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It looks like billionaire investor Nelson Peltz might have won the biggest proxy battle in history after a recount (PG)

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

Nelson Peltz

  • Nelson Peltz appears to have won his proxy battle for a seat on Procter & Gamble's board.
  • In October, Peltz was initially reported to have lost the proxy vote by a slim margin.
  • Now, a recount shows Peltz actually won by 43,000 votes — a 0.002% margin.


A little over a month ago, it looked like billionaire investor Nelson Peltz had been foiled in the biggest proxy battle in history.

Now, after a recount, it looks like Peltz may have won his bid to claim a seat on the board of the $236 billion giant Procter & Gamble after all. 

CNBC and The Wall Street Journal are reporting that Peltz, the founder of the $14 billion hedge fund Trian Partners, won the recount by a slim 43,000 votes — a 0.002% margin.

The billionaire investor, who has an estimated net worth of $1.65 billion, had been trying to shake up P&G since announcing a $3.5 billion stake in February. He was nominated to the board in July.

The two companies spent some $100 million on the campaign to win over shareholders, 40% of which are individual retail investors, according to Reuters.

Peltz was considered a favorite to win one of the 11 board seats up for a vote since he had the backing of the three top shareholder advisory firms that recommend how mutual funds cast their vote, according to Reuters.

After the preliminary results were released in October showing Peltz had been defeated, P&G CEO David Taylor said he was pleased but suggested he would welcome Peltz to the board if the recount yielded a different tally.

"We will honor the wishes of the shareholder. We've always said this," Taylor told CNBC at the time.

P&G is up 3% in after hours trading

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STOCKS TAKE A DIVE: Here's what you need to know

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

diving board swimming pool

US stocks slipped for a second straight day as weakness in commodities dragged raw-material producers lower.

The S&P 500 and the Dow Jones Industrial Average lost 0.6%, while the more tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite index all fell 0.5%.

First up, the scoreboard:

  • Dow: 23,271.28, -138.19, (-0.59%)
  • S&P 500: 2,564.62, -14.25, (-0.55%)
  • Nasdaq: 6,706.21, -31.66, (-0.47%)
  • US 10-year yield: 2.34%, -0.05
  • WTI crude oil: $55.24, -0.46, -0.83%

1. Stocks are flashing an ominous signal not seen since the financial crisis. Investment manager John Hussman points out that stock market dispersion is widening, while two technical indicators known as the Hindenburg Omen and Titanic Syndrome flashed sell.

2. America's investing giants have a major problem with the GOP tax plan. A little-publicized provision of the bill would force clients of investment management firms to sell their oldest shares first when cashing out of positions.

3. Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway loads up on Apple. The firm raised its stake in Apple by 3%, to 134 million outstanding shares in the third quarter.

4. A $20 billion investment firm is betting big on Wall Street’s hottest tech stocks. Billionaire Chase Coleman's Tiger Global Management has increased its bets on Amazon, Facebook, Alibaba, and Alphabet.

5. People are underrating the odds of a government shutdown in December. Business Insider's Josh Barro says that while President Donald Trump and congressional leaders prevented one fairly easily in September, it will be different in December.

ADDITIONALLY:

China is about to take the entire global economy for a wild ride

Every US state's most important international trading partners

The CEO of a $740 million email company that just IPOed explains what it takes to go public

Nike and Adidas are trying opposite strategies to dominate the US

An anecdote about Elon Musk and Tesla's big-rig reveals why people are obsessed with his company

Elon Musk calls investors who bet against Tesla's stocks 'jerks who want us to die'

Steven Mnuchin just showed off the first dollar bills with his signature — and the internet is having a field day

SEE ALSO: THE HINDENBURG MEETS THE TITANIC: Stocks are flashing an ominous signal not seen since the financial crisis

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Acorda Therapeutics crashes 40% after patients die in drug trial (ACOR)

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

acorda therapeutics stock price

  • Acorda Therapeutics, a drugmaker, plunged around 40% after patients died during the company's Parkinson's disease drug trial, according to Bloomberg's Natasha Rausch.
  • Seven patients in the trial, which was in the final stages, developed a severe infection called sepsis, and five died.
  • The company said it would stop adding new patients to the trial.
  • It said it has no hypothesis yet for how the patients died, but four of the patients that developed sepsis also developed a condition called agranulocytosis, where white-blood cells disappear from the body, which can be linked to the drug.
  • Shares were up 50% for the year before the drop on Wednesday.
  • Read Bloomberg's full story here.

CHECK OUT: Acorda's live stock price here.

Join the conversation about this story »

NOW WATCH: $6 TRILLION INVESTMENT CHIEF: Bitcoin is a bubble

Brokerage Chief: Bitcoin Futures Must Be Quarantined

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

A well-known electronic brokerage firm is issuing dire warnings against the CME Group's plan to launch a bitcoin futures contract next month.

Zimbabwe Coup Could Spike Bitcoin Price Even Higher on Domestic Exchanges

CryptoCoins News, 1/1/0001 12:00 AM PST

[…]

The post Zimbabwe Coup Could Spike Bitcoin Price Even Higher on Domestic Exchanges appeared first on CryptoCoinsNews.

The CEO of a $740 million email company that just IPOed explains what it takes to go public (SEND)

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

SendGrid IPO stock exchange bell NYSE

  • Email marketing company SendGrid went public Wednesday morning, raising $131 million.
  • Shares priced at $16 and rose above $18 by Wednesday afternoon.
  • CEO Sameer Dholakia spoke with Business Insider about what it took to get the company to this point.


If you’ve ever reserved a night through Airbnb, a meal through OpenTable, or received a list of personalized song suggestions from Spotify, chances are that email came via a little known Denver-based startup called SendGrid.

SendGrid, which graduated from the TechStars accelerator back in 2009, just went public on the the New York Stock Exchange Wednesday morning, raising $131 million to continue its quest for inbox domination.

Business Insider caught up with CEO Sameer Dholakia just a few hours after he and his colleagues rang the opening bell to celebrate the initial public offering. He says the process was exhausting, but that he's looking forward to the next chapter after being a private company for eight years.

"It’s been insane but also insanely fun," Dholakia said by phone of the pre-IPO process. "What's hard is your days are stacked. You start at 7:30 in the morning and are going until the last meeting ends late in the evening. You're probably in at least two cities on any given day, sometimes three. It's certainly not for the faint of heart."

His work appears to have paid off. In its first day of trading, SendGrid opened at $18.55, or roughly 16% above the $16 IPO price.

Prior to its IPO, SendGrid raised over $80 million in venture funding from Bain Capital, Bessemer Ventures, Highway 12 Ventures and the Foundry Group. The company is already profitable by its own non-GAAP measures, Dhollakia says, and raked in about $100 million of revenue in the last year.

Dholakia and SendGrid co-founder Isaac Saldana own 1.51% and 4.38% of the company respectfully, according to SEC filings. That could easily make both founders into millionaires, depending on the stock’s price after the SEC's lockup period expires, and if they decide to sell any of their shares.

2017 has been a hot year for IPOs around the world

20 tech companies went public around the world in the third quarter of 2017, according to PwC data. In the US, however, fortunes haven’t been as bright.

Of the notable US tech IPOs this year, both Snap and Blue Apron have seen their stock prices decline sharply since going public. Video streaming company Roku, on the other hand, has seen its stock price more than double since it’s September IPO.

As for his favorite emails to read each morning, Dholakia says he loves The Hustle, a daily newsletter of tech news and entrepreneurial inspiration.

"I think email will outlive us all," Dholakia said. "It is an extraordinarily efficient channel of communication. I deeply believe it remains the center of gravity for digital communication. For many of us, we change home addresses more frequently than our personal email address."

Join the conversation about this story »

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A $20 billion investment firm is betting big on Wall Street’s hottest tech stocks (NFLX)

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

Reed Hastings Netflix

  • Tiger Global Management has increased its holdings of tech giants including Netflix, Amazon, Alphabet and more. 
  • The positions are from a public document known as a 13F, which funds must file every quarter. 


Billionaire Chase Coleman's Tiger Global Management has increased its bets on some of Wall Street’s hottest tech stocks, according to documents filed Tuesday.

Among the fund’s $14.6 billion worth of holdings disclosed for third quarter of 2017 was a 711% increase in shares of Netflix — which now makes up $553.8 million of the fund’s portfolio.

According to the 13F, Tiger also made the following tech sector moves during last quarter, according to analysis by Bloomberg:

  • Increased its Amazon holdings by 24% to 1.54 million shares, worth $1.48 billion
  • Increased its Facebook holdings by 240% to 1.81 million shares, worth $308.8 million
  • Increased its Alibaba holdings by 4.4% to 4.54 million shares, worth $783.5 million
  • Sold off all its shares of Alphabet A and C shares, worth a combined $66.4 million.

The quarterly filing, called a 13F, lists the long stock positions of investment firms. The positions are current as of 45 days prior, so it is possible that Tiger Global has since changed its positions. 

Tiger Global Management invests in private and public markets and manages about $20 billion firmwide. The firm managed $5.9 billion in hedge fund assets as of mid-year 2016, according to the Hedge Fund Intelligence Billion Dollar Club ranking. 

This post has been updated to more accurately reflect the firm's total disclosed holdings for the first quarter.

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NOW WATCH: I spent a day trying to pay for things with bitcoin and a bar of gold

Nike and Adidas are trying opposite strategies to dominate the US (NKE)

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

Nike

  • Nike and Adidas are two of the small number of retail companies faring well in the retail apocalypse.
  • But, the companies disagree on whether to reach their customers through scale or quality.
  • Watch Nike's stock price move in real time here.


Amid an ongoing retail apocalypse, athletic fashion companies like Adidas and Nike have stood out as bright spots, faring better than malls and department stores. But, the brands have been fiercely battling each other to expand their shares of the athleisure and sneaker markets and they have very different ideas about how to do that.

Nike's plan to outmaneuver the competition involves a "massive transformation" according to CEO Matt Parker. A big part of Nike's plan involves improving how it presents itself to its customers and focusing on the perceived quality of the brand. Nike decided to cut back its number of retail partners from 30,000 to just 40 as a part of its transformation. The ones remaining are willing to work with Nike to offer unique branded experiences for the company's products.

Adidas, on the other hand, is taking an entirely different approach, instead focusing on scale. The company's CFO, Harm Ohlmeyer, talked with UBS about how it wants to try to get on as many US shelves as possible.

'The focus in North America remains firmly on winning market share for the adidas brand as a way of creating scale-based leverage, ahead of driving profitability outright," Fred Speirs, an analyst at UBS, said in a note about meeting Ohlmeyer.

Speirs said Adidas is balancing its long-term ambitions to capture as much market share as possible with short-term demands from shareholders. Speirs notes, however, that the sporting goods market is especially fickle and subject to changing brand popularity.

A waning grasp of customers' preferences is what led Nike to rethink its strategy. Jordan shoes, one of Nike's biggest brands, is a good example. The brand lost its crown as the undisputed king of the sneaker market because Nike's production process was too slow and the presentation wasn't quite right.

Nike has grown its share price 9.21% this year and was trading around $56.74 Wednesday afternon. Adidas has risen 23.05%.

Read more about Nike's massive transformation.

nike stock price

SEE ALSO: Nike is trying a 'massive transformation' in order to stay relevant

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NOW WATCH: $6 TRILLION INVESTMENT CHIEF: Bitcoin is a bubble

Square Cash App Lets Users Trade Bitcoin Amidst Price Surge

CryptoCoins News, 1/1/0001 12:00 AM PST

[…]

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Elon Musk told his kids that short sellers are 'jerks who want us to die'

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

Elon Musk

  • Rolling Stone is out with a massive profile of Tesla founder Elon Musk, and it's pretty personal.
  • Musk's company has come under attack from short sellers who say, correctly, that it doesn't turn a profit.
  • Musk called those people lying "jerks" and explained to his children that they "want us to die."

Elon Musk has feelings, and you'll see a lot of them in Rolling Stone's profile of the billionaire founder of Tesla and Space X in it's profile of him published Wednesday.

In it, reporter Neil Strauss describes a pretty vulnerable moment in which Musk explains to his children why some "jerks" (people on Wall Street) are shorting Tesla's stock. 

The way the short sellers tell it, Musk is doing nothing more than burning cash and selling empty promises. 

Indeed the company's last earnings call showed that Tesla's highly anticipated Model 3 was still behind schedule, and that it would have to pull resources from its other models to ramp up manufacturing. It also showed that the company posted a bigger loss than any other quarter in its history. 

Some stats:

  • Adjusted loss per share: -$2.92 (-$2.23 expected).
  • Revenue: $2.98 billion ($2.39 billion expected).
  • Free cash flow: -$1.4 billion (-$1.2 billion expected).

Of course, to Musk, these problems are not simply academic — not simply about the logic of investing. Tesla's his company, and according to this Rolling Stone piece he's clearly taking things personally.

From the piece:

..."I'm looking at the short losses," Musk says, transfixed by CNBC on his iPhone. He speaks to his kids without looking up. "Guys, check this out: Tesla has the highest short position in the entire stock market. A $9 billion short position."

His children lean over the phone, looking at a table full of numbers that I don't understand. So his 13-year-old, Griffin, explains it to me: "They're betting that the stock goes down, and they're getting money off that. But it went up high, so they lost an insane amount of money."

"They're jerks who want us to die," Musk elaborates. "They're constantly trying to make up false rumors and amplify any negative rumors. It's a really big incentive to lie and attack my integrity. It's really awful. It's..."

He trails off, as he often does when preoccupied by a thought. I try to help: "Unethical?"

"It's..." He shakes his head and struggles for the right word, then says softly, "Hurtful."

You've got to read this whole thing.

Check out the Rolling Stone story here.

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NOW WATCH: We just got a super smart and simple explanation of what a bitcoin fork actually is

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.

It's not looking good for Wall Street traders.

According to an annual survey by Wall Street recruiting firm Options Grouptotal compensation for fixed income and equities professionals in the US will be down 7% from last year, on average. You can read more about the report here.

In related news, a color-coded chart shows which finance jobs are in demand — and where Wall Street is headed. And Citigroup hired a former Goldman Sachs banker to cover a booming Wall Street business.

Elsewhere on Wall Street, America's investing giants have a major problem with the GOP tax plan. And Gary Cohn had an awkward moment when CEOs appeared to shoot down one of the biggest arguments for the GOP tax plan.

And Richard Cordray, who has helmed the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau since 2012, announced he would step down as the director of the consumer watchdog at the end of the month.

In macro news, the Fed is starting to pay closer attention to the other America. The retail apocalypse is killing jobs, and it's left "the economy vulnerable to an adverse shock." And President Trump is reportedly considering Allianz' Mohamed El-Erian for a post at the Fed.

In crypto news, a Chicago trading firm is setting up shop in Singapore to dominate the bitcoin market in Asia. The chairman of Interactive Brokers warned that bitcoin futures could "destabilize the real economy." And a Sequoia Capital partner told us why he's not scared of blockchain startups.

And elsewhere in fintech, Betterment, the investing startup with $11 billion in assets, is rolling out a new service to make charitable giving easier.

In markets news:

Lastly, these are the most extravagant hotel amenities money can buy.

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New “Semi-Decentralized” Cryptocurrency Exchange Navigates Murky Compliance Waters

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

New “Semi-Decentralized” Cryptocurrency Exchange Navigates Murky Compliance Waters

Tetra, a new entrant in the cryptocurrency exchange sector, describes itself as a semi-decentralized, peer-to-peer exchange with an emphasis on security and usability: “Tetra will help create the next wave of cryptocoin adoption which will benefit all cryptocurrency users from investors to traders to businesses.”

The term “peer-to-peer exchange” tends to suggest the idea of a strong emphasis on privacy and anonymity, as well as a certain level of disdain for Know-Your-Customer (KYC) rules, meddling regulators and authorities. According to Tetra’s blog post announcement, however, it appears that its approach is at odds with this philosophy:

Tetra understands the importance of practices like KYC and has devoted the resources necessary to implement these processes properly. Users will be able to trade safely with the comfort of knowing that due diligence has been enacted to protect them from potential repercussions.

“You may have heard the terrifying accounts of people receiving prison sentences for trading cryptocurrencies on peer-to-peer exchanges,” adds the main Tetra website. “With Tetra, that is a thing of the past. Route your payments through our fully compliant banking network for a legally sound trading process. We're relieving traders of the burden of obtaining expensive licenses and adhering to cumbersome regulations in order to allow people to focus on what matters: their trades.”

While this sounds appealing to compliance-conscious cryptocurrency users and traders, the self-description of Tetra as a “semi-decentralized P2P” raises questions. In a Reddit discussion, a Tetra representative admits that Tetra is a centralized service, but states that the exchange operates using a decentralized transaction model so that the operators never have control over users’ coins directly, and thus hackers do not have access to users’ coins.

In communication with Bitcoin Magazine, Patrick O'Brien and CTO of Tetra Exchange, confirmed this practice.

"Tetra is called a semi-decentralized exchange because Tetra customers maintain control over their own private keys. Customer funds are never stored on our centralized servers, users store their funds in their own client-side wallets which are built into the Tetra software, and transact through our system by utilizing the Bitcoin network's multi-signature transaction architecture.”

He explained that Tetra is described as a peer-to-peer exchange because users are trading with other individuals, and not with Tetra or against a Tetra orderbook as they would in a traditional exchange.

“To elaborate further, this means that when customers are interested in making escrow payments they will participate in a multi-signature transaction, with the third party and ourselves as signing authorities,” continued O'Brien.

“In the event of a dispute we can co-operate with either side to move the funds where they need to go, and in the event of a successful transaction both sides can agree to release the funds. All of this is accomplished without us ever having direct control over the flow of money as would be the case in a traditional exchange.”

International Compliance Issues

Based in British Columbia, Canada, Tetra plans to operate globally with no restrictions, unless forced to by law. When a Reddit user suggested that Tetra is advising traders to flaunt U.S. money transmission laws, the Tetra representative answered that the exchange is not “ignoring U.S. laws and pretending it's Canadian law while intending to operate in the U.S.”

He added that the exchange takes compliance very seriously and stated that Tetra is circling back to their lawyers for advice.

However, as the Reddit thread continues to point out, there still remains a number of compliance and personal privacy concerns related to the company’s KYC measures that U.S. users should be especially wary of, depending on the particular state requirements where they live.

Some states are stricter than others, too. Always [know] one's own jurisdictional rules/laws and not rely on what is "too good to be true." - coin_trader_LBC

User Experience and Security

Leaving aside the P2P interpretation and the potential compliance minefield, it’s worth noting that Tetra emphasizes easy usability and security as strong competitive advantages in the cryptocurrency exchange market.

“[The] Tetra app and web platform will create a simple experience for users,” reads the announcement, adding that users won’t need to know about public key cryptography and smart contracts. “This approach will enable a new generation of users to enter the cryptocurrency space and with that bring new investors, new clients for dapps and crypto-based businesses, and in general make a great stride towards mainstream adoption that will enable the positioning of cryptocurrencies as true world-currencies.”

The Tetra platform uses multisig escrow and intends to automate all aspects of the trading process to provide “incredibly secure and worry-free trading” with 2-of-2 and 2-of-3 P2SH multi-signature transactions, smart contracts and encryption of all communications.

Of course, Tetra is hardly the only exchange to focus on easy usability and security, and, in fact similar measures are adopted by many exchanges today. What really seems to differentiate Tetra from many other exchanges is the fact that Tetra is explicitly targeting professional traders and cryptocurrency trading businesses that need to streamline multiple trades, by offering an easy user experience to their customers and presenting themselves as fully compliant with regulations.

"The goal here is to facilitate the growth of fiat to crypto on-ramps and off-ramps, and we do this by encouraging people to operate trading businesses on our platform," O'Brien told Bitcoin Magazine.

“The features outlined so far culminate to satisfy business needs; by ensuring customers have a completely secure, legally safe, and easy to use platform Tetra will allow businesses to thrive in an otherwise hostile environment,” concludes the announcement.

The first public release of the Tetra platform and apps, currently available to alpha testers, will support Bitcoin, Ethereum, Litecoin and Dash. Other cryptocurrencies that support multisig transactions are planned for the future. The platform will begin its roll out in the U.S., Canada and Australia.

To professional traders and businesses, Tetra offers a paid service dubbed Tetra Prime, with support for online and “brick-and-mortar” business storefronts, as well as trade matching and analytics to optimize trading profiles.

The post New “Semi-Decentralized” Cryptocurrency Exchange Navigates Murky Compliance Waters appeared first on Bitcoin Magazine.

New “Semi-Decentralized” Cryptocurrency Exchange Navigates Murky Compliance Waters

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

New “Semi-Decentralized” Cryptocurrency Exchange Navigates Murky Compliance Waters

Tetra, a new entrant in the cryptocurrency exchange sector, describes itself as a semi-decentralized, peer-to-peer exchange with an emphasis on security and usability: “Tetra will help create the next wave of cryptocoin adoption which will benefit all cryptocurrency users from investors to traders to businesses.”

The term “peer-to-peer exchange” tends to suggest the idea of a strong emphasis on privacy and anonymity, as well as a certain level of disdain for Know-Your-Customer (KYC) rules, meddling regulators and authorities. According to Tetra’s blog post announcement, however, it appears that its approach is at odds with this philosophy:

Tetra understands the importance of practices like KYC and has devoted the resources necessary to implement these processes properly. Users will be able to trade safely with the comfort of knowing that due diligence has been enacted to protect them from potential repercussions.

“You may have heard the terrifying accounts of people receiving prison sentences for trading cryptocurrencies on peer-to-peer exchanges,” adds the main Tetra website. “With Tetra, that is a thing of the past. Route your payments through our fully compliant banking network for a legally sound trading process. We're relieving traders of the burden of obtaining expensive licenses and adhering to cumbersome regulations in order to allow people to focus on what matters: their trades.”

While this sounds appealing to compliance-conscious cryptocurrency users and traders, the self-description of Tetra as a “semi-decentralized P2P” raises questions. In a Reddit discussion, a Tetra representative admits that Tetra is a centralized service, but states that the exchange operates using a decentralized transaction model so that the operators never have control over users’ coins directly, and thus hackers do not have access to users’ coins.

In communication with Bitcoin Magazine, Patrick O'Brien and CTO of Tetra Exchange, confirmed this practice.

"Tetra is called a semi-decentralized exchange because Tetra customers maintain control over their own private keys. Customer funds are never stored on our centralized servers, users store their funds in their own client-side wallets which are built into the Tetra software, and transact through our system by utilizing the Bitcoin network's multi-signature transaction architecture.”

He explained that Tetra is described as a peer-to-peer exchange because users are trading with other individuals, and not with Tetra or against a Tetra orderbook as they would in a traditional exchange.

“To elaborate further, this means that when customers are interested in making escrow payments they will participate in a multi-signature transaction, with the third party and ourselves as signing authorities,” continued O'Brien.

“In the event of a dispute we can co-operate with either side to move the funds where they need to go, and in the event of a successful transaction both sides can agree to release the funds. All of this is accomplished without us ever having direct control over the flow of money as would be the case in a traditional exchange.”

International Compliance Issues

Based in British Columbia, Canada, Tetra plans to operate globally with no restrictions, unless forced to by law. When a Reddit user suggested that Tetra is advising traders to flaunt U.S. money transmission laws, the Tetra representative answered that the exchange is not “ignoring U.S. laws and pretending it's Canadian law while intending to operate in the U.S.”

He added that the exchange takes compliance very seriously and stated that Tetra is circling back to their lawyers for advice.

However, as the Reddit thread continues to point out, there still remains a number of compliance and personal privacy concerns related to the company’s KYC measures that U.S. users should be especially wary of, depending on the particular state requirements where they live.

Some states are stricter than others, too. Always [know] one's own jurisdictional rules/laws and not rely on what is "too good to be true." - coin_trader_LBC

User Experience and Security

Leaving aside the P2P interpretation and the potential compliance minefield, it’s worth noting that Tetra emphasizes easy usability and security as strong competitive advantages in the cryptocurrency exchange market.

“[The] Tetra app and web platform will create a simple experience for users,” reads the announcement, adding that users won’t need to know about public key cryptography and smart contracts. “This approach will enable a new generation of users to enter the cryptocurrency space and with that bring new investors, new clients for dapps and crypto-based businesses, and in general make a great stride towards mainstream adoption that will enable the positioning of cryptocurrencies as true world-currencies.”

The Tetra platform uses multisig escrow and intends to automate all aspects of the trading process to provide “incredibly secure and worry-free trading” with 2-of-2 and 2-of-3 P2SH multi-signature transactions, smart contracts and encryption of all communications.

Of course, Tetra is hardly the only exchange to focus on easy usability and security, and, in fact similar measures are adopted by many exchanges today. What really seems to differentiate Tetra from many other exchanges is the fact that Tetra is explicitly targeting professional traders and cryptocurrency trading businesses that need to streamline multiple trades, by offering an easy user experience to their customers and presenting themselves as fully compliant with regulations.

"The goal here is to facilitate the growth of fiat to crypto on-ramps and off-ramps, and we do this by encouraging people to operate trading businesses on our platform," O'Brien told Bitcoin Magazine.

“The features outlined so far culminate to satisfy business needs; by ensuring customers have a completely secure, legally safe, and easy to use platform Tetra will allow businesses to thrive in an otherwise hostile environment,” concludes the announcement.

The first public release of the Tetra platform and apps, currently available to alpha testers, will support Bitcoin, Ethereum, Litecoin and Dash. Other cryptocurrencies that support multisig transactions are planned for the future. The platform will begin its roll out in the U.S., Canada and Australia.

To professional traders and businesses, Tetra offers a paid service dubbed Tetra Prime, with support for online and “brick-and-mortar” business storefronts, as well as trade matching and analytics to optimize trading profiles.

The post New “Semi-Decentralized” Cryptocurrency Exchange Navigates Murky Compliance Waters appeared first on Bitcoin Magazine.

SocGen CEO: Bitcoin’s Anonymity Hinders Its Future

CryptoCoins News, 1/1/0001 12:00 AM PST

[…]

The post SocGen CEO: Bitcoin’s Anonymity Hinders Its Future appeared first on CryptoCoinsNews.

Square tests buying and selling bitcoin inside its payment app

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

Square Cash moved beyond sending money in February 2016 when it started letting users store their funds in account reserves, digital wallet-style. Starting today, you can use the service's mobile app to stash another type of currency: bitcoin. But on...

This color-coded chart shows which finance jobs are in demand — and where Wall Street is headed

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

Two Sigma offices

  • Wall Street recruiting firm Options Group just published its annual compensation report, predicting a decline in 2017 compensation for most traders.
  • In the same report, the firm included a chart forecasting hiring activity in 2018 by activity. 
  • In the US, information technology is likely to see high activity while commodities, equity derivatives and electronic markets are forecast to see moderate activity. 


If you work in information technology on Wall Street, you're in luck. Toiling away in equities in Asia? Not so much. 

Wall Street recruiting firm Options Group just published its annual compensation report, predicting a decline in 2017 compensation for most traders. In the same report, the firm included a chart forecasting hiring activity in 2018 by business. 

The chart predicts high activity for hiring in information technology on the sell side in the US. The sell side includes bankers, broker-dealers and boutiques. In contrast, the firm predicts headcount reductions in cash equities in Asia, and no activity in cash equities in the US. 

The hiring forecasts reflect a surge in interest in those with tech or quant expertise. Information technology, electronic markets and quant research and analytics are all forecast to see high or moderate hiring activity on the sell side. Meanwhile, in the investment universe, quant and systematic trading is forecast to see a high level of hiring. 

"One of the most important drivers of hiring and compensation trends will be the implementation of technology," the report said. "Global demand for data scientists and machine learning professionals continues to be robust; current demand to hire these professionals far exceeds the current supply."

On the sell side, investment banks are spending a fortune to upgrade their tech. Goldman's attempt to become the Google of Wall Street is even being taught at Harvard Business School, and a recent report by CBInsights showed 46% of Goldman's recent job listings were in tech. JPMorgan, meanwhile, has created a new position to unleash emerging technology onto its investment bank.

And in investing, traditional stock pickers have been venturing into quant strategies over the past few years. And quant strategies have been hoovering up assets.

Here's the hiring activity forecast:

Screen Shot 2017 11 15 at 11.47.16 AM

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THE HINDENBURG MEETS THE TITANIC: Stocks are flashing an ominous signal not seen since the financial crisis

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

Titanic 1997

  • Stock market dispersion is widening as technical indicators show sell signals, suggesting a turbulent road ahead for equities.
  • Investment manager John Hussman points out that these indicators haven't flashed sell simultaneously since the 2007 financial crisis.


All is not well beneath the surface of the stock market.

Market dislocations are running rampant, suggesting turbulence ahead that could go well beyond the modest weakness major indexes have seen over the past two weeks. And to make matters worse, some of the market's most ominous technical indicators are flashing serious warning signals.

John Hussmanthe president of the Hussman Investment Trust and a former economics professor, is particularly concerned about the growing dispersion of stock market returns. Dispersion reflects how widely market returns are distributed, and it's an important measure to watch in order to assess the crosscurrents that drive broader indexes.

On November 14, the number of New York Stock Exchange companies setting new 52-week lows climbed above the number hitting new highs, representing a "leadership reversal" that Hussman says highlights the deterioration of market internals. To make matters even more dicey, stocks also received confirmation of two bearish market breadth readings, known as the "Hindenburg Omen" and "Titanic Syndrome."

According to Hussman, these three readings haven't occurred simultaneously since 2007, when the financial crisis was getting underway. And the previous instance before that was in 1999, right before the dotcom bubble crash. That's not very welcome company.

Screen Shot 2017 11 15 at 11.17.09 AM

Here are some more details around the Hindenburg and Titanic indicators referenced above:

  • Hindenburg Omen — A sell signal that occurs when NYSE new highs and new lows each exceed 2.8% of advances plus declines on the same day. Note that on November 14, they totaled more than 3%.
  • Titanic Syndrome — A sell signal that is triggered when NYSE 52-week lows outnumber 52-week highs within seven days of an all-time high in equities. Stocks most recently hit a record on November 8.

"While the names of these indicators may seem silly and overly menacing, they actually get at something very serious," Hussman said. "They capture situations where the major indices are near new highs, yet market internals show much greater divergence. In my view, this type of market behavior is indicative of a subtle shift in the preferences of investors, away from speculation and toward risk-aversion."

It must be noted, however, that Hussman has been sounding the alarm on a major stock market selloff for years now. In a recent blog post, he said that "Wall Street has gone completely mad" as investors continue to buy with stocks at stretched valuations, and called for negative equity returns over the next 10 years.

Throughout the second half of 2014, he issued regular warnings about a crash, even going as far as to say stocks were crashing in October 2014. The S&P 500 has rallied another 30% since then.

Hussman's view also stands in stark contrast to many experts across Wall Street — most notably the equity strategists responsible for each firm's S&P 500 forecasts. They forecast that the benchmark will be little changed from current levels into year-end, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

Looking ahead to 2018, UBS sees the S&P 500 climbing as much as 9% over the course of the year. Meanwhile, Goldman Sachs thinks US stocks will be kept afloat by speculation and progress around tax reform.

With all of these varying opinions floating around, it's easy for investors to get confused. At this point, its seems like the best approach is for even the most bullish investors to proceed with caution.

SEE ALSO: 'Wall Street has gone completely mad' — One market bear forecasts a decade of stock losses

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Alleged Bitcoin Launderer Faces Extradition Hearing Next Month

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

An alleged money laundered tied to the BTC-e bitcoin exchange and wanted by both Russia and the U.S. will attend an extradition hearing next month.

One of the top recruitment firms on Wall Street just published its annual compensation guide for traders — and it's not pretty

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

wall street trader sad

  • According to an annual survey by Wall Street recruiting firm Options Group, compensation is going to drop for just about every business line in trading. 
  • Those running electronic markets for fixed income and equities are the exception. 
  • Investment bankers should expect a 10% increase on average.


It's not looking good for Wall Street traders.

According to an annual survey by Wall Street recruiting firm Options Group, total compensation for fixed income and equities professionals in the US will be down 7% from last year, on average. 

The decline is steeper still for those working in certain business lines, such as credit, rates and cash equities. And there are few bright spots. Only foreign exchange trading (+1%) and those working in electronic markets for fixed income (+7%) and equities (+3%)  are expecting to see a pick-up in their compensation. 

The survey takes in the views of the top 25% of performers in each business line, and excludes the top 1%. They are asked what they expect to earn for 2017, which includes their base salary through 2017 and the bonus paid out in early 2018 for work through 2017.

That means there are some caveats to the numbers, which only takes into account the views of the top performers, and could be overly optimistic or pessimistic on bonus payouts. 

Still, the numbers match up with Wall Street revenues. Fixed income, currency and commodities revenues at the top 12 banks were up 1% for the first half versus the same period a year earlier, according to Coalition, while equities revenues fell 3%. Third quarter revenues also disappointed, and Goldman Sachs CFO Marty Chavez said this week that the fourth quarter has been muted. 

Here's the guide from the Options Group report:

 

Screen Shot 2017 11 15 at 11.23.08 AM

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Citigroup hired a former Goldman Sachs banker to cover a booming Wall Street business (C)

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

citigroup

  • Citigroup has hired a former senior banker at Goldman Sachs.
  • Taran Bakker joins Citi as a managing director in the bank's Global Asset Managers group, where he'll cover private equity, pensions, sovereign wealth funds, and family offices in North America.
  • Buyout firms are a growing source of business for investment banks, and Citi has been maneuvering to claim more market share in the sector.  


Citigroup has hired a former Goldman Sachs banker to work with private equity firms, pensions, sovereign wealth funds, and family offices in North America — a growing source of business for Citi and Wall Street more broadly.

Taran Bakker joins Citi's Global Asset Managers group as a managing director, according to an internal memo seen by Business Insider. A Citi spokesman confirmed the hire. 

Bakker joins from Goldman Sachs, where he did similar work as a managing director in the bank's Financial and Strategic Investors group. He was promoted to MD there in 2013

Bakker will report to Anthony Diamandakis and Christian Anderson, who were promoted to global co-heads of the Global Asset Managers group earlier this year. 

The asset managers group at Citi was created in 2016 to focus its efforts at providing investment banking services to private equity shops and other similarly focused buyout investors, an area where Citi has lagged the competition in previous years. Coverage of such firms used to be spread across the bank, rather than via a dedicated team.  

The sector is a booming source of fee income on Wall Street as PE firms' dry powder has reached all-time highs and sovereign wealth funds and family offices have increasingly surfaced as competitors. 

Fee revenue from buyout funds reached $8.8 billion in the first nine months of 2017, up 26% from 2016, according to data from Thomson Reuters. 

Citi ranks 7th among the top banks in fees from this group, pulling in $424 million in the first nine months — up 33% from 2016. 

In addition to Bakker, Citi hired Shawn Borisoff away from UBS in April serve as an MD in the Global Asset Managers group covering Europe, the Middle East, and Africa. 

Bakker and Borisoff are among more than Citi 20 hires at an MD level or higher in its Corporate and Investment Banking division this year. 

Citi ranks 4th on the league tables for investment banking revenues through the first nine months of the year with $3.8 billion, up 27% and one spot on the rankings from last year, according to Thomson Reuters data.  

Join the conversation about this story »

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Time-Travelling Trader Sends Bitcoin Price to $15,000 on OKCoin

CryptoCoins News, 1/1/0001 12:00 AM PST

[…]

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New UK Visa card lets you spend Bitcoin like normal money

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

With Bitcoin trading at all time high, investors are working out whether it's best to sit on their stockpile or make the most of it while they can. For those wishing to utilise their investment, opportunities can be limited, with only a small number...

Apple is slipping despite the news Warren Buffett added to his stake (AAPL)

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

warren buffett


 

Apple's stock slipped after Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway reported it raised its stake in Apple by 3% in the third quarter, according to a regulatory filing released on Tuesday.

With the additional 3%, or 134 million outstanding shares, the conglomerate is now the fifth-largest owner of Apple's outstanding shares, according to Bloomberg data. Apple's stock is down 0.91% at $169.78 after the news. 

The billionaire investor has famously shunned technology companies, but him signaling confidence in the tech giant's investing philosophy is notable. 

Berkshire Hathaway first invested in Apple in 2016 when it bought 10 million shares. As of September 30, the multinational conglomerate owned about 2.6%. 

Apple shares are up 46.05% for the year.

To read more about how Apple can deliver double-digit earnings growth, click here.

Apple

 

SEE ALSO: RBC: There are 3 things that will drive Apple's double-digit earnings growth

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Zen Protocol Advances Smart Contracts for Financial Services

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

Zen Thumb

Shunryū Suzuki, the Sōtō Zen monk and teacher who helped popularize Zen Buddhism in the United States, once remarked that, "In the beginner's mind there are many possibilities, but in the expert's there are few."

In many ways, this aphorism captures the entrepreneurial tenor of today’s emerging world of blockchain technology, as startup companies seek to address critical issues facing the distributed ledger space.  

Many would agree that today’s financial systems are fraught with centralization, complexity and barriers to access. While established businesses and individuals in this market can manage the paperwork and bureaucracy, many still find these barriers to participation too challenging to overcome.  

As a result, potential trades and deals are lost, as these financial participants, trying to get limited access to the system, turn to intermediaries. These participants are, therefore, unable to issue assets or even to trade in some asset classes.  

Zen Protocol, a smart contract company headquartered in Tel Aviv, is on a quest to change this trajectory, by making secure, peer-to-peer finance possible on a customized, public blockchain, removing the need for intermediaries such as banks and brokers.  

Zen’s approach allows anyone, anytime, anywhere to create and trade financial products on a secure platform — a Proof-of-Work blockchain protocol. It’s here where an open marketplace for options, futures, digital currencies and a myriad of other financial instruments are offered to consumers who would otherwise be left without the ability to participate. 

Zen Protocol, in many respects, can be viewed as an alternative to Ethereum, Bitcoin’s main market competitor. Zen’s main value proposition is the creation of a blockchain that mitigates some of the pesky issues that have adversely impacted Ethereum, while simultaneously running parallel to the Bitcoin blockchain. 

By way of example, one problem users on the Ethereum blockchain face is running out of “gas.” This means that transactions on its network often fizzle out, requiring that whatever currency paid to a user be returned to them. In other words, because there wasn’t enough energy to complete their transaction, it was canceled. Unfortunately, the fee for running this transaction still has to be paid.

Zen addresses this issue through proven resource bounds: a protocol for attaching to each contract a proof of how long it takes to run. This completely removes the need to monitor gas.

Key here is that smart contracts won’t allow a transaction to be sent without knowing how much computation it uses. This one feature alone makes Zen a noteworthy alternative to Ethereum and other smart contract platforms.  

With Zen miners now able to check how much computation transactions take to verify, they no longer have to run them in a virtual machine. Unlike competing platforms, Zen simply compiles its smart contracts to machine code, enabling them to run at native speed and greatly increasing transaction throughput.

Zen has implemented a system called “Multi Hash Mining” which distributes mining rewards to several hashing algorithms while giving users — that is, holders of the Zen native token — the power to vote on which hashing algorithms will receive the rewards. The company believes that this approach will result in a fairer and more equal engagement between miners and token holders, with all participants incentivized to cooperate.  

It should also be noted that, rather than being limited to the native Zen token, any asset in Zen can be used to pay transaction fees, including those created by contracts. This reduces complexity for consumers seeking to move around and pay fees in fiat currency. With Zen, all new assets can be utilized by any existing or future contract. 

Zen Protocol’s Push Forward 

The core team at Zen protocol started working together in 2014 in the blockchain space and, after years of research, began development of the Zen Protocol in June 2016. 

“Our driving motivation in creating Zen is the belief that people have a right to own their financial assets, and we feel a responsibility to provide people with the necessary tools to empower themselves,” said CEO Adam Perlow. 

Perlow noted that rather than be exposed to counterparty risk, most individuals use financial institutions as trusted intermediaries. He says that these financial institutions facilitate the majority of economic transactions.  

The model employed by Zen Protocol overcomes the ability of financial institutions to limit people’s freedom to transact, providing an alternative way of accessing financial products and controlling risk.   

Perlow believes that Zen Protocol’s approach follows from some simple premises. 

“These premises are the need for increased security — provided by formal verification and a secure execution context, the need for real utility — provided, for example, by oracles, and the need for better governance [by multi hash mining],” he said. "In the long term, we think Zen provides people with a ‘Swiss bank’ in their pocket, allowing them to make use of cryptographic advancements to create, trade and store conventional financial assets such as stocks, bonds and derivatives over a decentralized network." 

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The post Zen Protocol Advances Smart Contracts for Financial Services appeared first on Bitcoin Magazine.

Zimbabwe's 93-year-old president lost his grip on power in the middle of the night — and nobody knows what will happen next

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

Zimbabwe military

  • Zimbabwe's military stormed the capital city of Harare in the middle of the night on Tuesday.
  • President Robert Mugabe is reportedly "safe and sound" and under house arrest.
  • Recently dismissed former vice president Emmerson Mnangagwa is said to be on his way to the capital and set to take control on Friday.


After 40 years, President Robert Mugabe appears to have lost his grip on power in Zimbabwe.

In the middle of the night on Tuesday, the country's military drove tanks into the capital, Harare, and seized control of the state broadcaster ZBC. A senior officer of Zimbabwe Defense Forces denied that a coup was in progress and said Mugabe, 93, was "safe and sound."

Later, South African President Jacob Zuma said in a statement he had spoken to Mugabe and that he was unharmed and under house arrest. According to The Guardian's Jason Burke, Mugabe will step down on Friday.

Zimbabwe's first lady, Grace Mugabe, who was contending for leadership of the ruling ZANU-PF party, has fled to Namibia, The Guardian reported, citing opposition sources. The first lady has long been seen as Robert Mugabe's chosen successor.

Mugabe's reported removal from power is surely welcome news to his critics in a country that saw its economy collapse into a hyperinflationary spell in 2008. Mugabe's economic policy sent the Zimbabwean economy into a tailspin as he implemented price controls and printed endless amounts of money, which led to an inflation rate of more than 4,000,000,000%.

Human-rights groups have also accused Mugabe of political repression, arbitrary arrests, "torture and extrajudicial execution," and fomenting mass political violence.

Emmerson Mnangagwa

So what's next?

The first question to be answered is who will take over the government. With the military denying a coup the implication is it won't be a general.

Zimbabwe's Independent Online reports that dismissed former vice president Emmerson Mnangagwa is en route to Harare to take control of the country's government. Mnangagwa, who was sacked as Mugabe's vice president about a week ago for being disloyal, has the support of both the military and the wider population, according to BMI Research. The firm says there are three possible outcomes that could play out over the coming months:

  1. "Mugabe resigns and is replaced by Mnangagwa before year-end.

  2. Mnangagwa selected to run as ZANU-PF party leader in 2018 election.

  3. Mnangagwa established as constitutional successor in the event of Mugabe's death."

The economic impact

As for the economic impact of Mugabe's ousting, it is going to take years to reverse the damage caused by Mugabe's economic policies. 

"It was the 10th largest economy in the region in the late 1990s," according to William Jackson, the senior emerging markets economist at Capital Economics. "But its performance has been significantly worse than many of its peers. For example, in 1998, Zimbabwe’s economy was roughly the same size as that of Angola, Tanzania, and Ethiopia. Now, those economies are three-to-seven-times larger than Zimbabwe."

Additionally, Mugabe's policies have caused public external debt to balloon to more than 40% of GDP, the most of which is already in arrears, the International Monetary Fund says.

And then there is the question of migrant flows from Zimbabwe to other parts of the region. "There is already a large Zimbabwean diaspora in South Africa – the UN estimates there are around 500,000 Zimbabweans living there, although unofficial estimates suggest that it could be closer to 3 million," Jackson writes. "If refugee inflows did pick up again, there would be a fiscal cost to the South African government and it could lead to social strains in an economy already struggling with very high unemployment."

Whoever is in charge of Zimbabwe's new government will have their work cut out for them.    

Business Insider has reached out to various members of Mugabe's ZANU - PF Party and members of the opposition, but none were immediately available to comment. 

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Wall Street's top watchdog is going soft under Trump

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

jay clayton

  • The Securities and Exchange Commission is pursuing fewer penalties on corporations under President Donald Trump. 
  • The SEC filed 612 enforcement cases in its most recent fiscal year, the fewest in four years, according to a Georgetown University study cited by Bloomberg
  • SEC Chair Jay Clayton has said penalties against corporations hurt shareholders and not just the individuals who may have been responsible for alleged wrongdoing. 

 

Wall Street's top regulator is pursuing fewer punishments under President Donald Trump. 

In the most recent fiscal year, the Securities and Exchange Commission imposed the fewest penalties in four years, according to a study by Urska Velikonja, a Georgetown University law professor. Bloomberg reported that her study found the SEC attempted to obtain $3.4 billion in fines and other payments in the 12 months ended September. It filed 612 enforcement cases, the lowest since 2013. 

This suggests that the regulatory environment is loosening under Trump, who had promised a climate more friendly to business interests while he was campaigning. One caveat, however, is that the fiscal year in Velikonja's study included four months with former SEC Chair Mary Jo White, who served under the Obama administration.

Velikonja's full findings are set to be published in the Notre Dame Law Review next year. 

She found that SEC Chairman Jay Clayton, Trump's appointee who was a lawyer for multiple banks during the financial crisis, has only pursued two sanctions against big financial firms since he took the helm in May. They were against State Street and Barclays, in settlements totaling $132 million. 

The study backs up a recent Politico report that also concluded the SEC has eased up on punishing corporations. According to the late-October story, the SEC collected $127 million in civil case penalties against companies, down from $702 million during the same period last year.

According to Politico, Clayton and the SEC have paid attention to company actions that affect retail or smaller investors rather than focusing on larger corporate cases. Clayton has said enforcement actions on large corporations hurt shareholders, not just the individuals who are responsible.

Head over to Bloomberg for the full story »

SEE ALSO: Trump's business watchdog has seemingly eased up on corporate crackdowns

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Bitcoin Mining in China is Not Banned Yet, Contrary to Reports

CryptoCoins News, 1/1/0001 12:00 AM PST

[…]

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Interactive Brokers chairman warns about the dangers of bitcoin futures in a full-page Wall Street Journal ad

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

cme chicago exchange traders

  • The chairman of the largest electronic brokerage firm in the US took out an ad in The Wall Street Journal to warn regulators about bitcoin futures.
  • Interactive Brokers Chairman Thomas Peterffy doesn't think bitcoin is ready for the futures market and said bitcoin futures could pose a risk to the economy.

 
The chairman of the largest electronic brokerage firm in the US took out a full page ad in The Wall Street Journal Wednesday to warn regulators about the dangers bitcoin futures could present to traditional capital markets. 

In the open letter addressed to J. Christopher Giancarlo, the chairman of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, Thomas Peterffy, the chairman of Interactive Brokers, one of the largest derivatives traders and a provider of clearing services for hundreds of brokers, expressed his concerns about a proposal by the Chicago Mercantile Exchange to launch bitcoin futures this year.

"This letter is to request [the CFTC] require any clearing organization that wishes to clear any cryptocurrency or derivative do so in a separate clearing system isolated from other products," Peterffy wrote.

The CFTC, the financial watchdog overseeing futures and derivatives markets, would be the agency responsible for approving and regulating bitcoin futures. CME announced in October they would launch such a product by the end of the year. And earlier this month, Terry Duffy, the head of CME, said a bitcoin futures product would likely be ready by the second week of December.

But Peterffy doesn't think bitcoin's underlying market is mature enough to warrant or support such a product.

"Cryptocurrencies do not have a mature, regulated and tested underlying market," he said. "The products and their markets have existed for fewer than 10 years and bear little if any relationship to any economic circumstance or reality in the world."

Cryptocurrencies like bitcoin are known for their wild price swings. Peterffy said bitcoin's unbridled volatility could have a dangerous impact on other futures products trading on the market. Peterffy wrote:

"If the Chicago Mercantile Exchange or any other clearing organization clears a cryptocurrency together with other products, then a large cryptocurrency price move that destabilizes members that clear cryptocurrencies will destabilize the clearing organization itself and its ability to satisfy its fundamental obligation to pay the winners and collect from the losers on the other products in the same clearing pool."

Bank of America noted recently that futures could help dampen bitcoin's volatility. Here's the bank:

"We would not overstate this, as a material reduction in volatility would require there to be a large community of speculators prepared to provide liquidity to the natural owners of the various coins, but given the volatility of the coin markets, maybe there already exists a cadre of participants who would look to short coins on strong days and vice versa, which could overall reduce volatility."

Peterffy's outlook is less optimistic. He said bitcoin futures could ultimately "destabilize the real economy" unless they are isolated.

SEE ALSO: These 5 stocks are featured in a new blockchain index — and they're all on a tear

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A bear market in stocks could be coming far sooner than expected

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

trader

  • Stocks of companies with a strong balance sheet are outperforming those of companies with a weak one as monetary accommodation slows.
  • This signals that the 8-1/2-year bull market may be entering its final innings as investors flock to high-quality stocks.


In the stock market, when the best-financed companies are dominating returns, it's time to get worried.

It's a counterintuitive dynamic. You'd think that when investors are favoring companies with the strongest balance sheets — the ones with hefty cash balances and slim debt burdens — that implies that the market is healthy. In reality, the opposite is true.

What it actually signals is that a market rally is stretching into its late innings. It represents the period when investors are getting more discriminating with stock selection and chasing high-quality stocks.

This shift has been brought about by the imminent end of massive monetary accommodation from the Federal Reserve. The heyday of cheap debt financing is fleeting, and the companies so reliant on those easy conditions are falling out of favor with traders.

To the Societe Generale strategist and outspoken market bear Albert Edwards, the divergence in performance for companies with strong and weak balance sheets is a sign of something more ominous: the end of the 8-1/2-year bull market.

"Is this a straw in the wind that a bear market is arriving far sooner than most investors had anticipated?" he wrote in a client note. "It might be."

Screen Shot 2017 11 15 at 8.48.35 AM

While it's an unquestionably cynical take to say outperformance for the best-capitalized companies in the market is a bad thing, it's a dynamic that has been highlighted in the past by Goldman Sachs. While the firm doesn't see strong-balance-sheet dominance in quite as negative a light as Edwards, it has repeatedly pointed out that it happens when monetary conditions are tightening.

In addition to balance sheets, Edwards has his sights on another divergence: The ratio of corporate debt to cash flow is climbing while junk-bond yields fall. He points out that this measure normally peaks as profits fall, something that often accompanies a recession.

Screen Shot 2017 11 15 at 9.07.31 AM

This must all be taken with a grain of salt, however, considering that Edwards has routinely called for the end of the bull market over the past few years. But what his arguments do succeed in is injecting some skepticism into a market that seems incredibly confident, with stock valuations hovering near record highs.

After all, it's this "irrational exuberance" that could eventually trigger a reckoning in the market, and it's best to be cautious.

SEE ALSO: A record number of Americans are taking vacations — and that highlights one of the biggest risks to markets

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Target slides after disappointing holiday guidance (TGT)

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

Target

  • Target reported earnings and sales that topped estimates in the third quarter.
  • It raised its guidance for the full year, but issued a lower profit forecast for the holiday season.
  • Target shares slide after the news.
  • To see Target's stock price, click here.

 

Target's shares slid in pre-market trading after the retailer issued an underwhelming profit forecast for the holiday season.

The company sees earnings of $1.05 to $1.25 per share in the fourth quarter, below the Wall Street estimate of $1.24. Its shares fell  more than 5% after the news.

Despite the bleak forecast, the company reported better-than-expected same-store sales. Its sales rose 1.4% to $16.67 billion, above analyst predictions of $16.61 billion. The retailer earned an adjusted $0.91 per share, above analyst estimates of $0.88. 

"While we expect the fourth-quarter environment to be highly competitive, we are very confident in our holiday season plans,” Brian Cornell, Target's chairman and CEO said in a release.

The department store operator, like Wal-Mart and other competitors, have the difficult task of drawing customers to their stores, as consumers shift to online shopping and tech giants like Amazon

Target was down 20.93% for the year.

To read more about how the company has prepared in advance of the holiday season, click here.

Target stock price

SEE ALSO: Target just announced discounts on 'thousands of items'

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NOW WATCH: $6 TRILLION INVESTMENT CHIEF: Bitcoin is a bubble

Target slides after disappointing holiday guidance (TGT)

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

Target

  • Target reported earnings and sales that topped estimates in the third quarter.
  • It raised its guidance for the full year, but issued a lower profit forecast for the holiday season.
  • Target shares slide after the news.
  • To see Target's stock price, click here.

 

Target's shares slid in pre-market trading after the retailer issued an underwhelming profit forecast for the holiday season.

The company sees earnings of $1.05 to $1.25 per share in the fourth quarter, below the Wall Street estimate of $1.24. Its shares fell  more than 5% after the news.

Despite the bleak forecast, the company reported better-than-expected same-store sales. Its sales rose 1.4% to $16.67 billion, above analyst predictions of $16.61 billion. The retailer earned an adjusted $0.91 per share, above analyst estimates of $0.88. 

"While we expect the fourth-quarter environment to be highly competitive, we are very confident in our holiday season plans,” Brian Cornell, Target's chairman and CEO said in a release.

The department store operator, like Wal-Mart and other competitors, have the difficult task of drawing customers to their stores, as consumers shift to online shopping and tech giants like Amazon

Target was down 20.93% for the year.

To read more about how the company has prepared in advance of the holiday season, click here.

Target stock price

SEE ALSO: Target just announced discounts on 'thousands of items'

Join the conversation about this story »

NOW WATCH: $6 TRILLION INVESTMENT CHIEF: Bitcoin is a bubble

Bitcoin Price Pierces $7,000 as Crypto Market Cap Hits All-Time High

CryptoCoins News, 1/1/0001 12:00 AM PST

[…]

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Betterment, the investing startup with $11 billion in assets, is rolling out a new service to make charitable giving easier

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

jon stein ceo betterment 3

  • Betterment, a roboadviser with $11 billion under management, announced a charitable giving feature on Wednesday that allows users to donate shares of their portfolio to more than 11 charities.
  • Roboadvisers like Betterment provide financial advice online or via a smart phone app and utilize algorithms to determine where to invest. 


Betterment, the New York-based roboadviser, announced Wednesday a charitable giving feature that allows users to donate shares of their account to partnered charities.

The firm, which manages $11 billion for over 270,000 customers, partnered with 11 charities for the launch of Betterment Charitable Giving, including Big Brothers Big Sisters of NYC, UNICEF, and World Wildlife Fund, according to a news release.

Users of the feature select how much money they want to donate to a certain charity, and Betterment funds it with their highest performing shares. Betterment users set a target allocation for their portfolios and then have funds directed to various asset classes, ranging from US large caps to emerging market bonds.

Capture.PNGCharity accounts under $1 million will be managed by Betterment at no expense, according to a spokesperson for the company.

The company said the service provides a better way to donate than credit cards because there are no processing fees. It can also save folks money on their taxes because they might not have to pay capital gains on the shares they donate.

“Betterment wants to help manage important financial aspects of our customers’ lives — from saving for retirement to looking for ways to financially support the causes they care about,” said Jon Stein, CEO of Betterment. “We’re launching the Charitable Giving service to provide a vehicle that makes the giving process easy, accessible, and even more impactful."

The company expects the list of partnered charities to continue to grow.

Roboadvisers provide financial advice or portfolio management online or via a smartphone application. Rather than using human managers to build portfolios, they use algorithms to determine where to invest.

In order to standout in a crowded marketplace, roboadvisers have been putting an even greater emphasis on rolling out unique product offerings, according to BackendBenchmarking's "The Robo Report."

"Many are turning to investment themes to help differentiate their platforms," the report said.

"Wealthsimple recently announced a portfolio that stays compliant with Islamic investing principles," the report said. "Hedgeable pursues active management and momentum rebalancing strategies, while TIAA offers an active management strategy option."

As for Betterment, the firm this year has rolled out a hybrid service that pairs human help with their computerized advice, and struck a deal with Wall Street giant Goldman Sachs for a smart-beta portfolio option.

The firm also launched a socially responsible investing portfolio, According to research from Bank of America Merrill Lynch, 93% of US millennials show a high preference for impact investing. And with millennials poised to inherit roughly $30 trillion from Baby Boomers, according to a UBS white paper, catering to this investment preference will be integral to future growth for Wall Street firms. 

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A key Bank of England official thinks Brexit could lead to a 'sharp step down' in the UK's productivity

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

Ben Broadbent

  • Bank of England Deputy Governor Ben Broadbent argues that Brexit could lead to a "sharp step down" in the UK's productivity growth.
  • Speaking at the London School of Economics he said that a similar slowdown to the one seen after the financial crisis could crystallise after Brexit.
  • Broadbent also noted that Brexit does not necessarily mean interest rates will be lowered.


LONDON — One of the Bank of England's most senior officials has warned that Brexit could cause a deepening of the productivity crisis that has plagued the British economy in the past decade.

In a speech at the London School of Economics on Wednesday, Ben Broadbent, the bank's Deputy Governor for Monetary Policy, said it is not "inconceivable" that Brexit could lead to a "sharp step down" in the UK's productivity.

"We saw a sharp step down in productivity growth after the financial crisis. And I think there are things involved in Brexit that, once one digs below the macro-economic surface, could potentially do the same," Broadbent said, adding that the crisis led to a slowing of productivity growth for a "painfully long time."

Trade barriers between the UK and the EU once Britain leaves the bloc could be a possible cause of a further productivity growth slump, Broadbent argued.

"I’m thinking in particular of allocative effects," he said. "If EU withdrawal results in significant new barriers to trade between the UK and its major trading partners in the rest of Europe, one plausible consequence would be a marked shift in relative demand for UK output."

Delivering a curtailed version of the written text of his speech, Broadbent said: "The economy would probably experience less demand for the things we’ve been exporting to the EU and more for UK-based substitutes for the goods and services we’ve tended to import.

"That wouldn’t matter much if the resources for one could be seamlessly and costlessly transferred to the other. In reality, however, those resources, human as well as physical, are likely to be specialised: they’re more productive in some areas than others."

He cited the example of specialist car factories, which cannot easily be converted to other purposes.

Broadbent's speech was, coincidentally, delivered just hours after the Office for National Statistics released data showing that average output per hour — a key measure of productivity growth — increased at its fastest rate since 2011 in the last quarter.

During the speech, Broadbent — who earlier in November was one of seven members of the BoE's Monetary Policy Committee to vote to increase interest rates from 0.25% to 0.5% — also said that people should not assume that Brexit will lead to low or lower interest rates.

"There’s been a persistent strain of opinion that EU withdrawal is something that necessarily means lower interest rates, or at least that it’s a reason to avoid putting them up," Broadbent said. "If so, then I think the belief has been overdone.

"It’s not that the opposite is true. I’m certainly not going to argue here that interest rates will inevitably rise as Brexit proceeds. Apart from anything else, it isn’t the only show in town. Economic shocks come along all the time, in both directions."

Broadbent concluded his speech by saying: "To adapt the football manager’s cliché, we can only play the economy that’s in front of us."

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The Fed is starting to pay closer attention to the other America

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

Janet Yellen

  • Inspired by Janet Yellen's leadership and strong labor market focus, the Fed has placed increasing emphasis on its community development function.
  • The Fed's role stems from its oversight of banks and enforcement of the 1977 Community Reinvestment Act.
  • David Erickson, economist and director of community development at the San Francisco Fed envisions a Beige Book for the less fortunate, he tells Business Insider.


Top Federal Reserve officials, inspired by Janet Yellen’s strong focus on the labor market both as an economist and policymaker, are paying a refreshing amount of attention to issues that are too often ignored in well-heeled central banking circles: inequality, poverty and community development. 

The Fed’s community development function, while a small part of the central bank’s operations financially, has played an increasing role in two key areas: helping to solve local economic problems that are not easily addressed with conventional tools like monetary and even fiscal policy; and raising awareness among a fairly insulated group of central bankers about the poorer parts of the country. 

"The macroeconomy is a summation of many micro economies and many of them are not doing so well,” economist David Erickson, director of community development at the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, told Business Insider in an interview.

It’s a great way to think about a country as diverse as the United States, the world’s largest economy, and a framework Erickson credits to his boss, San Francisco Fed President John Williams. And as the US housing crisis showed, what happens in financially-stressed communities can often serve as an early signal of broader economic troubles to come, said Erickson. 

The macroeconomy is a summation of many micro economies and many of them are not doing so well.

When Yellen, who will be replaced by Jerome Powell as Fed Chair in February, first took over as chair in early 2014, she shunned the usual visit to major business or financial industry groups, speaking instead at a community development conference in Chicago that included a visit to a manufacturing training center in one of the city's many impoverished neighborhoods. She subsequently made other such visits in Boston and other areas, and has been willing to meet with labor and community activists on a much more frequent, open basis than previous Fed chairs. 

"A lot of her leadership filtered down," said Erickson, who used to work directly under Yellen when she was president of the San Francisco Fed.  

The Community Reinvestment Act

So why is the Fed involved in a concept some hard-nosed technocrats might see as too squishy for a central bank that’s supposed to be focused on its dual mandate of maximum employment and low, stable prices? The Fed’s community development role dates back to the 1977 Community Reinvestment Act, legislation aimed at ensuring banks were not unfairly depriving poor communities of credit or cutting them off from the broader economy.

The law’s goal is to "enhance the flow of investment capital for low- and moderate-income housing in low- and moderate-income neighborhoods." That includes things ranging from affordable housing construction financing to small business loans in places where they are harder to come by.  

How do lawmakers ensure banks are complying? That’s where regulators like those at the Federal Reserve come in, and where the Fed’s community development power comes from. Supervisors have developed a ratings system whereby banks can earn points toward their CRA scores by making investments that count as aimed at disadvantaged communities. 

Yet in fulfilling that role, the central bank has also developed a broad-based research and community outreach function comprised of some 150 staffers around the Federal Reserve system, which includes a Washington-based board and 12 district reserve banks. That means of lots of really interesting papers and conferences that bring together local employers with labor and community groups to grapple with many of the place-specific issues faced by poorer Americans. 

"Our greatest strength is as neutral conveners and arbiters of ideas — what works in anti-poverty work?" Erikcson said.  He is focused on the potential for new financial tools like social impact bonds, which try to align investments with desired social outcomes, to provide creative solutions to poverty, inequality and weak social mobility.

"You start unleashing market forces to achieve social goals," he said.

jerome powell trumpFed governor Jerome Powell, nominated by Donald Trump to replace Janet Yellen at the Fed’s helm when her term ends in February, has praised the Fed’s community development role for its ability to "mobilize ideas, networks, and approaches that address a wide range of community and economic development challenges."

The US economy has been expanding steadily since the end of the Great Recession in the summer of 2009, and the unemployment rate has fallen to a historically low 4.1%, prompting the central bank to begin tightening monetary policy after a long period of zero interest rates and bond purchases. But the recovery has been uneven, and millions of Americans feel left out because they have experienced little income growth or quality of life improvements. 

A Beige Book for the 'other America'

In a recent interview with Business Insider, St. Louis Fed James Bullard said issues surrounding community and workforce development are "very important to the macroeconomy if you think about American labor markets and how bifurcated they are," between well-to-do professionals and a struggling working class.

"If we could get running on all cylinders and really using all our talent in the best possible way that would be a great gain for the US economy," he said.

With this in mind, Erickson is hoping the Fed could start to aggregate some of the collective knowledge and insight that comes from the various regional community development experiences into a single report that captures some of the "other America" faced by poor and low-income families. 

The Fed already does this for the business side of the economy, coalescing some of the anecdotes from regional Fed officials’ local contacts into a monthly report known as the Beige Book, which is widely read by financial market participants. 

SEE ALSO: The Fed has a forgotten role — and it will be critical in getting the US economy 'running on all cylinders'

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NOW WATCH: $6 TRILLION INVESTMENT CHIEF: Bitcoin is a bubble

A Sequoia Capital partner explains why he's not scared of blockchain startups and how it's changing the VC business

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

Matt Huang Sequoia PartnerVenture capitalists are supposed to be on the front lines of new technology. 

But when it comes to cryptocurrencies and blockchain startups, VCs have been gun shy.

The wariness is understandable to Matt Huang, a partner at Sequoia Capital. After all, investing in blockchain startups means betting on complex, new technology and putting your faith, and capital, into largely unproven alternatives to equity. 

Despite the risks, and the fears of a "bitcoin bubble," Sequoia  and Huang are jumping in. The storied VC firm, which made a name for itself with early bets on companies like Oracle and Google, has invested millions in two blockchain startups — Orchid Labs and Filecoin — and two different cryptocurrency hedge funds, MetaStable and Polychain Capital.

We checked in with Huang to find out what gives him confidence to invest in this emerging industry, and how crypto is changing both the tech landscape and the business of VC investing. 

SEE ALSO: Techies think blockchains will revolutionize the internet, but startups are still getting the cold shoulder from venture capitalists

He thinks the technology is exciting, and the companies have real potential to change the world

Sequoia's most resent investment took place at the end of October, when Sequoia led a $4.7 million seed round in a company called Orchid Labs — an open-source blockchain project designed to reduce internet surveillance and censorship.

Orchid Labs created its own blockchain, called the Orchid protocol, on top of which it's building a decentralized overlay to the internet, which it claims will be impenetrable to national firewalls and other forms of censorship.

The company compares it to Tor, an overlay on the internet which lets users anonymously browse websites, and which is often associated with the dark web — unlisted and sometimes criminal websites which require special software to access.

Huang said Orchid's mission struck him as both achieveable and useful in today's political climate. 

"There's lots of exploration right now around what are the interesting or useful applications beyond bitcoin," Huang said. "Orchid struck us as one of the first killer apps that we can see getting broad appeal. It also has an important mission that we think is very timely in the world today." 

The same blockchain technology that underpins Orchid's product also provides the mechanism for investing in the company. Sequoia's investment was in the form of a SAFT  (Simple Agreement for Future Tokens) — an emerging fundraising technique in which investors buy a share of cryptotokens from companies.  

Blockchains are digital ledgers that record everything that has ever happened involving them. It's the technology behind popular cryptocurrencies like bitcoin and ether, and companies that use blockchains to build their core product can also use blockchains to create their own tokens as a form of equity. 



He's followed the sector for long enough to know that it's more than just hype

When asked what makes Sequoia feel comfortable investing in blockchain, Huang said that he's spent enough time in the sector now to tell the difference between world-changing projects and hype.

"The technology is really interesting at first blush and I think that's what draws a lot of people in. It's an exciting new platform," Huang said. "Then you look at some of the behavior that's occurred over the last year and a lot of the elements feel like a bubble. I think that turns a lot of people off."

Huang said he's been following the sector for many years, and believes that this recent wave of blockchain enthusiasm has a different color to it. 

"Once you spend enough time in the area, there's enough real substance coming to the forefront, and strong legitimate teams working on interesting problems, that I think it is a really promising space for investing," he continued.



He sees people leaving great jobs at Google and Facebook to join blockchain startups

Huang said he's also assured by the number of technically savvy people who are taking the blockchain space seriously, and even leaving stable careers at established companies to join startups working on the emerging technology.

"There's a huge influx of people leaving places like Google and Facebook to work on projects in the space, and I think of that as the most promising indicator," Huang said.



See the rest of the story at Business Insider

An 'Uber for buses' startup is launching an ICO to end tipping altogether — and it’s already raised $6 million

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

Skedaddle founders

  • Skedaddle, an 'Uber-for-buses' startup, is launching a blockchain project that aims to completely eliminate tipping.
  • Users can rate any interaction with a service worker, which also functions as a tip, and follows a worker from job to job. 
  • CEO Adam Nestler isn't worried about a potential bubble in cryptocurrencies, and says the company has already raised $6 million of its ICO goal. 


Skedaddle, a New York-based bus chartering service that allows anyone to create a route and find other riders, is launching an Initial Coin Offering, or ICO, in January to fund a side project that aims to eliminate tipping in the service industry.

The "Kudos Project" will run on the Ethereum blockchain, allowing customers to rate any transaction they make, Skedaddle co-founder and CEO Adam Nestler told Business Insider.

Those ratings, for anyone from your Uber driver to restaurant server to grocery supermarket cashier, are then instantly published to a decentralized database that allows anyone using the system to see the ratings that then follow an employee from one job to another throughout the full gig economy.

They also function as a "reward" for the worker in lieu of a tip. Unfortunately, those rewards will only work within the Kudos system. So to completely replace tips, the project will have to reach meaningful scale, something Nestler is convinced is a very real possibility. 

"We think this will be the first cryptocurrency for real world use," Nestler said in an interview. "This is a massive opportunity to completely take down Yelp and Facebook reviews, while completely eliminating tipping."

For now, the service is limited to Skedaddle — which is moving about 50,000 people a year, Nestler said — but the company is in talks with tech companies like TaskRabbit and rideshare operators, to quickly expand once live. 

The ICO will officially launch to the public in January and and raise up to $20 million to fund development as well as marketing efforts to entice other businesses to join the project. $6 million has already been raised, mostly invested by many of Skedaddle’s original backers.

ICOs have been a hot topic in Silicon Valley and on Wall Street this year, with over $2 billion raised since the beginning of the year.

However, regulators around the world have warned that ICO investments are high risk and unproven, Business Insider’s Oscar Williams-Grut reported last month.

Still, Netsler is unfazed. He says the SEC’s recent warning that many ICOs are in fact securities and thus beholden to the regulator’s rules is just "a lot of noise."

"There’s certainly a bubble," he said. "The rush is frustrating, but the market is becoming more mature."

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Every US state's most important international trading partners

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

FILE PHOTO: Shipping containers are seen at the Port Newark Container Terminal in Newark, New Jersey, U.S. on July 2, 2009.    REUTERS/Mike Segar/File Photo

  • International trade is an important part of the US economy and of the economies of the 50 states and Washington, DC.
  • The US Census Bureau tracks imports and exports of goods, broken down by state.
  • Business Insider made two maps showing the biggest import and export trade partners for each state.


The US economy is an enormous behemoth, made up of the 51 component economies of the states and Washington, DC.

As international trade is an important part of the national economy, it's also a big part of many state economies as well.

The US Census Bureau tracks imports and exports of goods, broken down by state. Using that data, Business Insider made two maps showing the biggest import and export trade partners for each state by dollar value of goods traded in 2016.

Looming large in both exports and imports are the US's NAFTA partner nations and neighbors of Canada and Mexico. Many states imported more goods from China than any other country.

Here's every state's biggest goods export trading partner. 33 states exported the most goods to Canada in 2016: 

export countries state map

And the biggest trade partner for imported goods. Just 15 states imported more goods from Canada than any other country, while 22 states had China as their biggest import partner:

import countries state map v2

SEE ALSO: The 21 most promising jobs of the future

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America's investing giants have a major problem with the GOP tax plan

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

trump

  • A little-known provision of the GOP tax plan would make investors sell out of positions using an accounting method that would cost them flexibility.
  • Large investment managers like Vanguard are worried that the measure could cost their clients millions of dollars.


America's biggest investment managers aren't thrilled with the GOP tax bill.

Under a little-publicized provision of the bill, clients would be forced to sell their oldest shares first when cashing out of positions, according to a report from Laura Saunders of the Wall Street Journal. That would reduce flexibility in terms of minimizing taxes, something that investment firms fear could end up costing clients loads of money.

The provision would make investors selling partial positions offload them on a "first in, first out" (FIFO) basis, rather than allow them to selectively liquidate shares bought at different prices.

Saunders received a statement from a spokeswoman at $4.4 trillion money manager Vanguard, who said that the firm is concerned the provision will "most likely increase significantly the amount of taxable distributions made to investors every year."

One popular method that would take a hit is the so-called "harvesting" of losses, which investors implement when they want to cut losses on a trade that's lost them money and in order to get some tax relief. Under the new plan, if those same investors also have an older holding in the same security, that's the one that would get sold, regardless of whether it has a more beneficial tax profile.

With that said, it's still possible that the oldest holdings would also be the most favorably priced from a tax perspective. What's troubling to investment firms is the lack of flexibility.

As posed at present time, the change would take effect for sales in 2018, and it's estimated to raise $2.7 billion over 10 years. With that type of windfall, it's not particularly surprising that the GOP would try to include the provision. But there's no denying that the measure comes at the expense of investor optionality.

Thomas Faust, the chief executive of Eaton Vance, a firm that manages more than $400 million, has a broader take on the provision. And it's not great for market efficiency.

"Markets will work less well," he told Saunders. "Our fund managers will have their hands tied, and our shareholders will owe more in taxes."

Read the Wall Street Journal article here.

SEE ALSO: 'Irrational exuberance' could spell disaster for markets

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UK productivity grows at its fastest rate in over 6 years — and unemployment falls again

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

A worker lifts a box at Amazon's new fulfilment centre after it was opened by Scotland's First Minister Alex Salmond in Dunfermline, Scotland, November 15, 2011.The warehouse covers more than one million square feet (93,000 square metres), about the size of 14 soccer pitches, and is Amazon?s biggest in the United Kingdom. It will create 750 permanent jobs, along with a further 1,500 temporary jobs during peak periods.

  • UK headline unemployment rate remains unchanged, but 59,000 fewer people are out of work than in the previous period, ONS says.
  • Headline unemployment stays at 4.3%, while headline employment reading drops from 75.1% to 75%.
  • Productivity picked up in the quarter, according to the ONS, growing at its highest rate since the middle of 2011.


LONDON – UK unemployment remained at its lowest level since 1975, while productivity finally started to pick up, according to the latest data from the Office of National Statistics.

The unemployment rate was 4.3% in the three months to September, unchanged from the previous reading.

While the headline rate didn't change, unemployment did fall in the three months to September, with 59,000 fewer people out of work.

The employment rate, which measures the proportion of people aged 16-64 in work, hit 75% – down from 75.1% in the previous three months.

In total, there are 32.06 million people at work in the UK, according to the figures, 14,000 fewer than for April to June 2017.

A further fall in unemployment may look positive, but there are some concerns, the ONS said.

"After two years of almost uninterrupted growth, employment has declined slightly on the quarter. However it remains higher than it was this time last year, and as always we would caution people against reading too much into one quarter’s data," senior ONS statistician Matt Hughes said in a statement.

"Unemployment also fell on the quarter, but there was a rise in the number of people who were neither working nor looking for a job – so-called economically inactive people."

Here's the ONS chart of unemployment over the longer term:

Screen Shot 2017 11 15 at 09.33.16

When it comes to productivity, there was positive news for the British economy, with average output per hour — a key measure — growing at its fastest rate since 2011, according to the ONS' flash estimate.

"Output per hour – ONS’s main measure of labour productivity – increased by 0.9% in Q3 2017. This is the first quarter of growth in output per hour since Q4 2016 and is the highest rate of growth since Quarter 2 2011," the statistical authority said.

Philip Wales, the ONS' head of productivity, urged caution however, saying that "the medium-term picture continues to be one of productivity growing but at a much slower rate than seen before the financial crisis."

Here is the chart of longer term productivity:

Screen Shot 2017 11 15 at 09.45.43

Alongside the unemployment numbers, the ONS' data showed that real wages for average Brits continue to shrink as wage growth fails to keep up with inflation.

"Between July to September 2016 and July to September 2017, in nominal terms, both regular pay and total pay increased by 2.2%, little changed compared with the growth rates between June to August 2016 and June to August 2017," the ONS said.

Wednesday's unemployment data comes 24 hours after inflation stayed at its highest level in five years, as Brexit continues to push up the cost of living in the UK.

The UK's Consumer Prices Index (CPI) inflation rate — the key measure of inflation — was 3% in October, unchanged from September.

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Bankers will get special travel rights in any Brexit deal, David Davis says

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

David Davis

  • Brexit Secretary David Davis says City of London will be granted a special travel regime after Brexit.
  • The system is likely to allow financial services companies to move staff between EU and UK offices with ease.
  • Davis also says that a transition deal will be agreed "very early" in 2018.


LONDON — The City of London will be granted a special travel regime once Britain leaves the European Union, which will allow bankers and other financiers to move freely around the continent, Brexit Secretary David Davis said on Tuesday evening.

In a speech at Swiss bank UBS' annual European Conference, Davis told an audience of UBS staff and clients that the UK government wants to ensure that the City of London remains at the heart of Europe's financial services sector, and will place special emphasis on the City as Brexit talks continue.

"We want to ensure that our new partnership with the EU protects the mobility of workers and professionals across the continent," he told the audience at London's Landmark Hotel.

"Whether this means a bank temporarily moving a worker to an office in Germany or a lawyer visiting a client in Paris, we believe it is in the interests of both sides to see this continue."

Davis and his allies believe that such transfers of staff should be "treated differently" to other types of immigration, according to a report of the speech by the Financial Times.

Major financial institutions are currently making plans to shift staff out of the UK as a result of the expected loss of Britain's so-called financial passport.

The passport is effectively a set of rules and regulations that allow UK based financial firms to access customers and carry out activities across Europe. Many non-EU lenders use the passport to operate a hub in the UK and then sell services across the 28-nation bloc.

Once Britain leaves the EU, however, it is almost certain to lose passporting rights, which are tied strongly to membership of the single market, a marketplace the UK intends to leave as part of Brexit. This means that to continue providing clients with comprehensive services across the EU after Brexit, many lenders will need new branches.

Numerous senior figures in the UK's financial system, including several Bank of England policymakers, have warned that financial services companies desperately need at least some clarity on what Britain and the EU's post-Brexit relationship will look like, or risk wholesale staff shifts.

Banks need to make final decisions about moving staff by the first quarter of next year at the latest. Banks need at least a year, if not longer, to set up fully functioning branches and subsidiaries in Europe to maintain uninterrupted EU activities.

Davis used his speech on Tuesday to attempt to provide some reassurance, saying that a transition deal with the EU will be agreed "very early" in 2018.

"Boards have to meet their fiduciary duties and investors need to make decisions critical to the future of their companies. Without such an implementation period, some of these decisions would need to be taken in January 2018.

"That is why we want to agree this period as soon as the EU have a mandate to do so, which I believe can be done very early next year."

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A cliff-edge Brexit could be 'semi-catastrophic' for Aston Martin

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

Aston Martin DB11

  • Luxury car maker Aston Martin warned a committee of MPs they may have to temporarily stop production if the UK leaves the EU without a deal. 
  • Car manufacturers are concerned the current approval system via the Vehicle Certification Authority will no longer be valid.
  • The Society of Car Manufacturers and Traders warned the cost of cars in the UK in the event of a no-deal could increase by £1,500 per vehicle.

 

LONDON — Luxury British car maker Aston Martin warned it may have to temporarily stop production if the UK leaves the EU without a deal.

Cars manufactured in the UK currently receive "type approval" from the Vehicle Certification Authority, which authorizes new vehicles as well as sales in the EU. However, car manufacturers have raised concerns that this process could no longer be valid if no deal is agreed by March 2019.

That scenario would create "significant costs," Mark Wilson, chief financial officer at Aston Martin, told a committee of MPs on Tuesday, according to an FT report.

"Not only in resourcing to another type approval... but also the semi-catastrophic effect of having to stop production because we only produce cars in the UK," he said.

Speaking to a Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy committee, Wilson said Aston Martin would suffer huge costs if they were forced to stop production and seek regulatory approval elsewhere.

Car makers must stop production temporarily when applying for new certification, since they cannot hold approval from more than one authority simultaneously.

Almost 80% of the cars manufactured in the UK are exported, just under half of which go to the EU, according to the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders. Around 70% of the cars sold in the UK are also imported from the EU.

Mike Hawes, chief executive of the SMMT, said car prices in the UK could increase by around £1,500 per vehicle in the event of no deal.

"Given most of our cars sold here are imported... there might be a contraction in terms of consumer choice," he said.

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Bitcoin: Either the future of property deals or millennial marketing tool

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

stan1

  • Crytocurrencies such as bitcoin are starting to gain adoption in UK property sales.
  • Dual-advantage of generating publicity for the sale of real estate and attracting buyers who have bitcoin but are unable to convert it cheaply into fiat currency.
  • Wider use will remain hampered by bitcoin's volatility.

 

LONDON — Selling a house in London is getting harder.

Data from Rightmove showed that four in 10 sellers are reducing prices, with London's prime property market in the midst of a downturn.

But one £17 million mansion in Notting Hill has seen unprecedented interest since it went on sale in October.

"Last week we had 15 viewings," said Lev Loginov, co-founder of property firm London Wall, which is selling the property. "It's coming from Asia. I don't think we've had anybody older than 30."

The house is attracting interest from an unusually young demographic because it is being sold in bitcoin. Other houses in England have been offered for sale in the cryptocurrency before, but not on this scale, and not exclusively in bitcoin.

"It’s lots of young people who got involved in cryptocurrencies at an early stage," Loginov said. "Most of them made money from mining cryptocurrencies, and basically they're looking to acquire assets. "

Considering news of the sale was picked up by dozens of media outlets — Loginov says he has given over 50 interviews in the past four weeks, and been featured by Reuters, Sky, even American site CNBC — it's easy to see why cynics think this new generation of bitcoin property vendors might have marketing, rather than the virtues of crypto-currency, at the forefront of their mind.

Even news of a £375,000 new-build in Colchester, Essex managed to generate national headlines once it had a Bitcoin price tag attached.

"Cryptocurrencies are going to be the future"

So is free publicity the name of the bitcoin property game? Loginov says otherwise.

"The biggest benefit for us is that we as a company, throughout this process, figure out how to process property transactions in bitcoin," he told Business Insider.

"We now know exactly how it works, what we have to do, and the steps we have to take. We believe cryptocurrencies are going to be the future."

He notes other benefits. He says a bitcoin transaction is easier and cheaper from a technical point of view. A firm in the United States checks the legitimacy of his prospective bitcoin buyers, a process which Loginov says is "much cheaper" than the equivalent process for tracking fiat money, such is the transparency of blockchain.

Loginov said the reason they don't simply convert their cryptocurrency holdings into fiat money is that "many of them do not have the mechanics to do it."

The cost of processing bitcoin into fiat currency on that scale is also significant, which likely makes doing so less attractive.

A marketing gimmick?

If, then, the sale of a single house might make sense from a business perspective, bitcoin analysts are less convinced the property market will adopt the cryptocurrency more widely.

The biggest problem, according to Saurabh Saxena, founder of residential proptech startup Houzen, is the fact bitcoin and property appeal to fundamentally different types of investors. Property is a stable asset class, and bitcoin is highly volatile.

It's purely a marketing gimmick

"I sincerely believe that bitcoin as a currency or exchange medium is not sustainable. It's purely a marketing gimmick," he told Businesss Insider.

"Developers typically raise money from pension funds or private equity. When a pension fund invests in real estate, they would typically expect a return of anywhere from 8% to 10%.

"Real estate is a low- to medium-risk asset class, and offers low to medium returns. Bitcoin is extremely volatile, and hence very, very high risk as a transaction medium.

"If the value is fixed, then a bit of global reach would make it acceptable for the industry but it's not — the value goes up and down every day."

A bitcoin bubble?

Mati Greenspan, a senior market analyst at trading platform eToro, agrees. "Most bitcoin property transactions are done using the fiat value of the property," he told Business Insider.

Fixing the price in fiat value and converting it to bitcoin at the point of sale essentially means that the buyer absorbs none of the volatility associated with bitcoin, so long as they convert it back to fiat value once the transaction is complete (for what it’s worth, Loginov says he will keep most of the funds from the house sale in bitcoin).

A bubble only ends once all the players have maxed their positions

For as long as bitcoin remains volatile, Greenspan says, it will not see full adoption in areas like the property market.

"Once bitcoin adoption reaches full potential the volatility will even out as well but that could still be a while from now," he says.

"More and more people are coming into the market on a daily basis and there are still many people who are intrigued but still on the sidelines. A bubble only ends once all the players have maxed their positions, and we're still very far from that."

Join the conversation about this story »

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How a radical plan to build 40,000 homes on London's existing roofs could help fix its housing crisis

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

Screen Shot 2017 11 14 at 11.55.44

  • Property firm Knight Frank has identified potential space on London's rooftops for up to 40,000 homes, worth £51 billion.
  • Industry figures believe it could alleviate London's chronic housebuilding shortage.
  • Developers Apex Airspace have started building modular homes on roofs in the capital.

LONDON — Up to 41,000 new homes could be built in central London using space on existing rooftops, according to research from property firm Knight Frank.

The study, which uses "geospatial mapping software," called Skyward, identified over 28 million square feet of potential residential floor space, with a development value of £51 billion.

London is in the throes of a huge housebuilding crisis, with figures released by the London Mayor's office suggesting the capital needs to double its housebuilding activity from 29,000 homes a year to 66,000 a year to deal with a growing housing shortage.

One of the biggest problems hampering the pace of housebuilding in London is a lack of space, which could be partially addressed by building upwards.

Currently, planning restrictions make building on top of existing buildings difficult, but the government is considering introducing regulations which make it easier.

The government's 2017 Housing White Paper, which called for high-density housing in areas like London in locations "where buildings can be extended upwards by using the 'airspace' above them."

Apex Airspace

So how would it work? Business Insider met Val Bagnall, business development director at Apex Housing, at a housing conference in March. Apex's business model is striking and simple: it builds homes on top of existing ones. Ideally, the roof of the existing building is flat, but pitched roofs aren't a problem either.

Apex simply removes the pitched roof, installs an extra layer of housing, and puts the roof back on.

Bagnall told Business Insider the firm has itself identified £54 billion of development potential on London's roofs, both on top of retail spaces and privately owned residential buildings.

"People are still unaware of the value that sits above them," he said. "We're trying to unlock the market."

Apex's pitch to the freeholder is roughly the same as a conventional development: the firm offers around 25% or 30% of the total sales value of the resulting units.

It is also in talks with Tesco to develop on the flat roofs of the supermarket's buildings. Bagnall believes Tesco's London roofs alone could have £400 million of development potential.

Apex has built only built two single units to date, but earlier this year signed a deal to build 28 flats above a building in Southwark, 11 of which will be "affordable."

Join the conversation about this story »

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UK Hedge Fund Eyes Cryptocurrencies On Heels of CME Futures Plan

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

British hedge fund Man Group's CEO Luke Ellis told Reuters Tuesday that the company would add bitcoin to its investment portfolio.

10 things you need to know in markets today

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

Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe and his wife Grace attend a meeting of his ruling ZANU PF party's youth league in Harare, Zimbabwe, October 7, 2017. REUTERS/Philimon Bulawayo

Good morning! Here's what you need to know in markets on Wednesday.

1. Chaos erupted in Zimbabwe prompting rumours of a coup. Multiple explosions were heard and soldiers stormed the state broadcaster before announcing their actions were "not a military takeover."

2. A survey from Bank of America Merrill Lynch found that investors think stocks are over-valued, but a record number recently took on increased levels of risk. Investors also think these risky positions are "crowded trades," meaning there could be a damaging rush to the exits.

3. DRW, a Chicago-based firm, is looking to set up a bitcoin trading desk in Singapore to dominate the cryptocurrency market in AsiaThe firm has been in the bitcoin game since 2014 via its division Cumberland Mining, which already operates over-the-counter bitcoin trading desks in Chicago and London. Bobby Cho, the head of over-the-counter trading for Cumberland, told Business Insider the firm is preparing to start up operations in Singapore well-before year-end. 

4. President Donald Trump's economic team is reportedly considering Allianz economist and former CEO of bond fund giant Pimco Mohamed El-Erian for one of four open seats on the Federal Reserve's powerful Washington-based board of governors. The news was first reported by Dow Jones Newswires, which is part of The Wall Street Journal. They cited a source familiar with the matter

5. Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway raised its stake in Apple by 3%, to 134 million outstanding shares, in the third quarter, a regulatory filing released on Tuesday showed. The conglomerate owned about 2.6% of Apple shares as of September 30, the 13F filing for the quarter ended September 30 showed. That made Berkshire the fifth-largest owner of Apple's outstanding shares, according to Bloomberg data.

6. David Lipton, the deputy managing director of the International Monetary Fund, has warned of the potentially "costly" consequences of the fragmentation of banking and capital markets in Europe in the aftermath of Brexit. In a speech at Swiss bank UBS' annual European Conference, Lipton — a former Clinton and Obama administration official — said that Brexit will serve to focus "our minds on the future of the financial system architecture," on the continent, but made clear that fragmenting functions is in no one's best interests.

7. Japan's Nikkei share average fell to a two-week low on Wednesday, with all sectors in negative territory as investors took profits following a two-month rally that pushed up the market by about 20%. The Nikkei ended 1.6% lower at 22,028.32, its lowest close since October 31.

8. Amazon will be worth $1 trillion (£763 billion) by the end of 2018, according to a bullish calculation sent to investors by Morgan Stanley. The bank also predicted the firm could hit a $2,000 (£1,526) share price in the next 12 months. The major reason: Amazon has built several fast-growing businesses on top of its core, massive retail business. Specifically, there's Amazon Web Services, advertising, and Prime subscriptions. 

9. Reddit, the "front page of the internet" that has been ravaged by scandals in its 12-year history, is considering an initial public offering, CEO Steve Huffman reportedly said at an Internet Association summit in San Francisco on Monday. "The time frame is pretty far out,” he said, according to Variety, adding that going public is "the only responsible choice" for the company going forward.

10. A London-startup headed by a Credit Suisse veteran is launching a new debit card that it claims will allow people to spend cryptocurrencies across the UK. The London Block Exchange (LBX) launched on Tuesday. It plans to launch a sterling-to-cryptocurrency exchange and a Visa debit card, dubbed "Dragoncard," that will allow people to spend bitcoin, ethereum, ripple, litecoin and monero across the UK. The startup plans to add more cryptocurrencies in future.

Join the conversation about this story »

NOW WATCH: These are the watches worn by the smartest and most powerful men in the world

10 things you need to know in markets today

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

Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe and his wife Grace attend a meeting of his ruling ZANU PF party's youth league in Harare, Zimbabwe, October 7, 2017. REUTERS/Philimon Bulawayo

Good morning! Here's what you need to know in markets on Wednesday.

1. Chaos erupted in Zimbabwe prompting rumours of a coup. Multiple explosions were heard and soldiers stormed the state broadcaster before announcing their actions were "not a military takeover."

2. A survey from Bank of America Merrill Lynch found that investors think stocks are over-valued, but a record number recently took on increased levels of risk. Investors also think these risky positions are "crowded trades," meaning there could be a damaging rush to the exits.

3. DRW, a Chicago-based firm, is looking to set up a bitcoin trading desk in Singapore to dominate the cryptocurrency market in AsiaThe firm has been in the bitcoin game since 2014 via its division Cumberland Mining, which already operates over-the-counter bitcoin trading desks in Chicago and London. Bobby Cho, the head of over-the-counter trading for Cumberland, told Business Insider the firm is preparing to start up operations in Singapore well-before year-end. 

4. President Donald Trump's economic team is reportedly considering Allianz economist and former CEO of bond fund giant Pimco Mohamed El-Erian for one of four open seats on the Federal Reserve's powerful Washington-based board of governors. The news was first reported by Dow Jones Newswires, which is part of The Wall Street Journal. They cited a source familiar with the matter

5. Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway raised its stake in Apple by 3%, to 134 million outstanding shares, in the third quarter, a regulatory filing released on Tuesday showed. The conglomerate owned about 2.6% of Apple shares as of September 30, the 13F filing for the quarter ended September 30 showed. That made Berkshire the fifth-largest owner of Apple's outstanding shares, according to Bloomberg data.

6. David Lipton, the deputy managing director of the International Monetary Fund, has warned of the potentially "costly" consequences of the fragmentation of banking and capital markets in Europe in the aftermath of Brexit. In a speech at Swiss bank UBS' annual European Conference, Lipton — a former Clinton and Obama administration official — said that Brexit will serve to focus "our minds on the future of the financial system architecture," on the continent, but made clear that fragmenting functions is in no one's best interests.

7. Japan's Nikkei share average fell to a two-week low on Wednesday, with all sectors in negative territory as investors took profits following a two-month rally that pushed up the market by about 20%. The Nikkei ended 1.6% lower at 22,028.32, its lowest close since October 31.

8. Amazon will be worth $1 trillion (£763 billion) by the end of 2018, according to a bullish calculation sent to investors by Morgan Stanley. The bank also predicted the firm could hit a $2,000 (£1,526) share price in the next 12 months. The major reason: Amazon has built several fast-growing businesses on top of its core, massive retail business. Specifically, there's Amazon Web Services, advertising, and Prime subscriptions. 

9. Reddit, the "front page of the internet" that has been ravaged by scandals in its 12-year history, is considering an initial public offering, CEO Steve Huffman reportedly said at an Internet Association summit in San Francisco on Monday. "The time frame is pretty far out,” he said, according to Variety, adding that going public is "the only responsible choice" for the company going forward.

10. A London-startup headed by a Credit Suisse veteran is launching a new debit card that it claims will allow people to spend cryptocurrencies across the UK. The London Block Exchange (LBX) launched on Tuesday. It plans to launch a sterling-to-cryptocurrency exchange and a Visa debit card, dubbed "Dragoncard," that will allow people to spend bitcoin, ethereum, ripple, litecoin and monero across the UK. The startup plans to add more cryptocurrencies in future.

Join the conversation about this story »

NOW WATCH: These are the watches worn by the smartest and most powerful men in the world

10 things you need to know in markets today

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

Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe and his wife Grace attend a meeting of his ruling ZANU PF party's youth league in Harare, Zimbabwe, October 7, 2017. REUTERS/Philimon Bulawayo

Good morning! Here's what you need to know in markets on Wednesday.

1. Chaos erupted in Zimbabwe prompting rumours of a coup. Multiple explosions were heard and soldiers stormed the state broadcaster before announcing their actions were "not a military takeover."

2. A survey from Bank of America Merrill Lynch found that investors think stocks are over-valued, but a record number recently took on increased levels of risk. Investors also think these risky positions are "crowded trades," meaning there could be a damaging rush to the exits.

3. DRW, a Chicago-based firm, is looking to set up a bitcoin trading desk in Singapore to dominate the cryptocurrency market in AsiaThe firm has been in the bitcoin game since 2014 via its division Cumberland Mining, which already operates over-the-counter bitcoin trading desks in Chicago and London. Bobby Cho, the head of over-the-counter trading for Cumberland, told Business Insider the firm is preparing to start up operations in Singapore well-before year-end. 

4. President Donald Trump's economic team is reportedly considering Allianz economist and former CEO of bond fund giant Pimco Mohamed El-Erian for one of four open seats on the Federal Reserve's powerful Washington-based board of governors. The news was first reported by Dow Jones Newswires, which is part of The Wall Street Journal. They cited a source familiar with the matter

5. Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway raised its stake in Apple by 3%, to 134 million outstanding shares, in the third quarter, a regulatory filing released on Tuesday showed. The conglomerate owned about 2.6% of Apple shares as of September 30, the 13F filing for the quarter ended September 30 showed. That made Berkshire the fifth-largest owner of Apple's outstanding shares, according to Bloomberg data.

6. David Lipton, the deputy managing director of the International Monetary Fund, has warned of the potentially "costly" consequences of the fragmentation of banking and capital markets in Europe in the aftermath of Brexit. In a speech at Swiss bank UBS' annual European Conference, Lipton — a former Clinton and Obama administration official — said that Brexit will serve to focus "our minds on the future of the financial system architecture," on the continent, but made clear that fragmenting functions is in no one's best interests.

7. Japan's Nikkei share average fell to a two-week low on Wednesday, with all sectors in negative territory as investors took profits following a two-month rally that pushed up the market by about 20%. The Nikkei ended 1.6% lower at 22,028.32, its lowest close since October 31.

8. Amazon will be worth $1 trillion (£763 billion) by the end of 2018, according to a bullish calculation sent to investors by Morgan Stanley. The bank also predicted the firm could hit a $2,000 (£1,526) share price in the next 12 months. The major reason: Amazon has built several fast-growing businesses on top of its core, massive retail business. Specifically, there's Amazon Web Services, advertising, and Prime subscriptions. 

9. Reddit, the "front page of the internet" that has been ravaged by scandals in its 12-year history, is considering an initial public offering, CEO Steve Huffman reportedly said at an Internet Association summit in San Francisco on Monday. "The time frame is pretty far out,” he said, according to Variety, adding that going public is "the only responsible choice" for the company going forward.

10. A London-startup headed by a Credit Suisse veteran is launching a new debit card that it claims will allow people to spend cryptocurrencies across the UK. The London Block Exchange (LBX) launched on Tuesday. It plans to launch a sterling-to-cryptocurrency exchange and a Visa debit card, dubbed "Dragoncard," that will allow people to spend bitcoin, ethereum, ripple, litecoin and monero across the UK. The startup plans to add more cryptocurrencies in future.

Join the conversation about this story »

NOW WATCH: These are the watches worn by the smartest and most powerful men in the world

A London startup is launching a debit card that lets you spend bitcoin and ethereum

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

London_Block_Exchange_03

  • New startup London Block Exchange is launching a prepaid card linked to an app that will let people spend and hold cryptocurrencies.
  • The startup has raised £2 million from private investors and is headed by an 18-year Credit Suisse veteran.



A London-startup headed by a Credit Suisse veteran is launching a new debit card that it claims will allow people to spend cryptocurrencies across the UK.

The London Block Exchange (LBX) launched on Tuesday. It plans to launch a sterling-to-cryptocurrency exchange and a Visa debit card, dubbed "Dragoncard," that will allow people to spend bitcoin, ethereum, ripple, litecoin and monero across the UK. The startup plans to add more cryptocurrencies in future.

The Visa card, which will be issued by Gibraltar-based pre-paid card provider Wavecrest, will be linked to an app that allows users to buy and hold cryptocurrencies through the LBX exchange. Customers will also be able to withdraw money using the card. Cryptocurrencies will be converted to sterling at the time of withdrawal.

London_Block_Exchange_07LBX CEO and founder Ben Dives said in a statement: "Despite being the financial capital of the world, London is a difficult place for investors to enter and trade in the cryptocurrency market.

"We’ll bring it into the mainstream by removing the barriers to access, and by helping people understand and have confidence in what we believe is the future of money."

LBX has so far raised £2 million from a consortium of private investors who the company declined to name. Prior to setting up LBX earlier this year, Dives founded brainstorming tool Ideaflip.

Ex-Credit Suisse and UBS banker Adam Bryant serves as LBX's executive chairman. Bryant spent 18 years at Credit Suisse and almost two years at UBS before joining LBX, running the macro hedge fund teams at both banks.

Bryant said in a statement: "We’re offering a grown up and robust experience for those who wish to safely and easily understand and invest in digital currencies. We’re confident we’ll transform this market in the UK and will become the leading cryptocurrency and blockchain consultancy for institutional investors and consumers alike."

Customers will be charged a 0.5% for buying and selling cryptocurrencies on its platform and the Dragoncard has an up-front fee of £20. LBX says card provider Wavecrest will also charge a small fee for ATM withdrawals.

LBX's launch coincides with an explosion of interest in cryptocurrency in 2017. Bitcoin has rocketed over 500% so far this year and the total cryptocurrency market has ballooned to close to $200 billion thanks to the popularity of "initial coin offerings," where startups issue digital coins as a way of raising money.

While LBX is one of the first companies to offer a cryptocurrency card in the UK, it is likely to soon face competition. Revolut, the well-funded foreign exchange startup, is developing cryptocurrency trading capacities within its app and may well let consumers spend the currencies on its prepaid card.

Join the conversation about this story »

NOW WATCH: How Bill Gates and Warren Buffett are changing the world like no other humans in history

A London startup is launching a debit card that lets you spend bitcoin and ethereum

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

London_Block_Exchange_03

  • New startup London Block Exchange is launching a prepaid card linked to an app that will let people spend and hold cryptocurrencies.
  • The startup has raised £2 million from private investors and is headed by an 18-year Credit Suisse veteran.



A London-startup headed by a Credit Suisse veteran is launching a new debit card that it claims will allow people to spend cryptocurrencies across the UK.

The London Block Exchange (LBX) launched on Tuesday. It plans to launch a sterling-to-cryptocurrency exchange and a Visa debit card, dubbed "Dragoncard," that will allow people to spend bitcoin, ethereum, ripple, litecoin and monero across the UK. The startup plans to add more cryptocurrencies in future.

The Visa card, which will be issued by Gibraltar-based pre-paid card provider Wavecrest, will be linked to an app that allows users to buy and hold cryptocurrencies through the LBX exchange. Customers will also be able to withdraw money using the card. Cryptocurrencies will be converted to sterling at the time of withdrawal.

London_Block_Exchange_07LBX CEO and founder Ben Dives said in a statement: "Despite being the financial capital of the world, London is a difficult place for investors to enter and trade in the cryptocurrency market.

"We’ll bring it into the mainstream by removing the barriers to access, and by helping people understand and have confidence in what we believe is the future of money."

LBX has so far raised £2 million from a consortium of private investors who the company declined to name. Prior to setting up LBX earlier this year, Dives founded brainstorming tool Ideaflip.

Ex-Credit Suisse and UBS banker Adam Bryant serves as LBX's executive chairman. Bryant spent 18 years at Credit Suisse and almost two years at UBS before joining LBX, running the macro hedge fund teams at both banks.

Bryant said in a statement: "We’re offering a grown up and robust experience for those who wish to safely and easily understand and invest in digital currencies. We’re confident we’ll transform this market in the UK and will become the leading cryptocurrency and blockchain consultancy for institutional investors and consumers alike."

Customers will be charged a 0.5% for buying and selling cryptocurrencies on its platform and the Dragoncard has an up-front fee of £20. LBX says card provider Wavecrest will also charge a small fee for ATM withdrawals.

LBX's launch coincides with an explosion of interest in cryptocurrency in 2017. Bitcoin has rocketed over 500% so far this year and the total cryptocurrency market has ballooned to close to $200 billion thanks to the popularity of "initial coin offerings," where startups issue digital coins as a way of raising money.

While LBX is one of the first companies to offer a cryptocurrency card in the UK, it is likely to soon face competition. Revolut, the well-funded foreign exchange startup, is developing cryptocurrency trading capacities within its app and may well let consumers spend the currencies on its prepaid card.

Join the conversation about this story »

NOW WATCH: How Bill Gates and Warren Buffett are changing the world like no other humans in history

A London startup is launching a debit card that lets you spend bitcoin and ethereum

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

London_Block_Exchange_03

  • New startup London Block Exchange is launching a prepaid card linked to an app that will let people spend and hold cryptocurrencies.
  • The startup has raised £2 million from private investors and is headed by an 18-year Credit Suisse veteran.



A London-startup headed by a Credit Suisse veteran is launching a new debit card that it claims will allow people to spend cryptocurrencies across the UK.

The London Block Exchange (LBX) launched on Tuesday. It plans to launch a sterling-to-cryptocurrency exchange and a Visa debit card, dubbed "Dragoncard," that will allow people to spend bitcoin, ethereum, ripple, litecoin and monero across the UK. The startup plans to add more cryptocurrencies in future.

The Visa card, which will be issued by Gibraltar-based pre-paid card provider Wavecrest, will be linked to an app that allows users to buy and hold cryptocurrencies through the LBX exchange. Customers will also be able to withdraw money using the card. Cryptocurrencies will be converted to sterling at the time of withdrawal.

London_Block_Exchange_07LBX CEO and founder Ben Dives said in a statement: "Despite being the financial capital of the world, London is a difficult place for investors to enter and trade in the cryptocurrency market.

"We’ll bring it into the mainstream by removing the barriers to access, and by helping people understand and have confidence in what we believe is the future of money."

LBX has so far raised £2 million from a consortium of private investors who the company declined to name. Prior to setting up LBX earlier this year, Dives founded brainstorming tool Ideaflip.

Ex-Credit Suisse and UBS banker Adam Bryant serves as LBX's executive chairman. Bryant spent 18 years at Credit Suisse and almost two years at UBS before joining LBX, running the macro hedge fund teams at both banks.

Bryant said in a statement: "We’re offering a grown up and robust experience for those who wish to safely and easily understand and invest in digital currencies. We’re confident we’ll transform this market in the UK and will become the leading cryptocurrency and blockchain consultancy for institutional investors and consumers alike."

Customers will be charged a 0.5% for buying and selling cryptocurrencies on its platform and the Dragoncard has an up-front fee of £20. LBX says card provider Wavecrest will also charge a small fee for ATM withdrawals.

LBX's launch coincides with an explosion of interest in cryptocurrency in 2017. Bitcoin has rocketed over 500% so far this year and the total cryptocurrency market has ballooned to close to $200 billion thanks to the popularity of "initial coin offerings," where startups issue digital coins as a way of raising money.

While LBX is one of the first companies to offer a cryptocurrency card in the UK, it is likely to soon face competition. Revolut, the well-funded foreign exchange startup, is developing cryptocurrency trading capacities within its app and may well let consumers spend the currencies on its prepaid card.

Join the conversation about this story »

NOW WATCH: How Bill Gates and Warren Buffett are changing the world like no other humans in history

Square Cash is letting some users buy and sell Bitcoin

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

 Square is testing cryptocurrency support in their Cash app, according to TechCrunch reader Zach Miles on Twitter and confirmed by the company. The trial, which seems to only be available right now to a small number of users, lets you buy and sell bitcoin directly in the app. The interface is very basic. Users who have access to the beta can swipe right from the Cash Card page to access… Read More

Bitcoin Bulletproofed: Wuille, Maxwell and More Propose Scalable Privacy Tech

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

A paper outlining "Bulletproofs" contends to cut the down the size of confidential transactions, a long-anticipated privacy technology for bitcoin.

MasterCard has filed a patent on its own blockchain-based money transfer solution

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

 In about 2014, most bitcoin companies quickly pivoted to the “next big thing:” blockchain. Among them were the financial and fintech houses that were eager to avoid SEC scrutiny of their cryptocurrency holdings but were happy to use blockchain technology to speed up transaction times. Many of those early efforts are now apparently bearing fruit. MasterCard, for example, has just… Read More

Donald and Melania Trump's wedding cake is being auctioned off for hundreds of dollars

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

Vogue Melania

  • A cake from Donald and Melania Trump's wedding is being auctioned off. 
  • The starting price is $250. 
  • The actual cake from the Trumps' wedding couldn't be eaten because it was filled with wires. 

 

One of Donald and Melania Trump's souvenir wedding cakes is being auctioned off. 

donald trump cake

Julien's Live Auction is auctioning off the cake this week, with a starting bid of $250. As of Tuesday evening, bids on the 4-inch-by-4 inch treat — which was first spotted by The Awl — had reached $600.

According to the item's description, the chocolate truffle cake with a white frosting rose was sent home with guests as a wedding favor. The mini cake is housed in a white paper box, which is monogrammed "M D T." 

"The actual seven-tier wedding cake reportedly cost $50,000 and was not eaten by the wedding guests due to the amount of wire used to make it stand," the description states. 

According to The Hollywood Reporter, the wedding cake was a seven-tier masterpiece that weighed more than 200 pounds. The yellow sponge cake was flavored with orange zest, filled with butter cream, soaked in Grand Marnier, and featured 2,000 individually constructed flowers spun from sugar — but not served to guests due to the wire infrastructure. 

Julien's Auctions, which is based in Beverly Hills and specializes in entertainment auctions, has found luck selling off Trump goods before. In October, the auction house sold a sketch of the Empire State Building by Trump for $16,000. 

Bidding on the wedding cake ends on Friday. The estimated price is currently $1,000 to $2,000. 

SEE ALSO: Trump is spurring an unprecedented change for American companies

Join the conversation about this story »

NOW WATCH: TOP STRATEGIST: Bitcoin will soar to $25,000 in 5 years

US exchanges are asking regulators to delay massive new system meant to make markets safer

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

nyse

  • US stock exchanges are asking the Securities and Exchange Commission to delay the implementation of a database that would provide better surveillance over the markets. 
  • The so-called Consolidated Audit Trail would serve as a central database for the most sensitive information in the markets.


US stock exchanges have requested the Securities and Exchange Commission delay the rollout of a massive new database aimed at helping the regulator better police the markets so they can address cybersecurity concerns and conduct more testing.

The exchanges are seeking to postpone by a year implementation of the first phase of the Consolidated Audit Trail, or CAT, which was to begin on Wednesday, according to a letter to the SEC dated November 13 and posted on its website. It was signed by representatives from Intercontinental Exchange's New York Stock Exchange, Nasdaq Inc, Cboe Global Markets and other exchanges.

The CAT has been hit by a series of delays since being ordered by the SEC after the May 2010 "flash crash," even though the regulator has said it views completion of the database as critical to its oversight of markets.

The latest holdup is largely due to security concerns, including the lack of ability for users to test the system in an environment with production-level security, the exchanges said.

"Recent high-profile security breaches, such as the breach at Equifax, have highlighted the vulnerability of systems holding large volumes of sensitive financial data to hacking and other forms of attack," they said in the letter.

The exchanges also said they have had difficulties approving a chief information security officer to oversee security of the database, which would be one of the world's largest.

The CAT has been likened to a Hubble Telescope for financial markets and will be a central database for all stock and options "message traffic," meaning every trade order, execution, modification, and cancellation. It will also hold highly sensitive personal identifying information, such as the social security numbers of exchange customers.

After the flash crash, in which around $1 trillion was wiped from the stock market within minutes before an almost equally rapid rebound, it took several months to piece together the data needed to attempt to diagnose what caused the event. CAT would greatly speed up such an investigation.

The SEC tasked the exchanges with creating CAT's rules, including how it would be funded. The fee plan has faced delays after some financial firms complained that the exchanges wanted fees from brokers, banks and other traders to cover the bulk of the costs.

(Reporting by John McCrank; Editing by Dan Grebler)

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