Opening Bell: 12.11.17

Bitcoin futures get off to a manic start; the tax bill is dumber than you could even imagine; Janet Yellen, “feminist icon”; Snap execs ordered sex on a company call; and more.
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Bitcoin Futures Start With a Bang as 26% Rally Triggers Halts (BBG)
Futures on the world’s most popular cryptocurrency surged in their debut session on CBOE’s exchange, triggering two temporary trading halts designed to calm the market. Initial volume exceeded dealers’ expectations, while traffic on CBOE's website was so heavy that it caused delays and temporary outages. “It is rare that you see something more volatile than bitcoin, but we found it: bitcoin futures,” said Zennon Kapron, managing director of consulting firm Kapronasia. ALSO: Bitcoin feeding frenzy being fuelled by 15x leverage

Goldman_Sachs-bitcoin

The Taxman Cometh: Senate Bill’s Marginal Rates Could Top 100% for Some (WSJ)
Consider, for example, a married, self-employed New Jersey lawyer with three children and earnings of about $615,000. Getting $100 more in business income would force the lawyer to pay $105.45 in federal and state taxes, according to calculations by the conservative-leaning Tax Foundation. That is more than double the marginal tax rate that household faces today.

Janet Yellen Didn’t Set Out to Be a Feminist Hero (NYT)
To protest Ms. Yellen’s departure, liberal activists have worn “Yellen wigs” in support of the economist’s signature floppy white bob (as well as her affinity for keeping interest rates low). Supporters describe her in terms more suited to Taylor Swift than a 71-year-old academic shaping monetary policy. “I’m the biggest Janet fangirl,” said Julia Coronado, founder of the economic research firm MacroPolicy Perspectives.

Jim Simons, the Numbers King (New Yorker)
His Brobdingnagian compensation is a result of a substantial stake in the company. He told me that, although he has little to do with Renaissance’s day-to-day activities, he occasionally offers ideas. He said, “I gave them one three months ago”—a suggestion for simplifying the historical data behind one of the firm’s trading algorithms. Beyond saying that it didn’t work, he wouldn’t discuss the details—Renaissance’s methods are proprietary and secret—but he did share with me the key to his investing success: he “never overrode the model.” Once he settled on what should happen, he held tight until it did.

Hedge Fund Founder and Amazon Researcher Build a Better AI Stock Picker (BBG)
Instead of asking the neural network to forecast the stock price a year out, they asked it to predict the future value of company fundamentals, getting a forecast for things like earnings, before interest and tax (EBIT). They then divided that by each company’s current enterprise value, to end up with a kind of AI-powered, forward-looking valuation multiple. They invested in the 50 cheapest stocks based on that metric.

Richard H. Thaler - Banquet Speech (Nobel Prize)
My feelings of insecurity are compounded by the invidious comparisons with this year's fellow laureates. Discoveries of colliding black holes, genes that know the time of day, and images of biomolecules at the atomic level using "cryo-electron microscopy" are rather daunting. So what did I discover to get up here? I discovered the presence of human life in a place where economists thought it did not exist: the economy.

How Will the Bitcoin Mania End? (PragCap)
The coins have no par price settlement. This is a colossal problem with any form of money. The reason we centralize money is mainly because we can create stability in its value relative to everything else. No, not the real value, the nominal value. Yes, governments sometimes do a piss poor job of this and create hyperinflation, but in general fiat currencies are extremely stable in nominal terms. You can almost always settle a payment at par even if you’re losing some marginal purchasing power over time. Cryptos currently have no par settling mechanism which makes them a pretty bad currency.

Snap execs discussed ordering hookers on business call (NYP)
The Los Angeles-based tech bros must have thought they were on mute, according to our tipster, because they began to detail their party plans among themselves, but did not realize that someone from the media company had already dialed into the call and was waiting on the The dudes — part of middle management — began talking about hookers before they were interrupted. “It was gross,” said an insider with knowledge of the conversation.

The Danish Anarchists Who Inspired SantaCon Could Not Have Imagined Its Bro-Hell Future (Atlas Obscura)
In Mother Jones, a group member told Frank that they wanted “to make demonstrations more fun and for the people” and that they “showed the cultural significance of crime.” One Danish documentary quotes the group stating that the Santa Army was a comment on the “bourgeoisie terror of Christmas and unemployment in the wake of the oil crisis.”

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