meat company to pay $221.5 million to poultry buyers, helping end a fight over alleged collusion
Dave Sebastian – WSJ
Tyson Foods Inc. TSN 3.68% said it has agreed to pay $221.5 million to settle with plaintiff groups of poultry buyers that sued it for price-fixing claims, helping resolve a four-year legal battle over alleged collusion in the $65 billion chicken industry.

Securities Commission Malaysia: SRI Sukuk And Bond Grant Scheme To Encourage Capital Market Fund Raising For Sustainable Development
The Securities Commission Malaysia (SC) today expanded its Green SRI Sukuk Grant Scheme to encourage more companies to finance green, social and sustainability projects through SRI sukuk and bonds issuance.

Investing and Trading

Covid congestion raises the spectre of inflation; It is still unclear how much the pandemic has reduced economic capacity
The editorial board – FT
A shortage of empty containers and congestion at ports has led to a tripling of the price of moving a container from China to the US over the past eight weeks. The rise in shipping costs raises a spectre of so-called “cost push inflation” for advanced economies. It is not clear, yet, how much the pandemic has damaged the capacity of the economy to produce goods and services. If more normal activity resumes after vaccination schemes the increase in overall demand could swiftly outpace diminished supply. Stagflation — high unemployment combined with rising prices — would be a nightmare scenario for central banks having to make policy for heavily indebted economies.

Palm Oil Market Is Looking Like a Hands-Down Winner; Prices have soared since last May, as pandemic effects hurt production while demand stays strong
Lucy Craymer – WSJ
The price of palm oil, used in products from chocolate to toothpaste, is near a decade high and likely to climb further. In Malaysia and Indonesia, sources of roughly 84% of the world’s palm oil, labor shortages caused by the coronavirus pandemic have reduced production, while major consumers China and India are buying more for cooking and manufacturing. Malaysian stockpiles are at their lowest levels in years.

Canadian exchange operator TMX to start 23-hour derivatives trading to lure Asian investors
Nichola Saminather – Reuters
The owner of Canada’s biggest stock exchanges is seeking to attract more Asian derivatives investors, aiming to boost the share of its overall revenues from outside the country to half from one-third currently. TMX Group, which operates the Toronto Stock Exchange, the TSX Venture Exchange and the Montreal Exchange, plans to extend derivatives trading to 23 hours in the second half of 2021 from 14-1/2 hours now to attract Asia-Pacific institutional investors, Chief Executive John McKenzie told Reuters in an exclusive interview.

Environmental, Social and Corporate Governance

Biden Administration Considers Reversing Trump’s ESG Rule Change
Tim Quinson – Bloomberg
The Biden administration is taking steps to possibly reverse the decision by Donald Trump’s U.S. Department of Labor to make it more difficult for fiduciaries of retirement plans to direct money to ESG-focused funds.
The so-called ESG rule, or “Financial Factors in Selecting Plan Investments,” was the only Department of Labor rule listed for review by President Joe Biden’s transition team.

Aramco Omits Carbon Data for Up to Half Its Real Climate Toll; The world’s biggest oil company has been excluding most refineries and chemical plants from its carbon disclosures to investors
Akshat Rathi, Matthew Martin, and Anthony Di Paola – Bloomberg
Before it launched the world’s biggest public listing, Saudi Arabian Oil Co. promised potential investors a small piece of a trillion-dollar company with access to unrivaled oil reserves. Not just in sheer volume but in climate friendliness, too.

ESG investing beyond boom and bust
Linda-Eling Lee – The Business Times
ASSETS allocated to ESG investments have accelerated in recent years. But reading headlines about environmental, social, and corporate governance (ESG) and performance can give you pause, if not whiplash. One day it’s “Better stock selection boosted ESG funds”. The next day, it’s “ESG investing looks like just another stock bubble”. So, which is it? Will ESG investment continue its ascent, or head for a bust? In 2021, we see both hype and scepticism giving way to a more nuanced understanding of when and how ESG has shown pecuniary benefits – and when it hasn’t.

The future of the European ETF market: Sustainable, thematic and innovative
James Baxter-Derrington – Investment Week
The European ETF industry marked its 20th anniversary last year by surpassing $1trn in assets under management (AUM) at the start of the year and then breaking the EUR1trn mark by the end of it, while ESG ETFs gathered more assets than non-ESG for the first time. As the industry enters its 21st year, experts foresee continued growth across ESG funds, greater proliferation of thematic products and further democratisation through fractional share dealing.

Aegon default funds to invest in sustainable HSBC fund
Amy Austin – FT Advisor
Aegon has partnered with HSBC Global Asset Management to add Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) criteria across its in-house workplace default funds. From January, Aegon Retirement Choices default funds will start to invest in the newly launched HSBC Developed World Sustainable Equity Index fund, reaching a total of around 30 per cent of assets for members in the growth stage within six months. This forms part of Aegon’s longer-term plan to achieve net zero carbon emissions across its default fund ranges by 2050.

Thomas Schumann Capital® Selects Moorgate Benchmarks As Administrator Of Innovative Water Risk Indices
Thomas Schumann Capital (TSC), the only solutions provider of investible indices and products that track global water risk, today announced the appointment of Moorgate Benchmarks, the index company driving change, as calculator and administrator of the TSC Water Risk Indices[1].


Ex-Julius Baer CEO Collardi Reprimanded in Laundering Probe
Marion Halftermeyer – Bloomberg
Former Baer chief says he faces no penalties from regulator; Finma opened proceedings against one unnamed Baer individual
Ex-Julius Baer Group Ltd. Chief Executive Officer Boris Collardi was reprimanded by Switzerland’s financial regulator over a money laundering probe that has cast a shadow over his move to Geneva private bank Pictet & Cie.

Hedge Funds’ Bets on Fannie and Freddie Cause Pain; Exit of the Trump administration, seen as best hope for mortgage-finance giants’ privatization, delivers blow
Juliet Chung and Andrew Ackerman – WSJ
The end of the Trump administration is the end of the best hope for hedge-fund investors in a long and painful trade: Betting that Fannie Mae FNMA -3.11% and Freddie Mac FMCC -2.37% would one day be returned to private hands.

Third SPAC ETF Launch Taps Into Blank-Check Company Boom; Morgan Creek Capital’s Mark Yusko is teaming up with former Credit Suisse CEO Brady Dougan
Amrith Ramkumar – WSJ
Wall Street is launching a third exchange-traded fund that invests in special-purpose acquisition companies, accelerating a rush to cash in on investors’ enthusiasm for so-called blank-check firms.

Elliott Management Flees the Amateurs at the Gate; The legendary activist hedge fund has been decamping Hong Kong since 2018. It really doesn’t need to engage with the wave of new investors from the mainland.
Shuli Ren – Bloomberg
Elliott Management Corp. is a formidable and much feared hedge fund around the world. But it is finally pulling out of Hong Kong after slowly winding down its operations since 2018 and ceasing to trade on New Year’s day. Why? Maybe it’s the amateurs at the gate.

Citigroup to Cut Bonuses for Top Executives After U.S. Reprimand
Jennifer Surane – Bloomberg
Citigroup Inc. will reduce bonuses for dozens of its top executives after the bank was reprimanded by regulators last year. The reductions may vary widely, depending on the size and structure of each executive’s pay package, a person with knowledge of the matter said. Executives who report directly to the management committee are being told this month of the decisions. Citigroup’s board is still weighing final compensation decisions for the 15-member executive management team, including Chief Executive Officer Michael Corbat.


Brazil braced for IPO spree this year after bumper 2020; Bankers says pipeline of companies preparing to hit markets may be ‘biggest ever’
Michael Pooler – FT
Brazil’s stock market is gearing up for another rush of flotations in 2021, after an army of new investors helped spur the strongest year for initial public offerings in more than a decade.

Coronavirus drives retreat of Chinese VCs to safer deals; Investors lavish funds on known companies in favoured sectors at expense of tech start-ups
Ryan McMorrow – FT
The coronavirus pandemic has prompted Chinese venture capital investors to retreat to the safety of big names in favoured sectors, thinning the ranks of tech start-ups in China, in a trend that is likely to continue this year.

imagin Reaches 3 Million Users And Consolidates Its Leading Position In Digital Financial Services For Young People In Spain
imagin, the digital service and lifestyle platform for millennials offered by CaixaBank, Spain’s leading retail bank, has reached three million users by the end of 2020. The imaginers community has doubled in size over the last six months and has seen a 15% increase in new users (over 400,000 people) since June when imagin launched its new lifestyle-focused digital community concept for young people.

Russian Gold Miner Nordgold Aims to List in $5 Billion London IPO; Possible offering comes amid a monthslong rally in precious-metal prices
Alistair MacDonald and Ben Dummett – WSJ
Russian gold miner Nord Gold UK Societas, or Nordgold, is looking to list in London as early as this summer, capitalizing on the precious metal’s long price run to become the largest mining company to float globally in at least five years, according to people familiar with the matter.

India Offers to Put New Farm Laws on Hold to End Protests
Bibhudatta Pradhan – Bloomberg
India has offered to suspend three new contentious agricultural laws for up to 18 months, a significant step down for Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s administration as it struggles to end nearly two months of protests by farm groups.


Post-Brexit Rules Problematic for Some, Smooth Sailing for Others; New U.K.-EU trade regulations hit small businesses harder; firms say true test is still to come
Alistair MacDonald – WSJ
One of Peter White’s trucks carrying $136,267 worth of fresh lamb waited at a French port for 44 hours as its paperwork was cleared. Yet Ford Motor Co. F 8.38% has shipped engines from its British factory into the European Union with few problems. Britain’s first weeks of doing business outside of the EU have been mixed, as goods from large companies mainly sail through ports but many small businesses struggle with the new post-Brexit rules.

The Guardian view on Brexit and bureaucracy: the cost of absurdity
The Guardian
Among the various grievances that led to Britain’s departure from the European Union, resentment of worker protections was not dominant for most voters. But it was a point of urgency among many Conservative MPs, for whom freedom to deregulate was the purpose of Brexit.
That is what they meant by regaining sovereignty: emancipation from rules that, in Eurosceptic demonology, suffocate enterprise and limit prosperity. In that ideological conception, a successful Brexit is one that casts off the bureaucratic shackles as soon as possible.

Brexit: ‘My meat shipment is rotting in Rotterdam’
Daniel Thomas and Tom Espiner – BBC
“We’ve not been able to move it on,” says the boss of London-based DH Foods, “so it’s going to have to be destroyed.”
His containers are caught up in delivery delays to the EU caused by new Brexit paperwork. Across the UK, exporters have been reporting hold-ups due to new trade deal rules.

Brexit: Lamb exporter to EU ‘making virtually nothing’
Sarah Dickins – BBC
One of Wales’ largest lamb exporters says the extra cost and paperwork of selling meat into the EU means it is making “virtually nothing”. Meat processing plant Randall Parker Foods in Llanidloes, Powys, warned it may lose a third of its 150 workers unless new border controls change. The company processes one million lambs a year, half of which are exported to the European Union. The UK government said they are working to help exporters with the new rules. Randall Parker Food’s general manager Dale Williams said the UK’s new post-Brexit trading relationship with the EU “means extra cost, tying someone up all day to do the paperwork for one vehicle”.

U.K. Hands Bombardier Rail $2.3 Billion Brexit Jobs Boost
Charlotte Ryan and Christopher Jasper – Bloomberg
Britain granted Bombardier Inc.’s train unit 1.7 billion pounds ($2.3 billion) in export funding, bolstering an English plant ahead of a looming merger with France’s Alstom SA. Bombardier will use the funds to invest in the factory in Derby after winning a 2.4 billion-euro ($2.9 billion) contract to build trains for new monorail lines in Egyptian capital Cairo, according to a statement Wednesday. The loan guarantee will directly support about 100 jobs at the plant, which employs 2,000 people.

Flanders looks beyond Brexit Britain for business opportunities
Jim Brunsden and Sam Fleming – FT
One of the EU regions most economically intertwined with Britain is urging its companies to look beyond the UK for opportunities as it anticipates the full impact of post-Brexit trading conditions. Jan Jambon, minister-president of Flanders, told the Financial Times his administration was encouraging businesses to think ambitiously about new markets — harnessing the region’s strengths in cutting-edge sectors such as chemicals and machinery. The strategy mirrors one advocated by UK prime minister Boris Johnson. Mr Johnson believes once British companies get to grips with the form-filling and other new requirements for doing business with the EU, they will have the administrative knowhow to trade elsewhere with ease.

Brexit responsible for food supply problems in Northern Ireland, Ireland says
Guy Faulconbridge – Reuters
Food supply problems in Northern Ireland are due to Brexit because there are now a certain amount of checks on goods going between Britain and Northern Ireland, Irish Foreign Minister Simon Coveney said. British ministers have sought to play down the disruption of Brexit in recent days. “The supermarket shelves were full before Christmas and there are some issues now in terms of supply chains and so that’s clearly a Brexit issue,” Coveney told ITV.

U.K. Firms Face Post-Brexit Legal Pinch on Hiring EU Workers
Nimra Shahid – Bloomberg
U.K. companies may face a post-Brexit pinch this year that could cost them in fines or hiring costs, a London law firm said. Recent Home Office guidance suggested businesses avoid asking about prospective workers’ settlement status until after June 30, when the window closes for European Union citizens to apply to remain. Asking before then could raise the risk of discrimination claims, according to law firm Bates Wells. But not inquiring may mean hiring people who won’t be able to stay in the U.K. after July 1, adding costs as companies readvertise the post and repeat the process, the firm said. Keeping a person without settlement status in the role risks prosecution from the Home Office, the government department overseeing the country’s borders.


The fight for the future of America’s local newspapers; As hedge funds and private equity snap up titles, what does it mean for journalism?
Anna Nicolaou and James Fontanella-Khan – FT
George Washington took out an advertisement in it to rent some of his land at Mount Vernon. Thomas Jefferson sued it for libel, and lost. Over the centuries, the Hartford Courant, the oldest continuously published newspaper in America, has seen off many threats. But today some of its young reporters fear for its future. Gathered downtown on a drizzly October afternoon, they have a new mission: finding a ­civic-minded rich person to buy their publication.

Where’s the spark? How lockdown caused a creativity crisis; With remote working taking a toll on collaboration, managers are brainstorming ways to ensure the flow of new ideas
Emma Jacobs – FT
Doomed. That was the prevailing mood at Color, a 50-person creative agency, when the pandemic shut its offices in Seattle and Los Angeles. “Among the many business fears that Covid brought on,” says Elie Goral, executive creative director, “the concept of needing to isolate our creative energy was one of the scariest. Creative ideation is that frenetic spark that happens when a group of people are together, face-to-face, beers in hand, pacing back and forth against a messy whiteboard.”

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