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Nearly Half of 2017’s Cryptocurrency ‘ICO’ Projects Have Already Died

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First Read

Hits & Takes
JLN Staff

A report from Deloitte showed that 9 out of 10 blockchain trials go nowhere. Only 8 percent of projects started still survive, with 92 percent of blockchain projects failing or started as an experiment, according to a blog post from Chris Skinner in

Steve Sears is leaving Barron’s after 12 years. Here is his last column, titled “Making a Friend of Fear.”~JJL

Former John Lothian News intern Alison Fay is now a digital marketing specialist at Divi Resorts. Congratulations and best of luck to Alison as she starts her full-time career.~JJL

I will be voting for Renato Mariotti in the Illinois Democratic primary for Attorney General. You can count that as an endorsement. He understands the challenges we face as a state and nation and has the courage to do the right thing.~JJL

Hong Kong’s financial services industry gathered at the brand new HKEX Connect Hall last night to celebrate the Year of the Dog together.~JJL


FCMs Big And Small Suffer Major Losses On Latest Black Monday
Jim Kharouf – JLN
On February 5, the historic trading day when the Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 1,175 points and the S&P 500 plunged 113 points, many customers suffered significant losses which forced several futures commission merchants to cover those deficits. The severity of the losses on that day was reflected in major drops in FCM customer segregated funds, some to alarming levels.
Among the biggest shocks was at RBC Capital Markets, which on February 5 posted a deficiency of funds in segregation of $1.13 billion. FCMs should never post a negative amount there, as it is a potential violation of CFTC rules.

****JB: In case you missed this last Friday.


Bitcoin Bulls And Bears; Who’s Hot, Who’s Not On Crypto
Bitcoin’s meteoric rise has made it hard for even those in the highest spheres of finance, technology and government to ignore – and many have an opinion about its approximate 723 percent gain in the past 12 months. People have debated the potential of cryptocurrencies since the mysterious Satoshi Nakamoto released a nine-page paper explaining the technology in 2009. Here’s a look at who’s on which side and what they’re saying.


‘Emperor’ stocks soar in China as Xi cleared for indefinite reign
Chinese speculators pounced on stocks with “emperor” in their name on Monday, after the ruling Communist Party set the stage for President Xi Jinping to stay in office indefinitely.


Whistleblowers; AML Staffing; Unlicensed Crypto Exchange; FCA-CFTC FinTech Cooperation
Gary DeWaal – Bridging the Week
The United States Supreme Court made clear that, to take advantage of a key anti-retaliation protection of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, an employee whistleblower must identify potential securities law violations to the Securities and Exchange Commission, and not solely to his/her employer. This is not a good outcome for businesses. Separately, a bank was sanctioned over US $600 million by four federal regulators for not employing a sufficient number of anti-money laundering personnel, and capping the number of exception reports generated by its AML surveillance system to accommodate the reduced number of AML employees. Also, one non-United States financial services regulator endeavored to succinctly distinguish the functionality of different types of digital tokens that might be issued in connection with an initial coin offering and disclosed its current regulatory approach to each.


Friday’s Top Three
Friday’s top story was the JLN piece on FCMs in the aftermath of the February 5th market drop, followed by the link in the story to RBC’s Segregated Funds report. The story, FCMs Big And Small Suffer Major Losses On Latest Black Monday was one of the most read items of the year so far, and the link to RBC Statement of Daily Segregation Requirements and Funds in Segregation showed just how much interest there was in RBC, which posted a negative $1.13 billion balance in its residual interest. Third went to Crain’s Bitcoin, blockchain and cryptocurrencies will change the world, says DRW’s Wilson



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Lead Stories

Nearly Half of 2017’s Cryptocurrency ‘ICO’ Projects Have Already Died
David Z. Morris – Fortune
Last year was without a doubt the Year of Bitcoin, as exploding interest in cryptocurrency fueled a massive market runup. As if that wasn’t enough excitement, some speculators took the further leap to investing in cryptocurrency projects through a lightly regulated process called an “ICO,” or initial coin offering, in which a startup sells its own crypto token to raise money.

Trump’s SEC Makes Slow Progress on Trimming Rules; Incremental gains stand in contrast to early days of Trump administration, which were punctuated by a swift succession of executive orders aimed at deregulation
Tatyana Shumsky – WSJ
Jay Clayton, President Donald Trump’s pick to lead the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, can point to a series of small, targeted actions aimed at easing the regulatory burden for companies nearly 10 months into his tenure.

There’s Still No Good Way to Let a Big Bank Fail; A new Treasury report shows why ample equity is so important.
Editorial Board – Bloomberg
Once upon a time, President Donald Trump vowed to “do a very major haircut” on the Dodd-Frank Act. After a lengthy review, his officials have apparently concluded that the 2010 law’s approach to the failures of large banks was about right. In some ways, this reversal is a pity.

Fidessa and Virtu announce liquidity partnership built on next-generation high-performance technology
Fidessa group plc
Fidessa group plc and Virtu Financial today announced a partnership to connect Virtu Systematic Internaliser’s customisable liquidity to Fidessa’s award-winning market access solutions.

The World Federation Of Exchanges Publishes Research Report Into Family Businesses & Listing
The World Federation of Exchanges (“The WFE”), the global industry group for exchanges and CCPs, today published a report into family businesses, investigating the opportunities and challenges for family firms when considering public equity as a source of funding. The report – entitled Family Firms and Listing: Opportunities for Public Capital Markets – also includes a set of recommendations for stock exchanges to consider if they wish to attract more family firms to list.

UK must create a cap-and-trade pollution market; Even a 100 per cent shift to electric cars by 2040 will still require three new generations of internal combustion vehicles
Dan Lewis – London School of Economics and Political Science
PMQs on Wednesday opened with an attack on the Government’s air pollution strategy from the backbenches. It was by no means the first time in recent years the strategy has been challenged. It wasn’t even the first time that day. That morning, Government had – for the third time – lost a legal battle over its plan.

Female fund manager bonuses up to 70% below men’s; Early gender pay gap filings reveal extent of discrepancy
Attracta Mooney – FT
Women working at UK asset managers receive bonuses that are as much as 70 per cent below their male colleagues in revelations that will pile pressure on a sector that has been branded “pale, male and stale” to tackle its wide gender pay gap.

What’s in a Broker’s Name? SEC to Address Titles Used When Advising Investors; Planned regulation would address use of terms such as ‘financial adviser’
Dave Michaels – WSJ
Wall Street’s chief regulator on Friday confirmed it plans to target potentially misleading titles that stockbrokers use when they advise retail investors.

Dollar-Rate Breakdown Exposes Foreign-Exchange Mystery; The U.S. currency was expected to strengthen amid rising interest rates. Instead, it’s down 11% since late 2016.
Chelsey Dulaney – WSJ
Stumped by a deepening slide in the dollar, analysts and investors are scouring past periods of U.S. currency weakness for clues to what might happen next.

Scammers are tricking people to log into fake cryptocurrency exchange sites, and they’re incredibly hard to spot
Antonio Villas-Boas – Business Insider
As cryptocurrencies like bitcoin surge in popularity, so do scams.
As seen in the cryptocurrency subreddit, scammers have found a way to make their website addresses (URLs) look just like the authentic URLs of some popular cryptocurrency exchange sites, like Binance and Bittrex.

Fed’s Crisis-Era, Bond-Buying Plan Was Largely Ineffective, Economists Say; Research paper takes aim at central bank’s purchases of long-term Treasury and mortgage debt
Michael S. Derby – WSJ
The Federal Reserve’s signature bond buying stimulus program undertaken during and in the wake of the financial crisis was largely a dud for the economy, argues a new paper authored by a group of prominent economists.

Crypto ‘noobs’ learn to cope with wild swings in digital coins
Anna Irrera – Reuters
After researching digital currencies for work last year, personal finance writer J.R. Duren hopped on his own crypto-rollercoaster.

Fidelity Rethinks Star Stock-Picker System; Mutual-fund giant weighs shift to a team-based investing approach and changes to compensation system following complaints
Sarah Krouse and Kirsten Grind – WSJ
Fidelity Investments, the mutual-fund giant synonymous with the star stock picker, is now considering abandoning the investment process that made its managers famous, according to people familiar with the situation.

Exchanges, OTC and Clearing

SET Ready To Launch T+2 Settlement Cycle On March 2
The Stock Exchange of Thailand (SET) and market participants have confirmed their readiness to move toward the T+2 settlement cycle (T+2) on March 2, 2018, after successfully completed all preparation. SET has become one of the leading exchanges in ASEAN to move toward the T+2 cycle. This will align the operational process with international practice including Europe, and the United states.

ETFs from Franklin Templeton new at SIX; The ETF segment of SIX Swiss Exchange extends its product offering. Today, SIX welcomes Franklin Templeton as a new ETF issuer.
Franklin Templeton accesses the Swiss market as ETF issuer with five smart beta ETFs for which Susquehanna is acting as a market maker and providing the liquidity. The five smart beta ETFs newly tradable as of today. They provide investors additional opportunities to diversify their portfolio with European as well as American and global underlyings. With this, SIX Swiss Exchange offers 1’321 ETFs from 23 different issuers for trading.

ETF/ETC options: Reduction of strike price intervals, clarifications on last trading day and LEPOs
The Management Board of Eurex Deutschland and the Executive Board of Eurex Zürich AG decided to reduce strike price intervals for selected ETF/ETC options and add further clarifications concerning the last trading day and Low Exercise Price Options (LEPOs) according to the attachment.

Amendments to the Clearing Conditions and other related documents of Eurex Clearing AG
This circular contains information with respect to Eurex Clearing’s service offering and corresponding amendments to the Clearing Conditions of Eurex Clearing AG and other related documents regarding the following topics:

ETF settlement: Change of settlement structure for ETFs of SSGA SPDR ETFs Europe I plc and SSGA SPDR ETFs Europe II plc
Effective 12 March 2018, SSGA SPDR ETFs Europe I plc and SSGA SPDR ETFs Europe II plc will convert their Exchange Traded Funds (ETFs) traded on Xetra (MIC: XETR) and Börse Frankfurt (MIC: XFRA) to the International Central Securities Depository (ICSD) model.

Clearing of Section 871 (m) Internal Revenue Code transactions: Amendment to the Clearing Conditions of Eurex Clearing AG
This circular outlines further developments on the general clearing framework of potential Section 871 (m) Internal Revenue Code (IRC) transactions (hereinafter: potential Section 871 (m)-transactions) and reminds all Clearing Members of Eurex Clearing AG (Eurex Clearing) to fulfill all requirements of the relevant regulations of the IRC with particular reference to all withholding and reporting obligations as laid out in Eurex Clearing circulars 028/17 and 074/17.

The Louvre Brings Ancient Relief Of Tehran Stock Exchange’s Logo To Iran
The first large-scale exhibition by the Louvre Museum in Iran will be inaugurated on 5 March 2018 in the National Museum of Iran.

Goldman-backed startup Circle buys Poloniex cryptocurrency exchange
Reuters Staff
Goldman Sachs-backed payments company Circle has acquired U.S. cryptocurrency exchange Poloniex, Circle said on Monday, in an effort to cement its position as one of the leading companies in the world of blockchain technology.

South Africa’s JSE to launch project bonds in March
Reuters Staff
Africa’s largest bourse, the Johannesburg Stock Exchange (JSE), will begin listing “project bonds” from mid-March, an official said on Monday, giving institutional investors a window to invest in infrastructure projects.


Vermeg Acquires Lombard Risk To Create Global Financial Software Leader
Vermeg, a European banking and insurance software solutions leader, has acquired Lombard Risk, the leading global provider of integrated regulatory reporting and collateral management solutions.

Revolut broke even in December, now has 1.5 million customers
Fintech startup Revolut can’t stop and won’t stop growing. The company has had an amazing month of December with a huge increase in the total volume of transactions and signups. Because of that, Revolut broke even in December for the first time ever.

Don’t Let Blockchain Cost Savings Hype Fool You
Jason Bloomberg – Forbes
Last month, management consulting giant Accenture and McLagan, an operations benchmarking research firm, published the report Banking on Blockchain: A Value Analysis for Investment Banks.

9 out of 10 blockchain trials go nowhere
I just read an interesting new report from Deloitte about blockchain. They tracked the history of 86,034 blockchain projects hosted on GitHub since 2009 to pull out “key lessons” on where the blockchain industry is going and its long-term prospects. Here are some of the highlights:

A Computer Glitch Let a Trader Claim $20 Trillion in Free Bitcoin
Chris Morris – Fortune
An error in the price calculation system at Japanese cryptocurrency exchange Zaif has allowed some customers to claim digital tokens for free—including one who “purchased” $20 trillion worth of Bitcoin.

Women in Cryptocurrencies Push Back Against ‘Blockchain Bros’
Nellie Bowles – NY Times
When a cryptocurrency start-up that promised to revolutionize the fruit and vegetable industry shut down last month, it left behind one word on its website:

Tech behind cryptocurrency unites with cannabis
Carleton English – NY Post
Dude, where’s my weed? It was only a matter of time before blockchain and cannabis — two of the latest Wall Street trends shaking up the old finance guard — would join forces, the Post reports.

Litecoin Cash Forks But Cryptocurrency Investors Barely Notice
Nathan Reiff – Inveestopedia
It has been just a few days since the litecoin blockchain was forked, and so far, litecoin cash (LCC) has failed to make much of a splash. It appears that the offshoot of the popular digital currency has yet to draw in a following.

Fintech Revolut Britain’s first digital bank to break even
Emma Rumney – Reuters
Financial technology firm Revolut has become the first of a new breed of digital banks in Britain to break even on a monthly basis after a swelling user base and a suite of new products helped it bolster revenues in December.

Miner of Biggest Diamonds Buys Blockchain Firm as CEO Exits
Thomas Biesheuvel – Bloomberg
Lucara joins De Beers and Alrosa in exploring blockchain tech; William Lamb retires as CEO; replaced by co-founder Thomas
The mining company that found the biggest diamond in more than a century has joined the race to use blockchain technology to guarantee the quality and ethics of gem supplies.

Bitcoin Bitterness Starts to Make Messy Divorces Even Worse
Hannah George – Bloomberg
Cryptocurrencies make it easier for a spouse to hide assets; Volatility means it’s difficult to determine the valuation
Divorces are messy, and cryptocurrencies are helping to make them a whole lot more so.

Broadridge Tests Blockchain for Corporate America’s Ballots
Andrea Vittorio – BNA
Corporate America’s ballots are getting the blockchain treatment for the first time in a new test by proxy vote processor Broadridge Financial Solutions Inc.

A top Coinbase exec explains the master plan to turn the $1.6 billion; cryptocurrency exchange into the next Google
Becky Peterson – Business Insider
Coinbase is one of the hottest startups in tech — and with good reason. The cryptocurrency exchange hit $1 billion in annual revenue as this year’s bitcoin mania sent the popular digital coin surging up to almost $20,000, before it came back down.

A British financial upstart broke even for the first time after it added crypto trading
revolut photo
John Detrixhe – Quartz
Revolut, a financial technology firm based in London, broke even in December for the first time after it launched a service for converting and holding cryptocurrencies. The company says it added 500,000 customers in the past two months, bringing the total to 1.5 million.


America’s Leaderless Foreign Policy Has Hit a Dead End; Attempts to steer the U.S. through global affairs by ignoring Trump have failed.
Hal Brands – Bloomberg
Independent counsel Robert Mueller has indicted 13 Russians for waging information warfare against the U.S. by tampering with the American electoral process in 2016. Sadly but predictably, America’s commander-in-chief did not respond by rallying his country to meet the threat. Rather, President Donald Trump went out of his way to dodge the question of Russian interference, while publicly attacking the officials and institutions that have had the temerity to confront that issue head-on

Media Sites That Don’t Purge Bots Should Be Fined, Senator Says
Craig Torres, Ben Brody – Bloomberg
Klobuchar thinks social media must invest more on prevention;Democrat sponsoring bill requiring social media ad disclosure
Social media giants Facebook Inc. and Twitter Inc. should be fined if they don’t weed out automated accounts, or bots, trying to influence U.S. public opinion, said Democratic Senator Amy Klobuchar.

Economists Take Dim View of a Range of Trump Policies in Survey
Katia Dmitrieva – Bloomberg
Budget gap expected to grow; immigration, trade moves negative; Respondents to NABE survey see short-term gains from tax cuts
Economists took a dim view of various Trump administration policies in a survey, foreseeing a growing budget deficit along with unfavorable impacts from actions on immigration and trade, even as they expect short-term positive effects from tax cuts and looser regulation.

Well-Heeled Investors Reap the Republican Tax Cut Bonanza
The Editorial Board – NY Times
After President Trump signed the Republican tax cut into law, companies put out cheery announcements that they were giving workers bonuses because of their expected windfalls from the tax reductions. The president and Republican lawmakers quickly held up these news releases as vindication for their argument that cutting the top federal corporate tax rate to 21 percent, from 35 percent, would boost workers’ incomes even as it added $1.5 trillion to the debt that future generations would have to pay off.


U.S. appeals court revives Schwab Libor-rigging claims against banks
Jonathan Stempel – Reuters
Charles Schwab Corp and several of its mutual funds persuaded a U.S. appeals court on Friday to revive their lawsuit seeking to hold 17 banks responsible for manipulation of the benchmark Libor interest rate.

SEC Cools a Red-Hot Crypto Market by Picking Up the Telephone
Matt Robinson – Bloomberg
Firms shelve ICO plans after getting calls from regulator; Companies realized offerings might violate securities laws
Wall Street’s main regulator has repeatedly warned that the hot new market for initial coin offerings is probably full of fraud. Now it’s found an old-fashioned way to slow it down: picking up the telephone.

Four Ex-Deutsche Bank Traders Evade U.K. Euribor Case
Karin Matussek – Bloomberg
German prosecutors won’t extradite men to face U.K. trial; Frankfurt court outruled extradition on time-bar grounds
Four traders charged in the U.K. for rigging interest-rate benchmarks at Deutsche Bank AG will escape prosecution after German officials refused requests to send them to London to face trial.

Sebi, bourses probe possible foul play in PSB’s equity, derivatives trade; The fake notice bearing the regulator’s logo and purportedly addressed to National Stock Exchange (NSE) was circulated on various WhatsApp groups and other social media platforms on February 21
Press Trust of India
Markets regulator Sebi and stock exchanges are looking into possible manipulation in equity and derivatives trade of some public sector banks (PSBs) in the wake of circulation of a fake letter purportedly for misleading the investors.

FCA bows to pressure on register
Damian Fantato – FT Advisor
The Financial Conduct Authority has bowed to pressure on the future of the Financial Services Register and said it will put forward proposals to address concerns later this year.

ASIC applies to appoint liquidator to Superfunded
ASIC has applied to the Federal Court of Australia for the appointment of a liquidator to Superfunded Pty Ltd, a WA-based company that encouraged customers to set up self-managed super funds. (Superfunded)

Mifid II and the return of the ‘star’ analysts; Sweeping changes to the way research is paid for means lower ranking analysts are suffering
Hannah Murphy – FT
Sweeping changes to the way investors pay for research have brought predictions that UK analyst numbers will halve, while many European asset managers have already cut their research budgets.

Brokers and managers grapple with Mifid ‘inducement’ rule; Regulations restrict research disclosure to those who pay for it
Owen Walker – FT
Just after the market closed on February 1, US investment bank Jefferies delivered a sucker punch to Purplebricks, the UK online estate agent.

CFTC’s Division of Clearing and Risk Extends No-Action Relief for Shanghai Clearing House
The Commodity Futures Trading Commission’s (CFTC) Division of Clearing and Risk (DCR) announced today that it has issued a no-action letter extending the relief originally provided to Shanghai Clearing House (SHCH) in CFTC Letter 16-56. The relief, as extended by CFTC Letters No. 17-26 and 17-62, expires February 28, 2018. The new extension will last until the earlier of February 28, 2019 or the date on which the CFTC exempts SHCH from registration as a derivatives clearing organization (DCO).

Investing and Trading

Try timing the market but accept your limitations; There are limits on an ability to judge future probabilities and never pay too much
John Authers – FT
Timing the market is a mug’s game. Trying to spot when a market has hit bottom or top and leap to another is prohibitively difficult, and it costs money. In the long run, all that happens to market-timers — unless they are very, very lucky — is that they spend much more in trading costs and end up worse off than if they had stayed put all along.

Buffett says ‘terrible mistake’ for long-term investors to be in bonds
Trevor Hunnicutt – Reuters
Billionaire Warren Buffett prodded ordinary investors on Saturday to stay invested in U.S. stocks, ignoring price swings, guidance from people with fancy credentials and the temptation to load up on bonds.

Bitcoin’s wild trip fails to shake cryptocurrency believers; Retail investors who believe blockchain is a key innovation say they ignore price swings
Chloe Cornish – FT
Scott Weiss bought bitcoin when it peaked at over $19,000 in December. Just days later the cryptocurrency began a lurch lower that left it languishing below $6,000 at the start of this month and many declaring the bubble had burst. The 48-year-old lawyer from Arizona insists he is unfazed.

Goldman Says Stocks May Dive 25% If 10-Year Yield Hits 4.5%
Joanna Ossinger – Bloomberg
‘Stress test’ outcome could sink S&P 500 to 2,155-2,298 range; Measures outlier move vs Goldman’s 3.25% year-end scenario
If the 10-year U.S. Treasury yield hits 4.5 percent by year-end, the economy would probably muddle through — stocks, not so much, according to Goldman Sachs Group Inc.

Commodities trader AOT Energy faces key departures, mulls sale
Liz Hampton – Reuters
Senior executives are leaving Swiss commodities trader AOT Energy amid a shrinking credit line and losses in some trading operations, sources familiar with the matter said on Friday.

Investors’ Zeal to Buy Stocks With Debt Leaves Markets Vulnerable; Investors have borrowed a record $642.8 billion against their portfolios as they try to pocket bigger gains by ramping up their exposure to stocks
Michael Wursthorn and Chelsey Dulaney – WSJ
Investors borrowing record sums to bet on stocks exacerbated this month’s selloff, after they were hit with calls to reduce those obligations and forced to sell shares to raise cash.


Bank of America cautions on potential cryptocurrency threat; US lender includes warning for first time in ‘risk factors’ for investors
Alistair Gray in New York – FT
Bank of America has warned it could face “substantial” costs as it deals with cryptocurrencies, a sign of the potential threat to the world’s largest financial institutions posed by the rise of bitcoin and its alternatives.

Imagine a World with No Bank Bonuses; ight shareholders and employees actually be better off?
Lionel Laurent – Bloomberg
In the financial world, bonus disappointment is cause for anguish, outrage, and sometimes a job change. Rather than enjoy guides on how to splurge on a foreign bolt-hole, victims are left instead to write pseudonymous columns about how Jeremy Corbyn’s views now pervade the corner office.

Deutsche Bank lines up EUR2bn float of asset management unit; DWS listing is key to John Cryan’s strategy as investment banking revenues fall
Olaf Storbeck – FT
Deutsche Bank has launched its plan to float a minority stake its asset management division DWS in March, a cornerstone in the strategy for chief executive John Cryan as he feels the pressure from sinking revenues from investment banking.

Quantitative hedge funds take February beating; Computer-driven trend followers whipsawed as equity rally unravelled this month
Robin Wigglesworth and Lindsay Fortado in New York – FT
Computer-driven, trend-following hedge funds are heading for their worst month in nearly 17 years after getting whipsawed when the stock market’s steady soar abruptly reversed into one of the quickest corrections in history earlier in February.

JPMorgan CFO Emerges as Contender to Succeed Dimon; Recent executive shuffle raises profile of Marianne Lake, one of Wall Street’s most senior women
Emily Glazer – WSJ
When JPMorgan Chase JPM 2.03% & Co. tried last month to clarify the question of when Chairman and Chief Executive James Dimon would step down, the firm got a lot more questions about who could fill one of the most powerful roles on Wall Street.


China steel and iron ore futures soar on new pollution curbs; Biggest steel-producing region to extend winter production control
Gabriel Wildau in Shanghai – FT
Steel and iron ore prices rose to year-to-date highs on Monday after China’s top steel-producing region announced it would extend winter production curbs intended to cut air pollution.

2,000 Confiscated Bitcoins Create a Storage Puzzle in Finland
Kati Pohjanpalo – Bloomberg
Authorities given virtual-currency guidelines by Treasury; Treasury says cryptocurrencies should be stored offline
Finland is trying to figure out how to handle the roughly 2,000 Bitcoins authorities in the country have confiscated.

The Blockchain Won’t Save Venezuela; The petro is just a way to hide new international debt behind crypto mumbo-jumbo.
Matt Levine – Bloomberg
I don’t know why Venezuela’s “petro” cryptocurrency annoys me so much. It is partly that the promise of cryptocurrency was supposed to be trustless decentralization: You trust the thing because of objective certainties embedded in its open-source code, not because some authority tells you to. Meanwhile the petro is just the opposite. For one thing, you can’t trust the code; in fact Venezuela’s government can’t even get its story straight on what sort of code it is:

The charitable giving model is an undemocratic use of funds; The UK’s Gift Aid gives the wealthy more sway in the allocation of scarce resources
Merryn Somerset Webb – FT
If you haven’t been in the habit of making regular donations to Oxfam, you might now be feeling a little smug. After all, you haven’t been suckered into misdirecting your cash towards what is now known to be an unpleasantly imperfect organisation. None of your money has been spent on salaries for employees who reckon that the perks of a foreign posting include the foreign prostitutes.

Chinese Bitcoin Mining Firm Bitmain Made $3 to $4 Billion in Profits Last Year, Says DAVID Z. David Z. Morris – Fortune
Bitmain, a privately held Chinese firm that manufactures Bitcoin mining hardware and runs its own mining operations, made $3 billion to $4 billion in profits in 2017, according to estimates by Bernstein Research released this week.

Anbang and the Financialization of China’s Economy; The trickier part of China’s war on debt is just getting started
Nathaniel Taplin – WSJ
China’s Anbang Insurance went from zero to too-big-to-fail in the blink of an eye. It is a lesson in how quickly China’s financial problems grow—and how much is left to clean up.

Hong Kong’s Dilemma Is What to Do With Its Massive Cash Pile
Eric Lam – Bloomberg
Territory due to announce fiscal-year balance on Wednesday; PwC says surplus to swell to $21.5 billion on stocks, property
As Hong Kongers suffer through the world’s least affordable property market, their government is enjoying the flip-side of the real-estate and stock-market boom: One of the biggest fiscal surpluses anywhere.

Mexico slaps billionaire’s steel company with fine for stock manipulation
Michael O’Boyle, Christine Murray – Reuters
Mexico’s securities regulator has imposed one of its biggest fines ever for market manipulation on steel company Industrias CH, owned by billionaire Rufino Vigil Gonzalez, government data showed.

Australia’s CBA disputes regulator’s new rate-manipulation allegations
Reuters Staff
Commonwealth Bank of Australia (CBA.AX) said on Monday it will dispute new claims by the Australian corporate regulator that doubles the number of allegations against the bank over rate-manipulation.


Wool Is Cool Again, and the Prices Are Shear Madness; Brands from Adidas to Lululemon and Under Armour are touting wool’s soft feel and odor-resisting properties
Lucy Craymer – WSJ
Wool isn’t just for winter wear anymore, and its use in everything from shoes to underwear briefs is pushing prices of merino, the most popular type of wool fiber for clothes, to near-record highs.

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About Author

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