Commodity Futures Trading Commission

UBS Investigated For LIBOR Manipulation

About a year ago, when Zero Hedge was nothing but a monocultured, bearish, conspiracy theory-based blog, we wrote a post titled: "Is The Swiss National Bank Using UBS To Launder Its Euro Purchases?" The reason for this allegation stemmed from some dramatic observations in the reporting of LIBOR to the BBA by member banks. To wit: "The Libor reporting dispersion among BBA member banks has actually
tightened marginally from last week, with one notable outlier: UBS. Of
the 15 banks that report both USD and EUR-based LIBOR, all disclose a
higher offer rate for EUR Libor except for UBS! The Swiss bank is a
blatant outlier, in that its disclosed EUR Libor rate of 0.4850% is in
fact 10% lower than its USD Libor.
" Out explanation for this anomaly was that the Swiss Bank, most likely in concert with the ECB, were manipulating intercurrency unsecured funding reporting in order to mitigate FX mismatch: "SNB buys EUR in the open market (causing massive destruction in the EURCHF and GBPCHF pairs), then the excess euro holdings are funneled back into the market via a much cheaper EUR lending rate in the 3M funding market (LIBOR) compared to all other banks: the UBS 3M EUR Libor rate is a whopping 30% below the average EUR Libor rate of 0.6344%, nearly double the spread from average of the next lowest EUR Libor offer, that of RBS at 0.56%." Once again our monocultured perspective appears to have served us well - per Dealbook "UBS said Tuesday that United States and Japanese regulators were investigating whether the Swiss bank tried to manipulate a key benchmark used to set interest rates around the world." We can't wait to see what the Mainstream Media does with this one, as usual with its roughly one year delay.

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Crashiverary Week Continues

"It does not get any clearer which way Wall Street is trying to take oil," says Stephen Schork. The Schork Report notes that speculators now own nearly six times as many barrels of oil... as can be stored at the WTI trading hub in Cushing, Okla.

February Sees Gold Up 6% And Silver Up 19% On Inflation And Escalating Geopolitical Risk

The paper-driven sell off in the gold market seen in January has been trumped by continuing robust physical demand in January and February. This has resulted in gold rising nearly 6% in February and silver’s strong industrial and investment demand leading to a 19% rise to new nominal 30-year highs. Political, and more importantly socioeconomic, revolutions in the Middle East and North Africa are leading to a degree of geopolitical instability and risk not seen in many years. This is leading to concerns about oil supplies from the region and hence the 14% jump in US crude oil just last week and deepening inflation concerns. With all eyes on the Middle East and North Africa, there has been less focus on the continuing European sovereign debt crisis. However, the crisis continues and recent days and weeks have seen government bonds in Greece and Ireland again come under pressure. The majority of Irish people are seeking that the massive debts of the Irish and European banking systems, incurred against them, be restructured or defaulted. Therefore, the new government will be under pressure to negotiate a fairer, more equitable settlement with the European Commission and the ECB with possible ramifications for the many European banks who lent irresponsibly to Irish banks...Mooted proposals by the Vietnamese Central Bank to ban “gold bullion trading” (see news below) are somewhat bizarre. If true this would be a very important development as the Vietnamese are some of the largest buyers of gold bullion in the world.

Ted Butler Urges Everyone To Submit A Response To The CFTC On Silver Manipulation Schemes

On several occasions over the past couple of years, thousands of you have taken the time to write to The Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) concerning the issue of position limits in COMEX silver. Now the CFTC has solicited your opinion again for what will be the last time. The current open comment period, through March 28, is the culmination of all the public hearings and commentary over the past two years. Your comments on silver position limits make a difference. Private legal counsel and even sources within the Commission have assured me that there can be serious consequences for the CFTC should they ignore the will of the public, when that public opinion is reasonable.

Watch Bernanke Thank Banking Committee For Making Him Regulator Of Everything, And Other Aspects Of Foreclosure Fraud

Ben Bernanke has started his speech on the Fed's role under Frank-Dodd, and specifically on Bernanke's role as head regulator of everything. His prepared comments were released Tuesday evening. He did not address either the status of the economy or monetary policy. He focused on how the Fed is helping to establish the new Bureau of Consumer Financial Protection (CFPB). The speech and Q&A can be followed here.

Matt Taibbi's Latest: " Why Isn't Wall Street In Jail?"

Over drinks at a bar on a dreary, snowy night in Washington this past month, a former Senate investigator laughed as he polished off his beer. "Everything's fucked up, and nobody goes to jail," he said. "That's your whole story right there. Hell, you don't even have to write the rest of it. Just write that." I put down my notebook. "Just that?" "That's right," he said, signaling to the waitress for the check. "Everything's fucked up, and nobody goes to jail. You can end the piece right there." One has to consider the powerful deterrent to further wrongdoing that the state is missing by not introducing this particular class of people to the experience of incarceration. "You put Lloyd Blankfein in pound-me-in-the-ass prison for one six-month term, and all this bullshit would stop, all over Wall Street," says a former congressional aide. "That's all it would take. Just once."

Morning Gold Fixing: Gold Bullion Considered As Collateral By International Clearing House – LCH.Clearnet

A further sign of how gold bullion is increasingly seen as not only a safe haven asset and a currency but also a financial asset, is news that the LCH.Clearnet is giving further consideration to a plan to accept gold bullion as collateral. They may accept gold bullion as collateral against margin positions on a range of asset classes and derivatives in the international financial markets. LCH.Clearnet have been considering allowing gold as collateral since October 2009 and the move by the CME and JP Morgan to allow physical gold as collateral may have made their plans in this regard more concrete. "We’re looking at it closely,” David Farrar, LCH.Clearnet Director of Commodities told CNBC (see News). “It’s something that, subject to regulatory approval, we’d look to introduce later this year."... Keynes’s ‘barbaric relic’ is becoming less barbaric by the day. However, the man in the street remains completely unaware of this trend as it continues to be ignored by mainstream media and its implications not realised.

Guest Post: Don't Worry - They'll Just Change The Rules

The worst that might have happened - a systemic financial breakdown - did not happen, and we can be thankful for that. But the alternative has had costs that are only now becoming better appreciated. With constant bending of the rules, the only constant was that every bent rule favored the big banks, often uniquely so. With this special attention given to a favored few, the social mood darkened considerably among U.S. citizens, especially those far removed from the beneficial impacts of the Fed's largesse. Where states are struggling with extremely painful budget deficits measured in the single billions (in most cases), the Fed has been busy printing up and handing out some $75 billion per month to its coziest clients. While millions of people ran out of extended unemployment benefits and lost houses due to completely fraudulent and illegal banking practices, nothing was ultimately fixed and (seemingly) nobody went to jail or was charged with anything. Small, regional banks without access to unlimited and essentially free capital from the Fed are now forced to compete with big national banks that have been granted an unlimited backstop by the Fed. This is how too big to fail leads to too small to succeed.

Who Leaked Last Week's (Irrelevant) ADP Number?

In a rare example of forensic market analysis, the WSJ tackles the topic of market moving info leakage, focusing on some peculiar action ahead of last week's bombastic ADP number which ended up being the traditional contrarian indicator we have been saying for months that it is. The WSJ observes: "Data from two independent sources show that trading in select currencies and future contracts surged in the seconds before last Wednesday's unexpectedly strong private-sector jobs report from payrolls processor Automatic Data Processing Inc., raising suspicions that someone obtained the report ahead of its official release. Analysis of exchange-rate prices from foreign-exchange platform EBS revealed a disproportionately large 0.12-yen spike in the dollar versus the yen in the last tick period before the clock hit 8:15 a.m., the report's official release time. The tick data, provided by CQG, are broken up into small, intraminute periods as per the feed from EBS."And just in case someone is confused how illegal frontrunning works, here is the explanation: "Anybody who placed those orders stood to make large gains in the subsequent minutes as first high-speed trading platforms and then regular investors put through big buy orders after ADP reported an increase of 297,000 in private-sector jobs, nearly triple the consensus estimate for a 100,000 gain." We are confident the regulators are all over this most recent example of the Efficient Market Hypothesis meeting Johnny 5.

With Bart Chilton Suddenly On Board, CFTC's Position Limit Plan Is Now A Go

Was today's broad and very much coordinated selloff in commodities a result of the just announced news that the CFTC's position limit plan may, contrary to prior expectations, be enforced very soon? It appears that outspoken CFTC commissioner has flipped in his stalling tactic and instead is now endorsing the position limit plan. Per Reuters: "Under the system, if a trader's holdings in a commodity reaches a certain threshold, it triggers a new level of heightened regulatory scrutiny by the CFTC where commissioners could vote to require the trader to reduce their positions." This means that JPM's accumulated holdings in various precious and industrial metals are not only about to likely become public, but that the CFTC will be mandated to very shortly enforce a break up on those positions which are deemed too concentrated. It is unclear how foreign entities, to whom the recent accumulation in various precious metals has been attributed, will be impacted by the proposal which now appears may be shortly enacted.

Water, Meet Blood - JP Morgan Admits To, Reduces Massive Silver Short Position, Proves Millions Of Conspiracy Theorists Correct

In the latest example that virtually every conspiracy theory is almost always inevitably proven to be fact, the Financial Times reports that JP Morgan, the firm targeted by thousands of "tin foil hat" wearing, conspiratorially-oriented "gold bugs", has cut back on its US silver futures. "JPMorgan has quietly reduced a large position in the US silver futures market which had been at the centre of a controversy about its impact on global prices for the precious metal." And in what can only be considered an unprecedented victory for all those who have over the past year agitated to putting JP Morgan out of business, most recently spearheded by the likes of Mike Krieger and Max Keiser, by forcing a massive short squeeze on its commodities trading desk, we learn that "the decision by JPMorgan was an attempt to deflect public criticism of the bank’s dealings in silver, a person familiar with the matter said. The person added that the bank’s position in silver would from now on be “materially smaller” than in the past." Of course, the latter is pure and total bullshit: as Bart Chilton indicated over the weekend, it is JP Morgan who at one point or another (and possibly very recently) controlled as much as 40% of the silver market, via a massive short. Attempting to make others believe that this short could be covered without pushing the price of the silver metal to over $100/ounce is an indication of either how stupid JPM believes the general population to be, or just how desperate the firm is to end the ongoing short squeeze onslaught. Either way, we are confident that this first unprecedented confirmation that a) JPM is indeed massively short silver and b) that it is hurting bad, will merely redouble efforts to put the world's biggest financial company out of business.

Watch Latest Farcical Senate Hearing On Flash Crash

As we await confirmation of 31 consecutive domestic equity fund outflows, we have the displeasure of sharing the latest farcical spectacle from the Senate Banking Committee where a bunch of corrupt "regulators" will tell the world they have no idea what caused the Flash Crash, and have even less ideas on how to prevent it from happening, but that in the meantime nothing is allowed to change in the market structure as otherwise their tithes from the HFT lobby may end.