Algorithmic Trading

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HFT + Inept Regulators + Fed Distortion = More Flash Crashes





"I think we have to blame central bank intervention. How can we not? It’s all around the world. They’re setting interest rates at a ridiculous level. Quantitative easing is distorting all sorts of prices of assets. How do you price things anymore when you have such a giant manipulator out there?"

 
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Why Sarao Is The Flash Crash Patsy: He Threatened To Expose The "Mass Manipulation Of High Frequency Nerds"





The CME contacted Sarao about his trades after concluding he appeared to be significantly swaying opening prices.  Sarao explained some of his conduct to the CME in a March 2010 e-mail as “just showing a friend of mine what occurs on the bid side of the market almost 24 hours a day, by the high-frequency geeks.” And the reason why nobody touched Sarao until just days before the 5 years statute of limitations following the Flash Crash had run out, is the following: "He then questioned whether CME’s actions regarding his activity meant the mass manipulation of high frequency nerds is going to end."

The answer was no.

 
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The Fed’s Trapped In The Corner With An Empty Bucket





In response to questions posed by Santelli, former Dallas Fed president Richard Fisher made two points which were both salient if not downright prophetic. The first: “Well, what worries me is how totally lazy investors have gotten, totally dependent on the Federal Reserve and I find this to be a precarious situation.” The second: “Are we vulnerable in my opinion to a significant equity market correction? I believe we are. Not only has the Fed painted themselves into an even tighter corner – they’ve left no clear path as to now kick the empty can.

 
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US Treasury Warns Investors Underestimate "Potential For A Market Reversal", Take "Low Volatility For Granted"





"Investors may have taken low volatility for granted and underestimated the potential for a reversal. While quantitative easing policies are intended to encourage investors to buy risky assets, there is also a risk that the perceived reversal of such policies will lead investors to turn the other way, triggering market instability.... Similarly, investors may have become too sanguine about the availability of market liquidity — the ability to transact in size without having a significant impact on price — during both good times and bad. Accommodative global monetary policy, coupled with the Federal Reserve’s purchases of large amounts of low-risk assets and changes in risk sentiment, helped to compress volatility and risk premiums. "

 
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Asian Gold Traders Suspicious Of Recent "Turbo Steroid Moves"





It will come as no surprise to regular readers that gold (and silver) have suffered from 'odd' violent down-slams in the last few months but, as Bloomberg reports, those 'sneak-attacks' have become increasingly more prevalent during the thin illiquid hours of the Asia trading session. "It is unusual for Asia to be seeing these busy trading sessions," notes on trader, adding that "consensus seems to be that there is a big increase in algorithmic and high-frequency trading in this time zone." The trend began on Oct. 31, with gold futures falling $11 in a minute on nearly 9,000 lots (20x the norm) - all happening when the Chinese market is at lunch. As one Hong Kong precious metals trader remarked, "someone is utilising these thin trading volumes to get a turbo steroid move."

 
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The Broken Market's Latest Creation: An Algo To Offset The Impact Of Other Algos





 Trader's Magazine reports that "as part of KCG's continued push into the institutional trading side of the business"... which is a euphemism for please trade with us: we won't blow up again, we promise... "the well-regarded and historically focused market-maker [ZH: if you keep repeating that it magically comes true, just ask world-renowned trader Dennis Gartman] has built its first brand new algorithmic trading tool - Catch."  What does the algo known as Catch do? Well, supposedly it offsets the impact of all other algos who have crushed market liquidity.

 
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Anti-HFT Revulsion Grows: IEX Ties For Fourth In Dark Pool Trading Thanks To World's Largest Wealth Fund





While Wall Street is certainly free to broken record that Michael Lewis' hugely popular story about HFT and market rigging did not impact the natural course of events, the reality is it did: the collapse in Barclays' dark pool LX (shown in the bolded red line on the chart below), in the aftermath of the NY AG case against the British bank, has been documented in the past, and is just one example. An even more vivid case study comes from the surge in popularity of upstart dark pool IEX (green dotted line below), the protagonist of Lewis' Flash Boys book, and which out of nowhere, has just tied with Lavaflow's dark pool for fourth spot in ATS trading with just over 200 million shares in the week ended October 27. The catalyst? Norway's sovereign wealth fund just said not to HFT parasites.

 
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How Germany Defines, And Deals With, HFT Market Abuse





"The HFT Act will add the following clarification to the rules specifying the prohibition of market abuse: The placing of purchase or sale orders to a market by means of a computer algorithm which automatically determines the parameters of the order could be considered market abuse provided the placing of orders occurs without a trading intention, but (a) to disrupt or delay the functioning of the trading system, (b) to make it more difficult for a third party to identify genuine purchase or sale orders in the trading system, or (c) to create a false or misleading signal about the supply of or demand for a financial instrument."

 
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Must Read: Fear And Loathing On The Marketing Trail





Today, everyone believes that market price levels are largely driven by monetary policy and that we are all being played by politicians and central bankers using their words for effect rather than direct communication. No one requires convincing that market price levels are unsupported by real world economic activity. Everyone believes that this will all end badly, and the only real question is when.... There’s absolutely nothing sincere about the public sphere today, in its politics or its economics, and as a result we have lost faith in our public institutions, including public markets. It’s not the first time in the history of the Western world this has happened … the last time was in the 1930’s … and over time, perhaps a very long period of time, a modicum of faith will return. This, too, shall pass... It’s the public markets where faith has been lost, and that’s why the Golden Age of the Central Banker poses existential risks for firms and business strategies based on trading activity within those public markets.

 
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What Has Driven The VIX Higher In The Past?





A nervous peace prevails in the financial markets as central banks sit on their throne, fingers at the ready on the liquidity switch. As UBS' Bhanu Baweja notes, most volatility buyers have been 'rolled' into their graves. As they have explicitly targeted risk premia in addition to rates, a lot more hangs on the monarchs of monetary policy today than it has in previous cycles. While growth and inflation are both low, they are not necessarily uncertain; and although every crisis is different, certain patterns tend to repeat and certain events have reliably driven volatility higher.

 
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High Frequency Trading: All You Need To Know





In the aftermath of Michael Lewis' book "Flash Boys" there has been a renewed surge in interest in High Frequency Trading. Alas, much of it is conflicted, biased, overly technical or simply wrong. And since we can't assume that all those interested have been followed our 5 year of coverage of a topic that finally has earned its day in the public spotlight, below is a simple summary for everyone.

 

 
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