Another conspiracy "theory" becomes conspiracy "fact" as The FT reports "a cluster of central banking investors has become major players on world equity markets." The report, to be published this week by the Official Monetary and Financial Institutions Forum (OMFIF), confirms $29.1tn in market investments, held by 400 public sector institutions in 162 countries, which "could potentially contribute to overheated asset prices." China’s State Administration of Foreign Exchange has become “the world’s largest public sector holder of equities”, according to officials, and we suspect the Fed is close behind (courtesy of more levered positions at Citadel), as the world's banks try to diversify themselves and "counters the monopoly power of the dollar." Which leaves us wondering where are the central bank 13Fs?
K-Hen murdered the VIX
— zerohedge (@zerohedge) June 6, 2014
If, in the New Normal, newsflow and facts mattered, facts such as the German Zew Investor Expectations index crashing from 43.2 to 33.1, smashing expectations of a 40.0 print to the downside and down to the lowest since January 2013 nearly half the 7 year half reported as recently as December confirming Germany can no longer be Europe's growth dynamo courtesy of a still nosebleed high EURUSD, or facts such as overnight Chinese data missed in every category with industrial output up 8.7% y/y in April vs an estimated 8.9%, retail sales up 11.9% below the estimated 12.2% rise and ; Jan.-April fixed-asset investment growing 17.3% vs est. 17.7%, then futures may just posted a downtick. However, since it is a Tuesday, with a ~$1 billion POMO, one can ignore the fundamentals and proceed straight to buying anything and everything with indiscriminate abandon. The only question is whether the NY Fed orders Citadel to slam the VIX under 11 to start off the morning S&P rampage which should push the broad market index above Goldman's 1900 price target for the end of the 2014.
So much for the Lehman effect: five years after Barclays acquired Lehman's only valuable asset - its North American brokerage personnel - in a liquidation firesale, the benefits have all but disappeared (confirmed further by the most recent departure of such prominent ex-Lehmanites as Paul Parker, Larry Wiesenck and of course, Skip McGee). Case in point: today's announced earnings, in which we found that Lehman's pre-tax profits slid 5% to £1.69 billion. However, looking at the bottom line, which reflected benefits from cost cuts and loan loss reserve releases, not to mention an "accounting gain on Barclays debt" would surely miss the big picture, which was that the bank's Investment Banking revenue was down 28% £2.49 billion. However the punchline was that core driver of New Normal bank revenues: FICC, which was slaughtered by an unprecedented 41% to to £1.23 billion, coming far worse than even the most dire analyst estimates.
Citadel's head of Execution Services (cough HFT cough) Jamil Nazarali, proclaimed Monday that small investors have never been so fortunate and said, with regard to Michael Lewis' now infamous book Flash Boys, "The most important thing that the market can do is stop... pointing fingers at everyone else." Citadel, who allegedly provides the NY Fed's VIX trading capabilities, are among the very largest high-frequency traders in the market (and the most levered), so one would surely expect that Citadel would like us all to stop pointing fingers at them. As Bloomberg reports, Nazarali said yesterday during a panel discussion at the Milken Institute Global Conference in Beverly Hills, California, "things are much better today than they were 10 to 15 years ago." For him, yeah.
Now that both the FBI and the DOJ have woken up from a half-decade slumber realizing there was riggedness, RIGGEDNESS going on in these here stock markets courtesy of Michael Lewis' book, it wasn't long before those most impacted by the frontrunning startegies of HFTs spoke up - anyone who has lost money in the stock market since Reg NMS was conceived. Sure enough, in a lawsuit that was just filed by lead plaintiff William Charles Braman, seeking class-action status, and filed on behalf of all users of real-time futures market data and futures contracts listed on the CBOT and CME from 2007 to now, the CME is allegd to have sold order information to high-frequency traders ahead of other market participants.
According to a recent analysis by Goldman, in 2014 the US household is on track to withdraw a whopping $430 billion from US corporate stocks. i.e., sell. This will be the biggest net outflow by the Household group, which has constantly withdrawn cash from equities over the past decade, since the last market peak.
In top place, for many years in a row, remains that HFT and quant wolf in fundamental analyst sheep's clothing, Chicago's very own HFT champion Citadel, followed closely by perpetual SAC pod-PM wannabe, Millennium.
A week ago we wrote: 'While it has been public for a long time that i) JPM is eager to sell its physical commodities business and ii) the most likely buyer was little known Swiss-based Mercuria, there was nothing definitive released by JPM. Until moments ago, when Jamie Dimon formally announced that JPM is officially parting ways with the physical commodities business. But while contrary to previous expectations, following the sale JPM will still provide commercial gold vaulting operations around the world, it almost certainly means farewell to Blythe Masters." Sure enough:
JP MORGAN COMMODITY CHIEF BLYTHE MASTERS LEAVING, WSJ SAYS
Farewell Blythe: we hope your replacement will be just as skilled in keeping the price of physical gold affordable for those of us who keep BTFD every single day.
The stock market really was rigged... “It’s 2009,” Katsuyama says. “This had been happening to me for almost two years. There’s no way I’m the first guy to have figured this out. So what happened to everyone else?” The question seemed to answer itself: Anyone who understood the problem was making money off it...
Those of our readers focused on the state of the housing market will undoubtedly remember this chart we compiled using the data from the largest mortgage originator in the US, Wells Fargo. In case there is some confusion, as a result of rising interet rates (meaning the Fed is stuck in its attempts to push rates higher), the inability of the US consumer to purchase houses at artificially investor-inflated levels (meaning housing is now merely a hot potato flipfest between institutional investors A and B), and the end of the fourth dead-cat bounce in housing (meaning, well, self-explanatory), the bank's primary business line - offering mortgages - is cratering. So what is a bank with a limited target audience for its primary product to do? Why expand the audience of course. And in a move that is very much overdue considering all the other deranged aspects of the centrally-planned New Normal, in which all the mistakes of the last credit bubble are being repeated one after another, Reuters now reports that the California bank "is tiptoeing back into subprime home loans again."
Market fragmentation in combination with the maker-taker market model, and in conjunction with a dramatic period of exchange “innovation,” had resulted in a new form of artificial edge.
Having been the first to warn the world about the perils of high frequency trading nearly 5 years ago, when momentum ignition, layering and quote stuffing were still incomprehensible buzzwords to all but a select few algo traders from Citadel, GETCO and DE Shaw, and warning about such top-down systemic lock ups like flash-crash over a year in advance; as well as the bottom-up impacts of 20 year old math PhDs being in charge of market topology, our crusade from the micro has since shifted to the macro and the primary nemesis of all that is free and fair, the Federal Reserve. In the intervening years, traders such as Haim Bodek opened the HFT kimono even more publicly a few years ago. The following is a must-watch documentary for every investor and trader to comprehend just what it is (and who it is) that drives stock prices day in and day out.
What politicians want from their regulatory efforts is a world of pure beta and zero alpha. This is the ultimate “level playing field”, where no one knows anything that everyone else doesn’t also know. The presumption within regulatory bodies today is that you must be cheating if you are generating alpha. How’s that? Alpha generation requires private information. Private information, however acquired, is defined as insider information. Insider information is cheating. Thus, alpha generation is cheating. QED. Why would politicians want an alpha-free market? Because a “fair” market with a “level playing field” is an enormously popular Narrative for every US Attorney who wants to be Attorney General, every Attorney General who wants to be Governor, and every Governor who wants to be President … which is to say all US Attorneys and all Attorneys General and all Governors. Because criminalizing private information in public markets ensures a steady stream of rich criminals for show trials in the future. Because the political stability of the American regime depends on a widely dispersed, non-zero-sum price appreciation of all financial assets – beta – not the concentrated, zero-sum price appreciation of idiosyncratic securities. Because public confidence in the government’s control of public institutions like the market must be restored at all costs, even if that confidence is misplaced and even if the side-effects of that restoration are immense.
- Troops Forage for Food While Golfers Play On in Shutdown (BBG)
- Police suspect dental hygienist Miriam Carey was behind the wheel of Capitol chase (WaPo)
- Italian Senate committee starts Berlusconi expulsion process (Reuters)
- Swiss Regulator Probing Banks Over Foreign-Exchange Manipulation (WSJ)
- GOP Begins Search for Broad Deal on Budget (WSJ)
- No Jobs Report Means Economists Chew on Football Instead of Data (BBG)
- U.S. default seems unthinkable but investors have options (Reuters)
- Citigroup fined $30 million after analyst sent report to SAC, others (Reuters)
- FBI Snags Silk Road Boss With Own Methods (BBG)
- Recession Warnings Found in Asset Price Falls (BBG)
- Bank of Japan warns of severe global impact from U.S. fiscal standoff (Reuters)