Paul Murphy

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Paul Murphy is the founding editor of FT Alphaville and an associate editor of the Financial Times. He joined the FT in London in 2006 as development editor of, concentrating on the expansion of the online business. Prior to that, he served as the Guardian’s financial editor for seven years. He has also held senior positions in business journalism at the Sunday Business newspaper and the Daily Telegraph. Murphy is a graduate of the London School of Economics.

Sloppy spreaders

The FCA has posted one of its “Dear CFO” letters to the UK spreadbetting/CFD sector. It follows a review across ten firms which (surprise, surprise) found various areas of concern.

Would-be investors in CMC Markets, whose float closes on Thursday, might take particular note. They are, after all, being invited to help Peter Cruddas and his wife Fiona, along with Goldman Sachs, take more than £200m off the table…

Click to read. Read more

Novo Banco: Fixing the Bank of Portugal’s mistake

The ECB, we guess, is still getting to grips with its new(ish) role as bank regulator-in-chief across Europe. But in the case of Portugal’s Novo Banco, the phoenix-like entity created out of the collapsed Banco Espirito Santo, there’s no evidence the ECB has any handle whatsoever.

A strange re-resolution of Novo Banco, announced between Christmas and New Year, has been left entirely to the Bank of Portugal, whose bungling plan to protect local retail investors at the expense of foreign bond holders (notably Blackrock and Pimco) now looks to be headed for the courts.

Indeed, as Bloomberg reported this week, Clifford Chance in London and PLMJ in Lisbon have now been hired to sue the Portuguese central bank.

Yet all this could be avoided, if only the Bank of Portugal would lose a little of its bloody-mindedness. Read more

Markets Live borked (updated)

We have a severe problem with our ML comments system. We can’t restart Tuesday’s session of Markets Live until that has been looked into.

The tech team are on the case, but probably best you go make yourself a cup of tea. Read more

Davos clickbait is getting worse

Henry Blodget set a high bar in low-grade blogging five years back when visiting the WEF’s annual Alpine outing: he took photos of each bit of junk in his official Davos bag. It made for a 22-page slide show, bringing in 124,481 reader page views — the advertising on which will have helped to pay for his trip.

At Davos this year it fell to Quartz to come up with a fresh way to waste readers’ time, promising this:

We brought an antenna to Davos to track private air travel, and here’s what we found

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A month of failed rallies in Anglo American

Anyone practicing their knife-catching skills with this particular miner will have replaced their hands with ribbons. Here’s Anglo American of late…

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Oil — ‘Almost as cheap as the world has seen in 50 years’

Consider this chart from Charles Robertson at Renaissance Capital. Click to enlarge…

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A Footsie bear market, illustrated…

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Paul Donovan is joining Markets Live on Wednesday at 11am

Roll up. UBS Global Economist Paul Donovan will be on tap to discuss Davos, the alleged Fourth Industrial Revolution, and all things market-related during today’s session of Markets Live.

It’s rather timely, given that the Footsie was off 3 per cent at pixel.

So get your questions ready. You can prepare by reading the UBS white paper here.

Click here at 11am.

New to Markets Live? Read this. Read more

Sir Mark Walport, F̷R̷S̷,̷ ̷R̷C̷P̷,̷ ̷R̷C̷P̷a̷t̷h̷,̷ ̷M̷e̷d̷S̷c̷i̷ ̷ Quack

Distributed ledger technologies have the potential to help governments to collect taxes, deliver benefits, issue passports, record land registries, assure the supply chain of goods and generally ensure the integrity of government records and services. In the NHS, the technology offers the potential to improve health care by improving and authenticating the delivery of services and by sharing records securely according to exact rules. For the consumer of all of these services, the technology offers the potential, according to the circumstances, for individual consumers to control access to personal records and to know who has accessed them.

That’s from a report by the UK Government’s chief scientific adviser, Sir Mark Walport. Read more

Chairman Xiao insists he’s staying put

There seemed to be an inevitability to news broken by Reuters earlier on Monday that Xiao Gang, the embattled head of the China Securities Regulatory Commission, had offered to resign and would shortly be moving jobs.

He, after all, was responsible for the bungled introduction of stock market circuit breakers this month, which cost many Chinese investors their shirts. This supposed market safety valve had to be withdrawn in something of a hurry, leaving higher-ups in the Chinese leadership extremely unhappy, according to Reuters.

But no! Read more

“If I am right, the S&P would fall to 550, a 75% decline from the recent 2100 peak”

Dan McCrum, in his new-ish role as the FT’s Capital Markets Editor, went along to the Albert Show on Tuesday – the annual SocGen strategy presentation fronted by the bank’s famous (equity) bear Albert Edwards. Dan’s summation:

Albert was out bear-ed by the guest speaker, Russell Napier.

But Albert is not a man to be out bear-ed. If anyone is going to out-Albert Albert, it will be Albert himself, and so to his freshly printed Global Strategy Weekly. Emphasis his… Read more

Stevie Cohen, neutered (again)

The SEC just will not lay off this particular hedgie…

Washington D.C., Jan. 8, 2016 — The Securities and Exchange Commission today announced that hedge fund manager Steven A. Cohen will be prohibited from supervising funds that manage outside money until 2018 in order to settle charges for failing to supervise a former portfolio manager who engaged in insider trading while employed at his firm. In addition, Cohen’s family office firms will be subject to SEC examinations and the firms must retain an independent consultant to conduct periodic reviews of their activities to ensure compliance with securities laws. Read more

Pricing Aramco

That, at right, is a slice of Saudi Aramco history that you probably won’t be seeing in an IPO prospectus any time soon — a story on the strikes that once wracked the Saudi Arabian state oil company’s eastern oil fields (in 1945, 1947, 1953 and 1956)…

A little bit of political risk on the way from the first Saudi oil concession to foreigners in 1933 and Aramco’s modern role as the might behind Saudi Arabia’s swing producer status in the oil market. Read more

The shocking growth in (corporate) wealth inequality

It seems that the Gini coefficient can be applied beyond the growth of goons and various Piketty debates. Here’s a heat map of S&P 500 performance over the past 12 months.

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The defendant MARTIN SHKRELI…

Here’s the indictment for that charming ‘drug entrepreneur’ / price gouger…

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Last trade: 0.0002 (pence)

A straight question: how many decimal points are configured into the London’s stock exchange price quote system? Hapless holders of Lonmin need know…

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FT Alphaville, out from under the Pearson yoke…

…is hiring again.

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An ECB rates scenario guide

Courtesy of Nishay Patel and Justin Knight at UBS, ahead of the expected easing of policy from the ECB on Thursday. Click to enlarge…

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Behold! A regulatory clampdown in Cyprus

Yes, really.

Well sort of.

Ok, some might see it as less than swingeing. Read more

An end to dropped US cellphone connections? Well, maybe

There’s a chance here to revisit that failed bear raid on Markets Live favourite Allied Minds.

Back in September, Kerrisdale Capital of New York issued a scornful report, suggesting this London-listed Boston-based venture capital business focused on university and military R&D, was a sack full of duds trading at 3x NAV. The stock price reacted with a 37 per cent crash, but Allied Minds subsequently staged a partial recovery — helped by some buying by long-term backer Neil Woodford and also the lack of any follow through attack from Kerrisdale, who have gone rather quiet. Read more

Shkreli’s new target market: 1100 Americans-a-year

The name should ring a bell — Martin Shkreli — that smirking chap at Turing Pharmaceuticals who jacked the price of anti-parasite drug Daraprim 50-fold, and in the process brought the widespread practice of pharma profit gouging into the public eye.

Now he’s gone and done this:

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A Glencore-o-meter, courtesy of Liberum

Online interactive models offered up by brokers are usually rubbish. This one, from Liberum, isn’t. Click to play.

Spoiler: at spot prices it’s a *fail*. Read more

Pfizer, having its drug-laced cake and eating it

The formal announcement is out on Pfizer’s planned takeover of Allergan. It’s an all paper deal which values the Dublin-based target at $160bn.

The guff starts right up there in paragraph one, referencing…

a leader in a new industry model – Growth Pharma

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An HBOS curiosity…

Pages and pages and pages of re-investigations into repeated past investigations on Thursday into the violent death of HBOS — the merged Halifax/Bank of Scotland — way back in October 2008.

The PRA/FCA report on the failure of the bank is here.

The report by Andrew Green QC on the failure of the FSA to feel more than one collar in the wake of the affair (Peter Cummings) is here.

TL/DR: former HBOS chief executives Sir James Crosby and Andy Hornby will belatedly get it in the neck; former FSA CEO Sir Hector Sants, meanwhile, is simply made to look a fool.

But consider this single page from an annex to the Green report… (click to enlarge) Read more

92, Piccadilly

The guy was coming at me, aggressively, so this is was a ‘snatch’ in snapper-parlance, rather than a carefully framed shot. Read more

On Lonmin, the full eye-watching detail

If you want to know how cash-strapped Lonmin is, go to the website of the world’s third largest platinum producer and try to download the freshly-pixelated prospectus for the company’s latest rescue rights.

Actually, don’t! The site’s clunky as hell and will probably crash. We’ll do our bit here and donate some bandwidth. The full prospectus — all 576 pages — is available after the jump. Read more

Lonmin: a miner, plundered

Modern science keeps people alive longer, but it’s not always certain that extended human animation is necessarily a good thing.

A similar force seems to be at play in the corporate world — and it too comes with a fancy price tag. Read more

Fragile, gameable markets and a psychotic SEC

As Bloomberg Screamed On Friday…

Scottish Man Faces 25 Years in U.S. Jail Over Stock Tweets

The Scottish man in question is one James Alan Craig. He lives here, at the “Back O The Wall Farm,” Wigtownshire…

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Solo’s silence is anything but golden (Updated)

The National Crime Agency would like to contact this chap…

That’s Sanjay Shah, a retired City trader who owns Solo Capital, a small stockbroker that last year took over Old Park Lane Capital, the natural resources broker run by Michael Parnes (yes, the son of The Animal). Read more

BS, Inc

Welcome to Barry Silbert’s new bitcoin incubator, Digital Currency Group, which comes with a singular promise…

Our mission is to accelerate the development of a better financial system.

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