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SEC’s Jay Clayton & China, Tom Ascher Speaks, Nasdaq and SIX Swiss Exchange Go Blockchain

First Read

Hits & Takes
By JLN Staff

John Hague of RSM has accepted the role of co-chairman of the LaSalle Trading Tech Awards of the Pathway to Adventure Council of the Boy Scouts of America. John Lothian is the other co-chair of the event. Hague replaces Matt Haraburda of XR Trading, who teamed with John Lothian last year to chair the event.

The LaSalle Trading Tech Awards honor those firms who have participated in the Trading Tech 300 merit badge workshop program created by John Lothian and replaces the history LaSalle Street Dinner that had run for over 20 years in support of the Boy Scouts. The awards event is expected to be scheduled for mid-November.~JJL

The Wall Street Journal ran the story, Global Inflation Hits Lowest Level Since 2009. I wonder if part of the reason has anything to do with the New York Times’ story titled “Our Broken Economy, in One Simple Chart“? ~JB

Have you seen the chart on overnight volumes for the Nikkei 225 on JPX’s Osaka Exchange?The night session volume was higher than local daytime volume on May 19. Night session volume now represents almost 40 percent of its total volume. In our JLN Sponsored Content Box below, you can find more.~JK

Singer and actor Glen Campbell died yesterday. He inspired me to try to learn to play the guitar, but he had incredible talent and I did not.~JJL

Recently, the New Yorker had an interesting article on the ins and outs of the HSBC scandal and other unpunished white collar crimes – Why Corrupt Bankers Avoid Jail, by Patrick Radden Keefe. Though some of the reasons are familiar, it adds some new ones that may surprise – like people who go to law school are risk-averse types. The article is also a review of multiple books about the scandals, the first of which cannot be named because this is a family publication.~SR

The annual Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas symposium in Jackson Hole, Wyo. is coming up on August 24-26. The symposium began in 1978 and was permanently moved to Jackson Hole in 1982. Lore has it the location was an added lure for then-Chairman Paul Volcker, who is an avid fly fisherman. For some history and context, check out this PDF from the Fed – In Late August. ~SD

The SEC released a statement on the death of former Chairman Harold M. Williams. He was 89. ~SD


Appeals Court Orders SEC to Reconsider Options-Industry Fee Plan
Plan by Options Clearing had handed some excess funds to shareholders, not only to member firms, prompting lawsuit
Dave Michaels –
A federal appeals court on Tuesday criticized the Securities and Exchange Commission for approving a fee plan by the options industry’s major clearinghouse and told the regulator to redo its work.

**So who wants to go back to the SEC, in Washington DC, in August? ~JK


A Winding Path of Reinvention – Thomas Ascher

“A risk-free life is a boring life. I’m not advocating taking stupid risks. Don’t. Understand the risks, but you can’t explore things if you don’t take some risk.”

In this video from MarketsWiki Education’s World of Opportunity event in New York, Thomas Ascher, an independent financial executive and former CSO of the International Securities Exchange, explains the proper steps on how to reinvent yourself. Ascher has worn many hats with quite a few companies over the years — NQLX, CBOE, Interactive Brokers — not to mention his time hawking cassette tapes out of his college dorm room. Ascher says that failure can pay dividends and to always pursue your passions. Everyone needs to learn to reinvent, because things are changing at a terrific pace. Don’t get left behind.

Read the rest and watch the video »


How much the highest-paid women in every US state make compared to men — the difference in their salaries is stunning
Lauren Lyons Cole and Andy Kiersz – Business Insider
Across the US, the average income for the top 2% of all earners is $206,000.
But among women in the top 2%, the average salary is $145,000, compared to $371,000 for men, according to an analysis of the 2015 American Community Survey by labor economics research firm Job Search Intelligence (JSI).

**Let’s all lean in on this.~JK


Beyond the boring blockchain bubble
Jon Evans, Columnist –
The silly season continues. Speculators are piling into the cryptocurrency space in the hopes of – sometimes very literally – making money fast. As I write this Ethereum’s value has halved since June but is still 20x since January. Litecoin is up 12x since then. Even Bitcoin has tripled, again. It seems like everyone now has an opinion on, and a position in, cryptocurrencies.

***** With the risk in cryptocurrencies, futures trading is not the riskiest thing to trade anymore. What impact is the interest in trading cryptocurrencies having on futures trading?~JJL


Tuesday’s Top Three
Our top read stories yesterday were led by the issue that plagues most men, women and tech support people: passwords. The Wall Street Journal piece The Man Who Wrote Those Password Rules Has a New Tip: N3v$r M1^d! led the day. Second went to the interesting switcheroo by Euronext on its clearing, in Reuters’ Euronext renews deal with LSE business in clearing u-turn. Third was from Financial Executives International’s piece Five Steps Financial Services Firms Can Take To Innovate, with an interesting link to a report from Accenture and McLagan on blockchain.


MarketsWiki Stats
105,764,678 pages viewed; 22,665 pages; 207,606 edits
MarketsWiki Statistics


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Lead Stories

Chicago Stock Exchange deal tests new SEC chief
As a former Wall Street deals lawyer, Jay Clayton has been clear that he wants to make it easier for companies to raise money through stock sales now that he runs the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.

Nasdaq and SIX Swiss Exchange plan OTC blockchain project
By Hayley McDowell – The Trade
Nasdaq and SIX Swiss Exchange have teamed up to provide blockchain technology for SIX’s OTC structured products business.

Virtu shares fall as low market volatility hits bottom line; High-speed trader slashes costs after $1.4bn purchase of rival KCG Holdings
Nicole Bullock and Philip Stafford – FT
Shares of Virtu Financial fell on Tuesday as investors fretted over the low market volatility that is weighing on the high-speed trader’s business.

SEC to rule on sale of Chicago Stock Exchange to Chinese investors
Gail MarksJarvis – Chicago Tribune
The Securities and Exchange Commission is expected to rule Wednesday on whether to allow a Chinese group of investors to buy the Chicago Stock Exchange, a controversial deal that some members of Congress fear would allow a foreign government to gain a foothold in the U.S. financial system.

Quants Are Clamoring for Data, Causing Soul Searching at Large Banks
Dani Burger – Bloomberg
Banks look to comb internal information for investing clues; Credit Suisse analysts to research natural language processing
The insatiable demand for unique market data is putting banks in a tricky situation.

Oil traders look beyond Andy Hall retreat; Need for more nimble trading strategies have superseded old commodity play book
David Sheppard, Energy Markets Editor – FT
The decision by legendary oil trader Andy Hall to close his main Astenbeck fund marks not just another commodity investor brought low by the crude price crash, but the capitulation of an ardent bull who helped define the era of $100 oil.

Appeals Court Orders SEC to Reconsider Options-Industry Fee Plan
Dave Michaels – WSJ
A federal appeals court on Tuesday criticized the Securities and Exchange Commission for approving a fee plan by the options industry’s major clearinghouse and told the regulator to redo its work.

We let the 2007 financial crisis go to waste
Torsten Bell – The Guardian
Attlee and Roosevelt built a fairer world off the back of economic catastrophe. We’ve failed at that today
It’s not the time passing, it’s the opportunity for retrospection that kills you. Or at least that’s how it feels looking back a full 10 years to the day when I was working in the Treasury as we got the news that the French bank BNP Paribas had frozen funds exposed to US sub-prime mortgages.

Our Broken Economy, in One Simple Chart
David Leonhardt – NY Times
Many Americans can’t remember anything other than an economy with skyrocketing inequality, in which living standards for most Americans are stagnating and the rich are pulling away. It feels inevitable.
But it’s not.

Wall Street’s Epic Scavenger Hunt Resumes With Pine River Reboot
Amanda L Gordon – Bloomberg
Compass, successor to Midnight Madness, is set for Sept. 16; Bridgewater, Goldman to compete in not-quite-all-night contest
Two years ago, a team of employees from Pine River Capital Management pulled an epic all-nighter, racing around Manhattan to win Wall Street’s absurdly difficult scavenger hunt.

Ex-Wall Street prosecutor fired by Donald Trump Preet Bharara launches own podcast to attack the White House; Former scourge of financial wrongdoers has President in his sights as he turns to broadcasting in new mission to hold powerful to account
Joseph Ax – Independent
Preet Bharara, the former US Attorney in Manhattan who became a scourge of Wall Street wrongdoers before President Donald Trump fired him in March, will soon have a new outlet to voice his criticism of the White House: a podcast.

Exchanges, OTC and Clearing

SIX Swiss Exchange and Nasdaq to Develop Distributed Ledger Technology for SIX’s OTC Structured Products
By GlobeNewswire
SIX Swiss Exchange and Nasdaq, Inc. (Nasdaq:NDAQ) today have announced that Nasdaq, in collaboration with its technology partner Chain, will provide distributed ledger technology (DLT) for a Minimum Viable Product (MVP) for SIX’s OTC structured products business. The solution will integrate with several systems currently managed by SIX and utilize the DLT capabilities at the core of the Nasdaq Financial Framework, Nasdaq’s next-generation enterprise architecture stack. With the MVP, SIX gains first-hand experience regarding the implementation of a DLT solution and investigating how to leverage blockchain technology for SIX and its members in the post-trade environment.

Start-up Sef trueEX takes larger slice of swaps trading pie; trueEX recorded the second highest Sef volumes across all platforms for the first half of year.
By Joe Parsons – The Trade
Start-up swap execution facility (Sef) trueEX has become one of the most used electronic platforms for interest rate derivatives in the US, marking a significant shift in the swaps trading landscape.


Condensed Consolidated Financial Statements For the six months ended 30 June 2017

JPX Monthly Headlines – July 2017
JPX group companies undertake various initiatives and disseminate information with the aim of providing the most attractive markets to all users.

Hong Kong Exchange’s interim profit beats forecasts on higher market turnover, new listings; Higher market turnover and more new listings boost the exchange operator’s earnings
Enoch Yiu – South China Morning Post
Hong Kong Exchanges and Clearing, the operator of the local bourse, reported 17 per cent growth in net profit for the first six months of 2017 as a result of higher market turnover and more new listings.


Vantiv strikes £9.3bn deal to buy rival Worldpay; Takeover of Britain’s dominant payment processor creates global leader in sector
Emma Dunkley – FT
Vantiv has struck a deal to buy British payments processing rival Worldpay for £9.3bn after weeks of negotiations to create the world’s biggest industry player by the number of transactions handled.

Itiviti Awarded as Best Capital Markets Technology Provider
Press Release
Itiviti, a world-leading technology provider for the capital markets industry, has been named Best Capital Markets Technology Provider by the 2017 Technology Innovator Awards, presented by Corporate Vision (CV) Magazine. This marks the second consecutive year for Itiviti as a winner of the CV Technology Innovator Awards.

Equinix Collaborates with SAP to Bring Worldwide Direct, Private Access to the SAP® Cloud Portfolio
Equinix, Inc
Equinix, Inc.(Nasdaq: EQIX), the global interconnection and data center company, today announced that it is offering direct and private access to the SAP® Cloud portfolio, including SAP HANA® Enterprise Cloud and SAP Cloud Platform, in multiple markets across the globe. Dedicated, private connections are available via Equinix Cloud Exchange™ and the SAP Cloud Peering service in the Equinix Amsterdam, Frankfurt, Los Angeles, New York, Silicon Valley, Sydney, Toronto and Washington, D.C. International Business Exchange™ (IBX®) data centers, with additional markets planned for later this year.

GreenKey Awarded Only Patent for Speech-To-Text Engine Designed for Financial Markets
PR Newswire – Markets Insider
GreenKey Technologies, creator of an award-winning, team-based, voice collaboration tool for financial and regulated markets, announced today that the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office has granted the company a second patent for its latest innovation: speech-to-text for the financial markets, incorporating custom processes for language model creation; model training; error correction, and accelerated transcription to allow for fast, accurate transcription of domain-specific conversations and instructions.

Big banks on notice that they’re losing ground to China’s fintech giants
Josh Ye – South China Morning Post
The giants of the banking world are starting to publicly acknowledge the dominance of mobile payment methods devised by Chinese technology firms – and, more broadly, a failure to keep up with fintech rivals in certain areas


Trump’s ‘Fire and Fury’ North Korea Warning Puts World on Edge
By Justin Sink and Shinhye Kang – Bloomberg
Kim Jong Un ‘has been very threatening,’ Trump tells reporters
U.S. markets jolted, South Korea and Japan stocks both fall
President Donald Trump’s threat to hit North Korea with “fire and fury” jolted markets from New York to Seoul even as U.S. lawmakers questioned the president’s willingness to back up the heated rhetoric.

Trump has taken us to the brink of nuclear war. Can he be stopped?
Jonathan Freedland – The Guardian
In previous nuclear standoffs, Trump’s predecessors knew when to hold back from further antagonising the other side. But now there is no such certainty

Your country needs funds: The extraordinary story of Britain’s early efforts to finance the First World War
Michael Anson, Norma Cohen, Alastair Owens and Daniel Todman – Bank Underground
Financing World War I required the UK government to borrow the equivalent of a full year’s GDP. But its first effort to raise capital in the bond market was a spectacular failure. The 1914 War Loan raised less than a third of its £350m target and attracted only a very narrow set of investors. This failure and its subsequent cover-up has only recently come to light following research analysing the Bank’s ledgers.

In the Age of Trump, the Dollar No Longer Seems a Sure Thing
It is the closest thing to a certainty in the global economy. When trouble flares and anxiety mounts, people who manage money traditionally entrust it to a seemingly indomitable refuge, the American dollar.


Exclusive: British banks’ turnaround plans frustrated by U.S. justice delays
Lawrence White – Reuters
Legal and investigative delays at the U.S. Department of Justice are thwarting efforts by three of Britain’s biggest banks to rehabilitate themselves after the global financial crash and other problems, the banks’ chief executives have said.

Operators of unlicensed Gold Coast financial services business charged
Following an ASIC investigation, Jana Jaros and Jackson Laurence Malcolm Capper have appeared in the Southport Magistrates Court on charges of operating an unlicensed financial services business.

Esma backtracks on account segregation; Status quo protected for rehypothecation of collateral in tri-party, securities lending and prime brokerage
Luke Clancy –
The European Securities and Markets Authority (Esma) has backtracked on stricter rules for depositories that some critics had said would choke tri-party repo markets and prime brokerage.

ESMA publishes responses to its Consultation under the MMF Regulation
The European Securities and Markets Authority (ESMA) has published the responses received to its Consultation on Draft technical advice, implementing technical standards and guidelines under the MMF Regulation.

The Legal Aspects of Smart Contracts
A lot has been said and written about the potential for smart contracts in the context of derivatives. On our part, we think smart contracts have the potential to unlock value in the derivatives market by offering significant cost and efficiency benefits.

SEC Staff Publishes Report on Access to Capital and Market Liquidity
The SEC Division of Economic and Risk Analysis (DERA) today published a report describing trends in primary securities issuance and secondary market liquidity, and assessing how those trends relate to post-crisis regulatory reforms. The report was requested by Congress as part of the FY2016 appropriations process.

UK financial regulator fails to provide clarity over in-house lawyers; New proposals from the UK financial regulatory have still not clarified whether corporate counsel in financial institutions will have to answer to the Financial Conduct Authority.
The Global Legal Post
UK general counsel are still in the dark over proposals to make them answerable to the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) amidst fears that such a move could cause conflicts between professional and regulatory duties. The FCA’s newly released proposals to extend the FCA’s Senior Managers and Certification Regime (SMR) to all financial services firms did not clarify if the new regime to improve conduct and competence for financial companies would include the legal department. Such a move would open up the prospect of GCs and heads of legal at some 50,000 firms facing new responsibilities to the financial regulatory body as well as to the legal regulator.

Bankers’ pay closely tied to deregulation
Gillian Tett – Financial Times
Banking sector pay is a topic that arouses political passions, but it is also a good barometer of what has been happening in finance over the past century.
Thomas Philippon and Ariell Reshef have shown how closely linked pay has been to deregulation of the sector.

SEC’s OCIE Releases Key Observations from 2015-2016 Cybersecurity Examinations
ACA Compliance
The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission’s (SEC) Office of Compliance Inspections and Examinations (OCIE) issued a Risk Alert on August 7 containing a summary of its observations from their phase 2 cybersecurity examinations conducted in 2015 and 2016. OCIE examined 75 firms, including broker-dealers, investment advisers, and funds registered with the SEC. This second phase of examinations built upon the first phase examinations and focused on cybersecurity policies and procedures.

Investing and Trading

Block Traders Are Strong-Arming the Tamest Bond Market Ever Seen
Brian Chappatta and Edward Bolingbroke – Bloomberg
By just about any measure, trading in Treasuries has never been more tranquil. Yet beneath the surface, an explosion of bets in futures is buffeting the $14 trillion market.

U.S. drops charges in another high-profile Wall Street case
Jonathan Stempel – Reuters
U.S. prosecutors on Tuesday dropped their criminal case accusing Benjamin Wey of running a fraudulent stock manipulation scheme, after a federal judge threw out much of the evidence they hoped to use against the financier.

Investors Looking for Reason to Sell Asia Stocks Now Have Plenty
By Eric Lam – Bloomberg
Japan, South Korea lead equities lower after S&P 500 slips; U.S.-North Korea rhetoric “more intense”: Citi’s Peng
The latest round of inflammatory rhetoric between the U.S. and North Korea has equity investors around the world starting to succumb to their impulse to head for the exit.

How Japanese Hedge Funds Are Aiming Small for Big Returns
By Kathleen Chu and Komaki Ito – Bloomberg
Simplex fund returns 29% in first half by targeting small caps; Japan-focused funds are world’s third-best performers so far
Aiming small is helping some Japanese hedge funds deliver outsize returns.

Why investment management remains a male dominated workplace
James Connington – Telegraph
There is an overwhelming likelihood that your pension, Isas and other investments are being overseen by men. And, far from women gaining ground in the fund management business, they are in fact becoming increasingly rare, the latest data suggests.


Banks join forces to crack down on fraudsters; ‘Phone-printing’ software among tactics to tackle identity theft and cyber attacks
Martin Arnold, Banking Editor -FT
When a fraudster steals someone’s identity and phones their bank to empty their account, they are increasingly likely to be identified by advanced software that triggers an alert to the police.


This Obscure China Stock Suddenly Trades More Than JPMorgan
Fangda Carbon New Material Co. isn’t typically a name that jumps to mind when one thinks of the world’s most-actively traded stocks.
Yet for reasons unknown, shares of this obscure Chinese maker of graphite electrodes are suddenly changing hands at a pace usually reserved for the global equity market’s crème de la crème.

HSBC plans Saudi growth thanks to kingdom’s ‘unprecedented’ transformation
Tom Arnold, Hadeel Al Sayegh and Saeed Azhar – Reuters
HSBC is planning to add staff to its Saudi Arabian operations as the kingdom embarks on one of the biggest economic transformations attempted by any country, the bank’s regional chief Georges Elhedery told Reuters.

China Is Taking On the ‘Original Sin’ of Its Mountain of Debt
Bloomberg News
Reducing leverage risks touted as top priority for regulators; Wealth management products, entrusted loan levels remain high
China’s much-vaunted campaign to tackle its leverage problem has captured headlines this year. But to understand why they’re taking on the challenge — and the threat it could pose to the world’s second-largest economy — you need to dig into the mountain.

Australia’s richest woman seeks to sate China’s hunger for meat; Gina Rinehart ropes in Chinese partners to lobby Beijing on opening live cattle trade
Jamie Smyth in Darwin – FT
Gina Rinehart has faced down larger rivals, bureaucrats and even family to build Hancock Prospecting into a mining force. Now Australia’s richest woman is tackling a tiny foe that could derail a A$1bn plan to ship live cattle to China.

Singapore: The Monetary Authority Of Singapore Clarifies Its Treatment Of Token Offerings
Article by Nick Davies, Daniel R. Kahan, Joshua Ashley Klayman and Alfredo B.D. Silva – Morrison & Foerster LLP
To Regulate Or Not To Regulate? – That Is No Longer The Question
In a press release issued on Tuesday, August 1, 1 the Monetary Authority of Singapore (“MAS”) provided its most direct guidance yet on how it intends to treat “token offerings.” 2 For those looking for concrete rules, unfortunately, the answer is “it depends,” but the message behind the statement could not have been clearer: a warning shot that a token offering may well be subject to regulation if the features of the token are such as to bring it within the scope of existing laws. Consequently, issuers and their intermediaries should not assume that no regulatory constraints apply and are encouraged by MAS to seek legal advice.


Bankers Hold Off on Dublin Decisions, Hoping for a Softer Brexit
Dara Doyle – Bloomberg
Irish authorities have seen a drop in the level and intensity of inquiries from finance firms seeking to set up shop in Dublin after Britain’s June election led to the prospect of a softer Brexit, according to a person familiar with the matter.

Brits Fearing Brexit, Corbyn Seek Shelter in FX Accounts at HSBC
By Kaye Wiggins and Stephen Morris – Bloomberg
Foreign-currency account demand jumped in June amid election; U.S. vote saw dollar account demand surge as greenback soared
HSBC Holdings Plc isn’t plastering Heathrow with its “world’s local bank” tagline anymore, but a Brexit-battered pound and a political swing to the left have spurred internationally minded Brits to snap up its foreign-currency accounts.

Banking watchdog warns of risks from cliff-edge Brexit; Sam Woods issues starkest alert yet on stability threats to financial system
Caroline Binham, Financial Regulation Correspondent – FT
The UK’s most senior supervisor of banks and insurers has given his starkest warning to date over the risks the financial system faces from a cliff-edge Brexit without a transition period.


Dairies’ Fix for Souring Milk Sales: Genetics and Bananas; Companies bet on genetically screened cows, pureed-fruit options to stand out on grocery shelves
By Mike Cherney and Heather Haddon – WSJ
Dairy makers are hoping puréed fruit and genetically screened cows can help win back consumers who have soured on milk.

Dean Foods Drops as Milk Struggles Deepen; The company’s stock gives up nearly 20% as slowing milk sales and pricing pressures hurt earnings
By Jacob Bunge and Cara Lombardo – WSJ
The milk business is shaking Dean Foods Co. The top U.S. milk processor by sales has been struggling amid slowing milk sales and rising costs. Now its largest customer, Wal-Mart Stores Inc., is preparing to open its own milk-processing plant, reducing its reliance on Dean

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About Author

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