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Equifax says 2.5 million more people might have been affected by the hack than previously thought

Business Insider, 1/1/0001 12:00 AM PST

Equifax trading

Equifaxthe consumer-data giant targeted in a hack that exposed the personal data of nearly half the US population, says millions more consumers might have been affected than originally thought.

Equifax announced Monday that cybersecurity firm Mandiant completed the forensic portion of its investigation of the hack.

The firm said in the release that 145.5 million consumers might now potentially have been impacted by the data breach, 2.5 million more than previously estimated.

In September, Equifax reported a massive data breach, saying hackers may have accessed the personal details, including names and Social Security numbers, of more than 143 million consumers from mid-May to July. Equifax, which said it learned of the breach in late July, said credit-card numbers for about 209,000 people and certain documents for another 182,000 were also accessed.

The disclosure was swiftly met with criticism because of the delay in alerting the public to the hack, as well as problems with the website that Equifax set up for people to check whether their details were at risk.

The hack is being investigated by the Federal Trade Commission and has prompted promises for inquiries in both the Senate and House of Representatives.

Several Equifax officials have left the company since the hack's disclosure. Richard Smith stepped down as chairman of the board and CEO last Tuesday. And before that, the company announced that the consumer-data firm's CIO, David Webb, and its chief security officer, Susan Mauldin, were also retiring. Webb will be replaced by Mark Rohrwasser, who joined the company last year, Equifax said in an emailed statement. Mauldin will be replaced by Russ Ayres. Both Rohrwasser and Ayers have previously worked in Equifax's IT division.

Equifax officials are also reportedly being investigated by the US Justice Department after selling stock before the company revealed a data breach that exposed the personal information of millions of Americans.

According to Bloomberg, the department is looking at sales by Equifax's CFO, John Gamble; president of US information solutions, Joseph Loughran; and president of workforce solutions, Rodolfo Ploder. The three senior executives dumped almost $2 million worth of stock days after the company learned of the breach, Securities and Exchange Commission filings show. An emailed statement from the credit-monitoring agency said the executives "had no knowledge" of the breach beforehand.

All the executives still owned thousands of shares of the company after the sales were completed, filings show.

Equifax shares dipped in after-hours trading after closing up 1.7% for the day. Shares have tumbled by about 24.5% since news of the hack broke through Monday's close.

equifax shares

SEE ALSO: Computers using Facebook 'likes' may be assessing your personality better than your friends — and researchers warned this could be misused

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NOW WATCH: THE BOTTOM LINE: The 'Trump trade' is back and Ray Dalio breaks down the bitcoin bubble

South Korea's ICO Ban: A Reaction to "Serious Concerns" Over Cryptocurrency Investment Practices

Bitcoin Magazine, 1/1/0001 12:00 AM PST

South Korea's ICO Ban

The South Korean Financial Services Commission (FSC) has announced it will ban all forms of initial coin offerings (ICOs). After a meeting to discuss virtual currency control, the vice-chairman of financial affairs, Kim Yong-bum, made this comment as part of an official statement:

“We expressed a serious concern that the recent inflow of funds into the nonproductive speculative direction is showing up. As a result, we believe that additional measures are inevitable in order to switch to productive investment.”

The statement concludes by saying:

“All forms of ICO prohibition including securities issuance [and] monetary lending and coin margins are prohibited, blocking all business related business alliances.”

Korean blockchain expert and entrepreneur Ash Han told Bitcoin Magazine that “the FSC is concerned about ignorant investors becoming victimized by scammers using crypto.” Specifically, Han is referring to multi-level marketing or network marketing, an infamous way to raise money using existing distributors to recruit new distributors. This type of business strategy is often fraught with pyramid schemes in which raising money from new recruits buying in is the primary focus of the business instead of actual product development and sales.

Because the FSC has judged that virtual currencies such as bitcoin and ether are electronic representations of value and not financial products such as securities, the government has chosen to indirectly regulate virtual currencies through banks.

In addition to the FSC, several government organizations including the Korean Fair Trade Commission (KFTC), the National Tax Service (Korean IRS) and the police have formed a joint inspection system that will examine the current conditions of virtual currency exchanges through on-site inspections.

The FSC will examine the customer information leakages caused by hacking, strengthen penalties for similar behavior to prevent money laundering, and open a joint inspections system with several other government entities to examine the current conditions of digital currency traders and exchanges. The joint inspection system will also examine the regulatory and taxation trends of other countries and international organizations to form consensus on the character of virtual currency trade and taxation.

Until December, virtual currencies such as bitcoin and ether will be traded on an exchange only if a bank has confirmed the authorization of an account.  

“We will begin the transaction by checking the identity of the bank account and monitoring the flow of funds,” stated an official from the Financial Services Commission. According to Han, employing banks to keep track of all new accounts opened on exchanges will permit the FSC’s further investigation of violations regarding Know Your Customer (KYC) and Anti-Money Laundering (AML) protocols. The only change for virtual currency exchange customers is that now these customers need to be able to prove that the bank accounts they have connected to an exchange belong to them.

While these new regulations could be efforts to correct South Korea’s frenzied ICO market, Han points out that if the South Korean authorities tightened control over virtual currencies much like China, they could “put a huge tax on crypto-related activities.”

Jay Kim, a.k.a The Crypto Lark, a Korean digital currency YouTube host, says the country’s ICO ban will not affect individual investors who participate in foreign ICOs. “In Korea, people actively investing in ICOs will not be affected. The government is concerned with scams. I think it’s a temporary measure until there are some regulations in place for ICOs.”

Scams and Bad Actors

This news comes as no surprise given an overall global move to regulate ICOs in some way. China has banned the issuance of virtual currencies as illegal public funding. In July, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission issued a warning that token sales would be regulated as securities and thus would have to comply with reporting and consumer protection requirements. On August 1, the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) clarified that the issue of digital tokens would be regulated by MAS if the digital tokens constitute products regulated under the Securities and Futures Act.

Also, the South Korean digital currency exchanges have been consistently targeted by hackers over the last several months. According to a report by security firm FireEye, North Korea has been targeting digital currency exchanges since April 2017.

Since May 2017, North Korean actors have targeted at least three South Korean digital exchanges with the intent of stealing funds. This type of attack has been predominantly targeted at the “personal email accounts of South Korean employees of digital exchanges using a tax-themed lure to deploy malware.”

On July 5 2017 Bithumb was victim to a major hack. Bithumb remains South Korea’s largest digital currency exchange, the world’s second-largest Ethereum exchange by daily volume. At the time of the hack, 13.5 percent of the the total ether market was going through Bithumb’s exchange. Attacks such as this one would certainly have attracted scrutiny from Korea’s Internet and Security Agency.

Growth and Opportunity

This latest blow to South Korea’s cryptocurrency community comes at a time of recent growth and opportunity, despite the persistent scams and hacks of bad actors. Since China’s ICO ban in early September, South Korea has quickly been overtaking China in daily trading volume of digital currencies.

The country’s connection to the internet and technology in general cannot be underestimated. According to a 2015 study by content delivery network Akamai, South Korea had the fastest internet speed in the world based on the unique IP count, and its largest export company, Samsung Electronics, made a profit of $16.5 billion USD in 2016.

South Korea’s third-largest exchange, Coinone, recently opened “the world’s first blockchain 4D zone,” a brick-and-mortar exchange complete with a bitcoin ATM, a large display with real-time market information and a face-to-face consultation service.

The South Korean fintech firm Dunamu has announced the launch of a new crypto-trading platform through a partnership with the U.S.-based exchange Bittrex. The platform, called Upbit, will be released in beta in October. It will support over 110 different digital currencies including bitcoin, litecoin, ripple and ether.

In terms of popularity, the digital currency community in Seoul alone is enormous with 16 registered cryptocurrency Meetups, the largest of which is the Seoul Ethereum Meetup with approximately 3,550 members. In the past year the government has even taken part in the digital currency industry by auctioning off confiscated bitcoin.

The post South Korea's ICO Ban: A Reaction to "Serious Concerns" Over Cryptocurrency Investment Practices appeared first on Bitcoin Magazine.

South Korea's ICO Ban: A Reaction to "Serious Concerns" Over Cryptocurrency Investment Practices

Bitcoin Magazine, 1/1/0001 12:00 AM PST

South Korea's ICO Ban

The South Korean Financial Services Commission (FSC) has announced it will ban all forms of initial coin offerings (ICOs). After a meeting to discuss virtual currency control, the vice-chairman of financial affairs, Kim Yong-bum, made this comment as part of an official statement:

“We expressed a serious concern that the recent inflow of funds into the nonproductive speculative direction is showing up. As a result, we believe that additional measures are inevitable in order to switch to productive investment.”

The statement concludes by saying:

“All forms of ICO prohibition including securities issuance [and] monetary lending and coin margins are prohibited, blocking all business related business alliances.”

Korean blockchain expert and entrepreneur Ash Han told Bitcoin Magazine that “the FSC is concerned about ignorant investors becoming victimized by scammers using crypto.” Specifically, Han is referring to multi-level marketing or network marketing, an infamous way to raise money using existing distributors to recruit new distributors. This type of business strategy is often fraught with pyramid schemes in which raising money from new recruits buying in is the primary focus of the business instead of actual product development and sales.

Because the FSC has judged that virtual currencies such as bitcoin and ether are electronic representations of value and not financial products such as securities, the government has chosen to indirectly regulate virtual currencies through banks.

In addition to the FSC, several government organizations including the Korean Fair Trade Commission (KFTC), the National Tax Service (Korean IRS) and the police have formed a joint inspection system that will examine the current conditions of virtual currency exchanges through on-site inspections.

The FSC will examine the customer information leakages caused by hacking, strengthen penalties for similar behavior to prevent money laundering, and open a joint inspections system with several other government entities to examine the current conditions of digital currency traders and exchanges. The joint inspection system will also examine the regulatory and taxation trends of other countries and international organizations to form consensus on the character of virtual currency trade and taxation.

Until December, virtual currencies such as bitcoin and ether will be traded on an exchange only if a bank has confirmed the authorization of an account.  

“We will begin the transaction by checking the identity of the bank account and monitoring the flow of funds,” stated an official from the Financial Services Commission. According to Han, employing banks to keep track of all new accounts opened on exchanges will permit the FSC’s further investigation of violations regarding Know Your Customer (KYC) and Anti-Money Laundering (AML) protocols. The only change for virtual currency exchange customers is that now these customers need to be able to prove that the bank accounts they have connected to an exchange belong to them.

While these new regulations could be efforts to correct South Korea’s frenzied ICO market, Han points out that if the South Korean authorities tightened control over virtual currencies much like China, they could “put a huge tax on crypto-related activities.”

Jay Kim, a.k.a The Crypto Lark, a Korean digital currency YouTube host, says the country’s ICO ban will not affect individual investors who participate in foreign ICOs. “In Korea, people actively investing in ICOs will not be affected. The government is concerned with scams. I think it’s a temporary measure until there are some regulations in place for ICOs.”

Scams and Bad Actors

This news comes as no surprise given an overall global move to regulate ICOs in some way. China has banned the issuance of virtual currencies as illegal public funding. In July, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission issued a warning that token sales would be regulated as securities and thus would have to comply with reporting and consumer protection requirements. On August 1, the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) clarified that the issue of digital tokens would be regulated by MAS if the digital tokens constitute products regulated under the Securities and Futures Act.

Also, the South Korean digital currency exchanges have been consistently targeted by hackers over the last several months. According to a report by security firm FireEye, North Korea has been targeting digital currency exchanges since April 2017.

Since May 2017, North Korean actors have targeted at least three South Korean digital exchanges with the intent of stealing funds. This type of attack has been predominantly targeted at the “personal email accounts of South Korean employees of digital exchanges using a tax-themed lure to deploy malware.”

On July 5 2017 Bithumb was victim to a major hack. Bithumb remains South Korea’s largest digital currency exchange, the world’s second-largest Ethereum exchange by daily volume. At the time of the hack, 13.5 percent of the the total ether market was going through Bithumb’s exchange. Attacks such as this one would certainly have attracted scrutiny from Korea’s Internet and Security Agency.

Growth and Opportunity

This latest blow to South Korea’s cryptocurrency community comes at a time of recent growth and opportunity, despite the persistent scams and hacks of bad actors. Since China’s ICO ban in early September, South Korea has quickly been overtaking China in daily trading volume of digital currencies.

The country’s connection to the internet and technology in general cannot be underestimated. According to a 2015 study by content delivery network Akamai, South Korea had the fastest internet speed in the world based on the unique IP count, and its largest export company, Samsung Electronics, made a profit of $16.5 billion USD in 2016.

South Korea’s third-largest exchange, Coinone, recently opened “the world’s first blockchain 4D zone,” a brick-and-mortar exchange complete with a bitcoin ATM, a large display with real-time market information and a face-to-face consultation service.

The South Korean fintech firm Dunamu has announced the launch of a new crypto-trading platform through a partnership with the U.S.-based exchange Bittrex. The platform, called Upbit, will be released in beta in October. It will support over 110 different digital currencies including bitcoin, litecoin, ripple and ether.

In terms of popularity, the digital currency community in Seoul alone is enormous with 16 registered cryptocurrency Meetups, the largest of which is the Seoul Ethereum Meetup with approximately 3,550 members. In the past year the government has even taken part in the digital currency industry by auctioning off confiscated bitcoin.

The post South Korea's ICO Ban: A Reaction to "Serious Concerns" Over Cryptocurrency Investment Practices appeared first on Bitcoin Magazine.

South Korea's ICO Ban: A Reaction to "Serious Concerns" Over Cryptocurrency Investment Practices

Bitcoin Magazine, 1/1/0001 12:00 AM PST

South Korea's ICO Ban

The South Korean Financial Services Commission (FSC) has announced it will ban all forms of initial coin offerings (ICOs). After a meeting to discuss virtual currency control, the vice-chairman of financial affairs, Kim Yong-bum, made this comment as part of an official statement:

“We expressed a serious concern that the recent inflow of funds into the nonproductive speculative direction is showing up. As a result, we believe that additional measures are inevitable in order to switch to productive investment.”

The statement concludes by saying:

“All forms of ICO prohibition including securities issuance [and] monetary lending and coin margins are prohibited, blocking all business related business alliances.”

Korean blockchain expert and entrepreneur Ash Han told Bitcoin Magazine that “the FSC is concerned about ignorant investors becoming victimized by scammers using crypto.” Specifically, Han is referring to multi-level marketing or network marketing, an infamous way to raise money using existing distributors to recruit new distributors. This type of business strategy is often fraught with pyramid schemes in which raising money from new recruits buying in is the primary focus of the business instead of actual product development and sales.

Because the FSC has judged that virtual currencies such as bitcoin and ether are electronic representations of value and not financial products such as securities, the government has chosen to indirectly regulate virtual currencies through banks.

In addition to the FSC, several government organizations including the Korean Fair Trade Commission (KFTC), the National Tax Service (Korean IRS) and the police have formed a joint inspection system that will examine the current conditions of virtual currency exchanges through on-site inspections.

The FSC will examine the customer information leakages caused by hacking, strengthen penalties for similar behavior to prevent money laundering, and open a joint inspections system with several other government entities to examine the current conditions of digital currency traders and exchanges. The joint inspection system will also examine the regulatory and taxation trends of other countries and international organizations to form consensus on the character of virtual currency trade and taxation.

Until December, virtual currencies such as bitcoin and ether will be traded on an exchange only if a bank has confirmed the authorization of an account.  

“We will begin the transaction by checking the identity of the bank account and monitoring the flow of funds,” stated an official from the Financial Services Commission. According to Han, employing banks to keep track of all new accounts opened on exchanges will permit the FSC’s further investigation of violations regarding Know Your Customer (KYC) and Anti-Money Laundering (AML) protocols. The only change for virtual currency exchange customers is that now these customers need to be able to prove that the bank accounts they have connected to an exchange belong to them.

While these new regulations could be efforts to correct South Korea’s frenzied ICO market, Han points out that if the South Korean authorities tightened control over virtual currencies much like China, they could “put a huge tax on crypto-related activities.”

Jay Kim, a.k.a The Crypto Lark, a Korean digital currency YouTube host, says the country’s ICO ban will not affect individual investors who participate in foreign ICOs. “In Korea, people actively investing in ICOs will not be affected. The government is concerned with scams. I think it’s a temporary measure until there are some regulations in place for ICOs.”

Scams and Bad Actors

This news comes as no surprise given an overall global move to regulate ICOs in some way. China has banned the issuance of virtual currencies as illegal public funding. In July, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission issued a warning that token sales would be regulated as securities and thus would have to comply with reporting and consumer protection requirements. On August 1, the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) clarified that the issue of digital tokens would be regulated by MAS if the digital tokens constitute products regulated under the Securities and Futures Act.

Also, the South Korean digital currency exchanges have been consistently targeted by hackers over the last several months. According to a report by security firm FireEye, North Korea has been targeting digital currency exchanges since April 2017.

Since May 2017, North Korean actors have targeted at least three South Korean digital exchanges with the intent of stealing funds. This type of attack has been predominantly targeted at the “personal email accounts of South Korean employees of digital exchanges using a tax-themed lure to deploy malware.”

On July 5 2017 Bithumb was victim to a major hack. Bithumb remains South Korea’s largest digital currency exchange, the world’s second-largest Ethereum exchange by daily volume. At the time of the hack, 13.5 percent of the the total ether market was going through Bithumb’s exchange. Attacks such as this one would certainly have attracted scrutiny from Korea’s Internet and Security Agency.

Growth and Opportunity

This latest blow to South Korea’s cryptocurrency community comes at a time of recent growth and opportunity, despite the persistent scams and hacks of bad actors. Since China’s ICO ban in early September, South Korea has quickly been overtaking China in daily trading volume of digital currencies.

The country’s connection to the internet and technology in general cannot be underestimated. According to a 2015 study by content delivery network Akamai, South Korea had the fastest internet speed in the world based on the unique IP count, and its largest export company, Samsung Electronics, made a profit of $16.5 billion USD in 2016.

South Korea’s third-largest exchange, Coinone, recently opened “the world’s first blockchain 4D zone,” a brick-and-mortar exchange complete with a bitcoin ATM, a large display with real-time market information and a face-to-face consultation service.

The South Korean fintech firm Dunamu has announced the launch of a new crypto-trading platform through a partnership with the U.S.-based exchange Bittrex. The platform, called Upbit, will be released in beta in October. It will support over 110 different digital currencies including bitcoin, litecoin, ripple and ether.

In terms of popularity, the digital currency community in Seoul alone is enormous with 16 registered cryptocurrency Meetups, the largest of which is the Seoul Ethereum Meetup with approximately 3,550 members. In the past year the government has even taken part in the digital currency industry by auctioning off confiscated bitcoin.

The post South Korea's ICO Ban: A Reaction to "Serious Concerns" Over Cryptocurrency Investment Practices appeared first on Bitcoin Magazine.

STOCKS CLIMB TO NEW HIGHS: Here's what you need to know

Business Insider, 1/1/0001 12:00 AM PST

ice climbing

All three major indices climbed to record highs on Monday.

First up, the scoreboard:

  • Dow: 22,531.78, +148.19, (0.66%)
  • S&P 500: 2,528.05, +8.69, (+0.34%)
  • Nasdaq: 6,512.93, +16.98, (+0.26%)
  • US 10-year yield: 2.339, +0.013
  • The US dollar index: 93.59, (+0.55%)

1. At least 58 people were killed and more than 515 were injured Sunday night in Las Vegas in the deadliest shooting in modern US history. A gunman identified as Stephen Paddock opened fire from the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino, aiming into a tightly packed crowd of thousands of people who were watching a country music festival, police said.

2. Shares of major gun manufacturers rose in trading on Monday. Gun stocks tend to rally after mass shootings. Heightened conversation about potential gun-control legislation raises speculation that people would want to buy firearms sooner rather than later before any regulations could be tightened. 

3. Casino stocks tumbled. MGM Resorts International, which owns the Mandalay Bay hotel from where the gunman opened fire, was down about 5%. Wynn Resorts Ltd, Las Vegas Sands Corp, and Melco Resorts & Entertainment Ltd also fell in pre-market trade, although several of them saw a reversal later in the day.

4. The euro tumbled after the Catalan leader said the region "won the right" to an independent state. Tensions rose in Spain over the weekend when Catalonia attempted to vote on independence Sunday in a referendum that was declared illegal by Spanish authorities. Analysts at BMI Research said in a note to clients Monday that tensions between Catalonia and Madrid will remain "elevated for the foreseeable future."

5. Nordstrom tumbled after a report said the company is struggling to go private. Shares were down over 7% after a report from the New York Post said it was exploring the possibility of going private amid struggling sales, but the deal began unraveling after Toys R Us filed for bankruptcy.

6. Shares of other department stores also sank after the Nordstrom report crossed. JCPenney was down by 8.3%, Dillard's was down by 7.1%, Macy's was down by 5.6%, and Kohl's was down by 4.1% in the afternoon.

Monday's US economic data: Markit US Manufacturing PMI came in at 53.1 in September, above expectations of 53.0, while ISM manufacturing came in at 60.8 last month, above expectations of 58.0.

ADDITIONALLY:

Stocks are flashing a major sell signal.

A top GOP senator just showed by tax reform may be harder than Trump thought.

A $732 billion investor says Wall Street is seriously underestimating Trump's tax plan.

Hedge funds are "dancing on the rim of a volano."

Deutsche Bank thinks GM could release a self driving car "within quarters, not years."

Goldman Sachs is flirting with bitcoin trading, according to the Wall Street Journal.

SEE ALSO: An Ivy League professor explains chaos theory, the prisoner's dilemma, and why math isn't really boring

Join the conversation about this story »

NOW WATCH: RAY DALIO: You have to bet against the consensus and be right to be successful in the markets

Ross Ulbricht Drops Claim to Millions Raised in Silk Road Bitcoin Auctions

CoinDesk, 1/1/0001 12:00 AM PST

The convicted operator of the Silk Road dark market has given up his claim to over $48 million raised after the sale of more than 144,000 bitcoins.

A popular stock picking game has launched a platform for users to buy real stocks

Business Insider, 1/1/0001 12:00 AM PST

kerim derhalli ceo  founder of invstr

Users of popular investment game app Invstr can now use the app to invest in the real stock market.

Invstr, a London-based company, on Monday announced a partnership with DriveWealth, a broker-dealer, on a new stock trading platform on Invstr with which users can buy full and fractional shares of US-listed securities. 

Kerim Derhalli, a former managing director at Deutsche Bank, founded Invstr to provide ordinary investors with a fun way to try their hand at the market without risking their actual money. 

Before he founded Invstr, Derhalli worked at a number of firms on Wall Street, earning $1 billion for his clients during his decades-long career. So he knows what it takes to be a successful investor, and that expertise underpins Invstr design. 

Derhalli told Business Insider's Oscar Williams-Grut in February the point of the company is to "help people learn how to become great investors," Derhalli said. "Learning to become an investor is like learning to play a musical instrument or learning to play a sport. When you play a sport, you’ve got to get fit, you’ve got to practice your skills, and then you’ve got to out and perform in the real world.

Invstr has 280,000 downloads and is used in 185 countries, according to the company

Invstr users can invest with up to a $1 million in play money and learn about the markets through content on the app. Derhalli told Business Insider users have access to a personalized news feed catered to their interests. 

Now folks have the "full package," according to Derhalli, and can apply what they learn from playing games and gleaning content to buying and selling stocks. 

"We are taking investing to the ultimate level and telling people to 'buy whatever you want, how ever much you want, or as little as you want,'" Derhalli told Business Insider. 

The idea is get people investing as early as possible to accrue returns for the future. 

SEE ALSO: An ex-Deutsche Bank MD who made $1 billion for clients built an app to teach students to invest

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NOW WATCH: Shiller says bitcoin is the best example of a bubble in the market today

EX-REAGAN ADVISOR: Trump’s cabinet could go down as the worst in history

Business Insider, 1/1/0001 12:00 AM PST

Steve Mnuchin

Don’t take my word for it.

Barely nine months into President Donald Trump’s term, prominent figures on both sides of the political divide are already wondering whether the administration could be historically incompetent.

Bruce Bartlett, economic historian and former adviser to President Ronald Reagan, took to Twitter and suggested that Trump's cabinet picks may end up being viewed as the worst ever, singling out Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos and recently-resigned former Secretary of Health and Human Services Tom Price:

Alan Krueger, ex-head of President Barack Obama’s Council of Economic Advisers, responded without skipping a beat, referring to Mick Mulvaney, head of the White House Office of Management and Budget, and Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin:

Ouch.

Mnuchin and his wife have come under fire for being among the many Trump cabinet members that appear to be living lavishly on the taxpayer dime — and bragging about it on social media. More broadly, many in Washington see him as a policy dilettante generally disliked by Republicans and Democrats alike.

Brad DeLong, a Berkeley economist and former Treasury official under President Bill Clinton, shared Krueger’s brutal assessment of the Treasury Secretary:

That Mnuchin is one of the primary architects of Trump's tax cut plans should give little comfort to Wall Street, with repeated stock market records this year that have been predicated on the plans' passage. 

SEE ALSO: Treasury Secretary to former Yale classmates: Trump is not a Nazi sympathizer

Join the conversation about this story »

NOW WATCH: THE BOTTOM LINE: The 'Trump trade' is back and Ray Dalio breaks down the bitcoin bubble

Report: Goldman Sachs Considering Bitcoin Services for Clients

CoinDesk, 1/1/0001 12:00 AM PST

Goldman Sachs is said to be in the early stages of planning a possible cryptocurrency trading operation, according to the Wall Street Journal.

The retail apocalypse is torpedoing Nordstrom's attempt to go private — and the whole industry is paying for it (JWN)

Business Insider, 1/1/0001 12:00 AM PST

nordstrom store front

Nordstrom's stock surged last month on reports it was in talks to go private. Now the department store chain is getting the opposite treatment from the market amid speculation that the deal is falling apart — and it's dragging the rest of the industry with it.

The Nordstrom family has struggled to raise enough debt to finance the go-private deal, according to a report from the New York Post. While the company had been in discussions to get roughly $1 billion from private equity firm Leonard Green & Partners, the total transaction could end up needing closer to $10 billion, the Post said.

The reaction in the stock market to the development has been swift and punishing. Nordstrom's stock dropped 7.4% as of 12:58 pm EST, while fellow department stores JCPenney (-8.3%), Dillard's (-7.1%) Macy's (-5.6%) and Kohl's (-4.1%) were collateral damage.

Nordstrom's contagious woes are just the latest entry in the ongoing retail apocalypse, which has seen emerging juggernauts like Amazon threaten the long-term future of traditional brick-and-mortar retailers. Just two weeks ago, Toys R Us filed for bankruptcy amid industry headwinds, while traders also placed large bets against the store's suppliers.

In fact, the Toys R Us bankruptcy has played a direct role in Nordstrom's failure to raise debt, with potential investors feeling anxiety around sinking money into an unstable area, according to the Post.

Screen Shot 2017 10 02 at 12.58.30 PM

And while news of the financing struggles is hitting Nordstrom shares, William Blair analyst Dylan Carden isn't particularly surprised, describing the debt-raising process as a "major sticking point" for the success of the deal in a research note published on Monday.

To make matters even worse, Nordstrom investors weren't exactly braced for a negative development in the go-private process. Prior to Monday's sell off, short interest on the company's stock was at its lowest level since 2015, relative to outstanding shares available to loan, according to IHS Markit data.

nordstrom short interest

The lack of bearish positioning may be explained by the fact that even following the initial news about Nordstrom's go-private plans, the company's stock was down 1.6% year-to-date.

Regardless of the reason, there's still enough trepidation around retailers for investors to be positioned defensively against further losses in the broader industry. Short interest on the SPDR S&P Retail ETF, a $358 million fund that tracks 88 companies, has spiked in recent weeks. It now sits at more than double its three-year average, IHS Markit data show.

SEE ALSO: Stocks are flashing a major sell signal

Join the conversation about this story »

NOW WATCH: THE BOTTOM LINE: The 'Trump trade' is back and Ray Dalio breaks down the bitcoin bubble

Nordstrom is falling after a report says the company is struggling to go private (JWN)

Business Insider, 1/1/0001 12:00 AM PST

The Nordstrom store is seen at a mall in a Denver suburb May 16, 2008.  REUTERS/Rick Wilking

Shares of Nordstrom are down 7.32% on Monday as the company's plan to go private has struggled to come together, according to a report from the New York Post.

Nordstrom previously said it was exploring the possibility of going private amid struggling sales numbers. But, the deal started to unravel after Toys R Us filed for bankruptcy, according to the Post's story.

The bankruptcy apparently caused the banks who would fund the deal to ask for more onerous terms because of increased risks.

The retail sector has been in a sort-of apocalypse recently as well, and the upcoming holiday season is not expected to be a good one for brick-and-mortar retailers, which adds to the perceived risk.

Nordstrom has fared better than some of its competitors though. The company's off-price store, Nordstrom Rack, has been performing well, and there are currently more Rack stores than the traditional department stores.

Nordstrom shares are down 8.15% this year, including Monday's drop.

Click here to watch Nordstrom's price move in real time...

nordstrom stock price

SEE ALSO: Nordstrom shares soar 20% after announcement it might go private

Join the conversation about this story »

NOW WATCH: THE BOTTOM LINE: The 'Trump trade' is back and Ray Dalio breaks down the bitcoin bubble

Daily chart: China is turning against cryptocurrencies

The Economist, 1/1/0001 12:00 AM PST

Main image:  BITCOIN’S surprising success in China appears to be nearing its end. A series of bans announced over the past month have made clear that bitcoin and all fellow cryptocurrencies, from ethereum to litecoin, have little place within its borders. Some hope that the bans are temporary. The government has, after all, declared an ambition to make China a leader in the blockchain technology that is integral to bitcoin. But it seems more likely that officials will tighten their grip on China’s remaining crypto-coin bastions.Bitcoin had been in trouble in China since February, when the central bank, aiming to stem illicit capital flows, ordered exchanges to halt virtual-currency withdrawals until they could identify their customers. China’s share of global bitcoin-trading went from more than 90% to just about 10%.As bitcoin-trading slumped, attention shifted to other cryptocurrencies and their cousins, crypto-tokens. These are issued in Initial Coin Offerings (ICOs), which allow startups to raise cash. But on September 4th Chinese regulators banned ICOs, calling them a form of illegal fundraising. And that presaged an even harsher step, an order that all virtual-currency exchanges shut by the end of the month.China’s crackdown initially sent shock waves through global crypto-markets. The bitcoin ...

Daily chart: China is turning against cryptocurrencies

The Economist, 1/1/0001 12:00 AM PST

Main image:  BITCOIN’S surprising success in China appears to be nearing its end. A series of bans announced over the past month have made clear that bitcoin and all fellow cryptocurrencies, from ethereum to litecoin, have little place within its borders. Some hope that the bans are temporary. The government has, after all, declared an ambition to make China a leader in the blockchain technology that is integral to bitcoin. But it seems more likely that officials will tighten their grip on China’s remaining crypto-coin bastions.Bitcoin had been in trouble in China since February, when the central bank, aiming to stem illicit capital flows, ordered exchanges to halt virtual-currency withdrawals until they could identify their customers. China’s share of global bitcoin-trading went from more than 90% to just about 10%.As bitcoin-trading slumped, attention shifted to other cryptocurrencies and their cousins, crypto-tokens. These are issued in Initial Coin Offerings (ICOs), which allow startups to raise cash. But on September 4th Chinese regulators banned ICOs, calling them a form of illegal fundraising. And that presaged an even harsher step, an order that all virtual-currency exchanges shut by the end of the month.China’s crackdown initially sent shock waves through global crypto-markets. The bitcoin ...

Goldman Sachs is flirting with bitcoin trading (GS)

Business Insider, 1/1/0001 12:00 AM PST

lloyd blankfein, goldman sachs

Goldman Sachs is flirting with the idea of setting up a bitcoin trading shop.

The Wall Street powerhouse is in the very early stages of potentially setting up a bitcoin trading operation, according to a report by The Wall Street Journal's Paul Vigna, Telis Demos, and Liz Hoffman

“In response to client interest in digital currencies we are exploring how best to serve them in this space,” a Goldman spokeswoman told The Journal.

If Goldman follows through, they would be the first blue-chip financial services firm to break into the cryptocurrency market, which this year has exploded in value. 

Goldman's C-Suite has kept pretty quiet about digital coins. Meanwhile, the rest of Wall Street has mixed reviews. On one hand, JPMorgan CEO Jamie Dimon called bitcoin "a fraud" and likened it to the tulips bulbs bubble of the 1600s. On the other, James Gorman, Morgan Stanley's chief executive officer, has taken a more moderate position on bitcoin, saying last week it is "more than just a fad."

Bitcoin, the largest cryptocurrency by market cap, is up 360% year-to-date.

Read the full Journal report >>

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What you need to know on Wall Street today

Business Insider, 1/1/0001 12:00 AM PST

Welcome to Finance Insider, Business Insider's summary of the top stories of the past 24 hours. Sign up here to get the best of Business Insider delivered direct to your inbox.

Shares of major gun manufacturers rose in trading Monday following the deadliest mass shooting in modern US history. Gun stocks tend to rally after mass shootings. Heightened conversation about potential gun-control legislation raises speculation that people would want to buy firearms sooner rather than later before any regulations could be tightened. Meanwhile, casino stocks have dropped.

In other news, the head of a $55 billion fund at First Eagle points out the risks everyone else on Wall Street is missing. And the head of investment themes at UBS explains the big trends every investor should know.

Nasdaq is shaking up one of its legacy units and Shake Shack founder Danny Meyer is jumping into finance with a $220 million fund.

A Catalan split from Spain could be even worse than Brexit, and Toys R Us is banking on futuristic tech to save its business after bankruptcy.

In markets news:

Lastly, we spent 3 nights in the NYC underbelly with a crime reporter to see how safe the 'safest big city' in the US really is.

 

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NOW WATCH: RAY DALIO: Bitcoin is a speculative bubble

Shake Shack founder Danny Meyer is jumping into finance with a $220 million fund (SHAK)

Business Insider, 1/1/0001 12:00 AM PST

danny meyer

Danny Meyer, the famed New York restaurateur who eliminated tipping at restaurants and founded the Shake Shack empire, is jumping into the world of finance. 

Meyer has raised $220 million for a private equity fund called Enlightened Hospitality Investments LP that will make $10 million to $20 million investments in companies that share the employee-focused ethos of his Union Square Hospitality Group establishments, according to a story in The Wall Street Journal by Charles Passy. 

The fund, which is managed by USHG but has raised outside capital, has completed a handful of deals so far, including New York gourmet coffee chain Joe Coffee, the small West coast chain Salt & Straw Ice Cream, and restaurant-booking app Resy, according to the report. 

Read the full story at The Wall Street Journal

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NOW WATCH: Shiller says bitcoin is the best example of a bubble in the market today

SUNTRUST: Nvidia's next big bet could deliver 'significant revenue' soon (NVDA)

Business Insider, 1/1/0001 12:00 AM PST

drone

Nvidia has placed a big bet on the growth of artificial intelligence, spending nearly $3 billion on its latest data center chip by some estimates.

The move has paid off, as the data center segment is one of the fastest growing segments for Nvidia, representing 33% of the company's revenue growth over the last year, according to data from Bloomberg.

And while Nvidia won't be abandoning data centers anytime soon, the company is already moving on to the next big thing, according to one Wall Street analyst.

"Artificial intelligence at the Edge expands the potential use cases for inference, and NVDA's position," William Stein, an analyst at SunTrust Robinson Humphrey, said in a recent note to clients. "AI at the Edge is an emerging idea, but one that could deliver significant revenue quickly. The idea is essentially take AI compute out of the data centers, and place it in platforms and products all around us."

Stein is talking about a potential new area for artificial intelligence, which is in its nascent stages now. Nvidia's data center business is all about "training", or fine-tuning, artificial intelligence systems so that they work well with real-world data. Once those systems are trained, they can be deployed and used on things like drones, autonomous cars or refrigerators, to name a few examples.

When a trained AI system is used to interpret real-world data, it's called "inference," and Nvidia is working on specialty chips for this purpose.

One of Nvidia's first moves into the AI edge inference market comes in the form of a partnership with JD.com to power delivery drones with its new chips. The drones are being tested in smaller Chinese markets now, but JD.com hopes to deploy more than 1 million drones in the next five years.

As more companies begin deploying AI edge devices, Nvidia's early start on the market could prove to be a big advantage, Stein said. Because of this, and continuing strength in the data center business, Stein raised his price target for Nvidia from $181.00 to $200.00.

Nvidia is up 76.46% this year.

Click here to watch Nvidia's stock price move in real time...

nvidia stock price

SEE ALSO: Nvidia pops after announcing it will bring its AI dominance to delivery drones

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Slow Ascent? Bitcoin Prices Edge Higher Despite Weak Volumes

CoinDesk, 1/1/0001 12:00 AM PST

The BTC/USD exchange rate is edging up on Monday, but chart analysis suggests weak volumes could play spoilsport to any larger rally.

Gun stocks are soaring after the deadliest mass shooting in modern US history (AOBC, RGR)

Business Insider, 1/1/0001 12:00 AM PST

vegas shooting police

Shares of major gun manufacturers rose in trading Monday following the deadliest mass shooting in modern US history.

Fifty people were killed and more than 200 were injured in the shooting Sunday night in Las Vegas. A gunman identified as Stephen Paddock opened fire from the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino, aiming into a tightly packed crowd of thousands of people who were watching a country music festival, the police said.

American Outdoor Brands (formerly Smith & Wesson) and Sturm, Ruger & Co. rallied by more than 4%.

Gun stocks tend to rally after mass shootings. Heightened conversation about potential gun-control legislation raises speculation that people would want to buy firearms sooner rather than later before any regulations could be tightened. In its annual reports, American Outdoor Brands has told investors several times that "speculation surrounding increased gun control at the federal, state, and local level and heightened fears of terrorism and crime" can affect demand for its products.

Gun sales have been on the decline since last year's US election, according to several manufacturers and the FBI's database of background checks that serves as a proxy. Purchases reached a record last year, but President Donald Trump's surprise victory eased concerns that regulations would be tightened.

American Outdoor Brands fell 46% from the election through Friday's market close, while Sturm Ruger was down 19%.

Screen Shot 2017 10 02 at 8.08.10 AM

SEE ALSO: 50 people are dead and more than 200 injured after a mass shooting in Las Vegas

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Here's a super-quick guide to what traders are talking about right now

Business Insider, 1/1/0001 12:00 AM PST

Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in New York, U.S., August 31, 2017. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

Dave Lutz, head of ETFs at JonesTrading, has an overview of today's markets.

Here's Lutz:

Morning!  Thoughts and Prayers with those in Vegas.  Sheriff just announced 50+ died and over 200 wounded.   US Futures are higher, with Spanish bonds, stocks and the euro all under pressure on the Catalonia Headers, but not real move towards Havens.  The DAX is up 30bp despite a pullback in Fins as Airlines are jumping across Europe as Monarch Airlines goes Ch11.  FTSE is the best performer right now, up 60bp with Miners acting great after much better Chinese manufacturing #s and PBOC cuts RRR and Builders loving Theresa May headers.  Spanish Stocks are getting hit, with the IBEX down nearly 1.5% as the Banks get hit.   Quiet overnight in Asia, with Holidays in China, Hong Kong, South Korea and India.  Nikkei up small as Energy Stocks held back the rally - Taiwan added 80bp behind a Tech rally led by TSMC, while Aussie jumped nearly 1% behind a mining rally on upbeat Asian manufacturing data

US 10YY being rejected from 2.35% and 3month highs, and is now testing 200d support.   Eyes are on German and Spanish 10-year government bond yields widening by 10bp, holding back the Euro.   Feels like a strong dollar across the board, with Sterling retreating and Yen lower despite a Strong Tankan Survey.  Gold hates the Dollar, and is struggling to hold the 100dma, while Industrial metals like Copper showing a early bid.   Oil continues to slide from the Kurdish Referendum angst last week as OPEC output climbed 50k last month – WTI is seeing some stops going off as it breaks downside $51 in early trade.  Cold Weather in the northeast has Natty outperforming, but the warming trend towards the end of the week seems to be capping any attempts to rally.

SEE ALSO: 10 things you need to know about the markets today

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IOHK Launches Cardano Blockchain; Ada Now Trading on Bittrex

Bitcoin Magazine, 1/1/0001 12:00 AM PST

IOHK Launches Cardano Blockchain; Ada Now Trading on Bittrex

So far, Ethereum has been the lead player in the smart contract platform space. Now a new competitor is steadily creeping into the game. And, in an interesting twist, the effort is being led by a former Ethereum CEO.

Last week, blockchain development firm IOHK, led by Charles Hoskinson, launched Cardano, a new blockchain. And yesterday, Ada (ADA), the platform’s native cryptocurrency, began trading on the U.S.-regulated exchange Bittrex.

The 10,000 Ada voucher holders who participated in the earlier crowdsale can now download the Cardano wallet Daedalus and use that to redeem their Ada tokens and begin trading.

Westerners, who were omitted from the crowdsale, which was focused mainly in Japan, now have a chance to purchase those tokens via Bittrex.

If all goes according to IOHK’s plans, these events will mark the beginning of a two-year process that will see Cardano evolve into a full-fledged smart contract platform with an impressive library of protocols that developers can use to build their decentralized apps.  

How It All Began

Hoskinson was an an early founder of Ethereum. He left the project before the network launched and eventually went on to form IOHK with colleague Jeremy Woods in 2014.  

The following year, IOHK was approached by a group of Japanese business people interested in creating a blockchain that would function as a cryptocurrency and a smart contract platform while meeting the needs for the increasing regulatory oversight in the blockchain space.

To raise funds for the development, the group wanted to do an initial coin offering (ICO) focused on Asian markets. “They said it would be really nice to do a large-scale distribution in Asia, as opposed to the Western world, which is already saturated with cryptocurrencies,” Hoskinson said, in an interview with Bitcoin Magazine.

So the group hired IOHK to build software to assist with compliance during the sale. The Japanese company Attain was enlisted to coordinate the sale, and another entity, Cardano Foundation, handled oversight and auditing.

Meanwhile, the crowdsale, which ran from September 2015 to January 2017, raised $62 million and resulted in the sale of roughly 30 billion Ada vouchers. (Only 45 billion Ada will ever be in circulation.)

Because none of those vouchers were sold to U.S. citizens, the sale did not fall under the umbrella of the U.S. Security and Exchange Commission rules. “There was some regulatory advantages to offshoring it,” said Hoskinson. “And there were also some cultural advantages; mainly we had a blue sky, wide-open marketplace.”

The Japanese group, which has come to be called Emurgo, also hired IOHK to build Cardano under a five-year contract that will end in 2020. Emurgo will become to Cardano what ConsenSys is to Ethereum: a studio for designing smart contracts and decentralized apps that will run on the platform.

Haskell-Based

So what is Cardano exactly? It is a full blockchain, built from scratch in the functional programming language Haskell. IOHK hired Philip Wadler, a principal designer of the Haskell language to work on the Cardano project.

According to Hoskinson, because Haskell is similar to math in its approach, code can be written more precisely, resulting in a more secure and reliable protocol.

At the heart of Cardano lies Ouroboros, a proof-of-stake consensus algorithm. While Bitcoin and most other cryptocurrencies rely on proof of work, where miners solve a cryptographic puzzle to reach consensus on the state of the ledger, proof-of-stake systems reach consensus by coin-holder vote.

As a result, proof of stake is vastly more energy efficient than proof of work. It also enables faster transactions and opens the door to governance schemes, where coin holders can have a say in how the protocol evolves.

Yet, developing a secure proof of stake is exceedingly difficult. To that end, Ouroboros comes with a mathematical proof of security which has gone through a rigorous peer review, resulting in its acceptance and presentation at Crypto 2017, a major cryptography conference. Several other projects are also working on proof-of-stake algorithms, including Ethereum (Casper), Algorand and Snow White.

Byron and Shelley

In terms of Cardano, what is live now is the first major release of the platform dubbed “Byron.” This is the first generation of the settlement layer, which is where Ada lives.

Some functionality is not yet switched on, however, because the platform is currently in bootstrap mode. The system will need a broader distribution of coin holders before it is up and running in full form. So, at this early stage, even though Ouroboros is turned on, consensus is locked to private nodes until the system gathers momentum, and that may take another four to six months, said Hoskinson.  

Following Byron, the next major release of Cardano, dubbed “Shelley,” is scheduled to arrive in the first half of 2018. During the Shelley phase, the system will evolve into a full-featured, independent cryptocurrency.

“If I died and IOHK shut down, Cardano could run forever in that form,” said Hoskinson.  

Equally important, Shelley will prepare Cardano for a range of impressive features, including smart contracts, side chains, multi-party computation, metadata and more. Those protocols will be added gradually over time.

“We will just keep putting them in when they become available,” said Hoskinson, adding that most of those features will debut next year.

He expects to launch a trusted hardware feature, which will allow for off-chain payments, in 2019.  

Smart Contracts

IOHK is currently developing its own virtual machine (VM), akin to Ethereum’s EVM. This will become the computation layer of the platform, where self-executing code will live. Hoskinson said he expects the Cardano VM to be available sometime in the first half of next year.

Along with that, Cardano will have its own smart contract language called Plutus, a lightweight version of Haskell. Plutus is intended for high-assurance contracts where a security breach could have devastating consequences.

Eventually, new capabilities will allow users to write decentralized apps in legacy languages like Java, C and JavaScript.

“You have to be pragmatic,” said Hoskinson. “People are not always going want to write high-assurance code.”

Also in the works are plans for a governance system in which decisions about the future of the protocol are made on-chain, and a treasury system in which a portion of the transaction fees are retained for future development.

Overall, Hoskinson made it clear that this is to be a slow and steady launch, with the goal of creating a secure, reliable platform that will span decades.

“Cardano is a rigorous, systematic project,” he said. “It has a lot of principles behind it.”

For more details on Cardano, check out Why Cardano?, Cardano Settlement Layer Documentation, Cardano Monetary Policy and the project’s GitHub code.


The post IOHK Launches Cardano Blockchain; Ada Now Trading on Bittrex appeared first on Bitcoin Magazine.

Nasdaq is shaking up one of its legacy units (NDAQ)

Business Insider, 1/1/0001 12:00 AM PST

adena friedman

Nasdaq has launched a new cloud-based portal for the C-Suite, and it points to a broader shake-up within the company.

On Monday, Nasdaq's Corporate Solutions unit unveiled Nasdaq Boardvantage, a cloud-based platform to support broader collaboration between corporate executives and board members.

Corporate Solutions, a legacy business for the exchange-operator, is Nasdaq's weakest source of profit with estimated margins of 11% to 12%, according to Richard Repetto, an analyst at Sandler O'Neill. Margins across the entire Nasdaq business were 41%, in contrast.

The business falls under the umbrella of its larger Corporate Services branch, which also includes its most well-known US equities listings venue. Nasdaq Boardvantage seeks to build on the capabilities of previous products by Nasdaq and Boardvantage, which Nasdaq acquired in 2016, by addressing the need to collaborate and share confidential information between teams via modern day platforms like iPads.

Corporate Solutions covers an array of businesses for Nasdaq, ranging from newswire services to investor relations tools, but the company appears to be shifting its focus to products targeting corporate executives, such as Nasdaq Boardvantage.

"We intend to use our strengths in advanced marketplace technology and information analytics, coupled with our deep understanding of market dynamics, to provide actionable intelligence to corporate executives and boards, through our world-leading Investor Relations and Governance intelligence and collaboration tools," CEO Adena Friedman said.

Here's Stacie Swanstrom, executive vice president and head of Nasdaq Corporate Solutions on the Boardvantage news:

"Our board portal and team collaboration solutions are a critical foundation of the Nasdaq Corporate Solutions product offering as well as any company’s governance framework."

Meanwhile, the future of the unit's other businesses appears less certain. Nasdaq on Thursday said it would evaluate "strategic alternatives" for the public relations and media aspects of the business, for instance.

"[Nasdaq] announced that it has begun to evaluate potential strategic alternatives for its Public Relations Solutions and Digital Media Services units within the Corporate Solutions business," Repetto wrote in a recent note to clients."[Nasdaq] noted that it has not set a timeline for the process but that it remains committed to all contracts and services of the businesses throughout the process."

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Nasdaq's strategy in its Corporate Solutions unit represents a broader company-wide shift.

Nasdaq is focusing its resources on those businesses that present the greatest profit opportunity for the firm. As such, it is putting more capital behind non-traditional businesses in data and analytics to drive growth, according to a recently released presentation on its updated strategy.

"Nasdaq has stated its objective to allocate more capital and human resources to faster growing, higher margin strategic businesses (Market Technology & Information Services and other businesses within the remaining segments)," Repetto said of the strategy.

Since Friedman took over the company at the beginning of the year, Nasdaq has pushed into a number of non-traditional markets — outside its marquee stock trading and listings businesses — through acquisitions. For instance, Nasdaq acquired eVestment, an analytics provider, for over $700 million, and Sybenetix, a software company, this year.

Investors have responded positively to this strategy. The stock is up more than 16% since the beginning of the year.

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NOW WATCH: Shiller says bitcoin is the best example of a bubble in the market today

China-Based Bitcoin Exchange BTCC Brings Domestic Trading to a Close

CoinDesk, 1/1/0001 12:00 AM PST

BTCC, an international cryptocurrency exchange with headquarters in China, has announced it has ceased all domestic trading activities.

Alleged Bitcoin Money Launderer Has First Extradition Hearing

CoinDesk, 1/1/0001 12:00 AM PST

Alleged BTC-e operator Alexander Vinnik has had his first extradition hearing after being arrested in Greece on charges of money laundering.

The head of a $55 billion fund at First Eagle points out the risks everyone else on Wall Street is missing

Business Insider, 1/1/0001 12:00 AM PST

Markets continue to climb, reaching new heights and setting records seemingly daily.

But there are still risks for investors in the form of high valuations, soaring debt levels, and geopolitic uncertainty.

Recently, at the UBS CIO Forum in New York City, Business Insider caught up with Matt McLennan, head of the global value team at First Eagle Investment Management, to talk about market risks.

McLennan manages the $55 billion First Eagle Global Value fund with Kimball Brooker. The fund is up 8.5% year to date.

Matt Turner: I wanted to talk to you about your views on the stock market because you are a bit cautious about where we are right now. More cautious maybe than the rest of Wall Street. So I just wanted you to talk through why it is that you're taking that stance.

Matt McLennan: Well, at First Eagle, we acknowledge that we don't have a crystal ball that lets us predict the next 12 months or 18 months with specificity. But what I will say in general is that there is an absence of obvious bargains bottom up. There are some sectors and companies here and there where we see opportunities, but the market itself is not presenting a lot of bargains, and we are primarily bottom-up investors.

When we zoom out and we look at the macro picture, we see a market that has really rerated dramatically in terms of valuation terms. The market's gone form less than 10 times trailing peak earnings in 2009 to more than 20 times trailing peak earnings today. That's coincided with other measures of risk and asset pricing also inflating. Credit spreads have come down. Implied volatility has come down, and the business cycle has improved. You know, unemployment's gone from 10% to just over 4%, so a lot that can go right has gone right.

north koreaAnd yet we sit here today with more debt than we had at the end of 2007. Globally, household plus corporate plus sovereign debt to GDP is actually higher than it was in 2007. We have a situation where there's financial-structure vulnerability, there's arguably geopolitical risks, and valuations are not that attractive. That just makes it harder to put money to work one business at a time, and, as a result, as a residual of that disciplined approach, our cash levels have built in the portfolio.

Turner: You mentioned the level of debt. How big a risk does that pose, and why is that such a problem?

McLennan: It's interesting. It depends on the form of the debt. In the late '90s, we had a lot of issuance of corporate debt, and, if you recall, we had the blow-up of WorldCom and Enron and a high-yield crisis. And then in the mid-2000s the excess in debt was in the residential real-estate sector, and we had a blowout in spreads, and real-estate prices came down, and we had the global financial crisis.

Today, by and large, the excess debt is in the sovereign sector, which is very different because sovereigns can do something that corporates and individuals can't do: They can print money.

So the consequence of excessive sovereign debt has been very low interest rates, and if you have interest rates that are low relative to the rate of growth of the economy, you can try to deleverage that way, but we've yet to see the deleveraging.

We could be in a situation for some time where even though we may see cyclical rises in interest rates, structural rates are quite low, and it's going to be hard for investors to get a good return on their capital, whether it's low interest rates or high PE ratios. The expected returns that investors can get looking out over the next decade are low, and yet the risks may be above average. So that's a tough environment for investors.

The expected returns that investors can get looking out over the next decade are low, and yet the risks may be above average. So that's a tough environment for investors.

Turner: During one of the panels at this forum, I saw a survey about return expectations, and I think the most popular vote was somewhere between 4% and 6%. Where do you stand on that? Or how did you vote?

McLennan: I didn't get to vote, which, you know, I'm used to. [Editor's note: McLennan is Australian.] We don't have a short-term view on returns, but I would say that if you look at long-term interest rates in the US, bond yields are at more than 2%. The short end of the curve is lower. If you're looking at sovereign assets, obviously returns are below that.

If we look at equities, many businesses are not priced for much more than mid-single-digit long-term returns given the starting valuations. So a passive, balanced portfolio could even have mid-to-low single-digit returns, and, in real terms, that's not much, which raises the risk that, at some point, people may need to save more.

We've brought a lot of growth forward through easy policy, and now that the policy environment is tightening with interest rates going up, the Fed talking about shrinking its balance sheet, perhaps we see after the 18th Party Congress in China a return to the focus on restructuring.

The policy environment could become trickier at a time of lower expected returns. We think it's just a time to be realistic in your expectations and not get too carried away based on the good returns in the rear-view mirror.

We think it's just a time to be realistic in your expectations and not get too carried away based on the good returns in the rear-view mirror.

It's rarely a good idea to drive your car looking in the rear-view mirror.

Turner: You mentioned China and there being a policy risk around the world in the US and elsewhere. How do you see that playing out, particularly with regard to China?

McLennan: The problem that we see with debt — for example, in the United States — is not unique to the United States. In fact, across the developed world, we've seen debt ratios higher than they were in 2007. And likewise China.

China is very important to understand, because if you went back in time to 15 or 20 years ago, Chinese money supply and Chinese fixed-capital investment was a fraction of the United States'.

Over the last 15 years, through an epic credit boom in China, the money supply has grown to more than the US in US dollar terms and fixed-capital investment had grown to more than the US. So China was the key marginal driver of global growth over the last 10 to 15 years and yet, now it has imbalances as a result of that growth.

As I mentioned, debt levels are very high in China for an emerging economy at a time when many industries are struggling for profitability. The currency, which was undervalued 10 or 15 years ago, which was a great source of growth, is now more fully valued. It may even be overvalued.

And so China faces a host of different pressures and what we may see in China is that the government try to buffer that pressure. So you could see the emergence of sovereign risk in China as they try to find a path through this adjustment.

Turner: What does that look like, that sovereign risk for China? What does that mean?

McLennan: Well, it could just mean that at some point they run larger deficits.

Some of the excess debt that's in the SOE's may implicitly be transferred to the sovereign sector like it was in the Western world during the global financial crisis. When the household sector de-levered in the US, it was offset by growth in government debt in the United States. And we saw that pattern elsewhere in the world. We may see a similar pattern in China.

Xi'an, ChinaBut beyond debt dynamics, we've also seen the emergence of a multi-polar geopolitical world. You can't have the awakening of an economy as large as China without geopolitical ripples.

As we've moved from, what was a unipolar system at the end of the 1990s when the Washington consensus reigned, to what is a multi-polar world, the system is disrupted. And we see that in episodic windows of crisis.

Whether that is with North Korea, or whether it's in the South China Seas, or whether it's in geopolitical initiatives of the Chinese such as the Belt and Road initiative linking China through the Eurasian heartland to the Middle East.

I think the world has become a lot more complicated.

Turner: And to bring this back to markets, it seems that markets have not reflected the added complications that we see in the world right now.

McLennan: No, right now if you look at risk markets, they're basically pricing the Goldilocks world. Low and contained inflation, decent earnings, and low interest rates being the rationale for low earnings yields or high PE ratios.

Having said that, if you step back from it and you reflect on the fact that low interest rates may be a symptom of excessive debt, then maybe you could make an argument that PE ratios shouldn't be so high. If there's too much debt in the world and equities are a residual claim on the world's assets, maybe there should be somewhat of a risk premium reflected. And then you lay on top of that the geopolitical risk.

We think it's a challenging environment to be an absolute return investor. If you want a margin of safety in price, it's hard to find in this world.

We think it's a challenging environment to be an absolute return investor. If you want a margin of safety in price, it's hard to find in this world.

And if you look at our portfolios, we are primarily business owners. Seventy percent of the portfolio is in good businesses that we bought at good prices, but today we have upwards of 20% in cash and we have 11% to 12% in gold as a potential hedge. That cash and gold position is pretty large relative to our history.

Turner: Has that position in gold changed recently? Have you been buyers of late?

McLennan: Over the last couple of years, we've been buyers on the weakness of gold. In a world where manmade defensive assets are not yielding much, nature's defensive asset has been very out of favor. As a source of potential ballast in the portfolio, we've added to it on weakness. And if we hadn't, it would've become a smaller position of our portfolio while the price of that potential hedge had gone down, which doesn't make sense to us.

We've been happy to add modestly to our goal, but if you look at the long-term history, our portfolio's goal has been around 10% of the portfolio plus or minus a few percent. We are a little on the high side today.

Turner: And with regards to 70% that you have still in good businesses, where are the opportunities? You said at the outset it's getting harder to find them but do you see spots of opportunity?

McLennan: There are always spots of opportunity when your focus is global and you look across all industries, there's always going to be some part of the market where you can put some capital to work.

Typically, for us, that involves looking for companies or industries that have been through their own bear market. If the market as a whole is a seasoned bull market, you have to kind of look for bear markets underneath the surface.

A gas flare burns at a fracking site in rural Bradford County, Pennsylvania January 9, 2012.  REUTERS/Les Stone  One area, for example, where we have put some money to work over the last year would be the energy area. Obviously, it's been very washed out and everyone's been focused on the negatives around energy, but the energy price has been at a level that is below what is required to make the best producers profitable and to make the best oil services companies thrive. So, ultimately, companies have been underinvesting.

This could come back to bite in a few years time and meanwhile, sometimes the cure for low oil prices is low prices themselves. Low prices have been stimulating demand growth. We've used this window of uncertainty to selectively add in that area.

Other than that, it's very idiosyncratic. It's very company by company and we'll always be finding opportunities, but if we look at the market as a whole, it's not a market with abundant opportunity.

SEE ALSO: We talked to the most bullish Apple analyst on Wall Street about the iPhone 8, AR and China (AAPL)

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Police Confirm North Korean Connection in Bitcoin Exchange Phishing

CoinDesk, 1/1/0001 12:00 AM PST

Law enforcement officials have confirmed that hackers from North Korea sought to steal bitcoins from exchanges in South Korea.

Airlines shares are popping after the collapse of Monarch

Business Insider, 1/1/0001 12:00 AM PST

easyjet_01

LONDON — Shares in UK listed airlines are popping on Monday as investors react to news that Britain's fifth largest carrier, Monarch Airlines, has ceased operations.

Monarch has gone into administration after failing to secure its financial future over the weekend. It is the largest ever UK airline collapse.

All future flights have been immediately cancelled, affecting an estimated 300,000 bookings.

Shares in other airlines are substantially higher as traders sense an opportunity for other carriers to grow market share on the back of Monarch's collapse.

Neil Wilson, a senior market analyst with ETX Capital, says in an emailed statement: "The failure of Monarch is good news for rivals. Shares in Ryanair and EasyJet both rose about 3% in early trading as the market reacted to the news of the demise of Monarch after 50 years in business. IAG and Lufthansa were both about 2% higher."

Three of the four airlines which are larger than Monarch — British Airways, easyJet, and Flybe — are publicly traded and have seen shares jump. The fourth, Jet2, is in private ownership.

Europe's largest airline by passenger traffic, Ryanair, has also seen big gains on Monday morning. Ryanair is headquartered in Ireland, but listed on the London Stock Exchange.

Here's how International Consolidated Airlines Group — the parent of British Airways — looks as of around 9.20 a.m. BST (4.20 a.m. ET):

BA oct 1

And here's how easyJet, Flybe, and Ryanair are trading on Monday morning:

EasyJet Oct 1

Screen Shot 2017 10 02 at 09.09.54

Screen Shot 2017 10 02 at 09.07.08

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Spiralling rents mean Britain's private landlords earn £54 billion a year — while homeowners spend half as much on mortgages

Business Insider, 1/1/0001 12:00 AM PST

For sale signs in Ealing, west London, 2015.

LONDON — Growing rents and a sharp rise in the number of people renting homes means private landlords are earning ever-increasing sums from renters, and deepening a financial division between those who own a home and those who don't.

Estate agents Savills said landlords earned £54 billion in the year to June, according to a Times report — twice the total amount of interest homeowners paid on their mortgages, who currently benefit from record-low interest rates.

The private rental figure is up by £14 billion in five years, and represents a 35% increase from a 21% rise in the number of homes, Savills said.

The revenue is driven largely by the vast numbers of millennials who cannot afford to buy a property and are forced to pay increasingly expensive rents.

Around 5.3 million UK households are privately rented, of which those aged between 25 and 34 form the largest group at 1.5 million, according to government figures.

The chronic shortage of UK housing is currently an important political issue. Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn last week pledged to introduce rent caps if he becomes prime minister, and Theresa May pledged a further £10 billion for the government's Help-to-Buy scheme which helps first-time buyers to purchase homes.

Lucian Cook, head of residential research at Savills, told the Times that high rents in London could push graduates away and threaten the city's competitiveness.

"The risk is that this starts to become a threat to London’s competitiveness to attract young people into the city," he said.

 

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Euro drops after Catalan leader says the region has 'won the right' to independence

Business Insider, 1/1/0001 12:00 AM PST

Catalan referendum

LONDON — The euro is lower on Monday morning amid jitters about the political situation in Spain.

The Spanish region of Catalonia attempted to hold a much-contested independence referendum on Sunday and Catalonia's leadership has declared the region has "won the right" to independence.

"With this day of hope and suffering, the citizens of Catalonia have won the right to an independent state in the form of a republic," Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont said in a televised statement.

"My government in the next few days will send the results of today's vote to the Catalan parliament, where the sovereignty of our people lies, so that it can act in accordance with the law of the referendum."

Catalan officials claimed that around 90% of votes cast were for independence with a turnout of around 43%. Citizens who favour independence were far more likely to turn out to vote, while those who do not are more likely to have stayed at home.

Spain's central government does not recognise the referendum, with Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy saying it made a "mockery" of democracy.

"At this hour I can tell you in the strongest terms what you already know and what we have seen throughout this day. There has not been a referendum on self-determination in Catalonia," Rajoy told the press.

Regardless of its legitimacy, the euro is falling. The single currency is down by more than 0.5% against the dollar as of 8.25 a.m. BST (3.25 a.m. ET) on Monday morning, falling below the $1.18 mark.

euro oct 1

That fall reflects fears that prolonged political strife in Spain could threaten the stability of the eurozone. Spain is the fourth largest eurozone economy.

Sunday's referendum was marred by violent scenes as police were ordered to confiscate ballot boxes and prevent people from voting. Videos surfaced of officers forcibly dragging would-be voters from polling stations, including women and the elderly.

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A Catalonian split from Spain could be even worse than Brexit

Business Insider, 1/1/0001 12:00 AM PST

Catalonia Catalan Independance Rally Flags

  • Catalonians voted heavily in favour of a split from the rest of Spain in a referendum on Sunday.
  • Most discusssion of a potential "Catalexit" has focused on the political and cultural consequences.
  • Dutch bank ING looks at the potential economic impacts of the region cutting ties with Spain.
  • Impacts on the economy could "proportionally exceed" those of Brexit as the region would automatically drop out of the EU.

LONDON — If the Spanish region of Catalonia breaks away from Spain in a so-called "Catalexit", it would plunge the region into a long period of uncertainty and could end up having negative effects that "proportionally exceed" those of Brexit according to Dutch bank ING.

The region has engaged in a long battle to preserve its cultural identity. Catalonia held a referendum on Sunday to vote on independence, with around 90% of those who voted backing a split from the rest of the country. Turnout was 43%. 

"With this day of hope and suffering, the citizens of Catalonia have won the right to an independent state in the form of a republic," Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont said in a televised statement.

"My government in the next few days will send the results of today's vote to the Catalan parliament, where the sovereignty of our people lies, so that it can act in accordance with the law of the referendum."

Spain's central government does not recognise the outcome of the vote, or even that the vote was in any way legitimate.

SEE ALSO: Euro drops after Catalan leader says the region has 'won the right' to independence

But what will happen if Catalonia does declare independence from Spain?

"As with Brexit, we believe that any Catalexit would plunge the region into a long period of uncertainty and would most probably be negative for the private sector," ING economist Geoffrey Minne writes in the note titled "Catalonia: the cost of being single."

The movement for Catalan independence is largely a political one, with campaigners arguing that for Catalonia to prosper and maintain its traditions for the future they must be separate from Spain. However, the economics of a "Catalexit" must be examined too, ING argues.

A fall in consumption among Catalan households is the most obvious and immediate likely impact of Catalonian secession, ING says.

"The starting point when analysing the effect of Catalexit on consumer behaviour is the uncertainty it generates. A recent poll conducted by Metroscopia showed that 62% of respondents in Catalonia said they were “worried” about the future of their region, compared to 31% who said they were 'excited'," the note argues.

"There is only one step between worries and precautionary saving and if about two-thirds of all consumers decide to moderate consumption then this would dent private demand. If worries turn into panic then there could also be a run on the banks and capital controls."

Consumer uncertainty would be followed by uncertainty around business investments in the region, Minne suggests, saying: "For business investment, uncertainty might even be more important than for consumers as any perception of political instability could affect foreign investment far more than local investment."

DON'T MISS: This map shows the European regions fighting to achieve independence

Declaring independence from Spain would automatically mean that Catalonia would have to leave the European Union, which would inevitably cause issues around its membership of the European Single Market.

"Most foreign companies, as well as Catalan ones, fear falling out of the European single market," Minne writes. "A consequence would be that investment could be delayed or redirected outside the region."

"Probably the most impacted companies are those exporting to the EU. The EU accounted for 65% of exports and 70% of foreign investment in Catalonia over the last three years," Minne continues, citing the chart below:Screen Shot 2017 09 01 at 16.26.12Minne argues in conclusion that "the economic cost for Catalonia could proportionally exceed that of Brexit for the UK."

"All in all, building up the Catalan Republic turns out to be an expensive project and the bulk of the costs that could be cut depend on the goodwill of European governments (the Spanish one included).

"It remains difficult to evaluate the consequences of such an unprecedented event, but in the long run we can imagine that the economic cost for Catalonia could proportionally exceed that of Brexit for the UK."

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30 emergency planes chartered to rescue 110,000 people stranded by the collapse of Monarch

Business Insider, 1/1/0001 12:00 AM PST

A Monarch Airlines passenger aircraft prepares for take off from Gatwick Airport in southern England, Britain, October 9, 2016.

LONDON — The UK's Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) is launching the biggest repatriation effort of Brits abroad since the Second World War after the collapse of Monarch Airlines over the weekend.

Monarch, which flies to the Mediterranean and other hot weather destinations such as Egypt, collapsed into administration on Sunday after over a year of financial difficulty. It is the biggest-ever UK airline collapse.

All future Monarch flights have been cancelled, affecting an estimated 300,000 bookings, and an estimated 110,000 holidaymakers who flew away with Monarch have been left stranded abroad.

The UK government has asked the CAA to coordinate flights back to the UK for those affected due to the "unprecedented" situation. The CAA is chartering 30 aircraft to bring back citizens within the next fortnight from over 30 airports.

Andrew Haines, CEO of the CAA, said in a statement on Monday: "We are putting together, at very short notice and for a period of two weeks, what is effectively one of the UK's largest airlines to manage this task.

"The scale and challenge of this operation means that some disruption is inevitable. We ask customers to bear with us as we work around the clock to bring everyone home."

There will be no extra cost to anyone affected. The CAA is asking all Monarch customers to check the website monarch.caa.co.uk for details. The CAA has also set up a 24-hour helpline — 0300 303 2800 from in the UK and Ireland, and +44 1753 330330 from overseas.

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Monarch Airlines has gone bust and is cancelling 300,000 bookings

Business Insider, 1/1/0001 12:00 AM PST

Aircraft of British carrier Monarch is parked on the apron at Larnaca airport, Cyprus November 7, 2015. Eleven empty British airliners are on standby in Cyprus and might be used to fly home thousands of tourists stranded in Egypt's Sharm al-Sheikh, airport authorities in the Mediterranean island said on Saturday.

LONDON — Monarch Airlines has gone into administration after failing to secure its financial future over the weekend.

Monarch, one of the UK's oldest airlines, announced it was ceasing trading on Sunday. All future flights have been immediately cancelled, affecting an estimated 300,000 bookings according to the BBC.

110,000 passengers are now stranded abroad as a result of Monarch's administration and the UK's Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) is stepping in to put on emergency flights to bring people home — the biggest post-war time repatriation effort in Britain.

Rumours of financial trouble at Monarch first surfaced in September last year but the airline strongly denied it was in trouble. The airline received a funding injection shortly after but has failed to turn things around. Monarch lost £291 million in the year to October 2016.

Monarch, based in Luton, was founded in 1967 and ran flights to the Mediterranean.

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10 things you need to know in markets today

Business Insider, 1/1/0001 12:00 AM PST

catalonia vote indepedence

Good Morning! Here's what you need to know on Monday.

1. Monarch Airlines has ceased trading and all future bookings have been cancelled, the Civil Aviation Authority said on Monday. Monarch is the UK's fifth biggest airline and has been struggling financially in recent months. Around 110,000 passengers booked on Monarch flights are currently abroad, and the government is believed to have asked the CAA to charter aircraft to ensure those people can get home.

2. Prime Minister Theresa May told the BBC on Sunday that her government is drawing up plans in case there is "no deal" post-Brexit when the Article 50 negotiating period comes to an end in March 2019.  "We are recognizing …. government is working on what it would need to put in place if there was no deal, what we’re also working on is ensuring we get a deal, that we get the right deal, for the United Kingdom," she said on the Andrew Marr Show.

3. Hundreds of people were injured during ugly scenes in Catalonia as the region’s citizens tried to vote in an independence referendum on Sunday. The Spanish government regarded the vote as an illegal act and ordered its Guardia Civil to shut down polling stations early on Sunday.

4. Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont declared late on Sunday evening that Catalonia has won the right to independence, regardless of the violence witnessed earlier in the day. "With this day of hope and suffering, the citizens of Catalonia have won the right to an independent state in the form a republic," he said in a televised address. 90% of those who voted, voted for independence, officials said.

5. The euro has slipped significantly on the developments around the referendum. The single took a knock in Asian trade as investors kept an anxious eye on an independence vote in Spain's Catalonia, although surprisingly strong economic news out of China offered support to equities and commodities. As of 6.50 a.m. BST (1.50 a.m. ET) the euro is lower by close to 0.5% to trade at $1.1763.

6. President Donald Trump reportedly instructed his staff to portray him as "crazy" to get more out of trade negotiations with South Korea. Trump gave the advice to his top trade negotiator, Robert Lighthizer, during an Oval Office meeting with top officials in September, according to an Axios report on Sunday that cited people familiar with the conversation.

7. Apple is investigating reports of its new iPhone bursting open, days after the flagship device went on sale. Pictures on social media showed an iPhone 8 Plus handset that appeared to have split alongside the side. Apple confirmed it was "looking into" two reports of the issue but declined to comment further.

8. The lack of price volatility in markets has investors mired in a sea of complacency, which has them ignoring potential risks, says Societe Generale. "Compare that with dancing on the rim of a volcano," a group of SocGen strategists led by Alain Bokobza, the firm's head of global asset allocation, wrote in a client note. "If there is a sudden eruption (of volatility) you get badly burned."

9. Facebook said it plans on Monday to turn over to the U.S. Congress copies of some 3,000 ads that the social network says were bought on Facebook likely by people in Russia in the months before and after the 2016 U.S. election. Last month, in response to calls from U.S. lawmakers, Facebook Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg pledged to hand over the ads to congressional investigators who are looking into alleged Russian involvement in the U.S. presidential election

10. Oil prices edged lower on Monday in early Asian trading, pausing for breath after posting gains of as much as 20% in the third quarter, after a survey pointed to a slight increase in OPEC production in September. The U.S. benchmark on Friday posted its strongest quarterly gain since the second quarter of 2016 and the longest streak of weekly gains since January.

And finally … JPMorgan is teaching underprivileged kids about entrepreneurialism to create the next generation of bankers. On Friday the bank launched the second year of its Schools Challenge, a programme designed to help teach kids from underprivileged areas about business and entrepreneurialism, with the hope that some will end up working for the bank.

SEE ALSO: The 10 things before the markets open archive

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