Commodity Futures Trading Commission

The Feds Are Now Investigating The High Freaks For Quote Stuffing

About a year ago, we wrote an article titled "How HFT Quote Stuffing Caused The Market Crash Of May 6, And Threatens To Destroy The Entire Market At Any Moment" in which we advanced the proposal, first suggested by Nanex, that while High Frequency Trading was the primary reason for the May 6 flash crash, it was a specific aspect of HFT that permitted the Dow to drop 1,000 points in the span of minutes, namely "quote stuffing", or the process of blasting millions of bids and offers without and interest in executing a transaction, merely as a fishing expedition to isolate any "whale" orders and to front run them, making a few guaranteed cents in the process even as this materially distorts true market depth, liquidity and overall stability. And while we were not surprised that the toothless, incompetent and corrupt US securities regulator did take a passing interest in the issue, the topic of "quote stuffing" has finally attracted the interest of US prosecutors. From Bloomberg: "U.S. prosecutors have joined
regulators’ investigation into whether some high-speed traders
are manipulating markets by posting and immediately canceling
waves of rapid-fire orders, two officials said...Justice Department investigators are “working closely” with the Securities and Exchange Commission to review practices “that are potentially manipulative, like quote-stuffing,” Marc Berger, chief of the Securities and Commodities Task Force at the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York, said today at an event in New York." But, the traditional red herring justification for this criminal behavior goes, they provide so much liquidity which would forever be gone if it weren't for the high freaks.

Silver Reaches New 31 Year High At $38.50/oz - Backwardation Ends But COT Data Is Bullish

Silver for immediate delivery has gained another 1.7% to $38.50 an ounce, the highest level since February 1980, the year silver reached a record of $50.35/oz. An ounce of gold bought as little as 37.32 ounces of silver in London today, the lowest level since September 1983. Silver has come out of backwardation and returned to contango with longer dated future prices again higher than nearer month contracts and spot for delivery (see table below). This suggests that default on the COMEX, as warned of by some analysts, is not imminent and the tightness seen in the physical silver market may have abated somewhat. However, the Dec12 contract trading at only cents over spot for delivery (less than 10 cents) suggests that tightness remains. Given the degree of tightness in the physical silver market, silver may return to backwardation sooner rather than later. The latest COT report shows speculative long positions, or bets prices will rise, outnumbered short positions by 37,139 contracts (see news and chart below). This is a level of net longs by hedge fund managers and other large speculators that was seen as long ago as 2002.

Silver Set For All Time Record Quarterly Close - Gold To Silver Ratio On Way To 17 To 1 As Per 1980?

‘Poor man’s gold’ is set for a record nominal quarterly close which will be bullish technically and set silver up to target psychological resistance at $40/oz and then the nominal high of $50.35/oz . Silver’s record quarterly close was $32.20/oz on December 31st, 1979. While silver is up 22 percent this year and is heading for a ninth straight quarterly advance, its fundamentals remain very sound. With gold above its nominal record of 1980, poor man’s gold continues to be seen as offering better value. To the masses in India, China and Asia, silver is the cheap alternative to gold and an attractive store of value and hedge against inflation and debasement of paper currencies. Increasing global investment and industrial demand in the very small and finite silver bullion market is a recipe for higher prices. Thus, as we have long asserted the gold silver ratio is likely to revert to its long term average of 16 to 1. A return to a ratio of 16 to 1 is likely due to basic supply and demand and the geological fact that there are 16 parts of silver for every one part of gold in the earth’s crust.

With The CFTC Position Limit Response Period Over, Here Are Select Opinions By PIMCO, World Gold Council And Goldman Sachs

The public comment period for the CFTC's proposed position limit rule has come and gone. It should come as no surprise to anyone (and particularly those transfixed by the massive surges in various commodities, among them most certainly gold and silver) that what is at stake here is not some actual position limit definition and subsequent regulation and enforcement (although that most certainly is), but yet another challenge to the klepocratic status quo which naturally prefers the status quo to remain as is, and public interests, which seeing 100% moves in the price of grain, cotton, corn, and other commodities, would obviously prefer to reign in speculative fervor. At the end of the day, Wall Street will find loopholes in whatever the end rule is as it always does, but the polemic on the way there is quite interesting. Which is why having combed through some of the last minute public comment submissions (of which there were 5,561 in total at last check), we present some of the most indicative ones: one the one hand that of Carl "Shitty Deal" Levin, Chair of the Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations, who obviously is for the most prompt implementation of position limits as envisioned in Dodd Frank, and on the other hand institutional money managers and traders such as PIMCO, Morgan Stanley, the World Gold Council, and, naturally, Goldman Sachs (oddly, we have yet to track down the response by one JP Morgan). We present these for our readers' perusal below.

Barclays Says CFTC Should Delay Limits Decision Indefinitely

Well, we know at least one bank has some sizable, non-grandfatherable commodity block positions. Per Reuters:

  • BARCLAYS SAYS CFTC SHOULD DEFER DECISIONS ABOUT NATURE AND EXTENT OF POTENTIAL LIMITS UNTIL AFTER IT COLLECTS NEW DATA ABOUT OTC MARKETS

Why Barclays thinks CFTC does not have data on OTC markets is beyond us. So while we await the CFTC to issue its decision on position limits, any minute now, we wonder just how many other banks (wink wink Blythe) will follow up with comparable objections demanding an "indefinite" delay to what may soon unleash true price discovery, particularly in the PM market. And incidentally, whatever happened to the Fed's mandated disclosure of the confidential bank rescue information. At what point will Ben Bernanke be held in contempt to court for not following the decision of the Superior Court?

Interactive CFTC Commitment Of Traders Chart

All those who are looking for a handy free, web-based resource providing the weekly CFTC Commitment of Trader update, one focusing on disaggregated Managed Money positions (not the Non-Commercial Speculative positions which Zero Hedge has traditionally followed), can now do so at the following Reuters site. Since commodities will certainly be an ever more important part of daily investing life, we urge everyone to get familiar with the weekly data release for speculative (the guys who will be blamed for price hikes) and commercial (the banks who will be doing the blaming and urging exchange margin hikes) accounts from the CFTC.

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.

ilene's picture

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."