The good news is that the rigging of the FX markets - now conspiracy fact, not conspiracy theory - has, according to Bloomberg, forced the world’s biggest banks to overhaul how they trade currencies to regain the trust of customers and preempt regulators’ efforts to force changes on an industry tarnished by allegations of manipulation with the "modernization of processes that probably should have been brought in 15 or 20 years ago." However, the FX market is far from 'clean' as Bloomberg notes, while banks can limit access to details about client orders on their computer systems, they can’t keep employees from talking to one another. Some traders also are still communicating with clients and counterparts at other firms via Snapchat, circumventing their company’s controls right under the nose of the SEC. As one trader commented, "these [reform] changes look like fig leaves."
The last week has been dominated by sell-side strategists raising hawkish concerns about this week's FOMC with a focus on the drop of the "considerable time" language describing the period from the end of QE to the start of rate hikes. The Wall Street Journal's Fed-whisperer Jon Hilsenrath just dropped a rather large hint that that the "considerable period" language will remain... “Given the economic backdrop, they don’t want to send a signal right now that rate increases are imminent." Here's what the street thinks...
- Thank you market Chief Risk Officer Bernanke/Yellen: Calpers to Exit Hedge Funds, Divest $4 Billion Stake (BBG)
- World stocks hit one-month low, caution ahead of Fed (Reuters)
- U.S. Efforts to Build Coalition Against Islamic State in Iraq, Syria Are Hampered by Sectarian Divide (WSJ)
- Time to throw away some more good money: Sears Borrows $400 Million From Lampert’s ESL Investments (BBG)
- Wildfires rage in California drought, hundreds forced to flee (Reuters)
- United Offers $100,000 Buyouts to Flight Attendants (BBG)
- Biggest Banks Said to Overhaul FX Trading After Scandals (BBG)
- You mean you have to pay? Administration threatens to cut off ObamaCare subsidies to 360,000 (The Hill)
- RBS Said to Dismiss Most of Team Overseeing Central Europe Debt (BBG) they will be hired by the ECB
UPDATE: It appears the exodus is beginning - China FDI -14% YoY (vs +0.8% exp.)
As China's shift to a consumer economy progresses based on the urbanization of its agrarian 'poor' population, an odd thing is happening at the other end of the demographic wealth spectrum. As WSJ reports, nearly half of wealthy Chinese are planning to move to another country within the next five years, according to a new Barclays survey. The top reasons 47% of these individuals - with net worths over $1.5 billion - cite for fleeing China include educational and employment opportunities, economic security, and climate. Ironically, none mentioned 'running away from potential prosecution for graft'.
- Snow is coming: OECD Cuts Economic Growth Forecasts (WSJ)
- World waits for white smoke from U.S. Fed (Reuters) - Understandable error: they meant "green"
- Scots Breakaway at 45% Odds as Economists Warn of Capital Flight (BBG)
- Ukraine President Poroshenko Faces Backlash Over EU Trade Deal Delay (WSJ)
- German Anti-Euro Party Advances in Merkel Homeland Voting (BBG)
- Clinton Hints at 2016 Run as Super-PAC Packs Iowa Steak Fry (BBG)
- Air France, Lufthansa Hit by Strikes in Fight for Future (BBG)
- U.S. sees Middle East help fighting IS, Britain cautious after beheading (Reuters)
- Ex-Billionaire Charged by Brazil With Financial Crimes (BBG)
Credit Suisse warns of a self-fuelling feedback loop of rising risks and costs to the Scottish financial and sovereign sectors, and a steady migration of capital, activity, jobs and taxes if the Scots vote "Yes". However, if the vote is a close "no", they warn "the cat is out of the bag," and risk remains.
- Russia faces new U.S., EU sanctions over Ukraine crisis (Reuters)
- Glasgow pulls no punches in welcome to 'Save the Union Express' (Guardian)
- Pound Seen Tumbling Up to 10% on Scottish Yes Vote (BBG)
- Moscow stifles dissent as soldiers return in coffins (Reuters)
- Ukraine's leader sees no military solution of crisis, eyes reforms (Reuters)
- Venezuela Threatens Harvard Professor for Default Comment (BBG)
- Australia Raises Terror Alert to Highest Level in a Decade (BBG)
- Activist Investors Build Up Their War Chests (WSJ)
- Obama orders U.S. airstrikes in Syria against Islamic State (Reuters)
- Obama Relying on Mideast Allies to Counter Islamic State (BBG)
- Scotland Nationalists Claim U.K. Oil in 40-Year Campaign (BBG)
- Scottish Polls Embolden Catalans Pushing Rajoy for Vote (BBG)
- Royal Bank of Scotland: RBS will leave Scotland if voters back independence (Guardian)
- Most Hedge-Fund Managers Are Overpaid, Unigestion Says (BBG)
- China Inflation Softens to Four-Month Low (WSJ)
- Munger Hosts Groupies, Mocks Wall Street, Praises Buffett (BBG)
Are you ready to have your veins scanned every time you use your bank account? Are you ready to use a "digital tattoo" or a microchip implant to unlock your telephone? Once upon a time we read about such technologies in science fiction novels, but now they are here. The era of widespread biometric identification and microchip implants is upon us, and it is going to change the way that we live. Proponents of these new technologies say that they will make our private information and our bank accounts much more secure. But there are others that warn that these kinds of "Big Brother technologies" will set the stage for even more government intrusion into our lives. In the wrong hands, such technologies could prove to be an absolute nightmare.
- British PM begs Scots: Don't rip apart our UK 'family of nations' (Reuters)
- Obama has become Bush: Obama’s Task: Rally U.S. Public, Allies in Terror Fight (BBG)
- Alibaba's record IPO covered after first few roadshow meetings (Reuters)
- Ferrari chairman Luca Di Montezemolo to quit after 23 years (BBC)
- Combat Reversals Pressure Assad (WSJ)
- Top LBO Fund Investors Pile on Leverage to Boost Returns (BBG)
- BOJ's Iwata upbeat on economy, unfazed by post-tax hike slump (Reuters)
- Carney Can’t Escape Housing as Debt Colors BOE Policy (BBG)
- Detroit Clears Crucial Hurdle on Bankruptcy (NYT)
On the day when Apple unveils "Apple Pay," enabling hackers to now get access not only to actor selfies but to their credit card numbers too; following smaller online retailers' lead - such as Overstock - the world's biggest marketplace, Ebay, has announced its PayPal unit will begin accepting bitcoin for payments. As Bloomberg reports, Ebay said at TechCrunch's Disrupt conference, "over the coming months we’ll allow our merchants to accept bitcoin. On the consumer side it will be a sleek experience." As we previously noted, Overstock CEO Patrick Byrne's comments that "once we and some other major guys start accepting it things could change very quickly," and Ebay seems to agree, adding "we're at the right time for this, and to see how to propel it forward." Bitcoin prices have not reacted to this news as the virtual currency has become considerably more stable in recent months.
Here we go... Icahn's been adding and everyone's excited about a bigger screen (like Samsung), an iWatch (like Motorola and Samsung), payments (like NFC on Samsung phones), Health (like Samsung), or whatever magic Tim Cook and his 'innovators' have in store. Apple's launch of iPhone 6 et al. will take place shortly...
- Showtime for Apple: Big phones, smart watches and high expectations (Reuters)
- Bank of England Gov. Mark Carney Signals Spring Rate Rise (WSJ)
- Quebec Shows Scots Question Returns Even If Answer Is No (BBG)
- Hush money with a 9 year vesting period: Ex-SAC Fund Manager Martoma Sentenced to Nine Years in Prison (BBG)
- Dreams on hold, Brazil's 'new middle class' turns on Rousseff (Reuters)
- Fed to Hit Biggest U.S. Banks With Tougher Capital Surcharge (WSJ)
- Egypt court sentences Brotherhood leader, cleric to 20 years in jail (Reuters)
For those just catching up on the main news event of the weekend, namely the sudden surge in Scotland "Yes" vote polling surpassing 50% for the first time, here is a complete round up of the background, updates and expert reactions from RanSquawk, Bloomberg and AFP.
After being solidly ignored for weeks, suddenly the Scottish independence referendum is all anyone can talk about, manifesting itself in a plunge in the GBPUSD which ha slide over 100 pips in the past 24 hours, adding to the slide over the past week, and is now just above 1.61, the lowest since November 2013. In fact, the collapse of the unionist momentum has managed to push back overnight news from Ukraine, major Russian sanction escalations, Japan GDP as well as global trade data on the back burner. Speaking of global trade, with both China and Germany reporting a record trade surplus overnight, with the US trade deficit declining recently, and with not a single country in the past several month reporting of an increase in imports, one wonders just which planet in the solar system (or beyond) the world, which once again finds itself in a magical global trade surplus position, is exporting to?