Financial technology, sustainability & Trichet on our sci-fi future

We’ve rushed straight from Camp Alphaville’s big data, AI and debt sustainability conversations to Paris to take part in a United Nations Environment Program-hosted symposium entitled New Rules for New Horizons: Reshaping Finance Sustainability.

[As an aside - we were delivered to the venue by a particularly overjoyed Parisien taxi driver celebrating news that local protests against Uber's UberPop service, which allows non-professionals to offer rides, had successfully persuaded the Silicon Valley Taxi-Unicorn-App-Monopoly-Disruptor to suspend the service as of this weekend.]

This is a very brief summary of the session we moderated on financial technology and sustainability — yes there is a connection — before a more thoughtful take on everything we’ve just downloaded sometime next week. Read more

Camp Alphaville bonus impromptu iPhone video: Lorcan v Lars on Greece and the euro

Should Greece want to leave the euro? Lorcan Roche Kelly and Lars Christensen debate a recent post over at Lars’s blog. A fun and vigorous debate but some possibly NSFW language:

This is nuts: China blames the shorts

Chinese regulators have markets exactly backwards.

Late on Thursday they announced an investigation into manipulation by short sellers, while the futures exchange seems to be discouraging people shorting, or betting on price falls.

In practical terms, the action failed: stocks fell again, leaving them down 12 per cent on the week and down more than a quarter from their peak three weeks ago, with extraordinary intra-day swings.

In principle, though, the action is just wrong. The reason the stock market is falling isn’t short sellers, it’s long sellers. More precisely, the hordes who’d been piling into stocks and pushing prices through the roof over the past year are selling, and that was entirely predictable (the difficult issue was when there would be a rout, not whether there would). Read more

Camp Alphaville videos: Zoltan Pozsar on the shadow banking system

Last one — a chat with Zoltan Pozsar (in front of the Faces of Alphaville shooting gallery) on the safety of the US financial system, global regulatory architecture, and the Fed’s reverse repo facility:

Markets Live: Friday, 3rd July, 2015

Live markets commentary from 

FT Opening Quote – Greece puts damper on deals

Greece faces no easy choice this weekend and its problems have put a damper on deals for European investment bankers. It’s better Stateside, where Aetna has paid $37bn for Humana this morning. FT Opening Quote, with commentary by City Editor Jonathan Guthrie, is your early City briefing. You can sign up for the full newsletter here.  Read more

FirstFT (the new 6am Cut)

Varoufakis declares he would resign if the Greeks voted Yes in the referendum Read more

Further reading

Elsewhere on Friday,

- Facebook changes its logo.

- Galbraith via Yanis: Nine myths about the Greek crisis... and Only the no can save the euro.

- A reliable contrarian indicator.

- How Billy Mitchell became a video-game superstar and achieved Pac-Man bliss.  Read more

How we would have restructured Greece’s debt, by the IMF

Here is an earnest, but very strange, document. Click to read.

It’s a Greek debt sustainability analysis by IMF staff. Yes, one of those analyses. A preliminary one, but in many ways the DSA to end all DSAs. Read more

Greece shows ECB’s stress tests were nonsense

Remember the Comprehensive Assessment? You know, the European Central Bank’s report in October 2014 that said three Greek banks were adequately capitalised to survive a stressed scenario thanks to their fundraising efforts earlier in the year, while the fourth was only off by five basis points?

We ask because the ECB seems to have forgotten. Otherwise, we can’t think of why the euro area’s central bank is choking off Greek lenders and effectively forcing the Greek government to impose capital controls. (Immense thanks to Karl Whelan for making this point at our panel at Camp Alphaville.)

To see the oddity, it helps to explain what central banks are for. Read more

Camp Alphaville videos: Is GDP losing its relevance?

Cardiff Garcia chats with Diane Coyle, the head of the consultancy Enlightenment Economics about the diminishing relevance of GDP. They also touch on the risks of big data and the ethical issues surrounding it. Diane highlights what building strategies we should be adopting from the Victorians.

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Camp Alphaville videos: Around the world in five minutes

Cardiff Garcia and George Magnus take a tour of the world’s market from a marquee at Camp 2015 — covering why EMs need to get more growth from less input, why although China has a plan, there’s very little proof it has a good plan, why the difference between Greece today and Greece in 2012 is Spain and why the US story is less depressing than the rest. Read more

Camp Alphaville videos: The dark net’s reluctant kings

In which FT Alphaville’s Izabella Kaminska and Henry Farrell, political economy professor at George Washington university discuss the process by which anarchic markets self-organise into governmental structures… whether they like it or not. Read more

Camp Alphaville videos: Transhumanism

For those who couldn’t join the FT Alphaville team in the sweltering heat on Wednesday at Camp Alphaville, here’s a recap courtesy of the FT video team.

Cardiff Garcia starts by asking Zoltan Istvan — writer, futurist, philosopher and 2016 US presidential candidate for the Transhumanism party — what exactly is transhumanism all about? Read more

Markets Live: Thursday, 2nd July, 2015

Live markets commentary from 

FT Opening Quote – Dixons Carphone plans 500 US stores

Dixons Carphone is not risking much of a US misadventure, judging by the size of its investment in its joint venture with Sprint in the US. FT Opening Quote, with commentary by City Editor Jonathan Guthrie, is your early City briefing. You can sign up for the full newsletter here.  Read more

FirstFT (the new 6am Cut)

Tsipras accepts most of the terms of the economic plan proposed last weekend Read more

We’ve gone Camping…

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FirstFT (the new 6am Cut)

Greece rescue deal runs out of time Read more

Defaulting on the IMF: a stupid idea whose time had come

This belief — that an implicit official sector guarantee has quietly settled over every sovereign debt instrument issued by every geopolitically significant country on the planet — is a fallacy. The moral hazard implications of allowing this idea to prosper are staggering. More importantly, the official sector lacks the resources to make good on such an implicit guarantee, even if it wanted to do so.

– Lee Buchheit, ‘Sovereign fragility’, 2014

Coming home to roost now though, isn’t it? Read more

Further Reading

Elsewhere on Wednesday…

- H0w (how?) to spend a billion dollars

- Over in China…

- Puerto Rico could really use a bankruptcy

- Breaking a Troika Read more

FT Opening Quote – Heathrow lands expansion backing

The Airports Commission’s support for a third runway at Heathrow this morning is only the cue for further dithering, Saga has bought the Bennetts biker insurance business and there’s some better news finally from Serco. FT Opening Quote, with commentary by City Editor Jonathan Guthrie, is your early City briefing. You can sign up for the full newsletter here.  Read more

What to wear at Camp Alphaville

Well, you won’t need your wellies. Here’s the forecast for Wednesday…

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First FT: A vote on the euro, Apple music launch, biosimilar drugs

Europe’s message to Greek citizens is simple: they are voting on membership of the eurozone. Read more

Chinese equities… and fat pipes of wealth extraction

Right, so today the Shanghai Composite is up 5.6 per cent, Shenzhen is up 4.8 per cent and ChiNext has gained 6.3 per cent. And we have no idea what’s going to happen tomorrow

Over the past few days we got a clear government push to keep this thing up — including pushing something like an extra RMB1tn into the system via RRR and benchmark rate cuts over the weekend and, today, fund managers being told to help out — but it’s unclear how long that can keep things contained following near 20 per cent falls in these markets since their (admittedly v impressive) peaks in early June.

As of yesterday it was: not much at all as markets tumbled. As of today it’s: a bit more than that as they don’t.

To help clear things up, here’s Anne Stevenson-Yang of JCap Research with her most recent note: Read more

Markets Live: Tuesday, 30th June, 2015

Live markets commentary from 

Plus500, absent numbers, materiality and blame

Plus500, the Israel based but London listed contract for difference group, has released another update about progress on efforts to deal with a freeze of all UK customer accounts demanded by the regulator.

We’ll get to the latest puzzle implied by the numbers below, but first a point about blame. Who’s fault is it that the company will soon, pending approvals, be sold at a price just over half that of the valuation of only a few months ago? How did Plus500 get away with churning through customers for so long?

Perhaps regulators might have acted sooner. Tuesday’s release, however, highlights again the ability of a company to choose what numbers it discloses, and failings here are the fault of Plus500′s shareholders. Read more

Further reading

Elsewhere on Tuesday,

- Reversible? Move along, nothing to see here.

- BIS drops Greece from the eurozone.

- Playboy debates the end of man.

- The anatomy of a manhunt.  Read more

FT Opening Quote – Ocado delivers

Wags who said Ocado starts with a zero, ends with a zero and will amount to zero may be eating their words with its latest numbers. FT Opening Quote, with commentary by City Editor Jonathan Guthrie, is your early City briefing. You can sign up for the full newsletter here. Read more

BREAKING: Last minute Greek emergency session at Camp Alphaville

We too can rip up our promised programme to respond to the evolving wants and desires of the Camp Alphaville polis.

As of pixel time, Wednesday’s “The Untouchables: The Saga of Weird Emerging Market Sovereign Bonds” debate becomes the “Last minute Greek emergency session” panel — to be moderated by our resident sovereign default expert Joseph Cotterill (who also doubles up as the FT’s private equity correspondent).

Joseph will be joined by:

  • Paul McNamara, Investment Director, Emerging Markets, GAM Holding AG
  • Gabriel Sterne, Head of Global Macro Research, Oxford Economics
  • Rodrigo Olivares-Caminal, Professor of Banking and Finance Law, Queen Mary University London

 Read more