Who will be nexit? To date, HSBC is the only major foreign bank looking at moving to France from the UK, but fears over France's intentions in the EU are making other banks think twice about a new post-Brexit home. "With Marine Le Pen among the leading presidential candidates, her platform of taking France out of the euro and the European Union is repelling finance executives. If she loses, a more business-friendly leader such as Francois Fillon or Emmanuel Macron could implement reforms that would make Paris more competitive," writes Bloomberg. According to Markus Ohlig, a managing director at Greenwich Associates, who advises banks and asset managers in Europe and Asia, the election outcome is "really black or white: with a Le Pen election no foreign firm would consider to move business to Paris." He said that Fillon and Macron "both have agendas that should create new confidence" for business decisions in favor of Paris.
As if Le Pen isn't enough to worry about, sheltered EU mandarins were horrified at the thought of Ted Malloch becoming the US ambassador to the European Union. Trump ally Malloch, who supported Brexit, told the BBC that he had helped to bring down the Soviet Union, and that "maybe there's another union that needs a little taming". He suggested shorting the Euro in 2017. So EU mandarins will be enjoying an article in today's Financial Times which suggests that it's Mr Malloch's imagination that needs taming. According to the report, Mr Malloch and his wife obtained huge multi-million dollar loans from two US banks after making false statements about his assets. "Michael Kopsick, a lawyer for One Bank, told the Financial Times that Mr Malloch appeared to have made "never-ending" efforts to obfuscate the true state of his finances. "Anyone who would consider putting him in a position of trust regarding financial matters should read the bankruptcy court file," he said. An investigation at the FT also found that Mr Malloch's autobiography and CV were riddled with inaccuracies and false claims. (Malloch's book is titled Davos, Aspen & Yale: My Life Behind the Elite Curtain as a Global Sherpa.) Mr Malloch responded to the FT's investigation with an article in Breitbart, accusing the FT of "political assassination". He called the FT the "EU's house journal".
The value of a Bitcoin has passed the price of gold for the first time. This time last year, a single bitcoin could be purchased for $421; it has tripled in price since then, standing now around $1,280. An ounce of gold is trading for $1,235. As we noted last week, the steady rise in Bitcoin's price may be related to an imminent SEC decision on regulating a bitcoin exchange traded fund run by the Winklevoss brothers. Adam White, head of GDAX, the largest U.S.-based digital currency exchange said that bitcoin was here to stay. "Bitcoin has inherent benefits over gold that gold can't compete with," he told NBC News. "Bitcoin is not going away. This new asset class, which bitcoin represents the first of, is sticking around." He noted that the network of Bitcoin users had doubled in the last year. Peter Schiff, CEO of Euro Pacific Capital, took the opposite view, and told ABC News that bitcoin is a "digital fool's gold."
Cue headlines about testing American Express's mettle. JPMorgan Chase's Sapphire card is inspiring a response from American Express, which will ditch plastic and make its platinum card from metal. "The new Platinum benefits will include richer credits for spending, access to more airport lounges, special dining and entertainment options and free use by family members of an American Express Gold card, according to Janey Whiteside, general manager of Global Charge Products, Benefits & Services for American Express. The changes, which will start on March 30, will also raise the annual account fee for card holders to $550 from $450."
Lafferty News invites our readers to join us next Thursday at 10am, London time, for an interview with Nick Ogden on his new initiative, ClearBank, the new clearing bank that looks set to shake up the status quo in the UK and beyond. To register for the web talk, please click here.
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