Receiving Wide Coverage ...
Black Market Bust and Bitcoin: Federal agents yesterday arrested Ross William Ulbricht, the alleged ringleader of "Silk Road," an online drug market that accepted Bitcoin, confiscating about $3.6 million of the digital currency. The bust could have serious implications for Bitcoin, which has grown in popularity over the last few years, at least in part, to the expectation of anonymity. "The federal investigation that led to Ulbricht's arrest shows that even purchases made with anonymous profiles on an anonymous site are still trackable," one source tells the Washington Post. Bitcoin prices plummeted yesterday, following news of the raid. But some pundits think the bust could wind up being good for the crypto-currency. "Proponents see Bitcoin primarily as a way to lower the transaction costs associated with legitimate online commerce," writes Bloomberg's Joshua Brustein. "If the market quickly recovers, it bolsters their argument by showing that demand won't drop off once the best way to buy cocaine with Bitcoin disappears." New York magazine's Kevin Roose echoes: "Silk Road's closure means that the people fighting to legitimize Bitcoin can credibly claim that the old days of the crypto-currency as a tool for vice are over. And after Bitcoin prices stabilize, these people can make a push for a new beginning."
SEC Keeping a Close Eye on Exchanges: The Securities and Exchange Commission is set to unveil "a public website next week that will allow it to publish data, research and analysis using the type of robust market data exploited by high-frequency trading firms," reports Bloomberg. This data-mining initiative could wind up changing the debate over high-frequency trading, notes the Post, taking cues from a speech SEC Chairman Mary Jo White gave yesterday. The Journal believes White's speech "opened the door to a potential overhaul of financial-market oversight" after she indicated "the special regulatory status of U.S. exchanges may not best serve investors or public companies."
Big Bank Execs Go to Washington: Executives of the nation's biggest banks were sure to tell President Obama "exactly how bad it would be" Lloyd Blankfein's words, not the Journal's if policymakers engaged in a battle over whether to raise the U.S. debt ceiling. Scan readers will recall Blankfein and Co. were in town for a series of meetings arranged by the Financial Services Forum. The FT reports JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon didn't find meeting with the president awkward, despite his bank's ongoing regulatory woes, and that he would "love to see resolutions" that are good for America.
Wall Street Journal
Thanks to the ongoing government shutdown, the Commodity Futures Trading Commission wasn't around to field questions from market participants over its new swaps trading rule.
The U.K. is also cracking down on payday lending. "The U.K. Financial Conduct Authority wants payday lenders to make sure borrowers can afford their loans, and will limit the number of times loans can be rolled over," the article notes. "Advertising for the loans should include clear warnings about the risks of getting into debt and how to get free debt advice."
It's not just the mole. The high penalty associated with JPM's ongoing settlement talks over the government's mortgage-backed securities probe is being heavily influenced by Denise Cote, the U.S. judge with a record of ruling against banks who would oversee the case should settlement talks fall apart.