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Soros steps into the fintech arena
FinTech
<p>George Soros, the original posterboy of the swashbuckling global macro arena, isn’t exactly the first person who comes to mind when you think about fintech.</p> <p>He just joined the space though, and as always, his bet looks like a winner.</p> <p>According to Business Insider, Soros Fund Management has just backed TruMid, an electronic corporate bond marketplace which aims to provide superior liquidity for its users via “swarms.” What are swarms? Here’s what TruMid says about them on their website:<br /> Trading occurs in “swarms” - well-publicized trading sessions that are focused on a specific set of related or topical securities. We will attract a critical mass of traders and investors to our swarms. This robust forum will generate superior liquidity and pricing efficiency for everyone.<br /> And it plans to do this – and more – all under “a shield of anonymity with zero information leakage.”</p> <p>Soros’ bet could not have come at a better time. Years upon years of zero interest rates have led asset managers to snap up all the corporate bonds they could get, and now that the Fed is about lift rates, people are having a lot of problems trying to move them.</p> <p>Industry heavies such as Jamie Dimon, Steve Schwarzman, and Bill Gross meanwhile have all sounded the alarm on bond market liquidity. If they’re right, the man who broke the Bank of England just make another killing again.<br /> Photo: International Monetary Fund</p>
For ETF investors, BRIC is really just India
Asset Management
<p>This year's failings of the Brazil, Russia, India and China quartet – commonly known as “BRIC” – are well documented.</p> <p>Of the four major single-country BRIC ETFs, the average 90-day return entering Friday was a loss of over 21 percent, more than enough to qualify as a bear market.</p> <p>Down 11 percent over the past three months, the WisdomTree India Earnings Fund (ETF) EPI 0.16% is not innocent in all this, but a drop of 11 percent is just a third of the decline experienced by the iShares MSCI Brazil Index (ETF) EWZ 0.6% and less than half the drop notched by the iShares FTSE/Xinhua China 25 Index (ETF) FXI 0.34% over the same period.</p> <p>While EPI's showing is not awe-inspiring, it is clearly less bad than equivalent BRIC ETFs, which could be a sign that the least bad offender could regain the leadership status it held last year. Fundamentals confirm as much.</p> <p>Read more at Benzinga, here.<br /> Photo: Kirill Tropin</p>
I don’t always drink liqueur, but when I do, I prefer Unicorn Tears
Lifestyle, 4:01
<p>With Silicon Valley dreaming up more mythological horsies than Deckard did in Bladerunner, you’d almost think the VC space would want to take things back a notch.</p> <p>Nope.</p> <p>As of August 25, Fortune counted over 120 unicorns currently in operation, ranging from humble single-horns such as GrabTaxi and Tinder, to decacorns like Spotify and Xiaomi, all the way up to the monstrous quinquagintacorn that is Uber. That’s an almost 50% bump from its previous count in January.</p> <p>For those of you who thinks this is all getting a little out of hand however, here’s a little something for you.</p> <p>U.K.-based Firebox is currently selling Unicorn Tears, an “enchantingly scrumptious Gin Liqueur” they amusingly subtitled a “Magical Mother's Ruin.”</p> <p>It’s currently priced at £39.99, a seemingly reasonable amount given the creature’s rarity, though I do suspect that it’s more gin than the majestic beast’s tears. It is sprinkled with “sparkling, 100% edible real silver pieces” though, which the young’ns might think as “baller.”</p> <p>With dead unicorn lists rumored to be spreading and unicorpse figures currently piling, this might be the best thing for you to imbibe as the whole thing goes crashing down. Cheers.<br /> Photo: Wiki</p>
Video: Behold L.A.’s last trophy property, and it can all be yours for $1 billion
Lifestyle, 4:01
<p>Remember Villa La Leopolda at Villefranche-Sur-Mer? It was – and still is – one of the trophy properties in the south of France.</p> <p>Built by the noted architect Ogden Codman Jr. during the late 20’s, the villa stands on a vast tract of land once owned by King Leopold of Belgium, and passed through several illustrious owners including Gianni Agnelli, Izaak Killam, and Edmond Safra, with Safra’s widow making headlines back in 2008 as she tried to unload the place for a mind-blowing $750 million. Well, here’s something more expensive.</p> <p>Boasting 157 acres of prime, prime land on top of the city of angels with views from Malibu all the way to the San Gabriel Mountains, “The Vineyard” in Beverly Hills has entranced more than a few of Hollywood’s elite into trying to buy it, and it comes with a great story to boot. A story which, as Hollywood Reporter puts it, “could be torn from the pages of a Coen brothers script:”</p> <p>It’s currently marketed at $1 billion. There’s still no house on the property but you do get a driveway, a couple fountains, a helipad, and unrivaled views over L.A. Check out the rest of “The Vineyard’s” story here.<br /> Photo: Michael</p>
NexAsia Week Ahead: Jobs report; China PMI coming up
Capital Markets
<p>Good morning everyone. With the Fed decision – and Yellen’s presser – out of the way, you’d almost think we’d get a breather from Fed speak this week. Wrong. All eyes shift to the Fed again as Bill Dudley, Stanley Fischer, Charles Evans, Lael Brainard, and Janet Yellen herself speak at various gatherings scheduled over the next few days. The week won’t all be about the Fed though, we’ve got big manufacturing data coming out of China and Japan, and the all-important jobs report is set to come out as well.</p> <p>Here’s what else you need to know:</p> <p>Monday:</p> <p>1:45 pm – Bank of Japan Governor Haruhiko Kuroda speaks</p> <p>4:00 pm – Italy September business confidence – Forecast: 102.8 from 102.5</p> <p>4:00 pm – Italy September consumer confidence – Forecast: 108.97 from 109</p> <p>7:45 pm – New York Fed President Bill Dudley speaks</p> <p>8:30 pm – U.S. August MoM personal income – Forecast: 0.31% from 0.4%</p> <p>10:00 pm – U.S. August MoM pending home sales – Forecast: 0.4% from 0.5%</p> <p>Tuesday:</p> <p>1:30 am – Chicago Fed President Charles Evans speaks</p> <p>5:00 am – San Francisco Fed President John Williams speaks</p> <p>1:30 pm – Reserve Bank of India interest rate decision – Forecast: 7% from 7.25%</p> <p>3:00 pm – Spain August YoY retail sales – Forecast: 2.97% from 4.01%</p> <p>8:00 pm – Germany September preliminary YoY inflation rate – Forecast: 0.1% from 0.2%</p> <p>10:00 pm – U.S. September CB consumer confidence</p> <p>Wednesday:</p> <p>7:50 am – Japan August preliminary MoM industrial production – Forecast: 0.1% from -0.8%</p> <p>7:50 am – Japan August YoY retail sales – Forecast: 0.53% from 1.6%</p> <p>8:00 am – New Zealand September ANZ business confidence</p> <p>9:30 am – Australia August MoM building permits – Forecast: 0.25% from 4.2%</p> <p>10:00 am – Singapore August bank lending</p> <p>1:00 pm – Japan August YoY housing starts – Forecast: 5% from 7.4%</p> <p>3:55 pm – Germany September unemployment change – Forecast: -5.4K from -6K</p> <p>3:55 pm – Germany September unemployment rate – Forecast: unchanged at 6.4%</p> <p>4:30 pm – U.K. Q2 final QoQ GDP growth rate – Forecast: 0.7% from 0.4%</p> <p>5:00 pm – Eurozone September flash YoY inflation rate – Forecast: unchanged at 0.1%</p> <p>5:00 pm – Eurozone August unemployment rate – Forecast: unchanged at 10.9%</p> <p>8:15 pm – U.S. September Adp employment change – Forecast: 200K from 190K</p> <p>8:30 pm – Canada July MoM GDP</p> <p>9:45 pm – U.S. September Chicago PMI – Forecast: 53.2 from 54.4</p> <p>Thursday:</p> <p>2:00 am – Fed Chair Janet Yellen speaks</p> <p>7:00 am – Fed Board of Governors member Lael Brainard speaks</p> <p>7:30 am – Australia September AIG Manufacturing Index – Forecast: 51.1 from 51.7</p> <p>7:50 am – Japan Q3 Tankan Large Manufacturing Index – Forecast: 13 from 15</p> <p>9:00 am – China September NBS Manufacturing PMI – Forecast: 49.8 from 49.7</p> <p>9:45 am – China September final Caixin Manufacturing PMI – Forecast: 47 from 47.3</p> <p>9:45 am – China September Caixin General Services PMI – Forecast: 51 from 51.5</p> <p>8:30 pm – U.S. September/26 initial jobless claims – Forecast: 272K from 267K</p> <p>9:30 pm – ECB President Mario Draghi speaks</p> <p>10:00 pm – U.S. September ISM Manufacturing PMI – Forecast: 51 from 51.1</p> <p>Friday:</p> <p>12:30 am – San Francisco Fed President John Williams speaks</p> <p>7:30 am – Japan August unemployment rate – Forecast: unchanged at 3.3%</p> <p>9:30 am – Australia August MoM retail sales – Forecast: 0.68% from -0.1%</p> <p>4:30 pm – Hong Kong August YoY retail sales – Forecast: 6.94% from 1.9%</p> <p>8:30 pm – U.S. September non-farm payrolls – Forecast: 202.8K from 173K</p> <p>8:30 pm – U.S. September unemployment rate – Forecast: unchanged at 5.1%</p> <p>Saturday:</p> <p>12:00 am – Fed Vice Chair Stanley Fischer speaks<br /> Photo: flazingo</p>
Barron's weekend roundup: Financial planning faces new hurdles
Capital Markets
<p>In this week's cover story, Barron's writes about the need to plan about how to care for aging parents. Older parents are now taking as much financial priority as children's college tuition or retirement planning. Private banks are being forced to adapt to meeting these new financial and emotional needs of maintaining two generations of retirees in the same family at the same time.</p> <p>Car makers are dirtier than we thought. Barron's feature story examines the Volkswagen scandal and how it's blowing apart the auto industry.</p> <p>There's more than one way to make money. Hedge fund Harvest Small Cap Partners invests "scared," Barron's writes. Jeff Osher uses his background working through the Asian financial crisis and the dot-com bubble to learn to sense danger, and invest accordingly.</p> <p>&nbsp;<br /> Photo: spatz_2011 </p>
Real estate porn: pools
Lifestyle, 4:01
<p>Fall weather doesn't have to mean an end to pool season. Indoor pools can keep homes in the summer spirit despite the climate. Here are three of Sotheby's top indoor pools:</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>In Rhone-Alpes, France, this chalet has a view of the mountains, while enjoying the warmth of a 900-square-meter wooden cottage. The space also has two fireplaces, a spa, a steam shower, and a wine cellar.</p> <p>Set in Montreux, Vaud Switzerland, this 20-meter indoor infinity pool has views of Lac-Leman and the Alps. The 1,000-square-meter property also has a home theater and independent studio.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>This 25,000-square-foot home is on eight acres of land in Saratoga Springs, New York. Besides this indoor pool, the property also has an outdoor pool, and indoor basketball court, a gym, tennis court, and bowling lane.<br /> Photos: Sotheby's International Realty</p>
2015 VC unicorn report
Venture Capital
<p>PitchBook has published its inaugural VC Unicorn Report, which dives into the terms, conditions and trends affecting VC-backed companies worth $1 billion or more. For highlights from the report, which covers protection terms, liquidation preferences and much more.</p> <p>See charts and full report below:</p> <p>PitchBook_2015_VC_Unicorn_Report (1)<br /> Photo: Adam Selwood</p>
Cliff Asness on Trump: hedge funds getting away with murder
Hedge Funds
<p>Calls to tax Hedge Funds more have long been a staple of the Left and now appear in the tax proposals of several leading republican candidates, either explicitly, or implicitly by equalizing many tax rates. Advocates for this change have long had some fair points but occasionally try to cheat by slipping in some clearly unreasonable ex post wealth grabs along with otherwise reasonable proposals. Now Donald Trump has entered into the long-standing debate with the characteristically specific statement “hedge fund guys are getting away with murder.” He often goes on to mention that he is “friends” with some of the hedge fund managers he’s targeting, presumably to bolster our belief in his courage and honesty – I mean, he’s standing up to friends! We’re also assured, using his now familiar verbal tics, that his still forthcoming tax plan will end this unpunished murder, and do many other wonderful things. He says his plan will be “great” and “huge.” Again, much of this debate, ex-The Donald, is reasonable and it is indeed a difficult issue. But, as usual, The Donald is different, taking it up more than a notch in empty dangerous rhetoric. His amps definitely go to eleven.</p> <p>During his diatribes The Donald often adds in the standard populist canard against “paper pushers” in favor of people who “build things.” This accusation has a many-thousand-year pedigree (the Babylonians building Ziggurats said it about their Assyrian bankers) and has usually been wrong, always exaggerated, and occasionally downright ugly in its tone and targets – though admittedly often effective demagoguery. “Real” vs. “paper” is a topic for another day but I can’t help wondering whether Trump actually still “builds things” or mostly just licenses his name to things, ironically a form of “paper pushing.” Yes, I’m saying to The Donald “you didn’t build that Trump Eau de Toilette.”</p> <p>Of course, like most things The Donald weighs in on, this issue is way more complicated than he lets on. Complication is too often a casualty in the political arena but it’s even less Donald’s forte than most. In fact, with The Donald sometimes you have to struggle to even understand what he’s talking about! We will have to take some educated guesses. The main issue usually debated regarding hedge fund taxation is about what’s called “carried interest.” For the sake of sanity, I’m going to assume this is what he’s referring to, that he thinks the “carried interest loophole” should be closed. If, rather, he’s just using the words “hedge fund manager” as a proxy for rich people and engaging in some type of weird class warfare, things are even farther gone.</p> <p>The “loophole” (not everyone thinks it’s a loophole) is that right now some of a hedge fund manager’s remuneration, that part representing long-term capital gains structured as a carried interest, is taxed at the capital gains rate (people like Trump talk about “hedge funds” even though this is a far bigger issue for private equity funds). Some argue this capital gains treatment is appropriate as money is at risk, and beneficial as it encourages investment, and that it is consistent with taxation of employee incentive stock options and professional partnerships. Some counter that the first argument is bad accounting and the second “voodoo economics.” The third argument only interests tax nerds, because looking for consistency in the tax code is like looking for humility in The Donald.<br /> This is not an op-ed taking either side of this argument. In fact one could take either side particularly on the accounting. That’s exactly what makes this issue hard. As a matter of proper accounting theory (do I still have your attention after that grabber?) it’s not difficult to argue for either case. There are indeed </p>
The fabulous life of DraftKings CEO Jason Robins
Lifestyle, 4:01
<p>Jason Robins, founder of the fantasy sports unicorn DraftKings, seems to be balling so hard, Fortune says he doesn’t even watch the games anymore:<br /> “The atmosphere is electric, and everyone—from the cheerleaders to the beer vendors—seems to be watching the quarterback’s outstretched hands.</p> <p>Except for Jason Robins.</p> <p>The 34-year-old chief executive of DraftKings, the ascendant daily-fantasy-sports startup, is standing in a mammoth luxury suite high above the action. He has a perfect view of the field—but he’s glued to his smartphone.”<br /> To be fair, while the game we’re talking about here is the first of the 2015 NFL season, DraftKings just scored 200,000 sign-ups that day – its most since its 2012 inception.</p> <p>Robins, #8 in Fortune’s 40 under 40 list, currently has his eye on the fantasy sport world throne, and DraftKings seems to be moving mountains to ensure his ascension.</p> <p>The startup just saw its entry fees climb from $45 million in 2013 to $304 million in 2014, and it spent $20 million on advertising during the NFL’s first week – enough to bump its user base to more than 4.5 million.</p> <p>Still, it faces significant hurdles; Arizona, Iowa, Louisiana, Montana, and Washington are arguing that fantasy sports are games of chance – not skill – and are starting to question the legality of the whole thing. Meanwhile, its closest competitor, FanDuel, is giving DraftKings a serious run for its money.</p> <p>Nevertheless, Robins and the DraftKings crew seem to be unfazed by all this, unfazed enough to continue ignoring the Patriots:<br /> “Back in the DraftKings suite he proudly displays his phone, which is buzzing as some of his 300 employees react to the barrage of new sign-ups. ‘This is nuts,’ writes one. ‘I’ve never seen the lobby light up so much,’ writes another, referencing the homepage of the DraftKings website and app.</p> <p>Robins smiles. He’s confident that DraftKings has a billion-dollar product. He just needs to get it to the millions of people who haven’t yet tried daily fantasy sports—let alone spent money doing it. ‘Once they try it, they like it,’ he says. ‘It’s sticky.’”<br /> Photo: Wiki</p>