People are fond of “looking at the bigger picture” but when it comes to the legal profession and FICC markets, frankly the bigger picture confuses me. How else can we explain how a number of traders are facing jail time and yet so many other traders are winning their unfair dismissal cases? To me, the issue clearly highlights the level of collateral damage in the industry and requires the banks (and regulators to a degree) to have a serious reappraisal of their approach.
Last week in Illinois saw the US government respond to a motion to dismiss its indictment of Jitesh Thakkar, who is accused of aiding and abetting Navinder Sarao in his spoofing activities by providing him with the technology to conduct that strategy. The case has some serious implications for fintechs and software programmers to the financial markets industry generally, but what I really want to know is; assuming a successful conviction, what will the US Gun Lobby make of it?
The memories of last year's emotionally charged bull run in bitcoin are fading fast, almost as fast as the optimism earlier this year that the cryptocurrency would regain the highs of 2017. At less than half the value at which it entered the year I am hearing a few more "why the time to buy bitcoin is now" stories emerge, but this bothers me. Looking at a market I like to weigh up the rationale for buying and selling - and bitcoin at the moment seems heavily weighted one way.
The price action in Cable on Monday around the resignation of four government ministers in the UK was interesting and highlighted a nuance of the modern FX market structure. The pertinent question to be considered is: Do we want to have a generally stable market with fewer 200 point moves, but which has occasional flash events; or is it better to have a generally busier market, with more 200 point moves and little - or even no - flash events?
We speak a lot about disruption in FX markets, but more often than not we focus on the trading piece of the puzzle. It is not only there that traditional models and values are being challenged, however, as was highlighted early in the Asian trading day today when news of three resignations from the UK government was reported.
It is not a new phenomenon, but this morning offered a dramatic and, for the incumbents, disturbing insight into the future when the Twitter-sphere had the news out well in advance of the traditional news wires.
Those of you wise enough to listen in to our weekly podcast will know that I am currently in South Africa, although not, I should point out, to stalk the Global FXC. Instead I am here as part of my work with ACI Australia’s Dealing Simulation Course and last week we worked with the IMF to run the course for 30 African central bankers, which made me realise I only told half of the story in last week's column on the FX industry's priorities.
The FX industry is a vibrant, innovative place, but sometimes I think it forgets why it exists. This amnesia means as an industry, FX does not respond sufficiently on those occasions when people with no understanding of the nuances of the business suggest “improvements”.
So many news threads running through the industry at the moment seem to be idealising a totally transparent, all-to-all trading environment. This works in domesticated markets like equities, but it doesn’t work in global, institutional markets like FX – especially when we remember why we are here.
This week the Global FX Committee meets in South Africa for its regular semi-annual meeting and it does so at a time when there are still lingering doubts in a small number of quarters over some of principles in the FX Global Code, and more broader doubts over adoption in certain market segments – not least the buy side.
If ever the FX industry needed an example of why the Code is important, however, it can be found in the latest regulatory finding against a bank.
I’ve spent too much time for anyone’s good on US legal and regulatory matters recently so, apart from saying that having listened to the oral arguments for Mark Johnson’s bail case I am much more optimistic about his appeal – the government’s case does appear to be at best careless, at worst misleading – I want to get into a regular staple of this column, the rumour mill!
It is inevitable when a deal gets done in the platform world, especially when it involves an exchange, that we inevitably look for the next deal.
The US legal system continues challenge many aspects of the OTC market structure, the latest being a lawsuit brought by interest rate swap trading venue provider TrueEx against a group of banks. To me, not only does the lawsuit highlight the general misconception that liquidity is an apparently valueless commodity, but it also signals - should the decision a certain way - a fundamental change in who decides what liquidity goes where...and believe me the LPs will not be the ones deciding.