PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP’S effort to change America’s tax code is approaching the finishing line. Republican negotiators from the Senate and the House of Representatives this week hashed out a consensus bill behind closed doors. On December 13th, Mr Trum…Read More
THE collapses of Enron and WorldCom in the early years of this century turned book-cooking into front-page news. Investors lost over $200bn; in 2002 the stockmarket fell by over a fifth between April and July. In response, America’s Sarbanes-Oxley Act …Read More
Employees, customers, separatists“WE ARE used to dealing with political crises, but not a break in the rule of law,” says the boss of a big Barcelona cement firm, of Catalonia’s constitutional crisis. Fearing separatists in the region would declare ind…Read More
DEAR Team, I trust you are looking forward to your vacations and that the spirit of love and generosity infuses your family gatherings. I also hope that this spirit will be left next to the Christmas tree when you return to work at this incredible comp…Read More
THE new “Star Wars” film opens this week. “The Last Jedi” arrives in cinemas in time to boost expected ticket sales for the year to about $11bn in America, only slightly down from last year’s record. But the American film industry is in trouble. Ticket…Read More
Steinhoff goes on special offerTHE scale is staggering, even by the standards of scandal-worn South Africa. Steinhoff, a retailer that is one of the country’s best-known companies, admitted to “accounting irregularities” on December 6th when it was due…Read More
Stores of valueFIFTH AVENUE in New York is the most expensive stretch of retail property in the world, now festooned with lights in the approach to Christmas. The pavements heave with crowds eager to see the diamonds sparkling at Tiffany & Co, a je…Read More
OFTEN promoted as a way of mitigating risk, futures contracts are frequently more like new ways of gambling. That was true of a close precursor to the instrument, introduced in the Netherlands in 1636, linked to the hot investment of the day—tulip bulbs. Likewise the world’s first two futures contracts linked to bitcoin. One launched on the Chicago Board Options Exchange (CBOE) on December 10th; the other was due to follow a week later on the Chicago Mercantile Exchange (CME).
As bitcoin’s price has soared to new highs (see chart), holders may be happy to have a way to hedge their exposure at last. But for many, the contracts are just another way in. Both contracts settle in cash (ie, for the difference between the agreed price and the actual spot price). No exchange of bitcoin is needed; similarly, in the Dutch precedent, no bulbs were involved.
Early trading on the CBOE certainly suggests a speculative market. In the first few hours, prices rose so quickly that trading twice had to be suspended. The contract has so far traded at a significant premium, of up to $2,000, to the spot price. This suggests there are more buyers than sellers—even though selling in the futures market offers a way to bet against bitcoin.Read More
USUALLY politicians pretend that good economic news on their watch is no surprise. But America’s recent growth figures have been so positive that even the administration of President Donald Trump has allowed itself to marvel. “It’s actually happening f…Read More
HOWEVER long a storm lasts, clearing up takes longer. On December 7th Mario Draghi, president of the European Central Bank and head of the committee that approves global bank-capital standards, declared that revisions to Basel 3, the version drawn up a…Read More