Boiler Room

Frontrunning: November 16

  • Belgian Police 'Arrest' Public Enemy No.1 (Sky News)
  • France Widens Crackdown at Home as Bombs Rain on Islamic State (BBG)
  • Putin Goes From G-20 Pariah to Player at Obama Turkey Talk (BBG)
  • Paris Attacks: 150 Raids as France Goes to 'War With Terrorism' (NBC)
  • 'Rocket Launcher Found' In French Police Raids (Sky)
  • Geopolitical worries lift oil after Paris attacks, but glut weighs (Reuters)
  • Japan's economy falls back into recession again (BBC)

Flash Crash Alert: Navinder Sarao Granted Bail, To Leave Prison Today

Earlier today, one of the biggest farces of 2015 was remedied when a UK judge granted Sarao a bail reduction from £5m to £50,000 and was allowed to leave prison as soon as today. As profiled before, Sarao had been at the infamous Wandsworth prison - Britain's worst - since his arrest. As the FT reports, at a court hearing at Westminster Magistrates Court in London today, a lawyer for the US said he would not oppose the bail reduction.

Head Trader Of World's 4th Largest Hedge Fund Caught In HFT Frontrunning Scandal

Shortly after we reported the latest market-rigging scandal, in which ITG was busted for frontrunning sellside clients in its dark pool in what has been since dubbed a "trading experiment" (because it sounds better than criminal conspiracy to defraud clients), and which will cost the company a record for a private Wall Street firm $22 million settlement, we had one question for AQR's Cliff Asness yesterday morning: "Hi @Cimmerian999, is Hitesh Mittal the AQR employee who was formerly at ITG and is part of the SEC settlement?"   We got no answer from the AQR head, but luckily Bloomberg noticed, and as it turns out the answer to our question was a resounding yes.

The Flipside To Rigged FX Markets: "The Most Consistent Thing Is Losing"

As today's latest example of pervasive, apparently endless criminality at the world's largest banks, where once again the shocked public is exposed to a culture of sociopathic, unchecked greed and perpetual raping of clients, showed, one is either part of the all too literal "cartel", or one loses money. However, for those who are unfamiliar with the nuances of FX trading, one doesn't even have to be on the other side of the world's most criminal, above the law, cartel of bankers to have no P and only L: the fundamental premise of currency trading, whereby one can and will be stopped out thanks to leverage as high as 50x - by others but mostly by one's own brokers as we learned today courtesy of JPM, Citi, RBS, HSBC and UBS - is the very same reason why as retail FX trader Dan Gratton, a 71-year-old retiree who lives on Social Security in Kingman, Arizona has found out: "Probably the most consistent thing is losing."

"Our Industry Is Absolutely Crazy": The Subprime Wolf Of Wall Street In 125% Interest Clothing

The last time we wrote about the number 125% it was in the context of the return of that old Subprime 1.0 staple home loans that cover more than the purchase price of the home (because one must always have some leftover cash for improvements), i.e. 125% loan-to-value loans. Today 125% comes back and again it is in the context of subprime, only this time it is about the second coming of the credit bubble when, as Bloomberg writes, a certain group of distinguished individuals is now offering loans to troubled Americans at the whopping annual interest rate of 125%.

SEC Freezes Bugatti-Driving 26-Year-Old "AwesomePennyStocks" Owner's Assets

"Compared to the ones I ran into," noted former-SEC chief, John Babikian's 'AwesomePennyStocks' fraud "is the biggest on ever." As Bloomberg reports, short-sellers and stock promoters have puzzled for years over who operated one of the largest penny-stock websites. A U.S. lawsuit points to a Bugatti-driving 26-year-old from Montreal. The SEC is freezing Babikian’s assets, including two homes and the proceeds of selling a fractional interest in a plane. "The traditional Stratton Oakmont has been replaced by the opt-in newsletter... the world of pump-and-dumps occurs in the shadows." Welcome to the new 'get-rich-quick' bubble euphoria...

Guest Post: The Fed Is Playing Global Pump-And-Dump

Even if you don’t buy that QE and ZIRP will lead to a dollar collapse, you do have to admit that these Fed policies have severely brainwashed investors. The Federal Reserve is the boiler room operation that has pumped up the equities market by way of QE and ZIRP. You are investing in a pump-and-dump scam. And like in all such scams, you will lose. Clear enough for ya?

Frontrunning: December 20

  • China cash injection fails to calm lenders (AFP)
  • European Union Stripped of AAA Credit Rating at S&P (BBG)
  • Last-Minute Health-Site Enrollment Proves a Hard Sell (WSJ)
  • Bernanke’s Recession-Fighting Weapon Developed by 1900s Banker (BBG)
  • Asia Stocks Are Little Changed Amid China Funding Concern (BBG)
  • Regulators' Guidance on Volcker Rule Gives Banks Little Relief on Debt Sales (WSJ)
  • On one hand: Man Who Said No to Soros Builds BlueCrest Into Empire (BBG); on the other: Michael Platt's BlueCrest Capital Poised for Rough Close to 2013 (WSJ)
  • BOJ Keeps Record Easing as Fed Taper Helps Weaken Yen (BBG)
  • Bank of England becomes more cautious on economic predictions (FT)
  • Gold Climbs From Lowest Close Since 2010 as Goldman Sees Losses (BBG)

On The Dole And Watching The Pole: The New Normal EBT-Card User

Welfare recipients took out cash at bars, liquor stores, X-rated video shops, hookah parlors and even strip club - where they presumably spent their taxpayer money on lap dances rather than diapers, a NY Post investigation found. From Bronx strip clubs to gay dive bars in the East Village, US taxpayer-sponsored EBT cards have been inserted into ATMs and food stamp 'cash' has presumably been used to feed another need. The Post found dozens of pubs, nightclubs and tobacco shops where welfare dough was dispensed - and presumably spent. We should not worry too much though as Hilda Solis put us straight on how many millions of jobs these EBT-card fund recipients are creating and while we pass no judgment on those receiving and using the funds in whatever they see most fit, Cato's Michael Tanner summed it quite succinctly: "This is morally scandalous, I have nothing against strip clubs, but that’s not what benefits are for. I don’t blame [recipients]. If you are poor, it’s a crummy life and you want to have a drink or see a naked woman. I blame the people who are in charge of this." 32oz sodas made us gulp; rare steak tough to swallow; but take away the strippers and liquor - anarchy.

A Journey Through Vogelsang: Once USSR's Massive East German Nuclear Military Base, And Now A Ghost Town

This staircase leading to the theater would once have serviced uniformed...And now for something completely different. Instead of scary tales of horrifying Math 101 (soon to be banned in one of the many upcoming Eurosummits), which confirms that no matter how it is spun, the global reality is ugly and getting worse (and ever more diluted in paper format), courtesy of Spiegel we present a photographic journey through Vogelsang: formerly one of the biggest Soviet military garrisons housing nuclear weapons and numerous nuclear launch pads, home of the 25th tank division protecting the USSR's most prized external asset, located in the forest near Berlin and housing over 15,000 people. It is now a surreal ghost town, and as haunted as any of the "cities" one can find deep in China.

"I Am Jim Rogers And I Support Ron Paul"

Ron Paul has another illustrious supporter - Jim Rogers. The Quantum fund co-founder, who has been spot on about pretty much everything for the past 3 years (see Roubini Versus Rogers Is Right Debate for 2010: Investor Jim Rogers thinks gold will double to at least $2,000 an ounce. Economist Nouriel Roubini says that’s “utter nonsense.” As these well-known market personalities duke it out, they’re doing us a favor by highlighting a critical debate: Which is the bigger threat -- inflation or deflation?), not to mention gold (to the amusement of such Keynesian soundbites recorded for posterity as the following: "Maybe it will reach $1,100 or so but $1,500 or $2,000 is nonsense"), and especially inflation (perhaps the only thing that will prompt a chuckle out of Gadaffi and Mubarak these days is someone telling them that their multi-decade reigns are over due to hyperdeflation and plunging food prices), was caught on tape voicing his endorsement of the only sane person who can possibly do something for this country. "In this election if Ron Paul gets anywhere near the nomination I would certainly support him. He is the only one that I've seen in American politics that seems to have a clue about what's going on." Zero Hedge agrees on all counts.

"Act As If" - Greece vs America Edition

The most memorable scene from the movie Boiler Room is when the character of Ben Afleck tells the room full of wannabe brokers to "Act As If" (and in the tangent regarding male genitalia, the head of the IMF would have been wise to take the advice instead of opening his fly and disproving it). Who would have thought that a few short years later, it would be none other than insolvent countries taking this advice: specifically, America acting as if it wasn't insolvent, and Greece acting as if it was beyond saving. The irony, as William Buckler observes in his latest edition of the Privateer, is that while US debt continues to trade (if no longer be accepted) as the "Rock of Gibraltar" and Greek paper is trading with a certainty of bankruptcy, it is Greece that has taken proactive steps in taxing and spending policy, while the US has merely retrenched its profligate ways, and while much political theater takes place, nothing ever really changes. For some of the more perverse consequences of this bizarro world inversion, read below.