Back in March of 2009 Zero Hedge, once again a little conspiratorially ahead of its time, solicited reader feedback on a key topic: CDS pricing manipulation, involving in addition to key cartel banks, such "independent" pricing services as MarkIt. We said: "Zero Hedge has received some troubling info (like there isn't enough)
regarding major pricing discrepancies between certain securities pricing
services. The services include companies such as IDC, Advantage Data,
Markit and others. While I will not disclose which one may be a culprit,
the allegation is that one (or more) are providing substantially above
market pricing levels, specifically as pertains to distressed
securities." Then back in August 2010, we followed up by explaining that it is the ongoing price manipulation scheme, in addition to other factors, that allows Goldman Sachs (and other CDS dealers to a much lesser extent) to constantly generate massive profits from trading an opaque off-exchange product like CDS. It took two years and a month for others to take notice of this inquiry, although naturally not in that slum of corruption and market manipulation, the United States of America, but in Europe. Bloomberg reports: "Goldman Sachs Group Inc. (GS), JPMorgan Chase & Co. (JPM) and other 14 other investment banks face a European Union antitrust probe into credit-default swaps for companies and sovereign debt, regulators said. ...The European Commission said it opened two antitrust probes. It will check whether 16 bank dealers colluded by giving market information to Markit, a financial information provider." So while some post flow charts explaining the hilarity behind conspiracy theories, others actually expose the facts that today are a conspiracy and tomorrow are a full blown criminal investigation.
“Lack of transparency in markets can lead to abusive behavior and facilitate violations of competition rules,” said the EU’s antitrust chief, Joaquin Almunia, in an e-mailed statement. “I hope our investigation will contribute to a better functioning of financial markets.”
Global regulators have sought to toughen regulation of credit-default swaps saying the trades helped fuel the financial crisis. Lawmakers in the EU plan to encourage the use of clearinghouses and transparent trading systems. CDS are derivatives that pay the buyer face value if a borrower defaults.
JPMorgan, Bank of America Corp. (BAC), Barclays Plc (BARC), BNP Paribas (BNP) SA, Citigroup Inc. (C), Commerzbank AG (CBK), Credit Suisse Group AG (CSGN), Deutsche Bank AG (DBK), Goldman Sachs, HSBC Holdings Plc (HSBA), Morgan Stanley, Royal Bank of Scotland Group Plc (RBS), UBS AG (UBSN), Wells Fargo & Co. (WFC), Credit Agricole SA (ACA) and Societe Generale (GLE) SA will be investigated for possible collusion in giving “most of the pricing, indices and other essential daily data only to Markit.”
The commission said this “may have the effect of foreclosing the access to the valuable raw data by other information service providers.” It said some of the clauses in Markit’s licence and distribution agreements “could be abusive and impede the development of competition in the market for the provision of CDS information.”
The EU will also separately investigate credit default swap clearing and deals struck by ICE Clear Europe with Bank of America, Barclays, Citigroup, Credit Suisse, Deutsche Bank, Goldman Sachs, JPMorgan, Morgan Stanley (MS) and UBS.
These agreements have clauses on preferential fees and profit sharing arrangements “which might create an incentive for the banks to use only ICE as a clearinghouse,” the EU said. That may block other clearinghouses from starting up and limit choice for CDS dealers, it said.
And with this done, we next we shift our attention to predicting what headlines on gold and silver market manipulation will look like in 2013. Or we could simply repost some mockery of all those tinfoil hat wearing idiots who dare to challenge the status quo...