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Are HFT Algos Taking Aim At Dominating And Manipulating The Wonderful World Of ETFs Next?

Tyler Durden's picture


While many have speculated that the May 6 flash crash was a combination of High Frequency Trading (primarily), quote stuffing, ETF participation, and overall liquidity reduction, few, and certainly not the SEC, have been able to pinpoint the participation of HFT in disruptive ETF movements. Indeed, HFTs have been isolated in individuals stocks (best seen in the infamous "crop circles" images from last summer here and here) and specific futures contracts (most recently the NG NYMEX contract which experienced a truly bizarre algo driven sine wave pattern before flash crashing with no fundamental input) but rarely in actual ETFs. Perhaps this has been due to the relatively high volume of trades in some of the most popular ETFs such as the SPY, where the impact of one single algo would rapidly get lost in the noise. Well, a few days ago, Nanex once again was the first to catch the NatGas "sine wave" in action in what is possibly the most actively traded product in the stock market: the SPY or Spider ETF. Today, Nanex once again brings something very jarring to popular attention by focusing not on the most trafficked "synthetic CDOs" but on numerous ETFs that have not been front and center in the public's eye, yet which could serve as a great practice springboard to total market manipulation via HFT strategies - strategies that if taken beyond their reasonable limit, could crash the overall market very much how the NatGas algo crashed the price of gas by 8% in seconds. Presenting the RETF algo....whose purpose is currently unknown, but whose presence in the market should be known by everyone who trades stocks.

From Nanex:

On May 2, 2011 we began noticing a strange algo phenomena that would begin
immediately after the official market close. It started with one issue,
affecting only the ask price. It soon progressed into more stocks and soon
began affecting both the bid and ask price. As of 6/10/2011 it is seen in over
two dozen issues. The algo has several unique characteristics:

  1. To date we have only seen the algo run after normal market hours
    (specifically between 16:00:00 EST and 16:15:00 EST).
  2. It runs in short and long ETF issues (i.e. an ETF and it's Inverse ETF).
  3. It averages approx. 2000 quotes per second on each issue it runs on.
  4. Quotes from multiple exchanges follow the price.
  5. It consistently raises the ask price and recently began dropping the bid
    price (many times until the bid hits zero). In the majority of cases it also
    moves the NBBO to the same outrageous price levels.
  6. We have not seen any trades occur while the algo is running (yet). As it
    runs in fairly illiquid ETF's and after hours, this is likely due to the fact
    that there are no trading opportunities at the time.
  7. It has increased it's scope of ETF issues every week.

It would be easy to say this algo is a test of some type -- if it was only seen
on one or two days. However, seeing it run every day for six solid weeks (as of
this writing), increasing in both symbol scope and frequency, raises many
questions. One thing however is painfully clear; all one needs to bring a
stocks quoting price to zero (on the bid side) or into the stratosphere (on the
ask side) is the will to do so (and an algo that will blast thousands of quotes
a second to raise/lower the NBBO in small increments, thus not violating the
recently implemented stub quote

Click for a larger image

First Sighting

The first time this algo was seen was on 05/02/2011. Just a few small blips in
one symbol on one of our most basic high frequency quote monitors:

What was unique was that it occurred after market hours (which is not that rare
but enough to make it a curiosity) and when examined we found it involved
multiple exchanges (normally we see run-up run-down algo sequences originating
from a single exchange). This is not to imply the algo itself is running on
multiple exchanges (although it is within the realm of possibility), but that
quotes from other exchanges are following the price movement and quoting at or
near the same (outrageous) level.

In the following charts, trades and quotes are plotted sequentially as they
occur. As such, no data is lost. Exchange's bid and ask prices are colored
according to the legend on the left. When quotes are the NBBO, a red circle is
drawn for the Best Ask, and a Green circle for the Best Bid.

Click on any chart for a high resolution image.

Symbol RXL

Chart #1: The first sequence of 250 quotes shows the ask price being run
up incrementally from $60 to over $400.
Click for a larger image

Chart #2: This chart shows the ask price continues to rise, although due
to the bid price being so low the scale makes it appear to be flat:
Click for a larger image

Chart #3: Removing the bids we can see that the ask price continues to
incrementally rise and affect the NBBO as it does:
Click for a larger image

Chart #4: This rise to over $500 occurs in approx. 6 seconds, with
approx. 18,000 quotes being generated in the sequence:
Click for a larger image

On week two the algo begins to affect both the bid and the ask price and also
begins to run on numerous additional symbols. It does not take the bid price to
zero but to a much lower level before stopping, while the ask price continues
to rise:

In the following charts, trades and quotes are plotted sequentially as they
occur. As such, no data is lost. Exchange's bid and ask prices are colored
according to the legend on the left. When quotes are the NBBO, a red circle is
drawn for the Best Ask, and a Green circle for the Best Bid.

Click on any chart for a high resolution image.

Symbol IFNA

Chart #1: The first 300 quotes:
Click for a larger image

Chart #2: 1000 quotes:
Click for a larger image

Chart #3: 5000 quotes:
Click for a larger image

Chart #4: 84,000 quotes:
Click for a larger image

We now see the algo affecting both the bid and the ask price and in many cases,
taking the bid price (in incremental steps) to near zero (0.01). When the bid
price hits 0.01 it then returns to the normal price range, while the ask price
continues into the stratosphere. We also see the algo filling our high quote
frequency/algo monitors every day:

In the following charts, trades and quotes are plotted sequentially as they
occur. As such, no data is lost. Exchange's bid and ask prices are colored
according to the legend on the left. When quotes are the NBBO, a red circle is
drawn for the Best Ask, and a Green circle for the Best Bid.

Click on any chart for a high resolution image.

Symbol GASL

Chart #1:. The first 500 quotes of the sequence:
Click for a larger image

Chart #2: 1,000 quotes:
Click for a larger image

Chart #3: 5,000 quotes:
Click for a larger image

Chart #4: After approx 14,000 quotes the bid price hits zero, then
rebounds to a previous price before the sequence began:
Click for a larger image

Chart #4:Symbol GASL - The Ask price continues to rise. 84,000 quotes
shown below in approx. 41 seconds:
Click for a larger image

On 6/10/2011 we see another change in behavior from the algo. As opposed to
running for 2-10 minutes in each issue (thus taking the bid to possibly zero
and the ask as high as it would go in the time span), the algo only ran for 1
full second in each issue. It is unclear (as of this writing) if this will
become the new normal, if it will soon stop altogether or if it's previous
behavior will continue.

In the following charts, trades and quotes are plotted sequentially as they
occur. As such, no data is lost. Exchange's bid and ask prices are colored
according to the legend on the left. When quotes are the NBBO, a red circle is
drawn for the Best Ask, and a Green circle for the Best Bid.

Click on any chart for a high resolution image.

Click for a larger image
Click for a larger image 
Click for a larger image
Click for a larger image 
Click for a larger image
Click for a larger image 
Click for a larger image
Click for a larger image 
Click for a larger image
Click for a larger image 


Additional examples of the algo in action can be seen here.

And before readers decide that this algo does not impact an ETF they care about, here is the list of names in which the RETF has been seen:

As of 06/10/2011 we have seen the algo run in the following issues:

BIB  ProShares Ultra Nasdaq Biotechnology
BIS  ProShares Ultra Short Nasdaq Biotechnology
BGU  Direxion Daily LG-Cap Bull
BGZ  Direxion Daily LG-Cap Bear
GASL  Direxion Daily Nat Gas Bull 2X
GASX  Direxion Daily Nat Gas Bear 2X
IFNA  iShares FTSE EPRA/Nareit
KRS  ProShares UltraShort KBW Regional Banking
KRU  ProShares Ultra KBW Regional Banking
LTL  ProShares Ultra Telecommunication
MWN  Direxion Mid-Cap Bear 3X - Triple-Leveraged
REK  ProShares Short DJ US Real Estate Index ETF
RETL  Direxion Daily Retail Bull 2x Shares
RETS  Direxion Daily Retail Bear 2x Shares
RXD  ProShares UltraShort Health Care Fund
RXL  ProShares Ultra Health Care Fund
SAA  ProShares Ultra Small Cap 600 Fund
SBB  ProShares UltraShort Small Cap 600 Fund
SBM  ProShares Short DJ US Basic Materials Index ETF
SDK  ProShares UltraShort Russell MidCap Growth Fund
SIJ  ProShares UltraShort Industrials Fund
SJF  ProShares UltraShort Russell 1000 Value Fund
SJL  ProShares UltraShort Russell MidCap Value Fund
SKK  ProShares UltraShort Russell 2000 Growth Fund
UCC  ProShares Ultra Consumer Services
UGE  ProShares Ultra Consumer Goods
UKK  ProShares Ultra Russell 2000 Growth
UKW  ProShares Ultra Russell MidCap Growth
ULE  ProShares Ultra Euro
YCL  ProShares Ultra Yen


How long before this test attempt to manipulate prices in C-grade ETFs comes to an SPY near you... And what happens when all the other algos, unfamiliar with this electronic trading pattern pull out of the market, and we see yet another historic collapse in a market that is sustained purely on hope and algorithmic levitation?


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Mon, 06/13/2011 - 14:09 | 1365332 centerline
centerline's picture

Some of the best scientific minds used today to create incredibly sophisticated work intended to game the system for fast money in order to live like rock stars.  Humanity at it's finest, no?

Mon, 06/13/2011 - 14:16 | 1365365 plocequ1
plocequ1's picture

This is bearish for charts

Mon, 06/13/2011 - 14:28 | 1365405 DoChenRollingBearing
DoChenRollingBearing's picture

It seems to me that this has to be illegal...

How come NO ONE in power at the SEC or elsewhere has said anything about this?

Mon, 06/13/2011 - 14:34 | 1365423 SheepDog-One
SheepDog-One's picture

Because 'its all good'.

Mon, 06/13/2011 - 14:48 | 1365467 Spirit Of Truth
Spirit Of Truth's picture

If this were a just world, ZH would win one of those fat 9-figure gubermint consulting subcontracts and be helping the SEC do it's purported job.  The investigative work done here is mind-boggling.

Tue, 06/14/2011 - 17:40 | 1369085 mkkby
mkkby's picture

I don't get it.  Can someone please explain how this actually changes the NBBO?  I mean someone else was already bidding/asking better prices.  Wouldn't all these quotes be non marketable?  So what if I come in with crazy quotes 1000x per second that are nowhere near marketable.  I thought they said no trades were executed, so unless they actally buy out the price levels (from themselves?), why does this matter?

What am I missing?

Mon, 06/13/2011 - 14:32 | 1365427 sabra1
sabra1's picture

they're all busy staring at weiners pics!

Mon, 06/13/2011 - 15:33 | 1365600 MachoMan
MachoMan's picture

in their defense, they thought it was a woman when they clicked on the link...  of course, at some point you quit getting "fooled"...

Mon, 06/13/2011 - 14:48 | 1365470 Oh regional Indian
Oh regional Indian's picture

DCRB, in the current machine/capital paradigm, tech-fucking your opponent is always allowed. it get's you badges and stripes usually.


Mon, 06/13/2011 - 15:18 | 1365561 LawsofPhysics
LawsofPhysics's picture


Think about it, in the history of the world "tech-fucking" has always been allowed.  Right up until the point where you are eating your competition.  Come on now, just think of all those societies that were slow to develop and apply the use of gunpowder.

Mon, 06/13/2011 - 17:09 | 1365809 Oh regional Indian
Oh regional Indian's picture

In recorded history, I'll grant you that, completely! :-0

Mon, 06/13/2011 - 17:15 | 1365821 Oh regional Indian
Oh regional Indian's picture

In recorded history, I'll grant you that, completely! :-0


Mon, 06/13/2011 - 14:19 | 1365375 bankrupt JPM bu...
bankrupt JPM buy silver's picture

Im starting to document this on SLV and record my desktop platform.

Mon, 06/13/2011 - 14:28 | 1365419 DoChenRollingBearing
DoChenRollingBearing's picture

Nice blog.  Tightly focused.  If you would like a link to mine (I use my real name, and it is NOT focused, so very different) send me a gmail at my name and assure me that you will behave.

Mon, 06/13/2011 - 14:10 | 1365340 Robslob
Robslob's picture


The purpose of the algo is to simulate an "open market" while other AI machines nuke the entire planet and rid themselves of those pesky "carbon" units...

Thus when the alien life forms finally show up to bailout planet earths governments and banking cartels from decades of abuse all they will find is a perfectly functioning market...of machines.



Mon, 06/13/2011 - 14:41 | 1365455 Oh regional Indian
Oh regional Indian's picture

Rob, then perhaps it's time for a butlerian jihad, eh?




Mon, 06/13/2011 - 14:10 | 1365353 painequalschange
painequalschange's picture

Isn't there anything you CAN invest in any more?

Mon, 06/13/2011 - 14:27 | 1365410 10kby2k
10kby2k's picture


Mon, 06/13/2011 - 14:32 | 1365421 SheepDog-One
SheepDog-One's picture

Firearms, ammo, farming implements, food...

Mon, 06/13/2011 - 14:34 | 1365425 DoChenRollingBearing
DoChenRollingBearing's picture

Gold & other PMs, water filtration devices, prescription medicines, first aid kits, barter items (booze)...

Mon, 06/13/2011 - 15:07 | 1365535 Deepskyy
Deepskyy's picture

And play plenty of Fallout 3 during your down time.  I got a feeling we will all be "wastelanders" soon.


Mon, 06/13/2011 - 16:04 | 1365662 Smiley
Smiley's picture

Make sure you program all the landmarks in your Pip Boy 3000 before the area becomes infested with RadScorpions; those bastids hurt like hell.

Mon, 06/13/2011 - 16:14 | 1365669 Smiley
Smiley's picture

I'm considering metal ingots; copper, aluminum, titanium, tin, and nickel.


+1 on the booze, even if you don't drink the stuff.

Vacum sealed cigarettes are big on my list.

Mon, 06/13/2011 - 20:12 | 1366314 delacroix
delacroix's picture


Mon, 06/13/2011 - 17:58 | 1365954 Smiddywesson
Smiddywesson's picture

There is plenty you can invest in during the apocolypse:

Hair gel for those mohawks

Motorcycle accessories

Hockey masks

Leather anything

Fredericks of Hollywood supplies, because there's nothing a man wants more after plying the desert blown highways of the apoclypse, then a mohawk sportin' muscle bleach blonde babe in Frederick's of Hollywood attire.

Dump your gold, Frederick's is the new reserve currency 

Mon, 06/13/2011 - 14:14 | 1365354 AmCockerSpaniel
AmCockerSpaniel's picture

ALL paper (shares) will be destroyed. Only the physical (PM) will be left in the hands of the owners. When the markets crash/ lockup, it's the same as a run on the bank. Know that if you can not sell something, it's the same as it being worthless.

Mon, 06/13/2011 - 14:32 | 1365428 DoChenRollingBearing
DoChenRollingBearing's picture

+ $1515

If you do not have any physical gold, you should buy some.  YES, it will go up and down, but its long term future is very promising.

Gold is the best wealth preserver in town.

Mon, 06/13/2011 - 14:15 | 1365360 Smiley
Smiley's picture

Its a big fat joke and the individual investors are the punchline.

Mon, 06/13/2011 - 14:24 | 1365388 Duuude
Duuude's picture

It's either called...


A Borgprobe

or a




Mon, 06/13/2011 - 14:27 | 1365413 AmCockerSpaniel
AmCockerSpaniel's picture

First it was the equity in your home, now it's the wealth in you stock market paper.

Mon, 06/13/2011 - 14:28 | 1365417 SheepDog-One
SheepDog-One's picture

Those poor pensioners, one day soon theyll all be holding an empty bag.

Mon, 06/13/2011 - 16:13 | 1365686 Smiley
Smiley's picture

And living off cans of dog food...

Mon, 06/13/2011 - 14:12 | 1365361 Wolferl
Wolferl's picture

Is there really someone out there who thinks ETFs are NOT manipulated?

Mon, 06/13/2011 - 14:12 | 1365362 Highrev
Highrev's picture

Could it be that the NatGas "sine wave" was one of these with the buy and sell mistakenly flipped?

Mon, 06/13/2011 - 14:14 | 1365371 Cdad
Cdad's picture

mistakenly flipped?


Mon, 06/13/2011 - 14:15 | 1365363 Franken_Stein
Franken_Stein's picture


The crocodile jaw algo.

The spread spread algo.


Mon, 06/13/2011 - 14:42 | 1365446 totem
totem's picture

This algo is the Doomsday_Machine from Star Trek... and we're all out of Commodore Decker's here on Earth.


Mon, 06/13/2011 - 14:46 | 1365459 The Fonz
The Fonz's picture

The Spread Eagle Algo, just so you know your being fucked.

Mon, 06/13/2011 - 14:17 | 1365368 InconvenientCou...
InconvenientCounterParty's picture

Fairness and capitalism are mutually exclusive. Social Darwinism at its finest.

learn it, live it, love it.

Mon, 06/13/2011 - 14:18 | 1365373 SheepDog-One
SheepDog-One's picture

Algo's partying up a storm!

Mon, 06/13/2011 - 14:31 | 1365418 10kby2k
10kby2k's picture

And LeBron didn't join them.

Mon, 06/13/2011 - 14:15 | 1365374 irishlink
irishlink's picture

If this type of manipulation continues and intensifies ,wall streets days are numbered. Who wants to try to second guess these guys.

Mon, 06/13/2011 - 14:22 | 1365396 King Durian
King Durian's picture

Now it makes sense why the NYSE was willing to sell to the Germans. This HFT infested market will be Germany's problem soon enough. But, Germany outlawed naked short sells, so there might be hope for the NYSE Bourse if the Germans run it.

Mon, 06/13/2011 - 14:23 | 1365387 King Durian
King Durian's picture

I am apprehensive towards the day these HFT algos have a run at the Bitcoin market. The only thing saving the Bitcoin market from this utter manipulation is due to the lengthy time it takes for Bitcoins to change hands. However, I see that changing as more and more solutions are cropping up to cut down the transmission time. For the meantime, however, I would suspect that the Bitcoin economy is HFT free. Of course, I could confirm this opinion by checking the public Bitcoin records to see if there were any abnormal transactions occuring in the market.


I personally think that if this HFT nonsense continues, eventually the average investor is going to catch wind of this, and are going to forego playing in these manipulated markets. It may have already happened, but I think the trend will continue on the longterm unless this nonsense stops. It may even make other stock markets more inviting.. can you see the billboard advertisements in the Swiss Alps yet? Invest in the "NIFTY- HFT and Algo Free since 2011"!

Mon, 06/13/2011 - 14:24 | 1365390 oogs66
oogs66's picture

Dont leave atop loss orders. Don't leave so little equity in your margin account that your broker stops you out.

Mon, 06/13/2011 - 14:28 | 1365407 Highrev
Highrev's picture

Is that a "sine-wave" I see on the /es 5 minute?


Mon, 06/13/2011 - 14:48 | 1365468 Black Forest
Black Forest's picture

No, cosine

Mon, 06/13/2011 - 14:34 | 1365433 Cdad
Cdad's picture

How long before this test attempt to manipulate prices in C-grade ETFs comes to an SPY near you

Why Tyler, it might even be the Algo [crocodile or otherwise] unwisely pumped the market before today's liquidation hour [which is to say the last hour of trading] as fully invested mutual fund geniuses get their marching orders to sell stocks...a phenomena that shall continue until such time as Magic Ben whispers those magic words again.

So everyone, quick turn on your fractal crocodile jaw algo detectors...and call 'em out!

Ah...does anyone remember those mutual fund redemption last hour trading days?  I do...and fondly so.

Mon, 06/13/2011 - 14:38 | 1365435 espirit
espirit's picture

Pull the plug Bitchez, commence Operation Mayhem.

Mon, 06/13/2011 - 15:00 | 1365505 TheTmfreak
TheTmfreak's picture

Is there any reason you aren't already acting upon Operation Mayhem? Everyone has a part. Play yours.

Mon, 06/13/2011 - 15:31 | 1365593 espirit
espirit's picture

I can make silver bullets if I need to.

Mon, 06/13/2011 - 17:06 | 1365794 Rational Psycho
Rational Psycho's picture

Is there any reason you aren't already acting upon Operation Mayhem? 

Sounds like someone doesn't know the first rule of Project Mayhem.

Mon, 06/13/2011 - 14:36 | 1365439 UGrev
UGrev's picture

No wonder why I keep getting emails from Habib in NYC hiring for financial sector jobs.. 

Look, Habib.. no want any HFT Algo Job with big banky.. okay? 

Mon, 06/13/2011 - 14:39 | 1365447 Stoploss
Stoploss's picture

GATOR MOUTHS.. Think of it that way.

Mon, 06/13/2011 - 14:42 | 1365448 PaperBear
PaperBear's picture

Who ? What ? How ? Why ? Huh ?

Mon, 06/13/2011 - 14:43 | 1365450 carbonmutant
carbonmutant's picture

Algos testing the system.

Prototyping the next move...

Mon, 06/13/2011 - 14:41 | 1365453 11b40
11b40's picture

So, here is a hypothetical question.

What would it do to these algos if large numbers of people started placing sell orders at very high price targets?

If XYZ was in a trading range of $9-10, and I place an open order to sell at $14 and an algo quickly runs up the price, it eats my order and I walk with a handsome gain, right?

I think I understand driving the price down, and I think I understand manipulating up & down in a tight range, but manipulating up by a larger deviation is what makes me scratch my head.  I know I am probably missing something here, but what is it?

Mon, 06/13/2011 - 14:45 | 1365474 SheepDog-One
SheepDog-One's picture

Could be this is all just a diversion while the algos are really busy building T-1 terminators.

Mon, 06/13/2011 - 14:51 | 1365480 Cdad
Cdad's picture



Mon, 06/13/2011 - 14:50 | 1365478 Cdad
Cdad's picture

If XYZ was in a trading range of $9-10, and I place an open order to sell at $14 and an algo quickly runs up the price, it eats my order and I walk with a handsome gain, right?

I guess if you are a Terminator and can execute within one hundreth of a second, and through the right venue, simultaneously, you could, theoretically, become an instant millionaire.

However, and if your order is not routed through the chosen, manipulated exchange, priced to the proper 4th decimal point so as to intercept the illegal matched lot...what happens next is that even the dumbest, helmet wearing algo in the room detects that RSI just hit infinity, and it unloads every last long on its book resulting in a flash crash.

So...good luck.

Mon, 06/13/2011 - 17:26 | 1365870 Missiondweller
Missiondweller's picture

Actually I think we've seen this in some form several times recently.


What happens? The exchange breaks your trade and pretends it didn't happen.

Mon, 06/13/2011 - 14:50 | 1365477 FOREX loop.
FOREX loop.'s picture

could these algo's be used in the PM market? and, anyone got any ideas on why silver is suddenly tanking down over a $1.50 and dropping?

Mon, 06/13/2011 - 14:53 | 1365493 espirit
espirit's picture

follow the dollah.

Mon, 06/13/2011 - 14:55 | 1365500 Cdad
Cdad's picture

Crocodile algo's can survive in any environment where the physical delivery of something tangible is not cool.  

Perhaps, the croc has got your silver futures by the leg.

Mon, 06/13/2011 - 14:49 | 1365484 dracos_ghost
dracos_ghost's picture

The wonders of the absence of a "specialist" in the algo models.

All the ECNs/Dark Pools trying to game the settling period of the market and again with no specialist, absolute madness.

IMO, it shows that the lack of posted volume on the major exchanges may not be a sign of quiet action but increased ATS action.

Mon, 06/13/2011 - 14:58 | 1365497 Reptil
Reptil's picture

wow nice work, thank you


Mon, 06/13/2011 - 14:55 | 1365498 espirit
espirit's picture

When the time is right, the algo's will frontrun the drop.

Last one out holds the bag.

Mon, 06/13/2011 - 15:15 | 1365519 Cdad
Cdad's picture

And they're in the final stretch now, Crocodile Algo in the lead, and close behind, Hedge Fund Freakshow.  Crocodile Algo and Hedge Fund Freakshow are seperated by a length, with Hopium Trader in third.  

Mutual Fund Redemption is coming on hard now, and closing ranks with the learders, as Long Term Investor is falling away into last place.  Thirteen Times S&P CrackPipe Dream is now being euthanized in the center of the track...

And here we go....


Mon, 06/13/2011 - 15:13 | 1365545 Cdad
Cdad's picture

Mutual Fund Redemption is charging now, as is Intent to Sell.  Mutual Fund Redemption trade has closed to gap to half a length.  Crocodile Algo is being whipped hard now, and Hedge Fund Freakshow is acting up, his head shaking.

Intent to Sell has now bumped up against Hopium Trader and the riders are gesticulating wildly at each other...

Here comes the finish with Mutual Fund Redemption charging....

Mon, 06/13/2011 - 15:26 | 1365577 espirit
espirit's picture

also LMAO.

Mon, 06/13/2011 - 15:27 | 1365580 Cdad
Cdad's picture

Unbelievable....Crocodile Algo, Hedge Fund Freakshow and Mutual Fund Redemption are all three neck and neck, fighting it out on the last leg...

as syndicate stock analysts gather round 13 Times S&P CrackPipe Dreams in the center of the track...a sad sight to see, to be sure...

In fourth and fifth, Intent to Sell followed by Hopium Trader.  Intent to Sell seems to be flipping the bird at Hopium Trader, and Hopium Trader a Blackberry?  Not sure there....calling his broker because his orders won't execute maybe...not sure what that is about....

Long Term Investor is trotting now, 100 lengths back...

It's going to be a photo finish folks....

Mon, 06/13/2011 - 15:44 | 1365618 Cdad
Cdad's picture

Crocodile Algo is being whipped hard, a constant beating in an attempt to fend off the charging of Mutual Fund Redemption.  Hedge Fund Freakshow is slipping...slipping I say again...

Long Term Investor has now come to a complete stop...for...yes, to be photographed by BlowHorn reporters...presuming to be the winner.  I guess we can count him out....

Crocodile Algo...Mutual Fund Redemption...Mutual Fund Redemption...Crocodile's too close to call....IT's. TOO. CLOSE.  TO.  CALL.


Mon, 06/13/2011 - 15:57 | 1365652 Cdad
Cdad's picture

As they converge on the finish line, the Sheeple are on their feet and looks like this one will go to the photo judge.... comes the call...

Mon, 06/13/2011 - 17:22 | 1365850 Cdad
Cdad's picture

And the winner is Mutual Fund Redepmtion! [although a BlowHorn headline just tweeted has declared Long Term Investor the victor, of course].

Until such time as Ben Bernanke whispers the magic words, ALL ALGO magic lifts will be sold, and crocodile algo's will flash, and the final hour of trading will remain Mutual Fundflush hour...I mean redemption time.

Tune in later this week for the BlowHorn [CNBC] Cliche Derby, an interactive seven horse claiming race.


Tue, 06/14/2011 - 00:14 | 1366887 covered
covered's picture

You win the internet today. Definately.

Mon, 06/13/2011 - 15:15 | 1365553 Reptil
Reptil's picture


Mon, 06/13/2011 - 16:03 | 1365534 Reptil
Mon, 06/13/2011 - 15:32 | 1365597 slewie the pi-rat
slewie the pi-rat's picture

those charts look like horrid day-glo squid.  but i think i would name the algo The ViX VaporiZer...

Mon, 06/13/2011 - 16:23 | 1365700 falak pema
falak pema's picture

This is stuff fabricated in Lubyanka! Tell me its true! And I'll wake up in Moscova not in DC or NY-WS...

Mon, 06/13/2011 - 16:33 | 1365711 FreakuentFlyer
FreakuentFlyer's picture

it is an algo, whose aim is to determine the behaviour of other algos, running during this time frame, in these issues. 

let's say algoA is running, and its intent is to sit 3c or 2000 shares below the bb price. it is "waiting" for a price level piercing market order or a marketable limit order. it is assuming that such a hurried order would pierce a few levels, touch it as well, and there would be almost an immediate reflex back to the starting price - like punching a bucket of water.


now, we have algo? its intention is to figure out the parameters that are driving algoA. it does so by stepping inside the spread, to establish a new bb price. then it starts to move lower, observing the algoA moving down in lockstep.


what the charts indicate, is that algoAs (all other participants in the market at this time), are completely ignorant of the bid-ask spread, and all they really care is about the relationship of their bid to best bid, and their ask to best ask.


so what is gonna happen, is that algo? will do a few things - 1. someday, it will predict incoming marketable orders, after hours. 2. while waiting for them, it will headfake all the other algos by establishing itself as "the leader of the pack", and while the rest are moving away, 3. it will jump back, and match the in-a-hurry order from some hand trader, 4. then turn around and unload it for profit to the rest of the pack, when they come back to a "normal" spread.


its just a theory of mine. of course.

Mon, 06/13/2011 - 16:33 | 1365713 ZeroSpread
ZeroSpread's picture

Anybody interested in programming an Anti-Algo? Might be fun to see both of them in action against each other and this might be the only way to combat "legal" leagally.


Mon, 06/13/2011 - 16:52 | 1365752 Godisanhftbot
Godisanhftbot's picture

 pretty pictures  but I dont get it. how the hell is lifting the ask and dropping the bid, on etfs that arent going to trade ah , a manip?


 obviously, the mm's are not active ah. and there is no retail action.

 who gives a shit if  the ask is 2000 and the bid is 1 cent. 

 this has been going on for years. not even news

can we dispense with pointing out non issues


no need to respond, as anything questioning the kool aid is rarely commented on.


Tue, 06/14/2011 - 03:24 | 1367078 StychoKiller
StychoKiller's picture

Perhaps the robots are bored and are just jerking Nanex's chain... :>D

Mon, 06/13/2011 - 16:50 | 1365758 kevinearick
kevinearick's picture

resonance, resisting the resistor, in an LRC, to build the necessary quantum threshold

Mon, 06/13/2011 - 17:01 | 1365782 Missiondweller
Missiondweller's picture

You would have thought after the fall of LTCM in 1998 ww would have recognized the hubris of over reliance on quant models.

Alas, no. We've learned nothing, and the next time will be much, much worse.

Mon, 06/13/2011 - 17:18 | 1365831 HistorySquared
HistorySquared's picture

This campaign against HFT is misguided as the real risks lie in synthetic products that underlie many these ETFs. 

Without automated market making, you would still have market makers gunning for stop losses and stepping away during crises, and even to a worse degree as they did during the 1987 crash when brokers wouldn't answer their phones and prices fell 21% versus 6% during the Greek riots.  

It gets pretty old hearing upstairs sales brokers (hint Themis) and their 4 cent commissions and floor brokers at the NYSE who have fleeced the public for years claiming that if only they had the orders and preferential rules, the system would be at less risk.




Mon, 06/13/2011 - 18:00 | 1365964 ZeroPower
ZeroPower's picture

+100. A post from somebody who understands, cheers for that.

Mon, 06/13/2011 - 18:48 | 1366111 1Fatboy
1Fatboy's picture


Not a rhetorical question...would like to know: Aren't many of the synthetics at the mercy of what happens in the market?  Curtailing synthetic products won't curtail a flash crash if it's caused by HFT algos.


Mon, 06/13/2011 - 19:38 | 1366232 chump666
chump666's picture

Nah they are crap, they overbid,  and/or bid out trades.  It is ridicules, and you see trades at less than 500 going into market, then a quick scalp.  The only advantage that I can see, mentioned below post, is the HFT's smooth out bid/offer they trade into a tight band and you wait for the breakout.  Usually on the downside because liquidity is so weak.  You either sell, or buy puts, shorts when the HFT's sells - and they sell hard as in flash crash.  Then they bid up again and you ride it to the tight bid/offer range starts again.

Mon, 06/13/2011 - 17:35 | 1365894 Comrade de Chaos
Comrade de Chaos's picture

Wonder when two bots do collide, will they form distructive or constructive intereference ?

Mon, 06/13/2011 - 18:03 | 1365973 ebworthen
ebworthen's picture

Looks like a probe to test limits, parameters, and timing.

The length of time it has been running could also be to "train" the stop limit and flash software controls and protections "pre-attack".

Mon, 06/13/2011 - 18:44 | 1366101 CapTool
CapTool's picture

No more market makers, Sorry not an attack or anything else, but as the liquidity dries up in underlying components you back off, unless someone else bids or offers. All this means is there isn't anyone else in those products.

Mon, 06/13/2011 - 19:07 | 1366152 mickeyman
mickeyman's picture

The real fun with these algos will begin when they run up and down hundreds of times per second (e.g., moving the bid up to near the ask and then running back down to try to get a chase). That's once you have more than one of these running at a time. The runs in this posting look like a single algo.

The nat gas Lorenz waves a few nights ago looks like duelling algos.

Mon, 06/13/2011 - 19:10 | 1366154 jackinrichmond
jackinrichmond's picture

good investment choices can be obliterated in the matter of moments..  i'm starting to think i would have a better chance with my money in vegas..  at least it would be more fun losing with pretty women bringing me drinks while i gamble.  

Mon, 06/13/2011 - 19:12 | 1366155 mickeyman
mickeyman's picture

The real fun with these algos will begin when they run up and down hundreds of times per second (e.g., moving the bid up to near the ask and then running back down to try to get a chase). That's once you have more than one of these running at a time. The runs in this posting look like a single algo.

The nat gas Lorenz waves a few nights ago looks like duelling algos.

Mon, 06/13/2011 - 19:32 | 1366216 chump666
chump666's picture

don't know what the big deal is, you can beat these because of the hyper quick panic mechanism  i.e flash crashes

HFT"S can smooth out a bid/offer so well in all it's bizarreness - looks unnatural, so you wait for the panic.

Tue, 06/14/2011 - 04:28 | 1367105 bozzy
bozzy's picture

Any notion that it is difficult to attribute responsibility and ownership for these HFT or directional algo systems is complete bollocks. If there was any will to stop this, the names of the originators of the "quotes" and "trades" would be prised from the placing houses. The fact is that there is no will to hinder this daily money harvest because it might damage those perfect trading days so much vaunted by the dickless automatons running our most respected institutions - you know who I mean.

This is like using a beam trawler to scare the money into the waiting nets - we are being harvested daily by supposedly anonymous criminals, for no-one can suggest that these methods are legal.

As I am wont to say - Do not piss on my leg then tell me it is raining Jamie, and you too Lloyd etc - hope you can hear me down there in the ooze.

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