It seems like everyone and his brother today are wringing their hands about AI and some impending “Singularity”, a moment of future doom where non-human intelligence achieves some human-esque sentience and decides in Matrix-like fashion to turn us into batteries or some such. Please. The Singularity is already here. Its name is Big Data. Big Data is magic, in exactly the sense that Arthur C. Clarke wrote of sufficiently advanced technology. But here’s the magic trick that we're worried about for investors...
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The EU’s financial watchdog, the European Securities and Markets Authority, will look at whether automated trading adds fake, or ghost, liquidity to markets, said Steven Maijoor, the regulator’s chairman. “There has been a suggestion that the liquidity they are providing is not real liquidity because once you would like to go into the trade and accept an order the offer disappears,” Maijoor said in an interview in Hong Kong on Jan. 20. “We are looking now into the specific issue of what is called ghost liquidity.”
A week ago, we were surprised to learn that one of the most prominent critics of HFT, Joseph Stiglitz, had been barred from an SEC Panel that will "advise regulators on issues facing U.S. equity markets." Today, a day after the SEC busted DirectEdge for failing to "accurately describe the order types being used on the exchanges" namely the infamous Hide not Slide, even after said order had repeatedly made the front page of the WSJ, the SEC finally announced the full list of members of the "New Equity Market Structure Advisory Committee" which will focus on the structure and operations of the U.S. equities markets. Alas most of the committee members are, sadly, placeholding figureheads. Because there is only one person on the list whose participation matters, and whose presence is not at all surprising...
With the wind down of the record 2014 trading slump now in its final days (although judging by volumes throughout the year one may have a difficult time noticing just when the holidays began and ended), the already entertaining zero-liquidity market moves are sure to provide further amusement today in the context of the US economic data bonanza on deck, which includes Durable Goods, GDP, Personal Income and Spending, Richmond Fed, UMich, and New Home Sales. Beat or miss, all of the above are guaranteed to send the S&P to higher recorder highs because in the multiple-expansion euphoria blow-off top phase nobody cares about such trivia as fundamentals or the economy, especially when Japan and Germany are about to monetize all of their gross issuance. Just remember to occasionally keep an eye on the preferred rigging correlation pairs: the USDJPY and the VIX, whose every illiquid jerk will be followed by Citadel & NYFed's algos tic for tic.
With 4 seconds to the close of yesterday's epic trading session, someone executed over $200 million and 1,147 trades in SPY - the S&P 500 ETF - in one-second, lifting the price to a S&P level of 2,130. This massive-loss-making "fat-finger" - resulting in millions of losses - would normally be followed by "probes" from the exchange into "erroneous trades" and then rapidly accompanied by the exchanges busting all the losing trades. But not this time! In all other cases of fat-finger'd and busted trades, we have learned who the counterparty was - even Goldman Sachs was exposed after regulators DK'ed its busted trades several years ago. So, the question is - why hasn't the other side of yesterday's berserk "fat-finger" buying spree in SPY spoken out in anger that its massive money losing trade will not be DKed?
Frenzied Chinese Stock Buyers Soak Up So Much Liquidity, Central Bank Forced To Intervene, Prevent SeizureSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 12/18/2014 23:18 -0400
China's seven-day repurchase rate, a gauge of interbank funding availability in the banking system, surged 139 basis points, to a 10-month high of 5.28% in Shanghai, the biggest since Jan. 20. The reason for the sudden cash crunch, according to Bloomberg, is that subscriptions for the biggest new share sales of the year lock up funds. Twelve initial public offerings from today through Dec. 25 will draw orders of as much as 3 trillion yuan ($483 billion), Shenyin & Wanguo Securities Co. estimated. In other words, the scramble to allocate capital into China's surest way of making money, IPOs, has led to a drying out of general liquidity in the entire market. This in turn forced the PBOC to intervene and inject short-term money loans to commercial lenders in order to prevent the kind of interbank liquidity lock up that emerged in China in June 2013 in the aftermath of the first Taper Tantrum (and which before all is said and done, will likely take place again) and which sent global capital markets around the globe reeling before China resumed its massive liquidity injections which are at the heart of China's debt-fuelled bubble in the first place.
4 seconds before the close, one super-bullish algorithm exuberantly bought a massive $200 million worth of the S&P 500 ETF up to a 2,130 level on the index in one second... and no - it was not a fat finger!! It was 1,147 trades! Now who do we know that is an 'expert' in ETF trading?
First it was humans. Now it is vaccum tubes.
"... Shortly after returning from a trip in late 2009, Farmer erased electronic notes, in Microsoft Word format, that were stored on thumb drives, Zip drives and a shared drive at Citadel, agents wrote in a summary of one of the interviews with him. Farmer also threw away his handwritten notes because that was his normal practice and because they were incriminating, agents wrote. Farmer got rid of e-mails as well, according to their summary. “This,” they wrote, “wiped the slate clean."
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.