Virtu Moving Workers to Florida as Pandemic Reshapes Wall Street; CEOs Urge Congress to Certify Biden’s Electoral College Win

Jan 5, 2021

First Read

$22,651/$300,000 (7.6%)
Joseph Gawronski



Hits & Takes
John Lothian & JLN Staff

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson has ordered a third lockdown for England due to the spreading of the COViD-19 virus. This was not done to distract from the changes occurring due to Brexit.

Sen. Kelly Loeffler announced during a rally with President Donald Trump that she will support the challenging of the Electoral College tally on January 6, joining some other rogue senators and congressmen who are also objecting. Also, Salon is reporting on a Loeffler campaign advertisement which noticeably darkens the skin of her opponent, Rev. Raphael Warnock. In-person voting began this morning for the election in Georgia.

Also, a group of nearly 200 corporate CEOs are urging Congress to certify Joe Biden’s Electoral College win.

The editorial board of the Financial Times has an editorial titled “A moment of grave danger for US democracy; Donald Trump’s efforts to overturn the election are ever more desperate.” This is not the New York Post offering this, but the Financial Times.

Speaking of the Financial Times, they have published a report, “How to find happiness – a 7-point plan.” We could all use a little happiness right now.

Here are some of the highlights from the CME Group’s annual volume report. They had record equity index futures and options average daily volume of 5.6 million contracts, up 63% over 2019. The CME reported record E-mini S&P 500 futures and options average daily volume of 2.7 million contracts and record E-mini Micro futures and options average daily volume of 1.8 million contracts. They also said they traded a record E-mini Nasdaq 100 futures and options with an average daily volume of 585,000 contracts. The eye-popping number in the report was the record Micro E-mini Equity Index futures and options average daily volume of 2 million contracts, representing a 332% increase in ADV over fourth-quarter 2019.

The CME Group was not the only one with some eye-popping numbers. The OCC today reported it cleared a record-setting 7.52 billion total contracts in 2020 and its December volume was the highest monthly tally in OCC’s history, up 80.9 percent year-over-year.

It is good to be Danish. Customers at the Danish home-finance unit of Nordea Bank Abp can get mortgages with 20-year loans at a fixed interest rate of zero.

Jorge Herrada has moved from senior tech advisor at LabCFTC to senior tech advisor at the Federal Reserve Board. Congratulations to Jorge on the career move.

Rosenblatt Securities Inc. President Joseph Gawronsk is the latest to give to the JLN MarketsWiki Education GoFundMe campaign. Joe is a longtime JLN reader and friend, who swears he was not doing a contribution coordination with his Princeton friend Rob Khoury. Rosenblatt Securities is an institutional agency brokerage that offers investors a range of alternative execution techniques and is a thought leader in electronic trading of equities. Thank you to Joe and all who have given and all who have yet to give. Support our efforts to preserve industry history by giving 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


Aggregated open interest on bitcoin futures reached $10.7 billion Sunday, according to The Block. Open interest on bitcoin options also reached $7.96 billion; 82 percent of that volume came from Deribit.~MR

Travis Schwab, CEO of Eventus Systems, Inc., recently sat down for an “On the Brink” podcast episode. Topics included market structure, trade surveillance and the emergence of cryptocurrency exchanges. Click here to give it a listen.~SC


A Cure for Politicians’ Stock Trades; And it wouldn’t require legislation.
Andrew Ross Sorkin, Jason Karaian, Michael J. de la Merced, Lauren Hirsch and Ephrat Livni – NY Times
The recent controversy over stock trading by lawmakers like Senator Kelly Loeffler of Georgia, who avoided significant losses by selling some shares after key meetings early in the pandemic, revived concerns about how Congress polices its members’ portfolios. In his first column of the year, Andrew proposes a simple way to stop politicians’ trading in individual stocks.

*****I think we have a plan!~JJL


OCC Clears Record-Setting 7.52 Billion Total Contracts in 2020; December volume highest month in OCC’s history; up 80.9 percent year-over-year
OCC, the world’s largest equity derivatives clearing organization, announced today that it set new annual cleared contract volume records for the U.S. exchange-listed options industry. In 2020, OCC cleared 7.52 billion total contracts and 7.47 billion options contracts. These numbers surpass the previous records, set in 2018, of 5.24 billion total contracts and 5.14 billion options contracts. Compared to 2019, OCC had a 51.2 percent increase in total contracts cleared and a 52.4 percent increase in options contracts cleared.

*****Equity options trading is hot. Here is your proof.~JJL


Slack Service Disrupted as People Return to Work After Holidays
Molly Schuetz – Bloomberg
Thousands of people reported being unable to access their Slack accounts Monday, when workers headed back to the virtual office after the holidays. According to the website Downdetector, which monitors service outages, more than 15,000 people complained of connection issues in places from Texas to Ukraine. “Down in my ‘home office,'” wrote one user on the site.

*****We had to revert to email to communicate among the JLN team.~JJL


New Covid variant will increase stress on global economy and widen inequality; Policymakers need to take more action to tackle rising risk that short-term problems will become embedded
Mohamed El-Erian – FT
As the new Covid-19 strain triggers tighter restrictions on economic activity and limits even more the movement of people, it has become increasingly clear that the road to vaccine-induced immunity will now have more potholes.

*****Hard to work from home as a waitress.~JJL


Why J.P. Morgan Created the Wall Street Bonus; At the turn of the 20th century, J.P. Morgan hit upon a new way to strengthen employee loyalty.
Stephen Mihm – Bloomberg
Bonus season has arrived, when bankers and traders take home a significant portion of their annual compensation in a single lump-sum payment. It’s Christmas on steroids — or so it can seem to workers outside of finance, most of whom have to make do with a fruit basket or other conventional gifts.

*****Why did JP Morgan create the Wall Street bonus?~JJL


Monday’s Top Three
The top story on Monday was from the Financial Times, Kelly Loeffler’s Trumpian lurch shocks ex-colleagues at ICE. The second most-read story was from, Eris Exchange Pitching NFL Futures Contracts, Targeting Sportsbook Hedging Needs. And third was a feature on the new COVID variant, The Atlantic’s The Mutated Virus Is a Ticking Time Bomb


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Lead Stories

Virtu Moving Workers to Florida as Pandemic Reshapes Wall Street
Lananh Nguyen – Bloomberg
Market maker to shrink Manhattan office space by 75%, CEO says; Staffers want better quality of life and to avoid mass transit
Virtu Financial Inc. is heading to Florida, adding to the wave of financial firms setting up bases outside Manhattan as the pandemic transforms how and where people work. The electronic market maker is preparing to move about 30 people to Palm Beach Gardens from New York. It’s close to signing a 10-year lease to accommodate staff who volunteered for the transfer, and expects their ranks to swell this year to roughly 50 people, or 10% of Virtu’s U.S. workforce, Chief Executive Officer Doug Cifu said. The firm’s headquarters will remain in Manhattan.

CEOs Urge Congress to Certify Biden’s Electoral College Win; Nearly 200 chief executives call on legislators to uphold ‘essential tenets of our democracy’ by enabling transition of power to president-elect
Emily Glazer – WSJ
Nearly 200 top U.S. business leaders pressed Congress to certify President-elect Joe Biden’s electoral victory in a letter Monday, the latest attempt by corporate executives to publicly urge a smooth transition of power as President Trump and many Republicans continue to dispute his election defeat.

Day Trader Quickly Put to Test After End-Of-Year Buy Frenzy
Sarah Ponczek – Bloomberg
TD Ameritrade clients’ market exposure highest since Jan. 2018; Individual traders now make up a fifth of stock trading volume
The stock market’s record altitude was no deterrent to individual investors last month, who in true 2020 fashion ended the year snapping up shares. Their optimism was being tested again on Monday. Clients at both TD Ameritrade Holding Corp. and E*Trade Financial were upping their market exposure as 2020 powered to a close, buying shares of stocks that have been popular all year long. While those positions were mostly falling in line with the S&P 500 Monday, the market itself was getting clobbered, with the benchmark index down 2.3% in the worst start to a year since 2001.

NYSE Scraps Plan to Delist China Telcos in ‘Bizarre’ U-Turn
Shirley Zhao and Lianting Tu – Bloomberg
Exchange’s reversal whipsaws investors after Monday selloff; China Mobile, China Telecom, Unicom rally in Hong Kong trading
The New York Stock Exchange said it will no longer delist China’s three biggest state-owned telecommunications companies, backtracking on a plan that had threatened to escalate tensions between the world’s largest economies.

Brexit Forces Bankers to Shift Trading of European Stocks Out of London; The abrupt move underscores the European Union’s broader plan to bolster its own financial centers
Ben Dummett – WSJ
The fallout from Britain’s split from the European Union showed itself on the first trading day of the year as a big chunk of dealing volume in EU stocks moved from London to venues located in Amsterdam, Paris and the Continent’s other financial centers.

‘Clean shift’ as euro share trading exits London for EU
Huw Jones, Abhinav Ramnarayan – Reuters
The biggest shift in European share trading in two decades was proceeding smoothly on Monday, on the first day of business since Britain left the European Union’s single market.

EUR6bn of EU share dealing rerouted from London to new European hubs on first day of trading; “The City has lost its European share business.”
Jack Peat – The London Economic
Billions of pounds in EU share dealing was rerouted out of London and into new European hubs on the first day of trading this week. According to Refinitiv data disclosed in a Financial Times report some EUR6 billion was moved to EU marketplaces or back to primary exchanges such as the Madrid, Frankfurt and Paris.

Low Taxes and High Temperatures Lure Finance Firms to Miami; Blackstone and Starwood Capital Group are among those drawn to the city
Arian Campo-Flores – WSJ
This city has long pitched itself as an attractive location for finance and tech firms, with its tax advantages, flight connections to New York and cosmopolitan flair. Its efforts appear to be paying off. Private-equity giant Blackstone Group Inc. unveiled plans in October to open an office in the city to serve its internal technology needs that will eventually employ 215 people. Billionaire financier Carl Icahn moved his company to nearby Sunny Isles Beach earlier in 2020. Real-estate investor Starwood Capital Group is building a sleek new 144,000-square-foot headquarters in Miami Beach.

Here’s what happens if you own a share of a Chinese company that gets delisted
Evelyn Cheng – CNBC
“The most practical thing for a typical investor to worry about is price,” said James Early, CEO of investment research firm Stansberry China. “You’re probably going to have to give (a soon-to-be-delisted stock) up sooner or later, so make your bet now,” he said. “Are you better off selling now, or wait for some kind of a bounce?”

Boris Johnson orders third lockdown for England; PM shuts schools until mid-February amid fears hospitals are becoming overwhelmed
Sebastian Payne and George Parker and Mure Dickie – FT
Boris Johnson ordered a third economically disastrous national lockdown for England as the UK prime minister warned that the NHS risked becoming overwhelmed by a surge in cases of the new Covid-19 strain.

The temptation for cyber attackers to become short-sellers; A lucrative and new field of criminal gain has opened up for sophisticated hackers
Elisabeth Braw – FT
Cyber attacks frequently cause the share price of companies to fall. That has long made criminals salivate at the prospect of cyber attacks accompanied by short selling. Now they may be getting their chance. Cyber weapons — often deployed by hostile states — are becoming extremely sophisticated, and governments struggle to contain them. Shorting accompanied by hacking is a now real threat to business.

Brexit Forces Bankers to Shift Trading of European Stocks Out of London; The abrupt move underscores the European Union’s broader plan to bolster its own financial centers
Ben Dummett – WSJ
The fallout from Britain’s split from the European Union showed itself on the first trading day of the year as a big chunk of dealing volume in EU stocks moved from London to venues located in Amsterdam, Paris and the Continent’s other financial centers.

Cboe completes acquisition of BIDS Trading; Cboe said the deal will give it a competitive advantage in off-exchange trading, which accounts for 40% of US equities trading volumes.
Annabel Smith – The Trade
Exchange operator Cboe Global Markets has completed its acquisition of broker dealer BIDS Trading after the pair had entered into a definitive agreement in October.

Jerome Powell’s future as chair of the Fed could be affected by its pandemic response.
New York Times
Jerome H. Powell, the 67-year-old chair of the Federal Reserve, will face pressure from all sides in 2021, and he could find himself auditioning for his own job. His term expires in early 2022, which means that President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. will choose whether to renominate him.

Wells Fargo to Expand Investment Bank as Scharf Sets Strategy
Hannah Levitt – Bloomberg
Push once predicted by Jamie Dimon takes shape as scandals ebb; Firm aims to ramp up underwriting, advisory, market financing
Wells Fargo & Co., rarely seen as a major force in the world of trading and dealmaking, aims to expand its investment bank in coming years. It’s part of a strategy Chief Executive Officer Charlie Scharf has been developing since taking over the troubled consumer and commercial banking giant 14 months ago from its offices in New York, according to senior executives. The push would take the fourth-largest U.S. bank a step closer to emulating some of its biggest rivals, including JPMorgan Chase & Co., where Scharf spent over a decade before running Visa Inc. and Bank of New York Mellon Corp.

The City of London’s New Big Bang; Europe’s dependence on British finance is no longer a given.
Elisa Martinuzzi – Bloomberg
The City of London, for years the world’s dominant financial center, is facing its biggest reset since the Big Bang of 1986. Those reforms liberalized market trading, making the U.K. a magnet for banking activity from around the globe. This time the reverse is happening: The rules that shape Britain’s new relationship with the European Union mean finance business is leaving the City at an unprecedented clip.

2020 SPAC Boom Lifted Wall Street’s Biggest Banks; Underwriters earn fees helping create blank-check companies whose backers include celebrities and hedge funds
Amrith Ramkumar – WSJ
Big banks earned billions of dollars in fees setting up so-called blank-check companies in 2020, highlighting how booming capital markets are helping Wall Street weather the coronavirus.

China doubles down on COVID narrative as WHO investigation looms
David Stanway – Reuters
As a team from the World Health Organization (WHO) prepares to visit China to investigate the origins of COVID-19, Beijing has stepped up efforts not only to prevent new outbreaks, but also shape the narrative about when and where the pandemic began.


EU Seeks Up to 300 Million More Pfizer-BioNTech Doses
Naomi Kresge and John Follain – Bloomberg
Bloc said to pursue deal that could double Pfizer shot supply; Purchase would include 100 million orders, 200 million options
The European Union is negotiating with Pfizer Inc. and BioNTech SE on a deal that could double their supply of Covid-19 vaccine to the region, according to people familiar with the talks.

Merkel Pushes for Tighter Curbs With Vaccine Strategy Under Fire
Arne Delfs and Raymond Colitt – Bloomberg
German leader has been drawn into vaccine controversy; Chancellery pushes for limiting movement in risk areas
Chancellor Angela Merkel is seeking tighter lockdown restrictions to contain the coronavirus as criticism over Germany’s vaccine rollout sparks feuding in her cabinet. The chancellery is proposing a limit on how far people can travel from their homes in areas with high infection rates, according to people familiar with the discussions.

Vaccine Rollout: France Is Failing at What It’s Meant to Do Best; Emmanuel Macron needs to up his game.
Lionel Laurent – Bloomberg
About the best thing you can say about the start of France’s Covid-19 vaccination campaign is that it surely can’t get any worse. The homeland of vaccine pioneer Louis Pasteur, and the source of major scientific victories such as the discovery of HIV in the 1980s, is today at the bottom of the charts when it comes to coronavirus jabs. France had administered 516 doses of Pfizer-BioNTech’s vaccine as of Sunday, two weeks after it was approved by the European Union. That’s far behind Germany’s 238,809 inoculations and the U.K.’s 947,206.

UK vaccine rollout hampered by red tape and lack of back-up stocks; Aim is to administer 2m doses of Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine a week by end of January
Sarah Neville, Jim Pickard and Anna Gross and Donato Paolo Mancini – FT
Red tape and a lack of back-up stocks are affecting the rollout of the UK’s mass Covid-19 vaccination programme, people familiar with the process told the Financial Times, as ministers face questions over the speed with which they are protecting people from a new, more contagious strain of the virus.

The pandemic’s darkest hour is yet to come; Fresh lockdowns are needed to slow the rapid spread of new Covid-19 variants and inevitable deaths
Anjana Ahuja – FT
Those who predicted that 2021 would feel different from 2020 have been proven correct — but not in the way that anyone wanted. Despite the existence of several effective Covid-19 vaccines, the UK, many European countries, the US and Brazil appear headed for their darkest moments in the pandemic.

Russia says Covid vaccinations pass 1m mark; Questions remain about Moscow’s ability to supply Sputnik V jab outside big cities
Henry Foy – FT
Russia has vaccinated more than 1m people against Covid-19, the head of the country’s main vaccine developer said, as the country recorded its lowest infection rate for more than six months.

As Covid-19 Surges, Colleges Make Last-Minute Changes to Spring Calendars; Syracuse, Mississippi State and others delay start dates to avoid postholiday spread and increase opportunity for staff to get vaccinated
Melissa Korn – WSJ
Syracuse University laid out its plan for spring semester back in September, scheduling classes to start Jan. 25 and eliminating spring break to minimize potential travel-related exposure to Covid-19. On Monday, the school scrapped that calendar and said it would start and end the spring term two weeks later than anticipated, in the hopes of staving off further outbreaks as case numbers surge nationwide.

Small Number of Covid Patients Develop Severe Psychotic Symptoms; Most had no history of mental illness and became psychotic weeks after contracting the virus. Cases are expected to remain rare but are being reported worldwide.
Pam Belluck – NY Times
Almost immediately, Dr. Hisam Goueli could tell that the patient who came to his psychiatric hospital on Long Island this summer was unusual.

Highly contagious UK variant of COVID-19 found in NY for first time
Bernadette Hogan, Nolan Hicks and Aaron Feis – NY Post
The highly-contagious UK variant of the coronavirus has been detected in Saratoga Springs, marking the first known case in New York State, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced Monday.

U.S. Risks Years of Higher Mortality on Covid’s Economic Fallout
Julia Fanzeres – Bloomberg
Researchers say disease to have long-term health impacts; Paper: 1.4 million more Americans may die in next 20 years
The U.S. could see an elevated death rate for more than a decade as the economic fallout from the coronavirus persists, underscoring the long-term health impact of the deep recession. The nation’s mortality rate is forecast to increase 3% while life expectancy will drop 0.5% over the next 15 years, representing 890,000 more American deaths, according to a working paper from researchers at Duke, Harvard and Johns Hopkins universities. Over a 20-year period, that amounts to 1.37 million additional deaths.

Covid-19 Vaccines Are in High Demand, but Thousands More Workers Are Needed to Make Them; Companies mass producing shots for Pfizer, Moderna and AstraZeneca are racing to find staff: ‘We are truly in unprecedented territory’
Elizabeth Koh – WSJ
Contract-manufacturing companies working to accelerate the global availability of Covid-19 vaccines are struggling with a shortage of their own: There aren’t enough workers to meet this year’s big production push.

Exchanges, OTC and Clearing

CME Group Reports 2020 Annual, Q4 and Monthly Market Statistics
CME Group
CME Group, the world’s leading and most diverse derivatives marketplace, today reported its full-year, Q4 and December market statistics, showing it reached average daily volume (ADV) of 19.1 million contracts during the year, 16.2 million contracts during the fourth quarter, and 14.2 million contracts during the month of December. Market statistics are available in greater detail at

MGEX Reports 2020 as the Second-Best Calendar Year in History
MGEX, a Designated Contract Market (DCM) and Derivatives Clearing Organization (DCO), reports 2020 concluded as the second-best calendar year in history with a total of 2,766,442 contracts traded. Alongside this achievement, it was also the best calendar year for electronic volume with a total of 2,476,313 contracts. Additionally, MGEX recorded that 2020 had the most total futures contracts traded in a year for the Exchange.

NYSE reverses plan to delist Chinese telecoms groups; US exchange was set to drop state-run companies to comply with Trump administration order
Hudson Lockett and Eric Platt – FT
The New York Stock Exchange has backtracked on plans to delist three Chinese state-run telecoms groups, reversing a decision that had threatened to further inflame tensions between Washington and Beijing.

ICE Bonds platform sees portfolio trading volumes skyrocket; Volumes had more than doubled in the fourth quarter of 2020, marking the strongest period of activity since the exchange launched portfolio trading.
Annabel Smith – The Trade
ICE Bonds recorded significant increases in volumes for fixed income portfolio trading in the fourth quarter of 2020 with notional activity rising to $1.9 billion. Volumes in Q4 had doubled compared with the previous quarter and marked the strongest period of activity the exchange had seen since first introducing portfolio trading.

ICE Bonds Announces Record Notional Volume for Portfolio Trading;
Over $1.9 billion in notional activity executed in fourth quarter of 2020
Intercontinental Exchange, Inc
Intercontinental Exchange, Inc. (NYSE:ICE), a leading operator of global exchanges and clearing houses and provider of mortgage technology, data and listings services, today announced record volumes for fixed income portfolio trading during the fourth quarter of 2020.

Xetra-Gold closes 2020 with a portfolio of 216.9 tons; Growth of 13.7 tons compared to the previous year / Europe’s largest gold security with physical deposit
Deutsche Börse Group
The gold holdings in the exchange-traded bearer bond Xetra-Gold (ISIN: DE000A0S9GB0 ) rose to 216.9 tons at the end of 2020. That is an increase of 13.7 tons over the course of the year. At the beginning of January 2020, 203.2 tons of gold were still stored in the central vault for German securities. This makes Xetra-Gold the leading physically deposited gold security in Europe.

Deutsche Börse publishes 2020 annual cash market statistics; 2.1 trillion EUR turnover on the Xetra, Börse Frankfurt and Tradegate Exchange trading venues / overview of the most heavily traded stocks
Deutsche Börse Group
The shares of SAP, Commerzbank, Nordex and Flatex Degiro were the most traded papers in the German indices DAX, MDAX, SDAX and Scale All Share last year. Deutsche Börse announced this today with the publication of its cash market trading statistics for 2020. In total, the order book turnover of 2.1 trillion was recorded on the three trading venues Xetra, Börse Frankfurt and Tradegate Exchange last year. Euros achieved. In 2019 it was 1.5 trillion. Euro.

January 2021 Stock, ETF, and Corporate Bond Update – Effective January 04, 2021
CME Group
January 2021 Stock, ETF, and Corporate Bond update is available at

Updated Live Date: File Format Change – CST550IM New Column – Effective: January 25, 2021
CME Group
Starting at Intraday (ITD) on January 25, 2021 (previously planned for December 14, 2020), a new column will be added to the CST550IM report as previously communicated in advisory notice 20-449.

Ljubljana Stock Exchange Annual Statistical Report For The Year 2020

The Spanish Stock Market Trades 36.3 Billion Euros In December
The Spanish stock market traded 36.3 billion euros in Equities in December, down 10.7% from the same period last year and down 14.7% from the preceding month. The accumulated effective volume traded to the end of December totalled 429.3 billion euros, 8.6% less than in the previous year. The number of trades in December was 4.43 million, up 58.6% year on year and down 24.1% from November. The number of accumulated trades to the end of December amounted to 55.7 million, up 49.6% year on year.

Nasdaq Nordic: Annual Trading Statistics 2020
Nasdaq Nordic today publishes annual trade statistics for the Nordic1 and Baltic2 markets. Below follows a summary of the trade statistics for full year 2020:

SIX Trading Key Figures: Year 2020
In a globally challenging environment, various extraordinary events led to persistently high market volatility in 2020. Despite the turbulent market developments, the record-high volumes were managed by SIX without any problems. Multiple high-profile product issuers and trading participants joined the Swiss Stock Exchange, while two new company listings could be noted.

DGCX Brings Strong Close To 2020, With Numerous Achievements
The Dubai Gold & Commodities Exchange (DGCX) today announced that it traded 12.73 million contracts in 2020, and recorded a yearly AOI of 220,504 contracts in 2020. Open interest refers to the total number of outstanding contracts at the end of the trading day and is a strong indicator of an exchange’s success.

A Record-Breaking Year For TAIFEX
The Taiwan Futures Exchange (TAIFEX) announced that it achieved a new record volume of 341,393,346 contracts in 2020, a 30.9% increase compared to 2019. Average daily volume (ADV) for the full-year also reached an all-time record at 1,393,442 contracts.

EPEX SPOT power trading results of December 2020; Year closes with trading record on EPEX SPOT
markets; Volume on GB Intraday auctions rises by 39.7% on year
In December 2020, a total volume of 55.2 TWh was traded on EPEX SPOT’s Day-Ahead and Intraday power markets
(December 2019: 53.2 TWh). This represents a new monthly all-time high.


What’s next for Jack Ma’s fintech unicorn?
Anjani Trivedi – Sydney Morning Herald
The future of Ant Group remains up in the air after its dramatic fall from grace. Regulators seem to have stopped short of dismantling it and the company is considering a transition to a financial holding company, willing to be regulated like a bank. It’ll be tough. What could Ant ultimately look like?
Bank-like companies don’t command tech-like valuations. Unless, of course, you’re in the booming consumer finance market in China, which is expected to hit 3 trillion yuan ($600 billion) in volumes over the next four years. That’s where credit demand is -and that’s where Ant’s reach is. More importantly, state planners are trying to generate domestic demand and supply, keeping with their so-called dual circulation strategy. For that to work, credit will have to flow to households effectively.

Divvy Valuation: Fintech Focused on Ditching Expense Reports Becomes a Unicorn
Jennifer Surane – Bloomberg
Divvy, the financial-technology company that offers corporate cards and expense-management software to small businesses, said it’s now valued at $1.6 billion after raising money from investors including PayPal Holdings Inc.

China asks all internet platforms to investigate fintech operations
China’s banking and insurance regulator on Thursday said all internet platforms should investigate their fintech businesses to ensure they comply with regulatory requirements, and rectify any failings as soon as possible.
China’s financial regulators have summoned Alibaba’s financial technology affiliate Ant Group for talks recently over outstanding problems.

How Latin America is Fast Becoming the Capital of FinTech
Finance Magnates Staff
For much of the past decade, FinTech startups have pushed the envelope in the financial services sector. In doing so, they’ve posed a significant challenge to incumbent institutions. That challenge has now turned into a growing market share for FinTech businesses that looks like it’s only going to increase with time. And all across the world, innovative FinTech products are beginning to bring financial services to underserved populations and into markets where traditional banks don’t dare to tread.

Bank-FinTech Collaborations Set Stage For Real-Time Payments Expansion
The financial services ecosystem has evolved to a state where traditional financial institutions (FIs) and FinTechs, which once had been vying for the mind share and wallet share of end consumers, are now working more closely in an effort to innovate. To that end, Carl Robinson, senior vice president of Alacriti, told PYMNTS that the stage is set to bring real-time payments to a wider set of consumers and commercial use cases.

In-Memory Computing Can Digitally Transform Financial Services And FinTech Applications For Capital Markets
Nikita Ivanov – Forbes
Financial services companies in the capital markets face three major application performance challenges. They must squeeze value from every ounce of soaring amounts of data. They must handle an increasing number of asset classes, the use of automated quantitative trading algorithms and continually evolving regulatory and cybersecurity requirements. And to reach business goals, they require that multiple business applications have real-time, massively scalable access to operational and historical data from disparate sources.


Crypto Fund’s Price Diverges From Holdings in Latest Mispricing
Claire Ballentine – Bloomberg
Grayscale Ethereum Trust fell 22% despite rally in holdings; Episode shows recent issues in funds tracking cryptocurrencies
A flood of new shares in the Grayscale Ethereum Trust is sending its price in the opposite direction of the cryptocurrency that it holds. The $3.5 billion fund, ticker ETHE, fell as much as 22% on Monday, despite Ether rallying almost 10%. The divergence was caused by a surge in the number of shares available to trade, with 116 million unleashed at the end of a lock-up period to join the 47 million that were already outstanding, according to Bloomberg Intelligence.

JPMorgan Says Bitcoin Could Surge to $146,000 in Long Term
Joanna Ossinger – Bloomberg
Strategists say digital asset is competing with gold for flows; Drop in Bitcoin volatility needed to unlock price potential
Bitcoin has the potential to reach $146,000 in the long term as it competes with gold as an asset class, according to JPMorgan Chase & Co. Bitcoin’s market capitalization of around $575 billion would have to rise by 4.6 times — for a theoretical price of $146,000 — to match the total private sector investment in gold via exchange-traded funds or bars and coins, strategists led by Nikolaos Panigirtzoglou wrote in a note. But that outlook depends on the volatility of Bitcoin converging with that of gold to encourage more institutional investment, a process that will take some time, they said.

Bitcoin’s Bulls Should Fear Its Other Scarcity Problem; As the value of this asset class rises, generating price spikes becomes increasingly difficult.
David Fickling – Bloomberg
In the eyes of many Bitcoin advocates, scarcity is a key advantage over more conventional assets. Unlike fiat money, which can be created from nothing on a bank’s balance sheet, or gold, which can be mined from the ground in quantities still far from being exhausted, the supply of Bitcoins was set from the start at 21 million. That means, in the words of its pseudonymous founder Satoshi Nakamoto, it should ultimately be “completely inflation free” — making it a far better store of wealth than assets whose real value declines over time.

Bitcoin Surges Into 2021, Rose Nearly 20% Over Weekend; Digital currency briefly spiked over $34,000 before falling back
Paul Vigna – WSJ
Bitcoin got the new year off to a scorching start as investors continued to pile on bets that the digital currency’s price will keep rising. The price of bitcoin rose as much as 19% over the weekend, trading as high as $34,452 on Sunday, according to CoinDesk. It finished 2020 at $28,966, more than quadrupling on the year.

BTC custodian Xapo exits US market, cites regulations
Steve Kaaru – Conigeek
Xapo is leaving the U.S. market. The BTC wallet and custodian reportedly sent an email to its U.S. users, informing them that a change in its global business strategy has forced it to end its services in the country, effective March 1, 2021.

Square says new FinCEN wallet proposal will inhibit crypto adoption and hinder law enforcement efforts
Saniya More – The Block
Square is the latest company to go public with its opposition to proposed rulemaking from the U.S. Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN). If enacted, the proposal would require companies to keep records of and report certain cryptocurrency transaction information beyond what is required for cash transactions today. Square argues in its letter to FinCEN, published Monday, that the proposal will lead to “unnecessary friction,” incentivizing current crypto customers to move away from regulated crypto transaction services and use non-custodial wallets or services outside the U.S. to carry out transactions.

Square’s Jack Dorsey Hits Out at FinCEN’s ‘Burdensome’ Proposed Crypto Wallet Rules
Tanzeel Akhtar – Coindesk
Jack Dorsey, CEO of payments company Square, has joined the ranks of those criticizing the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network’s (FinCEN) proposed regulations around collecting data on crypto wallet users.

Kraken Files Formal Response to Last-Minute US Government Crypto Rulemaking
Kraken Blog
Kraken recently warned of the deficiencies in a proposed U.S. government rulemaking. Today, Kraken is publishing its official response. Kraken believes the proposed rule would be bad for America and for the world. It would be a substantial departure from existing law. It would require enormous ongoing expenditure of resources by exchanges.

US Federal Regulator Says Banks Can Conduct Payments Using Stablecoins
Nikhilesh De – Coindesk
Federally regulated banks can use stablecoins to conduct payments and other activities, the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC) said Monday. The federal banking regulator published an interpretive letter addressing whether national banks and federal savings associations could participate in independent node verification networks (INVNs, otherwise known as blockchain networks) or use stablecoins. The letter said that these financial institutions can participate as nodes on a blockchain and store or validate payments. Any banks that do participate in an INVN must be aware of the operational, compliance or fraud risks when doing so, an OCC press release warned.

Bitcoin Miner Marathon Patent Group Completes $200M Capital Raise
Tanzeel Akhtar – Coindesk
Nasdaq-listed bitcoin mining firm Marathon Patent Group (MARA) has announced the completion of a $200 million capital raise. U.S.-based Marathon reported Monday that following the previously announced shelf offering, it had ended the 2020 fiscal year with $217.6 million in cash and 74,656,549 shares outstanding. The company plans to use the funds to pay for major purchases of bitcoin (BTC, +2.06%) miners from manufacturer Bitmain, as well as further expand the business.

Ukraine signs agreement with Stellar Development Foundation to work on CBDC, digital asset strategy
MK Manoylov – The Block
Ukraine’s Ministry of Digital Transformation has inked a memorandum of understanding with the Stellar Development Foundation, with the two sides agreeing to cooperate on a number of digital asset-related initiatives. According to statements published Monday, such projects will include assisting Ukraine’s central bank on its digital currency efforts and, more broadly, “the development of a strategy for virtual assets in Ukraine.”

$379 billion: Crypto exchange trade volume for December hit highest level on record
Michael McSweeney – The Block
Spot volume on cryptocurrency exchanges reached an all-time high in December, reaching $379 billion and eclipsing the previous high reported in January 2018. The data provided in the graph below tracks spot volumes from 20 of the largest crypto exchanges with reliable data. Of the approximately $379.3 billion, Binance accounted for about $219.5 billion while Coinbase accounted for about $45.7 billion.

Bitcoin miners brought in $692 million in revenue during December
Michael McSweeney – The Block
Bitcoin miners brought in nearly $700 million in revenue in December, according to data collected by The Block Research. Of the $692.32 million in reported monthly revenue, $68.3 million came in the form of transaction fees. Users pay transaction fees to give their transactions a higher priority when waiting to be included in a block.

A16z, Coinbase intend to challenge FinCEN’s proposed crypto wallet rules in court should it become law
Yogita Khatri – The Block
A16z and Coinbase intend to challenge FinCEN’s proposed crypto wallet rules in court should it become law. A16z’s Kathryn Haun, a former federal prosecutor, says the proposed rules are ill-advised and will have “many foreseeable and unintended negative consequences.”

China’s digital currency trial returns to Shenzhen for Round 2, with twice the participants and double the payoutl; A total of 100,000 digital ‘red packets’, each containing 200 yuan (US$31), will be distributed to residents on Thursday via lottery – the latest test of China’s digital sovereign currency
Amanda Lee – South China Morning Post
Shenzhen, China’s technological hub, will start its second trial of the nation’s digital currency this week, giving away virtual gift packets to its citizens as the nation steps up its testing efforts in a bid to launch the world’s first sovereign digital currency.

SkyBridge Enters Bitcoin Market With New Allocation, Fund Offering – SkyBridge Bitcoin Fund LP Provides Institutional-Quality Custody And Operation
SkyBridge Capital, a leading global alternative investment firm, today announced the launch of the SkyBridge Bitcoin Fund LP, which provides mass-affluent investors with an institutional-grade vehicle to gain exposure to Bitcoin. Additionally, on behalf of its flagship funds, SkyBridge initiated a position, valued at approximately $310 million at the time of this release, in funds investing in Bitcoin during November and December 2020.


Trump’s Phone Call Is What Coup Fever Looks Like; The U.S. president goes back to Georgia, looking for some votes to steal. He knows that he’s been beat.
Timothy L. O’Brien – Bloomberg
Like the little boy haunted by ghosts in the horror movie “The Sixth Sense,” President Donald Trump sees dead people everywhere. He thinks at least 5,000 of them voted in Georgia during the presidential election and were part of a broader conspiracy that deprived him of a victory in the state.

Time Is Running Out to Get a Pardon From Trump; He’s granted them based on impulse and personal connections, which some petitioners see as an eleventh-hour opportunity.
David Yaffe-Bellany – Bloomberg
The week before Christmas, President Donald Trump issued a series of pardons and commutations, many of them for his personal associates and political loyalists: his son-in-law’s father, Charles Kushner; former operatives Roger Stone and Paul Manafort; and two former GOP congressmen. Hardly any of the 49 people who received clemency were vetted by the U.S. Department of Justice’s pardon office.

Swedes Slam PM After He Ignores His Own Covid Guidelines
Rafaela Lindeberg – Bloomberg
Sweden’s Prime Minister Stefan Lofven is facing an historic slump in voter confidence after he was caught flouting his own government’s Covid guidelines. The prime minister, along with a number of senior government officials, has been criticized harshly in Swedish media in recent days after appearing to ignore social distancing guidelines amid a dangerous spike in coronavirus cases. Lofven went on a pre-Christmas shopping tour, while his finance minister, Magdalena Andersson, was photographed renting skis in a popular resort singled out by health authorities as a place to avoid.

Trump vows to ‘fight like hell’ to remain in White House; US president widens division within Republicans as Georgia official blasts election claims
James Politi and Courtney Weaver – FT
US president Donald Trump vowed to “fight like hell” to keep the White House as he deepened the Republican division over presidential succession on the eve of a critical Senate election in Georgia.

A moment of grave danger for US democracy; Donald Trump’s efforts to overturn the election are ever more desperate
The editorial board – FT
Joe Biden won a decisive victory in the US presidential election. The size of the Democrat’s winning margin did a lot to calm immediate fears for the future of American democracy. It was depressingly predictable that Donald Trump would seek to overturn the result, by any means available. But in the two months since the vote, US institutions have demonstrated their robustness. Courts at every level have rejected Mr Trump’s meritless efforts to overturn the election. Public officials — many of them members of Mr Trump’s Republican party — have done their jobs, supporting democracy and the rule of law.

To Defend Democracy, Investigate Trump; There needs to be a cost to trying to overthrow an election.
Michelle Goldberg – NY Times
According to Title 52, Section 20511 of the United States Code, anyone who “knowingly and willfully deprives, defrauds, or attempts to deprive or defraud the residents of a state of a fair and impartially conducted election process” for federal office can be punished by up to five years in prison.

Kelly Loeffler’s new Facebook ad darkens skin of Raphael Warnock, her Black opponent; The campaign spent 10 times as much boosting the ad as it did on another ad the same day that used untouched clips
Roger Sollenberger – Salon
Sen. Kelly Loeffler, R-Ga., ran a paid Facebook ad last week that artificially darkened the skin color of her Democratic opponent, the Rev. Raphael Warnock, who is Black. In fact, the campaign used two of the same clips in their original form for another Facebook ad that ran the same day, but spent 10 times as much money boosting the version in which Warnock appeared darker.

Biden Administration Could Unsettle Banks in More Than One Way; Percolating policy ideas like postal banking and digital wallets via the Fed give a hint of how Washington could reshape the banking business
Telis Demos – WSJ
Historically, investors in banks would be worried about stepped-up financial regulation from a new Democratic administration. This time around, however, a bigger long-term worry might be government efforts that could disrupt banking itself.


CFTC Staff Provides Temporary Relief to Futures Commission Merchants Regarding Certain SOFR-Linked Investments
The Commodity Futures Trading Commission’s Market Participants Division today issued temporary no-action relief to permit futures commission merchants to invest customer funds in investments that have adjustable rates of interest that correlate closely with, or are determined solely by reference to, a benchmark of the Secured Overnight Financing Rate (SOFR).

CFTC Staff Grants Temporary No-Action Relief to Derivatives Clearing Organizations from Amended Daily Reporting Requirements
The Commodity Futures Trading Commission’s Division of Clearing and Risk (DCR) today granted temporary no-action relief to registered derivatives clearing organizations (DCOs) from the amended daily reporting requirements in CFTC Regulation 39.19. This relief expires on January 27, 2022.

U.S. Accounting Standard-Setter Looks to Tackle Controversial Topics in 2021; Financial Accounting Standards Board is expected to give priority to issues such as recognizing goodwill and disclosing expenses
Mark Maurer – WSJ
The U.S. accounting standard-setter plans to tackle issues around accounting for goodwill and disclosure of expenses in 2021, after a year marked by a leadership transition and the economic havoc caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

ESMA withdraws the registrations of four UK-based trade repositories; Following the UK’s exit from the EU ESMA has retracted the registrations of six credit rating agencies and four trade repositories.
Kiays Khalil – The Trade
The retractions from ESMA come just days after Britain’s departure from the European Union and its transition period.

ASIC commences civil penalty proceedings against Squirrel Superannuation Services
On 23 December 2020, ASIC commenced civil penalty proceedings in the Federal Court against Squirrel Superannuation Services Pty Ltd (Squirrel) for false or misleading representations.

Proposed Rule Change to Amend the FINRA Rule 6800 Series (Consolidated Audit Trail Compliance Rule) Relating to Allocation Reporting Requirements
Financial Industry Regulatory Authority, Inc. (“FINRA”) is filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC” or “Commission”) a proposed rule change to amend the FINRA Rule 6800 Series, FINRA’s compliance rule (“Compliance Rule”) regarding the National Market System Plan Governing the Consolidated Audit Trail (the “CAT NMS Plan” or “Plan”) to be consistent with a conditional exemption granted by the Commission from certain allocation reporting requirements set forth in Sections 6.4(d)(ii)(A)(1) and (2) of the CAT NMS Plan (“Allocation Exemption”).

Final Statements for Broker-Dealers, Investment Adviser Firms, Agents and Investment Adviser Representatives, and Branches; Payment Deadline: January 22, 2021
FINRA is issuing this Notice to help firms review, reconcile and respond to their Final Statements in E-Bill as well as view the reports that are currently available in CRD/IARD for the annual registration renewal process. The payment deadline is January 22, 2021.

Hong Kong Securities And Futures Commission Bans Yung Lap Hong For Life
The Securities and Futures Commission (SFC) has banned Mr Yung Lap Hong, a former branch manager of China Construction Bank (Asia) Corporation Limited (CCBA), from re-entering the industry for life for misappropriation of $3.6 million from a customer’s bank account (Note 1).

Investing and Trading

Hog Prices Jump as Soaring Feed Costs Spill to Livestock Market
Michael Hirtzer and Isis Almeida – Bloomberg
The blistering rally in global animal-feed markets is beginning to spill into the pandemic-battered U.S. hog sector. Chicago hog futures rose nearly 7% in the past four sessions to reach the highest since October, while U.S. Department of Agriculture data showed U.S. pork prices prior to the New Year’s Day holiday jumped 8.2%, the most since September.

A $13 Trillion Crisis-Era Debt Bill Comes Due for Big Economies
Anchalee Worrachate – Bloomberg
G-7, emerging economies face biggest refinancings in decade; Central banks in pandemic-fighting mode to keep yields low
The world’s biggest economies shouldering record debt burdens are about to confront an unwelcome legacy of the financial crisis: a $13 trillion debt bill. The Group of Seven nations plus key emerging markets face the heaviest bond maturities in at least a decade, much of them borrowings to dig their economies out of the worst slump since the Great Depression. According to data compiled by Bloomberg, these governments may need to roll over 51% more debt than in 2020.

Soybean’s Scorching Rally Makes This Vegan Diet Favorite Pricier
Eko Listiyorini – Bloomberg
For a sign of how global soybean rally is feeding through to consumers, take a look at Indonesia. Tofu and tempeh, mainstays in the Indonesian diet that have made their way into the vegan lifestyle, are becoming more expensive. Higher soybean prices have hurt margins of local producers and they’ve had to raise prices by about 20%, the head of an industry group said.

The Great Copper Boom Is Running on Scrap; Car parts, pipes, and wires arriving by the truckload could dampen prices.
Yvonne Yue Li – Bloomberg
Traders around the world are betting on a post-lockdown economic rebound. You can see that in stock prices and oil futures—but also in the copper scrap piling up amid the twisted screen doors and burst radiators at Regional Metal Services’ processing plant off Interstate 75 near Knoxville, Tenn.

Millennial Buyers Help Global Art Market Survive the Covid Pandemic; During the crisis, sales of jewelry, Japanese whiskies, handbags and game jerseys sustain major auction houses.
Kelly Crow – WSJ
Millennial collectors bid on everything from jewelry to Japanese whiskies to game jerseys last year, softening the blow for auction houses as the global art market shrank amid the pandemic. Sotheby’s, Christie’s and Phillips tossed out their traditional playbooks when the crisis hit and it was no longer safe or possible to coax hundreds of bidders into a saleroom. Instead, the auction houses redirected art lovers online, adding hundreds of online-only sales that allowed people to click-to-bid in timed auctions. The top houses also built telethon-worthy sets so collectors could watch and bid in livestreamed auctions that featured an auctioneer and specialists simultaneously fielding phone bids in real time. Only a handful of auctions in Asia near year’s end allowed bidders to show up in person.

Stock Market Rally in 2020 Easily Outpaced Luxury Goods, Hedge Funds; The Nasdaq index jumped over 43%, compared with average rise of 6.3% across hedge funds and 5.9% increase in value of classic cars
Anna Hirtenstein – WSJ
In 2020, you were better off putting money into a stock index fund than in fine art or diamonds. The S&P 500 index, which tracks the U.S. stock market broadly, rose over 15% last year and the tech-heavy Nasdaq index surged over 43%. It was also a banner year for bonds. The Bloomberg Barclays Global Aggregate bond index climbed 9.2% on a total return basis.

Cotton Prices Rise as Lack of Rain Shrinks Crop; Weakened dollar and ban on Chinese cotton stoke demand for supply in U.S., where growers contend with adverse weather
Kirk Maltais – WSJ
Cotton prices have risen to their highest level in nearly two years thanks to dry weather that has shrunk the crop and concerns of forced labor in China that have made a big chunk of the nation’s fiber output off-limits to clothing makers.

What the Delisting of Chinese ADRs Means for Investors; The New York Stock Exchange will start to delist American depositary receipts in China’s three big telecom operators
Chong Koh Ping – WSJ
In the coming days, the New York Stock Exchange will start to delist American depositary receipts in China’s three big telecommunications operators. Here are some of the key questions this raises for investors. What does delisting mean?

Mondelez Nears Deal to Buy Rest of Paleo Chocolate-Bar Maker Hu; Maker of Oreo cookies and Ritz crackers has been adding to its snack portfolio as consumers’ tastes turn toward healthier fare
Cara Lombardo – WSJ
Mondelez International Inc. MDLZ -0.94% is nearing a deal to buy paleo chocolate-bar maker Hu Master Holdings, the latest move by an established food company to tap into growing demand for healthier snacks.

What Happened to Europe’s Economy After the Black Death
Joe Weisenthal and Tracy Alloway – Bloomberg
It’s been pointed out that, after the Black Death in Europe, real wages surged because there was such a shortage of labor in the aftermath. But what was the structure of the economy that allowed this transfer of power to workers in the first place? On this episode, we speak with Patrick Wyman, historian and the host of the Tides of History podcast, to get the real story of Europe’s post-pandemic economy during the 1300s.

Environmental, Social and Corporate Governance

ESG Flows Drive Clean Energy To Fresh Highs
Chris Vermeulen –
The Environmental Social Governance theme has taken the capital markets by storm in 2020. Fund flows into this space have been relentless, helping to drive the clean energy sector to fresh highs. In the first half of 2020, 23 new exchange-traded funds were launched under the ESG umbrella. By the end of the Q3, ESG index funds hit $250 billion in value. The ESG umbrella focuses on many different areas and has flourished during the pandemic. With a vaccine on the horizon, the question for investors is whether this sector will remain sustainable.

The 5 Keys to Good Corporate Governance
When we talk about ESG – environmental, social and governance – investing, we often start with a discussion of the ‘G’ or governance. If a company has good leadership that supports policies ESG investors care about, it becomes easier to articulate why that company should be held in an ESG portfolio. Simply put, if a company does not have strong governance, it will struggle to take care of all its stakeholders (employees, customers, shareholders, and supply chain) and have a positive effect on the environment.

The OCC Is Right, Politics Should Not Determine Credit Access
Wayne Winegarden – Forbes
The Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC) is considering a rule (i.e., Fair Access to Bank Services, Capital, and Credit), which would ensure that banks provide equal access to financial services, without discrimination. Such clarification is sorely needed.
It should go without saying, that banks should not discriminate against potential creditworthy clients who are operating in legal industries. Yet, thanks in part to the growth in Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) investing and management guidelines, there is a growing tendency for this discrimination to occur.

ESG Investments Could Pick Up Momentum in 2021
Max Chen – ESG Investing
As we look to a new year, socially responsible investments that track factors like environmental, social, and governance principles could see greater adoption among financial advisors and investors. “Interest has gone up tremendously in 2020,” Jeffrey Gitterman, head of Gitterman Wealth Management, an RIA that specializes in sustainable investing and provides model portfolios to other wealth management firms, told Think Advisor. “Our climate strategies are the most popular. The transition (to zero emissions) is here and not going away.”


H2O’s Illiquid Misadventures Aren’t Over Yet; If only the hedge fund had stuck to its expertise in global macro investing, rather than chasing hard-to-trade, impossible-to-value private debt.
Mark Gilbert – Bloomberg
Natixis SA’s decision to sell its majority stake in H2O Asset Management ends the French bank’s association with the hedge fund. H2O’s customers, however, remain victims of the firm’s foray into illiquid securities. It remains to be seen when — and if — they’ll get all of their money back.

Ackman’s Pershing Square Breaks Own Record With 70% Return
Scott Deveau – Bloomberg
Bill Ackman’s Pershing Square Capital Management reported a second straight record performance in 2020, as a bet in the early days of the pandemic helped the fund return 70% on investments. The billionaire investor said Pershing Square had a net return of 4.6% in December alone. The annual results eclipsed the 16% gain in the S&P 500, and surpassed Ackman’s 2019 record of about 58%.

Political pressure weighs on HSBC over Hong Kong activists; International banks caught between China and US grapple with compliance problems
Primrose Riordan – FT
Having “piles of cash” around the house is not usually an admission a political leader is willing to make. But Hong Kong’s chief executive Carrie Lam revealed late last year that her salary was now being paid in cash after she was targeted by US sanctions and abandoned by international banks.

SkyBridge has worst year since 2008 after structured credit hit; Anthony Scaramucci’s fund of hedge funds was down about 7.5% last year
Michael Mackenzie – FT
SkyBridge Capital, the fund of hedge funds led by Anthony Scaramucci, has recorded its worst annual performance since 2008, losing about 7.5 per cent of its value while its peers posted positive returns in a strong year for bonds and equities alike.

Natixis veteran jumps ship to head up Societe Generale Americas business; Stephane About joins Societe Generale as chief executive of the Americas business after nearly ten years at Natixis.
Annabel Smith – The Trade
French investment bank Societe Generale has appointed one of Natixis’ most senior executives, Stephane About, to head up its Americas business.


China Condemns Former High-Flying Finance Executive to Death
Bloomberg News
Huarong Chairman Lai accused of taking $277 million in bribes; Rare harsh penalty signals Xi’s tough stance on corruption
A former chairman of one of China’s biggest bad debt managers was condemned to death over charges of corruption, marking a rare sentence in President Xi Jinping’s efforts to tighten control over the economy and rein in malfeasance.

Europe’s Trillion-Euro Bond Binge Gets Going With Italy, Ireland
John Ainger and Priscila Azevedo Rocha – Bloomberg
Nations selling debt as governments fund virus recovery; Sales draw strong bidding, yet short of last year’s records
Italy and Ireland are tapping buoyant investor appetite for government debt in the euro-area with the bloc’s first major bond sales of the year. Italy received more than 95 billion euros ($118 billion) of bids for a 2037 benchmark offering, while Ireland saw more than 48 billion euros of interest for its 10-year syndicated debt on Tuesday, according to people familiar with the matter who asked not to be named.

Virus Chaos Slashes India’s Gold Imports to Lowest since 2009
Shruti Srivastava and Swansy Afonso – Bloomberg
India’s inbound shipments slump to 275.5 tons in 2020; Domestic prices of the metal surged by nearly 30% last year
India’s gold imports in 2020 slumped to the lowest in more than a decade as the coronavirus pandemic battered demand and logistics, while higher prices kept buyers in the second-largest consuming nation on the sidelines.

Nintendo Founder’s Family Office Joins Japan Systems Takeover Race
Taro Fuse and Takashi Nakamichi – Bloomberg
Yamauchi No. 10 Family Office backs move to take firm private; Japan Systems executives are countering Longreach Group offer
The family office of the Nintendo Co. founder is backing plans by senior executives at Japan Systems Co. to take the software company private, countering a takeover offer from a Hong Kong-based investment firm, according to people with knowledge of the matter.

Tuna Sells for Just 10% of 2020 Price at Tokyo New Year Auction
Masumi Suga – Bloomberg
A giant bluefin tuna was sold for 20.84 million yen ($202,000) on Tuesday in the ceremonial first auction of the year at Tokyo’s Toyosu fish market, a price representing just a 10th of last year’s bid.

Chinese stocks close at highest level since 2008; Rally builds on a large recovery in 2020
Hudson Lockett – FT
China’s stock market closed at its highest level since the global financial crisis, capping a world-beating rally fuelled in part by international investors seeking shelter from the coronavirus pandemic. The CSI 300 index of big Shanghai and Shenzhen-listed stocks closed 1.9 per cent higher on Tuesday at 5,368 points. The widespread perception among the country’s retail investors that stocks are cheap, together with expectations of support from Beijing, is helping to drive onshore buying, said Ronald Wan, chief executive at Partners Capital.

Danes Get 20-Year 0% Mortgages
Frances Schwartzkopff – Bloomberg
The country with the longest history of negative central bank rates is offering homeowners 20-year loans at a fixed interest rate of zero. Customers at the Danish home-finance unit of Nordea Bank Abp can, as of Tuesday, get the mortgages, which will carry a lower coupon than benchmark U.S. 10-year Treasuries.


Quitting Erasmus Is Another Brexit Blow for Britain’s Youngsters; Boris Johnson opted out of the popular Erasmus university exchange program. That’s a real shame.
Therese Raphael – Bloomberg
Granted, there are bigger problems to be tackled right now than a lost semester abroad. Many British children aren’t even returning to school this week and there may be more classroom closures ahead as Boris Johnson’s government tries to contain the new virus variant. Against the devastating impact of Covid-19 on the prospects and mental health of school-aged children, Brexit hardly bears mentioning. Except that just when young people have lost so many learning opportunities to the pandemic, their government has closed a door that it might have left open.

U.K. Freight Shipping Costs Quadruple After Brexit and Covid-19
Lizzy Burden and David Goodman – Bloomberg
Trucking companies charge more to deliver goods to Britain; Virus surge and Brexit are forcing a shakeup for supply chains
The cost of moving freight from France to the U.K. surged to more than four times the usual level last week after Brexit and a virulent new strain of the coronavirus complicated supply chains.

What Can Post-Brexit Britain Hope to Gain from the US-UK Trade Deal?
The National Interest
Talks on a deal formally started in May 2020, and after several missed deadlines no arrangement has materialised so far. President-elect Joe Biden’s recent interview with the New York Times suggests there is little likelihood of the US striking a full trade deal with the UK in the short term.

Brexit Forces Bankers to Shift Trading of European Stocks Out of London
Ben Dummett – WSJ
The fallout from Britain’s split from the European Union showed itself on the first trading day of the year as a big chunk of dealing volume in EU stocks moved from London to venues located in Amsterdam, Paris and the Continent’s other financial centers. Britain’s membership of the EU had meant the region’s banks and investors could bypass the home exchanges of stocks such as Paris-listed luxury-goods giant LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton SE and Amsterdam-listed Just Eat NV, the big food-delivery company, and trade them in London over alternative venues. Those venues included Turquoise, a trading facility majority-owned by the London Stock Exchange Group PLC, and rival platforms Aquis Exchange PLC and Cboe Global Markets Inc.’s Europe-based marketplace.

Brexit: Calais traffic slow as new border controls face first test
Lucy Williamson – BBC News
New border controls between the UK and the EU faced their first real test today, but traffic was slow following the New Year break. A post-Brexit trade agreement signed last month means there are no tariffs on goods sent across the English Channel to France. But new regulatory and customs checks do apply. More than EUR50m (£45m; $61m) have been spent on preparing the French side of the Channel for this moment. The money was spent on new buildings to carry out the checks, more staff, more car parks and a so-called smart border system designed to keep traffic moving.

U.K. Freight Shipping Costs Quadruple After Brexit and Covid-19
Lizzy Burden and David Goodman – Bloomberg
The cost of moving freight from France to the U.K. surged to more than four times the usual level last week after Brexit and a virulent new strain of the coronavirus complicated supply chains. The spot rate for last-minute shipments across the English Channel reached more than 6 euros per kilometer ($4.56 a mile) for a full truckload in the final week of 2020. That’s up from an average of 1.50 euros to 3 euros, with some isolated cases of firms charging 10 euros per kilometer, according to data from the global logistics platform Transporeon.

Brexit deal recommends using long-dead software
Barclay Ballard – TechRadar
It has been noticed that the new Brexit trade deal agreement makes a few technology faux-pas, including references to long-defunct computer programs. It has been suggested that the document, which is more than 1,200 pages long, has perhaps made use of the copy and paste functions a bit too liberally, resulting in the embarrassing inclusion of digital tools that are no longer in use. Most notably, the Brexit agreement makes mention of “modern e-mail software packages including Outlook, Mozilla Mail as well as Netscape Communicator 4.x.” Although Outlook is still going strong, both Mozilla Mail and Netscape Communicator are no longer in existence, with the final major release of the latter program coming in 1997.


Central Bankers Of The Future – Speech By Mr Agustín Carstens, General Manager Of The BIS, At The Deutsche Bundesbank’s Internal Discussion Series On “Digitalisation And Central Banking – Is There A Fundamental Change Under Way?
Now, if I may revert to English. I hope you are all safe and still in good spirits despite this latest surge in Covid-19. This has been the strangest year in my memory, but rather than dwell on that, I thought I would look to the bright future on the other side of this pandemic. Specifically, I want to talk about central bankers of the future. And that means yourselves – our bright future. I hope my reflections resonate and I very much look forward to your feedback and questions afterwards.

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