While preserving the farce of the S&P's relentless rise no matter the earnings recession, the 1% GDP or the negative funds flow, has been entirely a central bank mandate in the past month (one which will soon inlude the PBOC), the good news for the BOJs and the NYFeds of the world is that the stock buyback hiatus is almost over, and starting this week the bulk of companies can come right back and proceed to repurchase their stocks at all time highs. And what a come back it will be. According to Goldman, the pace of buybacks is now absolutely off the charts, with nearly $1 trillion in buyback announcements expected in just this calendar year, a mindboggling number, one which is the same size as the largest annual Fed Quantiative Easing amount in any one year going back to the great financial crisis.
It has been a story of two markets so far, with China's Shanghai Composite up another 3% in today's continuation of the most ridiculous, banana-stand driven move of the New Normal (and there have been many ridiculous moves in the past 6 years) on the previously reported hints that the PBOC is gearing up to start its own QE, while Europe and the Eurostoxx are lagging, if only for the time being until Citadel and Virtu engage in today's preapproved risk-on momentum ignition, on Greek jitters, the same jitters that last week were "fixed"and sent Greek stocks and bonds soaring. Needless to say, neither Greek bonds nor stocks aren't soaring following what has been the worst week for Greece in months.
Today, we find precisely how and why Sarao was singled out: he not only ratted out the parasitic trading strategies of the real culprits behind the broken market, the massive HFT firms (such as Virtu which just went public just a day before the Sarao charges were filed) which gave the "regulators" no choice: one of them had to be put away for good, but found a way to capitalize on the algos' stupidity, and actually make money by beating them at their own game. As such, regulators and exchanges such as the CFTC and CME had no choice but arrest him and prevent him from trading ever again!
UK "Flash Crasher" Refuses To Be Broken Market Scapegoat, Will Fight Extradition Request Facing Decades In PrisonSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 04/22/2015 07:52 -0400
While we eagerly await for the SEC to retract its official 104 page report summarizing the "Findings regarding the market events of May 6, 2010" in light of "recent developments", and as we follow the shift in the official narrative to the outright bizarre, in which the entire Flash Crash is now blamed on just one man (as opposed to just Waddell & Reed as per the previous narrative), we learn that the latest scapegoat for a broken, fragmented and manipulated market, Navinder Sarao, is not quite so eager to go to minimum security prison in the US for doing what leads to a slap on the wrist when someone like Citadel or Virtu does it, and will challenge the CFTC's attempt to pin everything on him.
OR: He who knows...
Here we are, just barely into our first earnings season without the incessantly added fuel provided by QE and the markets are stumbling. At times on Friday the indexes were hovering near the possibility of posting 2% losses going into the weekend. In today’s media mindset of “everything is awesome.” That’s near – unthinkable. No Fed speaker saved the day; no HFT-induced ramp came to the rescue... Maybe it’s because all ammo (and there has been no silver bullet more powerful of late than a Central Banker press conference) is being reserved for a much larger crisis looming on the horizon (i.e. Greece and all its tenuous implications calling for an “All hands on
printing presses deck, battle stations” response).
Having previously explained the 175,846,629,768 reasons why former Fed Chair Ben Bernanke would join Citadel - the most-levered hedge fund in the world and alleged conduit of fed put protection; we thought it intriguing to note what billionaire Citadel Ken Griffin had to say about Bernanke and his policies just 2 years ago...
"Bridgewater’s assets under management increased from $150 billion as of 12/31/13 to approximately $154 billion as of 12/31/14."... "Bridgewater generally requires that its Clients have a minimum of $5 billion of investable assets."... "For new client relationships, Bridgewater’s standard minimum fee is expected to be $500,000 for its All Weather strategy, $1,000,000 for its Pure Alpha and Pure Alpha Major Markets strategies, and $4,750,000 for Optimal Portfolio."
It is almost too coincidental to be a coincidence: on the day Ben Bernanke, who until a year ago was the biggest fixed income portfolio manager in the world courtesy of the Fed's $4.5 trillion in assets, joins Citadel as an advisor, the massively levered "market-neutral" hedge fund which as we showed earlier has $176 billion in regulatory assets, "loses" its global head of fixed income, senior managing director Derek Kaufman. Well not exactly loses. The reason for his "voluntary" departure: according to Bloomberg Kaufman is leaving Citadel not because he is about to be replaced by the former Fed chairman but because last year he lost $1 billion "in a variety of trades."
Here is Bernanke's new job: to make sure that Citadel's 7.4x leverage only keeps rising, and that its "true" regulatory assets of $175.8 billion follow. Because if there is one thing Bernanke has experience with, it's lots and lots of leverage.
Just as the S&P appeared set to blast off to a forward GAAP PE > 21.0x, here comes Greece and drags it back down to a far more somber 20.0x. The catalyst this time is an FT article according to which officials of now openly insolvent Greece have made an informal approach to the International Monetary Fund to delay repayments of loans to the international lender, but were told that no rescheduling was possible. The result if a drop in not only US equity futures which are down 8 points at last check, but also yields across the board with the German 10Y Bund now just single basis points above 0.00% (the German 9Y is now < 0), on its way to -0.20% at which point it will lead to a very awkward "crossing the streams" moment for the ECB.
Several years ago, Zero Hedge first, and to our knowledge only, reported that when it comes to unofficially executing trades in the equity market the NY Fed - through a slightly more than arms-length arrangement - does so using Chicago HFT powerhouse Citadel. In other words, while Citadel was instrumental in preserving the smooth, diagonal ramp in stocks since 2009 and igniting upward momentum just as everyone else stared to sell when the Markets Group of the NY Fed called, it was also paid handsomely: after all, nobody checks the Fed's broker commission statement. In fact according to some, indirect Fed compensation to what is the world's most leveraged hedge fund has been in the billions over the past decade. Well, now it's payback time, and as the NYT reported overnight, the Brookings Institution favorite blogger, former Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke, has joined none other than Citadel as an advisor.
NY Fed's "Plunge Protection Team" Starts Chicago Trading Floor "In Case Of Disaster Or Other Eventuality"Submitted by Tyler Durden on 04/15/2015 10:48 -0400
We have known for quite some time now that the NY Fed's market group, aka the Plunge Protection Team, is opening a second office in HFT-capital Chicago. What was not known is what is the official reasoning behind the Fed's move to be even closer to its Citadel executions arm. Overnight, courtesy of Reuters we found that the "The New York branch of the U.S. Federal Reserve, wary that a natural disaster or other eventuality could shut down its market operations as it approaches an interest rate hike, has added staff and bulked up its satellite office in Chicago."
"In some instances, malfunctioning algorithms have interfered with market functioning, inundating trading venues with message traffic or creating sharp, short-lived spikes in prices as a result of other algorithms responding to the initial erroneous order flow."... "If liquidity is as bad as it is now, what’s going to happen when things really get adverse?” said Richard Schlanger, who co-manages about $30 billion in bonds as vice president at Pioneer Investments in Boston.
In retrospect, we almost feel bad for Gregg: after all in the new paranormal, in which the market is manipulated, fragmented and broken from the top (central banks) all the way to the very bottom (HFTs) with the sole purpose of pushing it ever higher in a futile attempt to restore confidence and retail investor participation in what is so clearly a rigged casino it is not easy pretending everything is fine when everything is on the verge of total collapse at any given (nano)second, and where the only recourse to coordinated selling is for the markets to break. Literally.