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John Lothian: CFTC Announces Enhancements to Protect Customer Funds; London market to get new gold futures contracts; Bats Europe targets block trades ahead of Mifid II

First Read

Yes, Precious
Doug Ashburn, JLN

Sometimes the best ideas are worth waiting 139 years for.

This morning the World Gold Council and the London Metal Exchange, together with a consortium of banks, announced a planned launch of LMEprecious, a new platform for spot, daily and monthly futures, options and calendar spread contracts for gold and silver, with platinum and palladium planned for down the road.

This will mark the second attempt at a gold futures contract at the 139-year-old LME. The previous one, London Gold Futures Market, launched in 1982 and never really caught on. It was shuttered three years later. In an early-morning interview with LME CEO Garry Jones, I had but one question, “Why now?”

“It’s a lot more than futures,” said Jones. “For the first time we will be offering spot trading, and tom-next trading, and a date structure out to T+25, and then a monthly futures contract from then onwards. So for the first time, banks and others will trade spot, tom-next, short-dated business through a central counterparty.”

Why now? The answer is multifaceted, but a lot of it has to do with the LME’s evolution over the past few years, since its acquisition by HKEx in 2012. The top priorities were to stabilize the base metals business, move to self-clearing with the 2014 launch of LME Clear, update its technology, and then move into product development. Last year the LME launched new ferrous metals contracts – steel scrap and steel rebar – and has now set its sights on the precious markets.

But really, it was the World Gold Council that provided the impetus. Last year, the WGC put out a request for proposal to a number of exchanges, including ICE and CME Group, to look at a London-based gold market. In the end, LME was chosen as the preferred partner.

“It’s an adjunct to what we are doing already, so it’s not a new build completely,” says Jones. “We are already the leading metals exchange. We are using all the things we already have.”

Plus, demand for gold is growing globally in a zero interest rate environment. There is a regulatory angle as well. As new collateral requirements come on line, and precious metals gain in importance as a value storage and transfer mechanism, it is critical to have a robust market at the front end of the term structure. Plus, as regulators continue to push for central clearing of derivatives, a market such as this may well-positioned.

The consortium of banks, including Goldman Sachs, ICBC Standard Bank, Morgan Stanley, Natixis, OSTC and Societe Generale, have an economic interest in the venture, though no terms were disclosed. “We start with a coalition of the willing,” said Jones, “and then we aim for a critical mass.” The market is open to others, though, and the partners do not get any special deal on execution or clearing costs. But their economic interest does incentivize liquidity provision from day one.

Jones does not view this venture as a replacement to the existing gold market, but rather a necessary adjunct. And given the recent successes at the exchange, I would not bet against it.


Jeff Levoff, Partner, DRW – Make a Market: Proprietary Trading in the Modern Era

“This is not a get-rich-quick scheme. It’s hard work to try to find positive expected value. That’s what we do every day.”

Conceptually, proprietary trading is easy. One must follow two simple steps – finding positive expected value and managing the risk of positions taken. The devil, as always, is in the details.

When Jeff Levoff, partner at DRW, began in the business, positive expected value was an easier proposition. A simple Black-Scholes based software suite would spit out theoretical values, and market makers like Levoff would actively bid below theoretical value, offer above it and – voila! – positive expected value. As markets have grown more complex and as participants have grown more sophisticated, today’s proprietary trader must think and act outside the box to find opportunity.

In this MarketsWiki Education presentation, Levoff demonstrates DRW’s philosophy using quotes from famous people and applying them to the financial markets. Be sure to watch until the end because, as the saying goes, it ain’t over till it’s over.

Watch the video »


Trump Has a Posture, Not a Plan, on Economics
Bloomberg Editorial Board
Donald Trump said he’d use his speech to the Detroit Economic Club on Monday to unveil a new plan for revitalizing the American economy. Sadly, what he offered wasn’t new, and it wasn’t a coherent plan. The specifics Trump did put on the table would cripple rather than revitalize the U.S. economy.

***** Trump tried to change the subject from last week’s disaster and ran into a Bloomberg Editorial Board buzzsaw.


ICE Eris GBP LIBOR future is first Sterling denominated interest rate swap future to trade on-exchange
Intercontinental Exchange (NYSE: ICE), a leading operator of global exchanges and clearing houses and provider of data and listings services, announced that ICE Eris Euribor and GBP LIBOR interest rate futures reached a record monthly volume of 8,185 contracts for the month of July. The previous monthly record of 1,719 contracts was set in June 2016.

***** Nice growth for ICE/Eris.


Hoots and squawks come home to nest at Deutsche Bank; Bank to pay $12.5m to securities watchdog over information broadcast on internal speaker system
by: Ben McLannahan in New York – FT
Deutsche Bank needs to get a better grip on its hoots and squawks. That was the finding of the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority, the self-policing watchdog for the securities industry in the US, which fined the German bank $12.5m on Monday for failing to exercise proper controls on the information pumped out over its internal speaker system.

***** No word on Deutsche Bank’s tweets, catcalls or shrieks.


Culture – Nature & Nurture
Raymond W. Carmichael
We hear a lot about how important a “culture” is in our businesses. And most of us think it is important to have a positive culture in our workplace. So how is that done? Do we have control over it?

**** One of my favorite people, former CBOT corporate communications professional and Strategics executive Ray Carmichael, offered this commentary on LinkedIn.


Monday’s Top Three
The top story Monday, by far, was pretty far from Wall Street. Lakeview Shooting Likely Stemmed From Drug Deal, Sources Say, is worrisome to those of us who live in the area though. The WSJ story Trading Tech Accelerates Toward Speed of Light details the race for ever faster trading. In third is the Reuters’ story, PwC must face $1 billion MF Global malpractice lawsuit: U.S. judge. Remind me again what happened to MF Global’s former executives?


Lead Stories

CFTC Announces Enhancements to Protect Customer Funds
Commission Grants Exemption to Facilitate Customer Accounts for Clearinghouses at Federal Reserve Banks; CFTC Staff Also Announces No-Action Relief and Rule Interpretation Regarding the Use of Money Market Funds by FCMs and DCOs
The U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) today announced three separate measures that are designed to enhance the protection of customer funds. The CFTC approved an order to exempt Federal Reserve Banks that maintain customer accounts for derivatives clearing organizations (DCOs) from liability under the Commodity Exchange Act (CEA). In addition, the CFTC’s Divisions of Clearing and Risk (DCR) and Swap Dealer and Intermediary Oversight (DSIO) issued separate interpretative and no-action letters regarding the use of money market funds (MMFs) by DCOs and futures commission merchants (FCMs).

***** Statement by CFTC Chair Timothy Massad. Statement by CFTC Commissioner Sharon Bowen

London market to get new gold futures contracts; London Metal Exchange and World Gold Council launch trading venture supported by some banks
by: Neil Hume, Commodities Editor – FT
Investors will soon be able to trade gold through a London-based futures contract, a move its backers claim will make the world’s largest bullion hub more transparent but pits them against the top precious metal banks.

Bats Europe targets block trades ahead of Mifid II; UK exchange to bring in new service for asset managers ahead of rules limiting off-exchange trading
by: Philip Stafford – FT
Bats Europe is to introduce a new service to help asset managers trade large blocks of shares, in its final weapon for investors to comply with tough new incoming European market rules.

Bats unveils MiFID II compliant block trading platform; Chief executive officer at Bats Europe, Mark Hemsley, discusses the venue’s new block trading platform.
By Hayley McDowell – The Trade
Bats Europe is to launch a MiFID II compliant, equities block-trading platform, which incorporates technology from BIDS Trading in the US.

Tullett Prebon teams with GMEX for hybrid FX platform; The move signals Tullett’s ambitions to expand its hybrid trading capabilities into multiple asset classes.
By Joe Parsons – The Trade
Tullett Prebon has expanded its hybrid brokering capabilities by teaming up with GMEX for a new voice and electronic trading platform for FX options.

Barclays pays $100m to US states to settle Libor case; New York state attorney-general criticises conduct of UK bank
by: Lauren Fedor in London – FT
Barclays has agreed to pay $100m to 44 US states to settle an investigation into interest-rate rigging.

Chinese Traders Roil Commodity Markets; China has become a mover of global prices; trading volume on the Shanghai and Dalian exchanges has exploded
Lin Chengdong has traded hundreds of millions of dollars in China’s commodities markets, using mathematical models rather than detailed knowledge of commodities to identify trading opportunities.

How a ‘complete science nerd’ broke into Wall Street — and then landed a job in private equity
Rachel Butt – Business Insider
Shaun Mehra calls himself a “complete science nerd.” He competed in the National Science Bowl for two years while in high school and went on to study bioengineering at the University of Pennsylvania. He also earned a bachelor’s degree in economics at Wharton.

Tullett Prebon, Tradition Among First on GreenKey’s Design Partner Program; The program also features seven tier-1 banks and several global exchanges.
Anthony Malakian – Waters Technology
Telephony-platform provider GreenKey has launched a new development program, dubbed the Design Partner Program, which aims to create common standards for workflows and use cases for the vendor’s voice-driven technology.

Moore Capital founder wins Bahamian privacy case; Victory for Louis Bacon offers relief from harsher headlines
by: Mary Childs and Sujeet Indap in New York – FT
Louis Bacon, the billionaire hedge fund manager, has been provided with some respite in an otherwise tumultuous year after a Bahamian court vindicated claims his environmental group’s rights were breached when its private correspondence was read in the country’s parliament.

Exchanges, OTC and Clearing

London Metal Exchange to launch gold spot, futures contracts; LME works with World Gold Council and five banks; Aims to launch contracts in first half of 2017
By Clara Denina – Reuters
The London Metal Exchange (LME) said on Tuesday it is planning to launch spot and futures contracts for gold and silver in the first half of 2017, adding to its list of products which includes copper and aluminium.

World Gold Council, LME and key market participants to launch LMEprecious
The World Gold Council and the London Metal Exchange (LME), together with Goldman Sachs, ICBC Standard Bank, Morgan Stanley, Natixis, OSTC and Societe Generale, today announce their intention to introduce a suite of exchange-traded and centrally-cleared precious metals products.

Bats Europe To Launch New European Equities Large In Scale Negotiation Facility Called Bats LIS – Bats LIS To Be Powered By BIDS Trading Software, A Proven And Experienced Leader In Block Trading In The U.S.
Bats Europe, the region’s largest stock exchange operator, and BIDS Trading LP (BIDS), the largest block trading ATS by volume in the U.S., announced today that Bats Europe has agreed to license BIDS technology to launch Bats LIS, a new block trading service for the European equity market.

Unscheduled change in MDAX and SDAX; Share of KUKA AG removed from MDAX / RATIONAL AG on advances.
Deutsche Boerse
The German Stock Exchange has announced an unscheduled change in MDAX and SDAX on Monday. The free float of KUKA AG has fallen due to a takeover by MECCA International under 10 percent (to 5.45 percent). The share of KUKA AG is therefore removed from MDAX. The share of RATIONAL AG moves up from the SDAX.

TMX Group Equity Financing Statistics – July 2016
TMX Group today announced its financing activity on Toronto Stock Exchange and TSX Venture Exchange for July 2016.

London Metal Exchange cuts fees after pressure from members; Parent group HKEx in climbdown after chief had said group was not ‘ripping off’ customers
by: Henry Sanderson and Neil Hume – FT
The London Metal Exchange has bowed to pressure from disgruntled members and slashed fees for one of its most popular trades in an attempt to stem falling activity.


Donald Trump hit by dissent from within Republican party; Group of 50 GOP security experts and senator say they will not vote for presidential nominee
by: David J Lynch in Washington – FT
Donald Trump faced open dissent from within his party on Monday, as a group of 50 Republican national security specialists warned he would be “the most reckless president in American history” and a GOP senator said she would not vote for the presidential nominee.

50 G.O.P. Officials Warn Donald Trump Would Put Nation’s Security ‘at Risk’
Fifty of the nation’s most senior Republican national security officials, many of them former top aides or cabinet members for President George W. Bush, have signed a letter declaring that Donald J. Trump “lacks the character, values and experience” to be president and “would put at risk our country’s national security and well-being.”

Sean Hannity’s Veneration of Ignorance; The right’s political huckster gives Al Sharpton a run for his money.
It was probably inevitable that Donald Trump and his media munchkins would alight on the stab-in-the-back theory to explain his probable defeat in November. The surprise is that they are doing so with the election still three months out.

Trump Aims to Reset With Revised Tax Plan, Curb on Regulations; The Republican seeks to cast Clinton’s economic program as an ineffective relic, and to correct his own course.
Kevin Cirilli, Jennifer Jacobs – Bloomberg
Donald Trump on Monday sought to cast Hillary Clinton’s economic program as an ineffective relic, and to reset his own presidential campaign after a string of missteps.

Investing and Trading

UK’s ‘kitchen sink’ easing wins investor plaudits for now; Market reaction has been everything a central bank governor could wish for
by: Elaine Moore and Dan McCrum – FT
After holding out for seven years, the UK has finally succumbed to a new round of monetary stimulus — joining the eurozone and Japan to become the third major economy actively engaged in central bank easing.

Buffett Exits Credit Derivatives, Pays $195 Million on Last Deal
Noah Buhayar – Bloomberg
Terminated contract was from 2008 and tied to municipal debt; CEO has long highlighted derivatives’ risks, calling them WMDs
Warren Buffett just took another step to simplify Berkshire Hathaway Inc.’s stockpile of derivatives.

Are Negative Rates Backfiring? Here’s Some Early Evidence; Economists worry that people and businesses are saving more, instead of spending
Two years ago, the European Central Bank cut interest rates below zero to encourage people such as Heike Hofmann, who sells fruits and vegetables in this small city, to spend more.

Heavy-Metal Markets Have Worrying Echoes of 2006
By Mark Gilbert – Bloomberg
In April 2006, I was starting to worry about what I was seeing in financial markets. The phrase “heavy-metal markets” seemed to describe the paradox of stocks and bonds all rising at the same time, riffing on the joke that good heavy-metal music is created by making everything louder than everything else. Today, the market backdrop seems awfully reminiscent of that period.

U.K. Bond-Buying Program Creates Wrinkles in Gilts’ Yield Curve
Anchalee Worrachate – Bloomberg
2-, 3-year spread turns negative for the first time in 8 years; Unclear if gilt QE will be effective: Credit Agricole
The Bank of England’s renewed bond-buying program is already creating signs of distortion in the $2.2 trillion U.K. gilt market.

Stress Test Shows Fannie and Freddie Would Suffer $127.6 Billion Loss in Severe Downturn
Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac would suffer $127.6 billion of losses in the worst-case stress test scenario used by its regulator to gauge their financial soundness. Those losses would require as much as $125.8 billion in new bailout funds, the Federal Housing Finance Agency said Monday. That would leave $132.2 billion remaining in the Treasury Department’s commitment to keep the two mortgage finance companies solvent.


Q&A With Tidjane Thiam: ‘I Will Never Declare Victory’
Bankers face a daunting environment today, particularly chief executives of European institutions—as Tidjane Thiam of Credit Suisse has learned firsthand. Since Thiam took the reins as CEO in July 2015, the 160-year-old bank has lost more than half its market value. Critics have scrutinized him from the start for a lack of banking experience, and the Swiss media has repeatedly speculated about a possible replacement.

Credit Suisse CEO says bank does not need to raise capital: Bloomberg
Swiss bank Credit Suisse AG (CSGN.S) does not need to raise capital “in most foreseeable scenarios”, Chief Executive Tidjane Thiam said in an interview with Bloomberg.

UK banks told to overhaul retail services; Competition watchdog seeks overdraft changes and more digital products
by: Emma Dunkley – FT
Banks have been told to adopt new digital services and set their own limit on unarranged overdraft fees as part of the UK competition watchdog’s final measures to reform retail banking.

The Big Idea That Won’t Fix Europe’s Banks
By Tyler Cowen – Bloomberg
Europe’s banks have had a rough year: Their stock prices have fallen so low that some observers wonder whether they are viable in their current form.

Deutsche Bank Falls Short Under Goldman’s Take on Stress Tests
Nicholas Comfort, Chris Malpass – Bloomberg
Deutsche Bank AG showed a 2 billion-euro ($2.22 billion) capital shortfall under Goldman Sachs Group Inc.’s analysis of stress tests conducted by European regulators last month.

Goldman Sachs’s Fight to Avoid Paying Employees’ Legal Fees
We know that paying for a lawyer can be an expensive proposition. The New York Times reported recently that a Turkish gold trader, Reza Zarrab, has hired a veritable who’s who of white-collar defense firms to defend him against charges of violating United States sanctions laws in dealings with businesses in Iran. Costs could rise to the tens of millions of dollars if the case goes to trial.

MOVES-Raymond James to partner with WealthSource
The investment advisers unit of Raymond James Financial Inc entered into a partnership to provide its custodial services to WealthSource Partners LLC.

BGC Partners
BGC Partners, Inc. (NASDAQ: BGCP) (“BGC Partners,” “BGC” or “the Company”), a leading global brokerage company servicing the financial and real estate markets, today announced that John Battaglia is joining BGC Partners as a Senior Vice President and Head of Carbon Markets, through its BGC Environmental Brokerage Services L.P. subsidiary. John will report to Nicole Shaughnessy, Managing Director, Environmental Products, BGC Environmental Brokerage Services L.P. He will be based in San Francisco.


Tullett Prebon Buys CME’s Hybrid Trading IT
Financial Technologies Forum
Interdealer broker Tullett Prebon is acquiring from CME “a long term license of a hybrid trading technology” that it will further develop internally “to provide bespoke, proprietary, customer-facing capabilities,” officials say. Tullett Prebon has been busy lately, having purchased the hybrid, U.S. voice-broking business operations of Creditex from the Intercontinental Exchange (ICE), and before that agreeing to acquire similar businesses from soon-to-be-former brokerage competitor ICAP.

Britain counting on fintech for banking revolution
Huw Jones and Andrew Macaskill – Reuters
British banks will from 2018 have to share customers’ data with third parties who can then show how much could be saved by using other lenders, the competition watchdog said on Tuesday. Customers currently are paying more than they should for banking and are not benefiting from new services, the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) said in its final report after a three-year review of consumer and small business banking.

ASX to develop a data lake as part of technology overhaul
Why fix something when it’s not broken has been the attitude for the Australian Securities Exchange (ASX) for nearly the last decade when it comes to updating the backend technology system, and even to this day, ASX group executive Tim Thurman said it is functioning as it should with 100 percent availability. However, the issue Thurman has with the current backend platform is that it is not allowing for the company to innovate.

Moving ahead in Fintech landscape – A Ready reckoner for CFOs
In my last post I outlined the emerging role of Fintechs and what CFOs need to be cognizant of while operating in a marketplace influenced by Fintechs. Needless to say, the role of CFOs have become critical in light of the changing environment pervaded by technology shifts and emergence of new age players. It is necessary to check their awareness, analysis and also the actions initiated for operating in the Fintech environment.

ESMA is organising a selection procedure to recruit ICT Officers.


FINRA Requests Comment on Proposed Amendments to Its Gifts, Gratuities and Non-Cash Compensation Rules
FINRA is seeking comment on proposed amendments to FINRA Rule 3220 (Influencing or Rewarding Employees of Others), as well as on proposed FINRA Rule 3221 (Restrictions on Non-Cash Compensation), and proposed FINRA Rule 3222 (Business Entertainment).

ASIC review of handling of confidential information and conflicts of interest by sell-side research and corporate advisory
An ASIC review of risks related to the handling of confidential information and conflicts of interests, particularly in the provision of sell-side research and corporate advisory services, has found that most firms have policies and procedures in place to deal with these risks. However, there remain instances of poor and inconsistent practice in their application.

The Oddities In Barclay’s $100 Million Libor Settlement In The US
Tim Worstall – Forbes
Barclays has just announced that it has settled the case brought against it in the US over the manipulation of Libor. They’re paying $100 million and this is on top of the previous settlement they made with the Bank of England and others. There are however three distinct oddities in the case itself. It’s not entirely obvious that those complaining were actually harmed by the actions themselves. And if we think about what was going on at one particular time we might actually approve of what was being done rather than condemn it.

Prosecution says ex-Wall Street banker lied in insider trading trial
Nate Raymond – Reuters
U.S. prosecutors on Monday sought to brand a former Wall Street investment banker as a liar after he took the stand in his own defense to deny engaging in a years-long insider trading scheme with his father.

U.K. Regulator Fines Cenkos $690,000 Over Scandal-Laden Quindell
Suzi Ring – Bloomberg
Financial Conduct Authority fine for systems, control failures; Quindell under investigation over accounts by U.K. prosecutors
Cenkos Securities Plc, a British securities firm for small and mid-cap companies, was fined 530,500 pounds ($690,000) by the U.K. markets regulator for failures in its role as an adviser to scandal-laden client Quindell Plc.

FCA fines broker £535,000 over sponsorship of Quindell; Cenkos rapped for sloppy systems and controls on sponsor services
by: Caroline Binham, Financial Regulation Correspondent – FT
Cenkos, a small-cap broker, has been fined £535,500 by the UK’s markets watchdog over its sponsorship of Quindell, the scandal-hit insurance claims processor and legal services company that became Watchstone.

U.K. SFO to Decide Charges in BOE Fraud Probe by Year-End
Suzi Ring – Bloomberg
Bank of England probed over 2007 and 2008 liquidity auctions; Serious Fraud Office to decide on charges in next few months
U.K. prosecutors investigating possible manipulation of Bank of England liquidity auctions at the height of the financial crisis will decide whether to pursue charges by the end of the year, according to two people with knowledge of the situation.

Barclays Agrees to Settle Libor-Rigging Inquiry for $100 Million
Barclays is once again paying money to regulators to settle allegations that its employees sought to manipulate a major benchmark interest rate.

Opinion of Commissioner Piwowar, concurring in part and dissenting in part from the opinion of the Commission
Commissioner Michael S. Piwowar – SEC
Commissioner Piwowar issued a separate opinion, concurring in part and dissenting in part, from the Commission’s consideration of an appeal of an administrative law judge’s initial decision in the matter of John J. Aesoph, CPA, and Darren M. Bennett, CPA.[1]


The Seven-Year Short; Mark Hart of Corriente Advisors has been betting that China’s currency will collapse. He’s not about to give up now.
By Bloomberg News
On any given evening, after Mark Hart and his wife have put their kids to bed, he’ll duck into his bedroom closet and close the door behind him. Then, by pixel-light, he goes to work. Hart, a hedge fund manager in Fort Worth, has a single fixation: the Chinese yuan. And at 9 p.m. Texas time, China’s financial markets are in full-throated roar 13 time zones away.

Emerging Markets Aren’t Really in Charge of Their Own Interest Rates Anymore
Emerging market central banks are shackled to their U.S. counterparts, with local long-term interest rates held hostage to the Federal Reserve and the monetary policies of other advanced economies. That’s the striking picture painted, in not so many words, by a new Bank for International Settlements (BIS) paper. The research throws into sharp relief how domestic monetary policy in a clutch of emerging markets has been rendered effectively impotent thanks to financial globalization.

Hong Kong Bourse May Open Under Pressure
The Hong Kong stock market has tracked higher in three straight sessions, surging more than 750 points or 3.7 percent along the way. The Hang Seng Index now rests just beneath the 22,500-point plateau, although the market is ripe for consolidation on Tuesday.

Hong Kong Property Stocks Are Hottest Since Eve of 1997 Collapse
Hong Kong real estate shares haven’t been this hot since the city’s last housing bubble burst almost two decades ago.

The 5 Types Of Fintech Entrepreneurs And Where They Are In Asia
Who are the individuals that are driving the fintech wave, that are attracting billions of dollars in funding and that are transforming, and sometimes even disrupting, the financial services sector? Besides the big names in Europe and America, where can they be found in Asia?

Africa after Brexit: African economies may be severely affected by Britain’s exit
The New Times
By 6:30a.m. on June 24, less than 12 hours after a successful referendum on Brexit (Britain’s exit from the European Union), South Africa’s currency, the rand, took the first blow. It plunged by almost 8 percent from R14.33 to R15.45 against the US dollar, its steepest single-day decline since the 2008 financial crisis.
Brexit sent shock waves through the global markets, including those in Africa.

Investor complaints against brokers declining; Brokers now have a better back-end system in place and regulators have tightened the screws on compliance requirements
Ashley Coutinho – Business Standard
The number of investor complaints against brokers has been seeing a decline in recent years, with stronger regulatory oversight and rising markets.


News Corp posts 5.1 percent rise in quarterly revenue
News Corp, the owner of the Wall Street Journal and book publisher HarperCollins, reported a 5.1 percent rise in quarterly revenue, helped by strong growth in its digital real estate business.

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About Author

Bergstrom is chief information officer of John J. Lothian & Co. He edits MarketsWiki and JLN Options.