Wall Street holiday parties try dropping booze for bootcamps, smoothies

Dec 18, 2019

First Read

New Year’s Day Launch Seen as Just the Start of Illinois’ Recreational Canna Business

As of January 1, adults in Illinois will be allowed to legally buy small quantities of cannabis products for recreational use from licensed state dispensaries. However, while its launch has been highly publicized, the state’s cannabis marketplace is expected to grow slowly by design. John Lothian News dug deep into the prospects for the growth of this new economy in an interview with the principals of the Chicago cannabis consultancy supercritical, LLC, Jay Caauwe, Kerry Jordan and Sparky Rose, for their take on the emerging marketplace and a possible role for capital market investors.

Watch the video »


Martin Hollander Reflections
John Lothian News asked several former colleagues of Martin Hollander’s to offer reflections on his life. Martin and his family were killed in the volcanic eruption on White Island near New Zealand. Martin came to Chicago and joined the Price Futures Group in 1998, shortly after John Lothian had joined the firm as head of electronic trading. Here are reflections from Allen Goodman, Tom Price, Jim Baer and Jim Daehler.

Allen Goodman:

I am not a religious man, but today I’m feeling there’s something to the saying that God calls home the good ones first. Random people that we meet can often end up playing roles in our lives that we’d never expect. I was fortunate to meet Martin in the late ’90s. He was dating my wife’s dear friend Barbara, and it was time to meet and gain approval from the group of friends.

To read the rest of these remembrances, go here.


Hits & Takes
By JLN Staff

It was a productive year at ErisX, just ask them. Or read their press release and blog post titled “ErisX’s Productive Year Concludes with the Launch of Futures Market” and “Concluding a Productive Year with the Launch of our Futures Market.”~JJL

ErisX’s physically-settled bitcoin futures launched yesterday and open interest is currently sitting at one contract for one bitcoin.~MR

Michael Bloomberg has a powerful advertisement that lists all the school shootings and states that “21 students are shot every day” during the Trump administration and nothing is being done about it. Bloomberg deserves points for coming up with a stomach turning statistic, though I don’t want to go through each shooting to make sure the math adds up.~JJL

The legal battle against Craig Wright, an Australian tech entrepreneur who claims he invented bitcoin, is ongoing. It’s also not going well for Wright. The estate of David Kleiman, Wright’s former business partner, recently asked the judge overseeing the case to overturn his objections to the judge’s ruling that he turn over half of his bitcoin holdings to the Kleiman estate, citing documents provided by Wright that were described as forgeries by experts brought into court, as well as Wright’s testimony, which the plaintiff said “lacked credibility.” Wright’s testimony was deemed to be in “bad faith” by a federal magistrate judge in August.~MR

Amy Shelly, OCC CFO, recently did a podcast with Jack Sweeney of CFO Thought Leadership on how finance is driving change at the world’s largest equity derivatives clearing organization.~JJL

We noticed a couple of issues with the Ed Tilly Open Outcry Traders History Project video, so we re-edited it and HERE it is.~JJL


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The Financial Lesson of 2008-09 That Most Investors Have Forgotten; If your memory minimizes how much you lost in the last bear market, you can easily overestimate how brave you will be in the next one
Jason Zweig – WSJ
If 2000-2009 was the Lost Decade for investors, 2010-2019 was the Decade of Forgetting. In March 2008, E.S. Browning wrote for The Wall Street Journal that “we may be in another lost decade” for stocks, like the Great Depression and the 1970s. He was right. Stock investors had their wealth slashed in half twice, in 2000-02 and 2007-09. All told, the S&P 500 had an average annual total return of negative 0.95% from 2000 through 2009. To end the decade barely below where they had started, investors had to endure a brutal battering along the way.

*****I wish I could remember everything I forgot, but then I would hate myself. There is a reason we forget.~JJL


Australia Just Experienced Its Hottest Day on Record
James Thornhill – Bloomberg
Country’s maximum average temperature reached record Tuesday; Air conditioners push up power use on Victoria’s stressed grid
Australia recorded its hottest day on record as the country’s populated eastern seaboard grapples with smoke from devastating bushfires, while the rush to the relief of air conditioning puts pressure on a vulnerable power grid.

*****Put another shrimp on the sidewalk?~JJL


Tuesday’s Top Three
Our most read story on Tuesday was the Crain’s Power 25 ranking of Chicago leaders. Next was The New York Times’ I Headed the F.B.I. and C.I.A. There’s a Dire Threat to the Country I Love. In third was Forbes’ How Has CME Group’s Acquisition Of NEX Changed Its Revenue Composition?


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Lead Stories

Wall Street holiday parties try dropping booze for bootcamps, smoothies
Lawrence Delevingne and Imani Moise – Reuters
Fruit smoothies may become the new martini for Wall Street holiday parties. Banking and trading firm BTIG LLC, for example, cut alcohol from its annual employee celebration on Dec. 12 at its New York offices. Instead, guests did yoga and bootcamp-style workouts, played ping-pong, and downed smoothies, juices and fruit-infused water.

*****Oh, the stories I have to tell about company holiday parties.~JJL

Bank of England to test climate risks at banks and insurers in 2021
Huw Jones – Reuters
Britain’s top banks and insurers should be tested together for the first time in 2021 to quantify the potential financial hit from climate change to their businesses, the Bank of England proposed on Wednesday.

Repo risks still hang over upbeat end to year in markets; Many key threats to investors have been contained, but wrinkles in short-term lending remain
Robin Wigglesworth – FT
Global equity indices hit new records this week, but the year in markets usually takes the shape of an album. Most of the hits are front-loaded, the middle can be uneven, and it can get a bit weird right at the end.

State Street takes hit from TD Ameritrade-Schwab merger; ETF pioneer seeks new strategy to halt share loss
Robert Armstrong and Richard Henderson – FT
State Street, the number three player in the $4.3tn market for exchange traded funds, is scrambling to rethink its strategy for that business in the wake of the acquisition of online broker TD Ameritrade by rival Charles Schwab.

Regulators Find Shortcomings in Resolution Plans at Six Large U.S. Banks; The banks must address the shortcomings by the end of March
Andrew Ackerman – WSJ
Regulators on Tuesday said they had found “shortcomings” in the resolution plans at six of the largest U.S. banks, while none of the eight major banks they examined had more serious “deficiencies.”

California Law Spurs Companies to Add Female Directors; The number of firms based in the state with all-male boards has fallen sharply since the mandate was adopted last year
Rachel Feintzeig – WSJ
California last year embarked on a unique social and political experiment in the U.S. What would happen if the government required corporate boards to include female directors?

All About FATF, a Global Weapon to Fight Dirty Money
Edward Robinson – Bloomberg
The world is awash in dirty money — and criminals who are constantly finding new ways to hide their loot in real estate, art, securities, cryptocurrencies and old fashioned bank accounts. Policing the latest tricks in digital transfers and offshore shell companies falls to financial regulators in each country, but there’s also an obscure international group that’s exerting more influence: For the last 30 years, the Paris-based Financial Action Task Force has been quietly confronting the challenge of illicit finance. Recent reports focused on Turkey and Russia.

Lehman Collapse Inspired a Banker to Find a Purpose for Wealth; Angela Mwanza, co-founder of UBS’s Evergreen Wealth Management, says she now defines success as transferring capital and a mission from one generation to the next.
Karen Toulon – Bloomberg
As a wealth manager, Angela Mwanza likes to be prepared for any risk, even on her days off. She recalls a recent visit with her husband and young son to a reptile park in her home country, Zambia, where she’d mused over the deadly consequences of running into some of the venomous residents. “If you see a spitting cobra, put on some glasses,” she suggests. A penchant for planning and unflappability are good traits to have if you’re in Mwanza’s line of work. She’s co-founder of UBS Group AG’s New York-based Evergreen Wealth Management, a nine-person team that manages $1.2 billion for 25 ultrahigh-net-worth families.

U.K. Banks Asked to Tell BOE About Risks From Climate Change
Jill Ward and Silla Brush – Bloomberg
Data gathering won’t be a pass or fail capital test for firms; Bank of England publishes discussion paper in London
The Bank of England is inviting banks and insurers to assess their exposures to global warming and the risks associated with any transition to a lower-carbon economy.

Blythe Masters Is Back…At A New $473 Million Private Equity Fundo
Michael del Castillo – Forbes
The former head of JP Morgan global commodities and CEO of blockchain startup Digital Asset Holdings is back. After quietly stepping away from the heavily funded Digital Asset last year Blythe Masters has joined as an industry partner at the newly launched Motive Partners, an investment firm focused on backing companies building technology for financial services.

Deadly Pig Virus Wiping Out Asian Herds Reaches Indonesia
Megan Durisin and Eko Listiyorini – Bloomberg
OIE verifies nation’s first detection of African swine fever; Indonesian authorities probed a possible outbreak last month
The deadly African swine fever sweeping across Asia has spread to Indonesia, reaching a region with more than a million pigs.

Exchanges, OTC and Clearing

Exchange Publishes ESG Guide Consultation Conclusions and its ESG Disclosure Review Findings
ESG Guide and related Listing Rules to be amended to improve ESG governance and disclosure;ESG Guide and Listing Rules amendments to take effect on 1 July 2020; ESG Disclosure Review findings provide guidance on improving ESG reporting
The Stock Exchange of Hong Kong Limited (the Exchange), a wholly-owned subsidiary of Hong Kong Exchanges and Clearing Limited (HKEX), today (Wednesday) published conclusions to its consultation on the ‘Review of the Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) Reporting Guide (ESG Guide) and Related Listing Rules’ (ESG Consultation Conclusions)1; and the findings of its latest review of listed issuers’ ESG disclosures (ESG Disclosure Review).

Dividend Derivatives: Introduction of the “Product Specific Supplement” for MSCI Index Dividend Futures and EURO STOXX® Select Dividend 30 Index Dividend Futures
The Management Board of Eurex Deutschland and the Executive Board of Eurex Frankfurt AG took the following decision with effect from 1January 2020:

NatWest Markets joins multi-dealer platform SPIRE; NatWest Markets is the latest to join the platform established by BNP Paribas, Citigroup, Credit Suisse and JP Morgan in 2017 for the repackaging market.
Hayley McDowell – The Trade
NatWest Markets has signed up to a multi-dealer platform launched by four major investment banks, which allows members to repackage notes issued in standardised formats.

ESG derivatives surpass half a million contracts at Eurex; Eurex has launched ESG futures and options in Europe this year to help market participants manage challenges around sustainable investing.
Hayley McDowell – The Trade
Environmental social government (ESG) derivatives reached half a million traded contracts on 12 December at Eurex, as the exchange says it may introduce further products next year.

Revision of the Guidebooks for “JPX-Nikkei Index 400” and “JPX-Nikkei Mid and Small Cap Index”
The guidebooks for “JPX-Nikkei Index 400” and “JPX-Nikkei Mid and Small Cap Index”, which are jointly calculated by Tokyo Stock Exchange, Inc. and Nikkei Inc., have been revised as summarized below to clarify the definitions in the methodologies.

SIX and Sygnum Bank Acquire Stakes in daura
Leading players in the Swiss ecosystem for digital assets are joining forces: the collaboration between Swisscom, daura, Sygnum Bank, Custodigit and MME will now include SIX. SIX is acquiring a stake in daura AG. This cooperation will strengthen the establishment of consistent technical standards and workflows in the Swiss ecosystem for digital assets. Deutsche Börse will now contribute its expertise, with which it has so far actively supported the development of the Swiss ecosystem, to projects in Germany and the EU27 that have become possible due to new regulatory developments. The parties have agreed not to disclose the amount of the investments.


HSBC invests in OpenFin as funding to date reaches $45 million; HSBC joins major investors in operating system provider OpenFin, including as Barclays, CME Group, DRW, JP Morgan and Wells Fargo.
Hayley McDowell – The Trade
Investment bank HSBC has joined a $22 million Series C funding round in financial markets operating system specialist OpenFin, bringing the firm’s total investment to date to $45 million.

African FinTech Chipper Cash Gets $6M To Enter New Markets
Chipper Cash, a FinTech startup in Africa that facilitates cross-border peer-to-peer (P2P) payment services in Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania, Nigeria, Uganda and Ghana, has raised $6 million in a seed round led by Deciens Capital, according to a report. The San Francisco-based company said it will use the money to expand its roster of employees and move into new regions. CEO Ham Serunjogi Chipper Cash is looking to expand into a few countries, but he didn’t mention them all specifically. “Southern Africa is an area we’re looking to expand to in 2020,” he said.

Singapore Digital Bank Wannabes Must Prove They Can Profit
Chanyaporn Chanjaroen – Bloomberg
Grab Holdings Inc. and gaming company Razer Inc. will need to demonstrate how their millions of users can help them generate profits if the two technology firms are to win one of Singapore’s coveted virtual banking licenses. That’s because the Monetary Authority of Singapore is putting more emphasis on profitability and strong capital requirements than some other regulators inviting fintech firms into banking. Both Grab and Razer have expressed interest in submitting separate bids for one of the five digital banking licenses on offer, part of a government strategy announced earlier this year to strengthen competition in financial services.

Truecaller Branches Out to Fintech Ahead of Potential IPO
Niclas Rolander – Bloomberg
Truecaller, one of the world’s largest caller-identification system, is trialing financial service products ahead of a possible stock-exchange listing. This year, the Swedish company started a pilot program to provide credit to small business owners in India and will begin offering the service to some of its 140 million users in the country early next year, Chief Executive Officer Alan Mamedi said.

DASH Names Steven Bonanno as Chief Information Officer
Globe NewsWire via Yahoo Finance
DASH Financial Technologies, the industry’s leading capital markets technology and execution provider, today announced the addition of Steven Bonanno as Chief Information Officer. Reporting directly to CEO Peter Maragos, Mr. Bonanno will be responsible for DASH’s I.T. infrastructure and technology platform operations.

China central bank flags fintech regulation to avoid risk build-up; While financial technology brings efficiencies, its risks must be closely regulated, warns People’s Bank of China deputy governor Pan Gongsheng
Karen Yeung – South China Morning Post
China’s central bank has again warned that the country must avoid building up risks in the technology-driven development of its domestic financial sector, given the headwinds of a slowing economy and the continued trade war with the United States.

Fintech at 50
Terry Flanagan – MarketsMedia
In 1969, man walked on the moon, but the U.S. stock market was closed for business one day per week to manage paperwork. In 2019, buy and sell orders execute in nanoseconds and the entire trade life cycle is electronic.


ErisX Takes on Bakkt With Launch of Physically Settled US Bitcoin Futures
Nikhilesh De – Coindesk
Crypto derivatives platform ErisX is officially live with its physically settled bitcoin futures contracts, launching only the second such product suite in the U.S.
The company announced in a market notice Monday that its “Futures Digital Currency Products” would begin trading Tuesday, starting 8:00 a.m. Central Time (14:00 UTC).

Fidelity Investments to launch crypto trading business in Europe; After launching the business in the US last year, Fidelity Investments will establish crypto trading and custody services for European institutional investors.
Hayley McDowell – The Trade
Fidelity Investments has said it will establish a cryptocurrency trading business in Europe, after first launching the business a year ago in the US to service institutional investors trading digital assets.

What do women want? Some crypto flavoured mansplaining, apparently.
Jemima Kelly – FT
It’s always nice to read an article with the headline “What do women want?” written by a man. It’s particularly nice when that man is a crypto man. And it’s even nicer when what it turns out that women do in fact want is help. From the crypto men.

Ether Turns Negative For the Year as Crypto Sell-Off Accelerates
Vildana Hajric and Olga Kharif – Bloomberg
The second-largest coin is down more than 1% for the year; Scalability, increased competition have put pressure on Ether
Ether, the second-largest cryptocurrency, extended a three-day losing streak to turn lower for the year, bucking an uptrend set by most other major digital assets.

Crypto exchange Kraken acquires Circle’s once mighty OTC desk
Frank Chaparro – The Block
Circle, the Boston-based cryptocurrency firm, has sold its once-mighty over-the-counter (OTC) trading (OTC) operation to Kraken. Founded in 2013, Circle is one of the earliest players in the digital assets field and its OTC desk was once known as one of the most profitable businesses in the market. Kraken confirmed the sale when reached for comment.

Monero’s lead maintainer ‘Fluffypony’ steps down after 5 years of heading the project
Yogita Khatri – The Block
Riccardo “Fluffypony” Spagni, the lead maintainer of privacy-oriented cryptocurrency monero (XMR), has stepped down. Fluffypony led the monero project since its launch in 2014 and will now continue as a backup maintainer, according to an announcement Monday. Snipa, a “longtime” contributor to Monero, is taking over Fluffypony’s role.

*****It takes a real man to willingly don the moniker “Fluffypony.”~MR

Internet Giants, Defied by Bitcoin, Now See Its Tech as a Remedy
Nathaniel Popper – The New York Times
Not so long ago, the technology behind Bitcoin was seen in Silicon Valley as the best hope for challenging the enormous, centralized power of companies like Twitter and Facebook. Now, in an unexpected twist, the internet giants think that technology could help them solve their many problems.

Caribbean Cryptocurrency Expats Issue A Sun Filled Coin
Kori Hale – Forbes
The sun-drenched British Virgin Islands (BVI) are trying to assert leadership in the cryptocurrency space, an area that is still very much up for grabs by issuing its own national coin. Much of the region is home to crypto expats and is underserved when it comes to banking services. This is why turning to cryptocurrencies creates an opportunity to provide better financial services for Caribbean citizens.

Ex-Kraken Employee Alleges ‘Unethical and Illegal Tactics’ in Discrimination Lawsuit
Daniel Palmer – Coindesk
Kraken, the U.S.-based cryptocurrency exchange, is being sued by an ex-employee who alleges the company unfairly fired him for raising serious issues with its business practices. The case – filed Nov. 26 in California – has been brought by Nathan Runyon, a military veteran with disabilities, and, while he seeks damages related to harassment at work, discrimination and breach of contract, some of the claims made against Kraken (Payward Inc.) suggest wrongdoing at the exchange, if true. So far, the veracity of the allegations has not been determined.

Crypto-Mining Attacks Fell Sharply in 2019 but Ransomware Is Trending: Kaspersky
John Biggs – Coindesk
In the cat-and-mouse game between hackers and users, less-lucrative crypto-mining malware fell out of favor this year. While security experts at Kaspersky found that the number of “unique malicious objects” rose by 13.7 percent – led in part by a 187 percent increase in so-called web-skimmer files, malware designed to steal credit card information – the total number of mining malware infections fell drastically.

Canaan’s Post-IPO Stock Plunge Reveals Sales Slump, Price War With Bitmain
Bradley Keoun – Coindesk
Cryptocurrency mining computer-maker Canaan Inc. may have picked the worst time for its initial public stock offering, which valued the company at $1.3 billion. The stock price has declined in all but four of the first 17 trading sessions since the Hangzhou-based company’s Nov. 21 sale of $90 million of U.S. shares. It’s down 35 percent since the start of last week.

How believing in Bitcoin is like rooting for the Jets
Aaron Elstein – Crain’s New York Business
Being a Bitcoin fan is just like rooting for the Jets. There was that time when you had to listen to a guy at a party talking up cryptocurrency, when it traded at $20,000 and he was making money or his friend had. That golden era, two years ago, might go down as the cryptocurrency world’s equivalent of the Jets’ Super Bowl III victory.

Jake Chervinsky: I’m Surprised There Haven’t Been More Enforcement Actions This Year
Jake Chervinsky, general counsel for Compound Via Coindesk
Jake Chervinsky is a lawyer, but not yours. Now general counsel for Compound, a decentralized lending protocol, Chervinsky began his early career investigating and litigating white-collar financial crimes. This experience, coupled with having graduated law school during the midst of the most recent global recession, soured his view of the banking industry.


Brussels readies for the Future of Europe; If the EU doesn’t reform, Emmanuel Macron has argued, it could disappear altogether
Mehreen Khan and Sam Fleming – FT
When the EU kicks off its Conference on the Future of Europe next year, participants might have the apocalyptic warnings of Emmanuel Macron ringing in their ears: if the EU doesn’t reform, the French president has argued, it could disappear altogether.

U.S. Concedes Defeat on Gas Pipeline It Sees as Russian Threat
Jennifer Jacobs, Nick Wadhams, and Lars Paulsson – Bloomberg
Pipeline connecting Russia, Germany seen as security threat; U.S. sending new ambassador Sullivan to Moscow next month
The U.S. conceded it won’t be able to stop completion of the controversial Nord Stream 2 natural gas pipeline from Russia to Germany, acknowledging the failure of a years-long effort to head of a perceived threat to European security.

The Demographic Threat to America’s Jobs Boom; As fertility falls and immigration tightens, the U.S. is losing its demographic advantage over other countries
Greg Ip – WSJ
The U.S. job market continues to blow through expectations, generating 200,000 new jobs month after month and driving unemployment far below what economists thought a decade ago was the lowest possible level.

Business Groups Warn Against Russia Sanctions Before Panel Vote
Daniel Flatley – Bloomberg
Two business groups are warning a key Senate committee against enacting sanctions on Russia, arguing that the measure would be disruptive to business and counterproductive in advancing U.S. interests.


ASIC reports on practices in wholesale foreign exchange markets
ASIC today released Report 652 Wholesale FX practices in Australia, summarising our work in wholesale foreign exchange (FX) markets during 2018 and 2019. The report highlights our observations of better practices and some poor practices used by participants operating in the market.

ASIC reports on cyber resilience assessments of financial markets firms
ASIC report Cyber resilience of firms in Australia’s financial markets: 2018 – 19 (REP 651) provides an update on organisations’ cyber resilience capabilities in the two years since the publication of (REP 555) Cyber resilience of firms in Australia’s financial markets in November 2017.

AMP Financial Planning ceases MDA services
AMP Financial Planning Pty Ltd (AMPFP) ceased providing managed discretionary account (MDA) services on 10 December 2019 following the imposition of tailored licence conditions by ASIC.

Silicon Valley IT Administrator and Friends Charged in Multimillion Dollar Insider Trading Ring
The Securities and Exchange Commission today announced insider trading charges against five friends who repeatedly traded on confidential earnings information about a Silicon Valley cloud-computing company, reaping millions of dollars in trading profits.

Announcement from John Swift QC inviting submissions from interested parties
The independent review into the Financial Services Authority (‘FSA’)/Financial Conduct Authority (‘FCA’)’s supervisory intervention on Interest Rate Hedging Products is currently underway. The Review will provide an assessment of the former FSA and now FCA’s actions relating to their Interest Rate Hedging Product Redress Scheme and set out the lessons that should be learned from the Review.

First-tier Tribunal upholds decision to fine Hall and Hanley Limited for data breaches and unauthorised copying of client signatures
The First-tier Tribunal (the Tribunal) has upheld a fine of £91,000 imposed on Hall and Hanley Limited (H&H) by the Claims Management Regulator (CMR), the former regulator for claims management companies (CMCs). The hearing for the Tribunal was conducted by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) which has taken over the functions of the CMR.

Investing and Trading

Louis Dreyfus names new finance chief in latest management change; Ex-investment banker Patrick Treuer appointed CFO at agricultural commodity trader
Neil Hume – FT
The managerial merry-go round continues at Louis Dreyfus Company with the agricultural commodity trader announcing a new finance director.

A $630 Billion Pension Market Set to Enter a New Rate World
Rafaela Lindeberg – Bloomberg
Sweden’s pension industry is about to get its first taste of life after negative interest rates. Funds with a total of about $630 billion in assets have a lot at stake as their central bank becomes the first to exit the experimental monetary policy. With the rest of the world watching, the Swedish Riksbank is expected to raise its benchmark repo rate from minus 0.25% to zero on Thursday, ending half a decade of negative rates.

Why your bank balance may drop today as overdraft rules change
Tom Belger – Yahoo Finance UK
Millions of UK bank customers could see changes to how their available balances appear on Wednesday, after new rules on overdrafts came into effect.

Why Investors Should Ignore All Political News And Focus Instead On The Markets
Martin Tillier – Nasdaq
After a week that included a Fed decision and what seem to be now looked at as the most important data points, CPI and PPI, we move on to one where actual data will be scarce. We will get consumer spending and sentiment on Friday, along with core inflation, but for most of the week the market’s attention will be on more ephemeral things than data. Trade and impeachment will probably be the big stories, although in reality, neither really matters that much.

Opinion: If you want to be a better investor, turn off the TV and social media
Jared Dillian – MarketWatch
I spend a lot of time thinking about the information that I consume. Do you? We all consume exabytes of information. Have you ever noticed that people spend way more time thinking about the food they consume than the information they consume?


How a French farmers’ favourite made hay in investment banking; Crédit Agricole reaps reward from early post-crisis exit from markets trading business
Stephen Morris – FT
A French bank best known for its client base of farmers, Crédit Agricole is not usually associated with the polished elite of Europe’s investment banks. But it has been quietly and consistently outperforming them, making double-digit returns from its own investment banking business and pulling ahead of its high-profile rivals in profitability.

JPMorgan receives final approval for majority-owned securities venture in China
JPMorgan (JPM.N) said on Wednesday it has received the final approval from Chinese regulators to set up a majority-owned securities venture in the country.

Investment Bankers Are Now Waging the War on Coal
Robinson Meyer – The Atlantic
So let’s say you have one (1) global economy. It currently generates most of its energy by burning carbon-based fuels, which is fine, but then it disposes the resulting carbon-dioxide pollution in the air, wreaking all sorts of general havoc too extensive to recount here, which is not as fine. Naturally you might want to wean your economy off carbon fuels. But how to do it?


China warned of local debt vehicle default risk; Central bank adviser says measures needed to avoid ‘chain reaction’ of missed payments
Don Weinland- FT
A top adviser to China’s central bank has warned of a possible “chain reaction” of defaults among the country’s thousands of local government financing vehicles after one of these entities nearly missed a payment this month.

Sweden poised to exit negative interest rates despite downturn; Rise in rates widely expected, but some doubt central bank can stay above zero
Tommy Stubbington and Sarah Provan – FT
Sweden’s Riksbank is expected to raise interest rates to zero per cent on Thursday, ending a five-year experiment with negative interest rates and becoming the first central bank in the world to ditch the controversial policy.

The Battered Krona’s Woes Are Far From Over, Says Swedish Fund
Love Liman and Hanna Hoikkala – Bloomberg
Swedish currency may weaken more on lingering economic risks; Losses seen slowing in 2020 as Riksbank to exit negative rates
There’s little cheer in store in the new year for the worst-performing major currency of 2019, according to Swedish money manager Erik Penser Bank AB.


FCA urges advisers to prepare for Brexit plans
Rachel Mortimer – FT Adviser
The regulator has called on advisers to “ensure they are prepared” for the UK’s departure from the EU in light of last week’s election result.

UK Services Industry Sees Little Joy in Post-Brexit World
AP via The New York Times
Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s decisive victory in last week’s general election provided little comfort to Britain’s once world-beating financial services industry, which has been battered by Brexit for more than three years. While Johnson’s triumph buoyed optimism that he would end the country’s long-running political stalemate, it virtually guarantees the U.K. will leave the European Union on Jan. 31 and starts the clock on efforts to negotiate a trade deal with the bloc by the end of 2020.

UK Supreme Court’s ‘Swashbuckling’ Chief Hale Aims Parting Shots at Sexists, Politics
Stephen Addison and Guy Faulconbridge – Reuters via The New York Times
Trailblazing feminist judge Brenda Hale used her valedictory speech as president of the UK Supreme Court on Wednesday to call for the judiciary to remain free from U.S.-style political influence and to poke fun at enduring sexism in the legal world. State-school educated Hale, 74, rose to the top of a profession dominated by men who went to elite private schools. She was the first female member of the Law Lords, the precursor to the Supreme Court, and subsequently the first female justice of the Supreme Court and its first woman president.


Guess Who Is Coming to the Office Holiday Party; Post #MeToo, companies think they have found a way to prevent bad behavior at after-hours gatherings — and it isn’t closing the bar
Kathryn Dill – WSJ
The office holiday party, downsized after the financial crisis, has been making a comeback, but with a twist: To promote good behavior, companies are encouraging workers to bring their significant other. Companies are increasingly extending invites to employees’ spouses, partners and even friends, said Johnny C. Taylor, Jr. , CEO of the Society for Human Resource Management, an association for HR professionals. The idea is that significant others can act as a check on behavior, in theory keeping married members of the sales team from grinding together on the dance floor or acting as a deterrent to an ill-advised hookup.

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