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Could China's chaos be a boon for Bitcoin?
FinTech
<p>While China’s ongoing market turmoil has had everyone counting their losses, Bitcoin might just be counting its blessings. The prospect of Beijing bringing in massive the capital controls in a bid to bring outflows under control has set the stage for a surge in the virtual currency’s value, says ZeroHedge.</p> <p>Just as fears of a Grexit, and return of the Drachma, had pushed up the value of the Bitcoin at the beginning of summer - before Bitcoin’s value dropped over fears of a forking last month - China fears also could trigger another digital rally. </p> <p>Looking at the various Bitcoin indices on Coindesk.com this surge is yet to happen.  The volatile currency is now trading at around $229.7 apiece and has been jumping around at that price for past two weeks having hit a trough in the middle of August of around $220. A far cry from mid-July when the Bitcoin was valued at around $310.  </p> <p>But that doesn’t mean it won’t happen, ZeroHedge’s Evander Smart reflects that - with over US$22 trillion on deposit - even a small shift by the Chinese market towards bitcoin could dwarf the surge of 2013, when Bitcoin’s value increased ten-fold with its introduction to China.<br /> Photo: BTC Keychain</p>
Restoring faith in Hong Kong property
Capital Markets
<p>Just about everyone you meet in Hong Kong seems to be an expert on the property market. They will tell you the price per square foot for apartments in smart areas and rundown districts, and argue about what’s a bargain and what’s a rip-off.</p> <p>But all of them agree on one thing: buying real estate in the territory is a surefire way to make money in the long run.</p> <p>So front page splashes on Thursday that property sales for August slumped to their lowest level in 18 months is a bit worrying, even enough to rattle the most zealous believers in bricks-and-mortar.</p> <p>Residential transactions plunged nearly 28% compared to July and more than 37% year-on-year according to the Hong Kong’s Land Registry. The SCMP reported that leading developers such as Henderson Land are slashing prices or offering cheap mortgages. But investors are sitting on their hands, nervously watching stocks plunge on the Chinese mainland.</p> <p>And here’s the irony.</p> <p>Research by Reuters has revealed that the Chinese government has forked out at least $70 million buying Hong Kong properties during the past year as Beijing swells its presence after last summer’s mass democracy protests.</p> <p>The shadowy Chinese Liaison Office has bought 62 apartments, filling them with new staff to keep tabs on any resurgence of “Occupy Central” civil disobedience in the territory. And there are no signs that the spending binge is about to end.</p> <p>So while a faltering Chinese economy and a collapsing Shanghai stock market threatens faith in Hong Kong property, tougher Big Brother vigilance could send prices higher.<br /> Photo: Hank Anderson</p>
Daily Scan: Nikkei hits seven-month low; World markets cut risk ahead of jobs report
Capital Markets
<p>Updated throughout the day</p> <p>September 4</p> <p>Good evening everyone. Risk was definitely off today as the world’s markets seem to be waiting with baiting breath for tonight’s non-farm payrolls report. A good reading here might seal the deal on a rate hike this month, while a bad one would surely push it off to a later date. The selling during the lower half of the session however seemed a little panicky, which could be attributed to Hong Kong’s terrible PMI reading earlier in the day but with the Nikkei hitting seven-month low, it might be something else altogether. Anyway, here’s how the major Asia-Pacific markets fared this week:</p> <p>Day<br /> Week</p> <p>Nikkei 225<br /> -2.2%<br /> -7%</p> <p>Hang Seng Index<br /> -0.7%<br /> -4.7%</p> <p>ASX<br /> +0.3%<br /> -4.2%</p> <p>The Chinese markets were closed Thursday and Friday; the Shanghai Composite lopped off 2.2% in its shortened week. European markets aren’t doing too well, despite Mario Draghi’s assurance that he’ll expand stimulus “if warranted.” The FTSE 100 retraced gains to fall 1.63%, the DAX – exacerbated by Germany’s surprise drop in factory order – slid 1.75%, while the CAC slumped 1.83%.</p> <p>Here’s what else you need to know:</p> <p>Hong Kong PMI falls to six-year low. Weak demand, lower output, as well as one the largest and fastest workforce declines since 2003 led the Nikkei Hong Kong Purchasing Managers’ Index to fall to 44.4 in August. That's well below its 48.2  reading in July and its worst showing since February 2009. Markit</p> <p>Japanese wages miss estimates – badly. Japan’s manufacturing industry may be growing at a fast clip, but its labor market is continuing to disappoint. Labor cash earnings for the land of the rising sun grew just 0.6% in July, far below an estimated climb of 2% and even more worrisome if you adjust for inflation. It is. however, the first real wage rise the nation has experienced since 2012. Silver linings, man. Financial Times (paywall)</p> <p>China swaps Australian mining for the country’s agriculture. After plunking ungodly amounts of money into the nation’s mining industry, China is now investing in Australian agriculture. Not only is China the No. 1  buyer of meats, wheats, and various other treats, it is now Australia’s largest investor in the agricultural sector, plowing as much as $450 million into the industry in 2014 alone. Wall Street Journal</p> <p>ECB ready to expand stimulus. European Central Bank President Mario Draghi says the bank is projecting slower than expected economic growth in the eurozone, and the ECB will “act if warranted.” Wall Street Journal (paywall)</p> <p>Debris found confirmed to be from missing MH370 flight. French investigators say they are certain that a piece of an airplane wing that washed up on a remote Indian Ocean island came from Malaysia Airlines Flight 370, which disappeared in March 2014 with 239 people on board. The New York</p>
The real Apple flop: Do you know what it is?
FinTech
<p>How quickly we all forget. A new dawn, a new day, a new life -- well, never mine. Apple promised to change the face of payments with Apple Pay. And I had been betting the Apple Watch would flop. But the numbers suggest that consumers just don't  mind using their credit cards the old-fashioned way. Once more, the tekkies provide a solution to a problem that doesn't exist.</p> <p>Drum roll, please, for the data on Apple Pay via Bank Innovation:<br /> In a recent post from PYMNTS.com, retail data analytics firm InfoScout is reporting Apple Pay usage has been on a steady decline since a seemingly promising upswing in March 2015. In the three months that followed, usage fell two points from 15.1 to 13.1 percent. What’s more, of the nearly 40 percent of consumers surveyed in March who said they had used Apple Pay to complete a transaction, only 23 percent still said “yes.”<br /> Frankly, we think consumers would be much more excited if banks and retailers could thwart hackers more effectively.</p> <p>Photo: Allen</p>
Leon Cooperman blames risk parity for market chaos
Hedge Funds
<p>Last week JPMorgan Chase &amp; Co. (NYSE:JPM) Chase &amp; Co. warned its clients that Volatility Target strategies, CTAs and Risk Parity portfolios could sell a combined total of $150 billion to $300 billion of equities during the next few weeks as momentum drives selling (Concerns Over Risk Parity Grow [Cont.])</p> <p>The report from JPMorgan came a few days after the Financial Times published an article on the risks that Risk Parity strategies posed to the global bond market. The Financial Times cited a new report from AllianceBernstein (Introduction to Tail Risk Parity an old copy of the paper can be found here), which estimates that risk parity is now a $400 billion industry. Assuming an average leverage ratio of 355%, these funds control around $1.4 trillion in assets.</p> <p>Leon Cooperman on risk parity<br /> Reports from the Financial Times, AllianceBernstein and JPMorgan all imply that Risk Parity is a disaster waiting to happen. And Leon Cooperman, the founder of Omega Advisors just joined the party.</p> <p>Within his August letter to investors, Cooperman blamed Omega's poor returns (year to date Omega's funds are down between 6% and 11% according to Omega's letter to investors reviewed by ValueWalk) on "price-insensitive" investors.</p> <p>Our investment process, grounded in fundamental company research, with a capital marketr overview designed to help us gauge appropriate risk asset exposure, has served us well since our inception 23 years ago, and we believe in its continued effectiveness. The firm has virtually no debit balance, and we like what we own.<br /> With respect to the investment outlook, we believe that shares in the U.S. will end the year higher. A slowing in China's economic growth, the surprise devaluation of the yuan in August, continued weak oil and commodity prices, and uncertainty as to the timing of the first Federal Reserve rate hike, all contributed to an initial weakness in U.S. and global equity markets in late August. However, these factors, we believe, cannot fully explain the maenitude and velocity of the decline in equity markets last month. We think that much of that decline can Ix attributed to systematic/technical investors that are price-insensitive and largely indifferent to fundamentals. Such investors include risk-parity funds, derivative hedgers, trend-following CTA's, and insurance variable-annuity programs.</p> <p>The month of August was a bad one for global risk markets and a bad one for Omega. The S&amp;P 500 dropped 6%, its worst monthly decline in over three years. Our various investment funds, excluding our Credit Opportunity Fund which eased just 1.4% last month, declined by between 9% and 11% in August. Year to date, our equity-focused funds are down between 6% and 11%; differential returns among our funds reflect </p>
A month of pain: Latest on hedge funds returns for big 5 activists
Hedge Funds
<p>August was the month of pain.</p> <p>In August, per HFR, the average fund lost 2.2% (versus the S&amp;P 500's 6% fall) and is down 1% for the year. Some big name factivists aren't so lucky.</p> <p>Bill Ackman's Pershing Square was down 9.2% in August, putting the fund down 0.1% for the year.</p> <p>Top holding Mondelez International Inc (NASDAQ:MDLZ) (MDLZ) was down 6% for the month of August, no. 2 holding Valeant Pharmaceuticals Intl Inc (NYSE:VRX) (TSE:VRX) (VRX) was off 10.5%, no. 3 Air Products was down 2%, no. 4 Canadian Pacific (CP) was down 10%, no. 5 Zoetis (ZTS) down 8% and no. 5 Restaurant Brands (QSR) off 11%. Collectively, eight make up the bulk of the long-only portfolio.</p> <p>David Einhorn's Greenlight Capital was down 5.3% in August and now down 13.8% for the year.</p> <p>Top holdings Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) (AAPL) and GM (GM) were down 7% and 6.6%, respectively, in August. Everyone wants to talk about SunEdison, which was off 55% for the month, with Micron Tech and CONSOL also being down 11% and 8%, respectively, for the month. Einhorn was cutting some of his long and short bets in August, though.</p> <p>Dan Loeb's Third Point was off 5.2% last month, but still up 1.2% for the year.</p> <p>Third Point's top holding, Baxter (BAX) was off 4% in August, no. 2 holding Amgen, Inc. (NASDAQ:AMGN) (AMGN) was down 14% and no. 3 Allergan (AGN) was down 8.2%. Collectively, the three make up about 40% of the long-only portfolio.</p> <p>Barry Rosenstein's JANA Partners was down 4.3% in August and down 2.9% for the year.</p> <p>JANA's top holding, Qualcomm, Inc. (NASDAQ:QCOM) (QCOM), was down 12% in August. Other top holdings off big in August were Walgreen Company (NYSE:WAG) (WBA), down 10.4%, and ConAgra (CAG), down 5.4%.<br /> Other activists down in August were Cliff Robbins' Blue Harbour, off 2.6% for the month, and Scott Ferguson's Sachem Head Capital, down 2%.<br /> Jeff Ubben's ValueAct Capital, up 1.6% in 2Q, the standout of sorts - although it remains to be seen how he did in August. YTD through June, ValueAct is up 8%.</p> <p>Learn More about activist strategy</p> <p>By all accounts, it wasn't a prett</p>
Funniest Tom Brady tweets
Lifestyle, 4:01
<p>Patriots quarterback Tom Brady may be cleared in the eyes of the law, but he certainly isn't for thousands of football fans in the U.S. Here are some of the best tweets about Brady:</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>...And let the Tom Brady Internet reaction fun begin! #Deflategatepic.twitter.com/egRgjCXA1l<br /> — SundayNight Football (@SNFonNBC) September 3, 2015<br /> Some are witty zingers. </p> <p>Aside from Malcolm Butler, Judge Richard Berman has now forced the most significant turnover in Patriots franchise history.</p> <p>— Field Yates (@FieldYates) September 3, 2015</p> <p>#tombrady didnt see his shadow (may not even have 1) either way, 4 more weeks of coworkers hacky, deflated balls, jokes<br /> — Dolph Ziggler (@HEELZiggler) September 3, 2015</p> <p>Tom Brady is a hall of fame quarterback, but when someone asks to see his phones he's like https://t.co/3nNlAydy7R</p> <p>— Eric Rosenthal (@ericsports) September 3, 2015</p> <p>Celebs have reacted to:</p> <p>A stoned Snoop Dogg is not thrilled about Tom Brady's overturned suspension: http://t.co/vs4qzt87w4 pic.twitter.com/ACtPZoEOTA<br /> — SB Nation (@SBNation) September 3, 2015<br /> But Pats fans, of course, couldn't be happier. </p> <p>This is all I have to say. #TomBrady pic.twitter.com/2tIIbWNjLF</p> <p>— Mary Georgantopoulos (@marygeorgant) September 3, 2015</p> <p>Tom Brady out here like https://t.co/vwXgF9EfCg<br /> — FutureHendrixs (@AINTTHATSHAWN) September 3, 2015</p> <p>God bless the American Justice System #PatsNation pic.twitter.com/hwlsa9gxHE</p> <p>— JTE (@SchmoesJTE) September 3, 2015</p>
What Wall Street can learn from Tom Brady
Lifestyle, 4:01
<p>New England Patriots' golden boy, Tom Brady, is back for NFL's opening week after a Federal judge overturned Brady's four-game suspension for his role in "deflate-gate." Allegedly deflating footballs isn't exactly like allegedly messing with the markets, but Brady's victory in court can teach Wall Streeters a few things about how to survive an investigation.</p> <p> Destroy your cell phone every few months. No one will question it if you break your old phone every time you get a new one, which you should do at least twice a year. Texts to colleagues and friends? Gone.<br /> Come up with awesome nicknames for you and your friends. The Patriots' ball boy called himself the "deflator" because he wanted to lose weight. Why not dub yourself something like "the flash [crasher]"?<br /> Have your super model wife stand behind you at your press conferences. Sorry, is someone accusing you of something? We got distracted by those long legs behind you.<br /> Have an inept regulator. Oh, wait...<br /> Be incredibly awesome at your job. No one wants to lose their star quarterback, literally. Be the office QB. And maybe line up some high powered endorsements while you're at it.</p> <p>Photo: Keith Allison</p>
Wall Street recruiters go casual
FinTech
<p>Being buttoned-up won't always get you in the door, even on Wall Street.</p> <p>Wall Street's biggest, young recruitment firm is taking a casual approach to a formal career path, reports the New York Post. Traditional recruiters have high fees, and old-school approaches to finding candidates and selling them to firms. But Vettery is the OKCupid to their yenta ways.</p> <p>Vettery, founded by Adam Goldstein and Brett Adcock, puts candidates on an online platform. Clients can access the platform free of charge while looking at as many as 100 potential hire profiles each week. Vettery then charges 15% of a hire's base salary, where traditional recruiters normally take 30% of a salary plus bonus.</p> <p>But Vettery isn't open to just any candidate. Less than 5% of its 82,000 registrants have been deemed fit enough for a profile. Candidates are from top-tier schools, with stellar experience.</p> <p>The system is working for them. Vettery says it's connecting more than 150 first-round interviews a week, and placements are looking to hit 500 in the next 12 months, and outstanding placement pace for the industry.<br /> Photo: uberof202 ff<br /> &nbsp;</p>
Daily Scan: US stocks have mixed Thursday; Jobs data due out Friday
Capital Markets
<p>Updated throughout the day</p> <p>September 3</p> <p>Good evening,</p> <p>U.S. stocks had a mixed day, starting slow gains in the morning before fading in the afternoon. The Dow closed up 0.1%, as did the S&amp;P 500. The Nasdaq lost 0.4%. The Stoxx Europe 600 ended Thursday up 2.4%. Oil is sneaking its way back up before the holiday weekend, closing just short of $47/barrel. Wednesday afternoon, the Federal Reserve released the Beige Book, its survey of businesses. Bottomline: Things are looking good. Investors will be examining same-store sales today to measure just how robust the American consumer is. Of course, Friday brings the mother of all economic datapoints -- the monthly jobs report. Survey says: nonfarm payrolls in August will edge up to 223,000 from 215,000 in July. Stay tuned.</p> <p>Here's what else you need to know:</p> <p>The Reunion debris is definitely from missing flight MH370. French investigators have confirmed that the debris found on an island in July is without a doubt from Malaysia Airlines Flight 370. The French were the last group holding out on a certain confirmation of the debris. CNN</p> <p>Kentucky clerk headed to jail. Kim Davis, the Kentucky clerk refusing to give out marriage licenses since same sex marriage was legalized, was found in contempt of court and jailed Thursday. Her office will start processing paperwork for same sex marriage licenses Friday. USAToday</p> <p>Dewey &amp; LeBoeuf defense rests. The lawyers for three former Dewey &amp; LeBoeuf executives plans to formally rest Tuesday without calling a single witness. The lawyers will also renew a request to dismiss the case, which accuses the execs of defrauding lenders and creditors. New York Times</p> <p>U.S. government extends healthcare nondiscrimination to transgender people. Health insurers and medical providers must treat all patients equally, regardless of sex. Earlier this year, a study found that 42% of female-to-male transgender adults reported verbal harassment, physical assault, or denial of equal treatment in a doctor's office or hospital. Reuters</p> <p>Images of dead child put face to migrant problem. Photos of a 3-year-old Syrian Kurd boy who drowned near Turkey are tugging heart strings everywhere. The horrible images of the child show how desperate the migrant situation is, as thousands have perished this year alone. The boy's mother and 5-year-old brother also died, and his father is in the hospital. Wall Street Journal</p> <p>Donald Trump will sign GOP loyalty pledge. A Trump associate says that the presidential candidate will sign the pledge to endorse the Republican nominee, preventing a third-party run. The move will help put Trump on Republican primary ballots more easily, and will undermine his opponent's attacks on the possibility of him running as an independent. </p>