As Corona chaos continues. Analysts are alert to the attractions of investing in the parish away from the leveraged financials. Meanwhile, Stephane Boujnah, is ready to bid for Borsa Milano; albeit, unless, the LSE are telling porkies, that’s a leveraged windmill tilt.
My name is Patrick L Young Welcome to the bourse business weekly digest: It’s the Exchange Invest Weekly Podcast.
Whoa. life begins at 40 episodes. It’s the all new latest edition of the Exchange Invest Weekly Podcast and indeed we are 40 episodes young this Passover / Easter weekend.
And indeed Here we are on the cusp of Easter and it’s only just under 50 days to go as I’m recording this podcast until Deutsche Boerse make their strategy announcement! Even better: after all those sleeps of the holiday period, IIt’ll only be a month and a half to go before DB1 give us a clue as to their thinking for their futures strategy.
Of course, Passover began just the other day with the usual wine glasses which threatened to drown Zoom and similar audio visual networks. A virtual Seder is giving way to a virtual Easter. Already Nestle has cut the chocolate prices by 50% in Malta before we even reach the weekend. Thus, there will probably be more of myself pithing this podcast next week, even if the actual podcast remains of similar dimension.
As it’s a slowdown in parish news, no Good Friday edition or Easter Monday edition of the Exchange Invest Weekly, but here we are on the weekend enjoying a review of the previous week’s events.
Meanwhile, if you’re looking for some reading during lockdown, if you’re seeking inspiration in these hyper volatile times, or markets where career paths are often looking decidedly imprecise, I have a recommendation: if you’re trying to get a handle on how technology is affecting life and markets, then there’s a new book to help you.
20 years on from the excitement of the original FinTech, best seller Capital Market Revolution!, It’s time to look at some of those loose strands hanging around which need a spot of perspective. Whether you’re an exchange parishioner, a FinTech professional or anybody just trying to stay abreast of where technology is now driving investments and finance, “Victory or Death – Blockchain Cryptocurrency and the FinTech World,” is an easy read, explaining the differing and diverging role of banks and exchanges, explaining the winning business models of the New World Order and placing in perspective just what Bitcoin blockchain and cryptocurrency means for markets. It’s 70,000 words of pure play PLY pith, basically discussing matters of moment and revisiting the original trailblazing first FinTech best seller “Capital Market Revolution!” which when published in 1999, proved if I even say so myself, rather prescient. It’s a binary world Ladies and gentlemen, your career will sustain or collapse in the new stages of the digital world: what’s coming next? Hence the title “Victory or Death” – lest you need reminding of the exciting times for finance in which we are living.
Victory or Death is published by DV Books and is distributed by Ingram world wide.
While you’re waiting for the book Don’t forget to check into our YouTube channel IPO-VID, that’s findable via IPO-VID: My initiative to help addled investors of all hues confused by recent market volatility. A series of daily brief pug side chats: we’ve just hit number 10. If you haven’t had a chance already, these three to five minute discussions are well worth a listen over on YouTube.
So anyway, to this week’s news: a couple of weeks back I highlighted the South China Morning Post for their excellent article “To trade or to halt? A vexing question in the time of coronavirus.” Fortunately, the South China Morning Post came down on the side of progress on the future and open free markets. Indeed they remain the Leading cheerleader for markets in the dead tree press where others are dismally reticent about supporting finance. This week they added to their pedigree with an excellent editorial Market Suspensions Are Doomed To Fail In Today’s Trading World. Over on the Exchange Invest website you can catch all the links to the stories I use in this week’s podcast number 40. As the South China Morning Post notes presciently:
“As politicians the world over react to the slump in equities caused by the coronavirus pandemic, the final say rests not with floor traders but the latest technology… When markets crash, there are always politicians who cannot resist the temptation to halt trading.”
Against the background of this COVID-19 crisis that’s ongoing across the world. Euronext and LSE went towards virtual formats for their upcoming AGM following a growing parish trend while multiple exchanges extended day headlines for various regulatory filings during this time have locked down.
Meanwhile, with all manner of authorities warning financial institutions across the UK, Europe and indeed the wider world: many banks and insurers are suspending dividend payments. Up to 50% of companies listed on the London Stock Exchange alone have already opted to delay their dividend payments that are forthcoming.
One market that didn’t manage to survive open was Mauritius. They said they were going to reopen at the end of last week. Unfortunately, that was superseded one hour later by a note from the regulatory body saying absolutely under no circumstances was the stock exchange of Mauritius intending to reopen, and thus it didn’t.
However, it was a good week overall for serious exchanges remaining open. Therefore, we saw very strong testimonies to open free markets from the likes of Singapore Exchange, the Stock Exchange of Thailand and indeed the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange in Israel.
At the same time, there was a slightly mixed picture for markets in the Land of the Rising Sun. As emergency measures take hold Japan’s financial markets are girding for difficulties. The Tokyo Stock Exchange seems likely to run as normal under the emergency declarations but it’s not clear that all markets will be unscathed.
Analysts, however, are beginning to step through the wreckage of the minus 20 minus 30%. and more that many stocks had undergone during the remarkably brief so far bear market through which the Dow Jones went. And further afield rapidly their (analyst) eyes have set upon multiple different properties within the exchange parish, notably NASDAQ and indeed, ICE as well as, to some degree, CBOE, were highly mentioned by analysts who are looking for something that offers them the virtue of financial sector upside, but without the leverage inherent to the likes of the banks and the insurance companies.
Over at New York Stock Exchange, they’re going to be reviewing their circuit breaker system after the various recent vertiginous drops and indeed, what a useful time to do so given the fact that they’ve generated so much data…all about circuit breakers taking place while their tech systems have stayed up as too they have in London.
The UK regulators have meanwhile already eased rules to try and ease company capital raising during the time of the pandemic. Bravo, I say.
Back to the futures or indeed back to the very long ago past the US futures Exchange to be precise, which met its demise many, many moons ago. They’re still managing to sue the CBOT over the Sherman act and various issues to do with antitrust. Having seen the CBOT win an appeal at the end of March, the failed US Futures Exchange lives on in litigation at least and is seeking a full rehearing of the antitrust case.
Results this week: The Warsaw Stock Exchange declared their results to be steady. Actually, when you scraped away the data, it looked to me much like a decline. And certainly it seems to be very difficult to believe that the incredible economic miracle of the Polish economy, which has managed to rise for well over a quarter of a century, is going to stay intact during these Corona-challenged times. The Intercontinental Exchange led the parish: everybody had some spectacular volume numbers in recent weeks to report as a result of the March crashes. While everybody had a pretty mega volume pop, some derivatives didn’t actually follow through so spectacularly. Single name options in places like Australia seem to be remarkably docile in terms of overall growth. While there were also many contracts on the Montreal Exchange, which didn’t seem to respond within their Exchange Traded Derivatives markets. Just to take two bourse examples. However, this has been an incredible volume uplift over all. Moreover, kudos to ICE who alongside many other good volume numbers for the course of the last month and indeed, the first quarter of calendar 2020, President Ben Jackson put things into perspective:
“In this volatile period, we’re grateful to our customers who rely on our dependable, stable and resilient systems. I made record activity across every asset class. We’re working around the clock to help ensure the orderly functioning of our markets, providing our customers with the critical risk management tools that these markets provide.”
That’s classy, I thought, Ladies and gentlemen, managing at this point in time in such unbelievably busy volatile times: to step out and demonstrate the fact that you’re concerned for your customers is a key message. Nevertheless, throughout the parish we saw windfall gains not just for ICE but also in volume terms for the record breaking CME Hong Kong Exchanges, Deutsche Boerse, London Stock Exchange, NASDAQ and indeed all the way further down through Young’s pyramid of exchange.
Speaking of NASDAQ, Adena Friedman remains hopeful that IPOs are going to pick up again in the second half of 2020. But obviously everything at the moment depends entirely upon the corona crisis.
In terms of deals, not much to report this week. Nonetheless, Euronext have been giving a lot of media time. Stephane Boujnah sat down with the excellent Huw Jones of Reuters, presumably at a distance – a social distance at least – in order to talk about the future of Euronext now that they’ve missed out on, by the looks of it, acquiring the BME which of course only requires an AGM in order to manage to fall into the arms of the Swiss Exchange. Ultimately, one of the things that Euronext CEO Stephen Boujnah said while the headline read he’s “sifting the Coronavirus market rubble for takeover targets” was a mention of the fact that he was looking to potentially acquire the Milan bourse. Now, that either reminds me of Einstein’s definition of insanity: Doing the same thing over and over again while expecting a different result or some form of information, asymmetry, which is not available to the rest of the parish, because apparently a Milan exchange sale may due to a pandemic Fallout. Does that mean that your next efforts to shake it loose as a result of antitrust and Refinitiv have actually failed? …And he’s therefore putting the blame on the pandemic per se? Hard to tell what was going through the mind of Stephen Boujnah through these rather Mercurial outpourings.
That said, we launched ourselves very quickly into the crypto world: 11 crypto exchanges were on the receiving end of lawsuits for fraudulent sales and all sorts of malevolent malpractice.
At the same time. We’re also seeing new bonuses coming out of stealth: Alpha five, the latest which is apparently ready to revolutionize crypto derivatives trading. It’s fascinating to see how cryptoworld has had so many projects in beta, many of which, alas, will never see the light of day methinks in the post COVID era. And many like this project alpha five, which emerged blinking looking for sunlight only to find they have exited their cave into the eye of a tornado. The next crypto revolution or at least paradigm shift of sorts will be I fear chapter elevens all round.
Unfortunately, I suspect there’s nothing specific to this alpha five platform apart from unfortunate timing, which is going to make it very, very difficult for it to survive in the longer term, admittedly, in good company because most crypto exchanges are going to go bust in the very near future. Even though we have had large discussions about the fact that well Binance if nobody else, was trying to float a story, which was covered in the South China Morning Post about the idea that lots of crypto exchange mergers are now looming. I can’t quite see the value or why people are going to want to be bothered to try and do that. Having said that Binance, which claims to be the world’s largest cryptocurrency exchange has just announced it is seeking to hire more than 100 new employees. Equally they’ve scrubbed the visa mention from the Binance payment card website. Now that’s strange because Binance officially announced that its Binance card payment card on March the 26th would have visa as the cards issuers.
Readers, listeners may recall depending on whether you’re at the Exchange Invest podcast end of the spectrum or our subscriber product, the Exchange Invest Daily Newsletter. You may recall that many people still think Binance is based in Malta, but now apparently Binance isn’t in a partnership with Visa either. At the same time, there were leaks on social media, which inferred the idea that Binance may be about to launch options trading on their exchange.
Now bear in mind again, this is an exchange, Binance, without any apparent headquarters, which so far as we can see, is not really heavily regulated anywhere. And certainly when it comes to Options trading, doesn’t actually possess a central Counterparty clearing house in order to manage to reduce the counterparty risk from every buyer and every seller. If that doesn’t challenge your due diligence checklist, ladies and gentlemen, I suspect nothing will, and I wish you great trading on the Binance options market if it does come to fruition.
Meanwhile, back to those lawsuits multiple exchanges facing a US class action lawsuit I have to say this is something like the legal equivalent of Oscar Wilde, “the unspeakable in pursuit of the uneatable” quip concerning hunting. I happen to have pretty much zero sympathy with the investors who managed to buy, unaware that certain tokens and cryptocurrencies were unregulated, despite it actually being screamed from the rooftops for yonks in pretty much every possible kind of media that I’ve ever seen. Meanwhile, the exchanges: Well, I don’t have a lot of sympathy there because they were clearly selling unregulated stuff. Moreover, as I’ve said before, it’s only a matter of time surely before the litigation vultures descend upon various aspects of the parish, including those folks offering free, and I would put very large inverted commas around the use of that word “free” stock brokerage, which actually involves selling the order flow to a third party. That’s a way that I suspect even average counsel will be able to construe as dubious when we’re in these more straightened times and people are nursing losses. I suspect Major League ambulance chasing is going to be the order of the day in various aspects of the parish.
Moving to people news, the former TMX – that’s Toronto Montreal Exchange – CEO Lou Eccleston apparently forfeited 9 million Canadian dollars in stock awards when he departed the exchange rather precipitously in January. You’ll remember this was in the wake of Eccleston being entirely cleared of any malpractice as a result of previous activity that was alleged to have gone on at Bloomberg – and was indeed I would point out, entirely unproven – in relation to some rather sexist frat boy behavior. Whether or not it took place whether or not it involved Eccleston, we simply don’t know. But nonetheless, it’s rather interesting that Lou Eccleston, who had so successfully profited from TMX would suddenly depart without the stock awards to the full. Given the rapid departure in the circumstances, some may be inclined to jump to conclusions, I suppose, in the gossipy world of markets. Elsewhere, the co-chief operating officer of Thomson Reuters, Neil Masterson is going to be leaving the company.
And finally this week, all the best to Gerard Sculley, who is the latest departure from what used to be the Irish Stock Exchange and is now Euronext Dublin, Gerard for many years headed international primary markets and doubtless, I’m expecting that Gerard is going to be returning in some form to the parish soon, whether executive, non executive or perhaps both.
In product news, EEX had an interesting number. We don’t always spend our time discussing volume because there’s simply not enough space during the course of the week in the Exchange Invest Daily. But nonetheless, an interesting milestone, the majority open interest share of the total freight futures market is now resting with EEX. Frankly, I’m not sure that I really call that a great success of EEX per se, although plaudits to all parties concerned, but Rather, it highlights the abject failure of the Baltic exchange writ large. And indeed, declaring a winner right now as opposed to an outright leader which is clearly EEX, is about as plausible as saying you’re going to know the date that the lockdown for COVID-19 ends in every country in the world.
This remains a fledgling market in freight and I think it’s got huge upside in the future and who knows who will be the dominant market party at that time. But nevertheless, with a strong claim to market leadership, it’s EEX for the time being.
Elsewhere freight problem too: many traders were unable to deliver oil into Shanghai exchange because investors were hogging the storage tanks. That’s been a bit of a problem around the world. Although it seems that Russia and Saudi Arabia may be in the process of mending their spat, as the abyss beckoned towards both of their National Domestic finances. Uzbekistan’s commodity and raw materials exchange, UXEX, they’ve launched trading on forward contracts in another move forward for the rather radical successful Uzbeki exchange. Over in Japan. There’s a lot of worry about libor. There’s a lack of consensus on the libor replacement, with many people wanting to see a delay given the continued Coronavirus lockdown. Perhaps the most worrying story of this week was however, “the ASX heist,” as it was described by Michael West Media, a situation where small shareholders are being effectively ripped off or diluted by bankers in a rush of emergency capital raisings. The Australian also discussed it as “discounted share issues are the great heist of our time.” “After soaking up the widespread criticism of recent weeks, the ASX needs to immediately change its’ rules mandating that capital raisings must be pro rata unpronounceable” went the article. This happens to look rather unfortunate at best and actually, rather unsavory, particularly after the ASX has proven so fundamentally incapable of managing their upgrade strategy and implementation on their previously stunningly profitable monopoly settlement business.
FTSE Russell and JSE, they’ve partnered for fixed income index launches. A good idea, albeit the JSE is already suffering a brush with downgrading, not due to the exchanges inefficiency, but unfortunately the material incapacity of the South African blob for pretty much a generation, to govern coherently. Elsewhere, EUREX launched 16 MSCI derivatives, and S&P Dow Jones indices and IHS Markit announced an index collaboration which could be very interesting for the future… and presumably going to be product that CME in particular will be eager to pounce upon, given their shareholding in that S&P Dow Jones index group. Meanwhile, Hong Kong Exchanges they’ve announced the joint consultation conclusions on the model for an uncertificated securities market. Very interesting it is too: an opportunity to build a ladder between private companies and full on public companies, developing the SME market and therefore helping startups
Over at Deutsche Boerse, they’ve been celebrating 20 years of ETF trading in Europe. Has to be said at this juncture I’ll offer a little mention of my original book “Capital Market Revolution!” now of course with the sequel “Victory or Death” in print. The Capital Market Revolution! at the time noted that what were then called exchange traded “index tracker” funds in 1999 – these became ETFs, in due course – would be huge. The mutual fund industry’s most polite response was to castigate my impetuosity at the time. Their contempt, it seems didn’t pay off as Deutsche Boerse trumpeted this week.
Over in regulation, tracker funds actually again came to the fore there: a better choice for retail investors, according to the EU watchdog ESMA. Now my net contrarian senses a headline here which may be objectively incorrect for a long time, and no nerdish types. I’m not impugning the tracking error, I suspect that will be fine. It’s the macro issue here. At the point in time when the regulators are blindly asserting that naturally markets are going to go up over the long term and therefore you should buy a tracker to follow it, I happen to be rather concerned and a bit of a bearish contrarian.
Elsewhere, the SEC Chairman Clayton, he said companies should disclose whether they plan to tap bailout programs, a very sensible approach to making sure that all investors have access to total information at all points in time.
In technology, we had an update from KRM22, the organization powered by Keith Todd and a variety of parish investors. They are expecting to manage to reach positive earnings, but in the short term, they’ve clearly got an issue of liquidity, and therefore they’re likely to be raising money in the very short term. It has to be said of all the vendors around at this point in time, – and I examined this In a special subscriber weekend article in Exchange Invest last weekend – KRM22 strikes me as: first of all, it’s the first and the first vendor in our crosshairs in these suddenly straightened times to seek refinancing. Moreover, given the quality of its management, I would say it’s foolish to bet against Keith Todd and his team. But definitely It looks as if they’re going to require an equity rise on the near horizon in order to manage to survive and profit in these exciting and interesting times. Strengthening the board KRM22 has appointed Kim Souter, CFO, to the Board of Directors while Karen Barker has decided to step down from her NED role.
EEX, the European power exchange subsidiary of Deutsche Boerse’s Eurex: They have acquired 100% of the Kent based English tech vendor KB Tech. It’s an interesting purchase by EUREX, allowing KB Tech to remain independent. But EEX has opted to take control of them, given the fact that they had a long time standing technological relationship with KB Tech for all manners of products. Good luck to all concerned. One major installation this week LCH’s EquityClear has successfully gone live with the new LSEG technology post trade platform from Millennium. And indeed, SiX, the Swiss exchange group and NASDAQ have partnered to create a new venture to provide greater access to market data using microwave technology.
Over in crowdfunding, well make no mistake, there is a widespread march of socialism around the world, or is it just rampant entitlement? Either way it threatens bankruptcy for all the mutualization of banks liabilities last recession seem to have resulted in everyone believing they have innate right to have their own unfettered shake of the magic money tree. Indeed, the widespread belief there is a magic money. tree at all is perhaps the most scary assertion. Latest amongst the ranks of corporate illiterates demanding their rescue immediately are tech startups, No, you really can’t make this stuff up. Crowdcube’s co-founder Luke Lang has launched the amusingly titled “Save Our Startups” – SOS geddit! – an initiative to help early stage firms receive other people’s money.
I’ve never been a big fan of the Schumpeter halters of big government who act politically to save large stuff, steel mills or whatever. However, the idea of splashing cash even for equity stakes, how on earth does the government manage that anyway, given the time frame and the crisis that’s going on around us? The idea of splashing cash is beyond ludicrous In my opinion, because at the moment the money probably isn’t there in the first place. I mean, the UK has already demonstrated the fact that their first wave of corporate support is going to cost them four or five times what the Treasury originally forecast. But at the moment, the world seems to be becoming rapidly a bourgeois begging bowl. Help the poor absolutely, save the unemployed from penury: definitely. However, after the longest expansion in US history, the world’s startups were naive in thinking there was no chance of a shock. That’s before we reach the UK Government and looking at their balance sheet once again, they are financially constrained from their last spending splurges when Gordon Brown tried to rescue the world or something to that effect, and the UK Government, after 10 years failing to get spending under control, lack the ability to rein in the rampant debt they already have, let alone adding to it further.
Interesting to contrast the position of Crowdcube with Seedrs:”Now’s the time to consider investing in young companies” said Seedrs with a sensible, measured and mature response to garnering investment as opposed to what appears to have been the desperate millennial whinging of Crowdcube and others’ “Save Our Startups” campaign, Constructive businesses, And many will likely draw an inference that Seedrs is highly solvent, where there may be fears given their histrionic reaction to COVID-19. That Crowdcube and their partners could possibly be under duress. That may be a fallacious conclusion, but it’s understandable given the nature of the messaging we’ve seen this week.
In Bigworld, in perhaps a perfect metaphor for the failed state of socialism, a Venezuelan Navy vessel tried to take control of a cruise ship in international waters. After robbing the cruise ship, one of President Maduro’s finest naval vessels promptly sank. A handy hint for naval officers would seem to be: ramming ice breaking ships with reinforced hulls is not recommended, even when they are cruise liners. Venezuela has now lost a third of its Guaicamacuto class patrol ship fleet. Given the perilous state finances, a replacement in the short term appears frankly unlikely.
Meanwhile, the privileged children of the revolutionary rich in Venezuela have been infecting themselves with COVID-19 thanks to their decadent partying on some exclusive Venezuelan islands. And indeed over in Mexico, wealthy skiers in US resorts like Vail, appear to have brought the COVID-19 virus back to their parts of central / Southern America.
Now that tied in with a report in USA Today which builds on other stories which got me thinking, “Could your December cough have been COVID-19?” A lot of you may not have caught this last year. A lot of you listened back to the podcasts I may be well, certainly in a different voice set to where I am today. I managed 100% up-pith and indeed up-pod Actually, that’s not true. There was one week where I had to miss a podcast for Exchange Invest. But I spent a fair whack of Q4 last year in and out of bed. I had a fever, a dry cough, and breathing didn’t seem conducive to happening, especially when I climbed the stairs or hills around Valletta. In fact, I sounded like more than a few of the classic cars that I can recall driving in my past years. Doubt it means the main bout didn’t come from the Wuhan wet market in our cases, but it’s a theory not to be sneezed as, as it were that COVID-19 was already around the world in the course of the last quarter of last year.
Meanwhile, before any parishioners head off to celebrate Easter and Passover – and may your eggs be wonderful and your bread suitably unleavened respectively – relief may be at hand for many on lock down: a University College London study in the British Medical Journal, the Lancet, has reported that school shutdowns do little to slow down COVID-19 infections. Thus, relief may be at hand for many of you working from home.
Finally, the big socialist experiment on either side of the Atlantic appears to grind to a halt the odious anti Semite and ardent Britain hater Jeremy Corbyn has stepped aside as Labour Party leader to be replaced by the slightly more milquetoast lefty Keir Starmer. Over in the USA Bernie Sanders has abandoned his campaign to be the nominee of a party he isn’t even a member of…
Thus, after about 3 million candidates stood for the Democratic nomination of which one can memorably recall, well, at least four, …and then there was one. Hopefully that one can remember his name by the time the US presidential elections are due in November. The question is, wiell, a candidate who’s one standout feature amounts to “he isn’t Donald Trump” be able to beat the POTUS in an election?
Once again, the democrats are on a glide path to selecting a deeply flawed candidate, particularly given the many questions about Joe Biden’s apparent memory issues of late. Trump, on the other hand appears to have all his critical faculties.
The debate simply remains many people don’t like the way that Trump deploys his gray matter in actions, speech or tweets.
Looking back at the macro economy, stock markets were vaguely buoyant for much of the week but big issues remain. The COVID crash has been posing a severe test for OPEC; Moscow and Riyadh’s miscalculation has a huge impact in there. Will they manage to kissy kissy and make peace? It will be interesting to see. Elsewhere to give you an idea of just how much energy we’re using, European power demand amongst COVID-19 was described by IHS Markit as “every day is Sunday.”
And finally, on one changing sign of the economic order, as we head towards a purely digital world, the Warsaw stock exchange’s largest company by market capitalization is no longer an energy monopoly, a bank or an industrial combine. Rather, it’s a company called CD Projekt SA. They make computer games.
It’s an interesting sign of the lockdown times: a game software business is the biggest stock on the GPW by market capitalization.That ladies and gentlemen is something even “Capital Market Revolution!” didn’t predict.
Onwards towards a Happy Easter, a wondrous Passover or whatever you may be celebrating this weekend: Ladies and gentlemen, stay healthy and have a great week in markets. Thanks for listening. My name is Patrick L Young.
South China Morning Post
Stock Exchange of Mauritius
Stock Exchange of Mauritius
The Business Times
Global News Hut (press release)
The Irish Times
Crypto News Flash (blog)
The Block Crypto
Bitcoin Exchange Guide
The Globe and Mail
Trend News Agency
Michael West Media
Global Investor Group
Proactive Investors UK
Proactive Investors UK