"Risk: NEW LOW for Net free credit at -$183b is major risk should the market drop: Net free credit is free credit balances in cash and margin accounts net of the debit balance in margin accounts. Net free credit dropped to -$183b and moved to a new low below the prior record of -$178b in February. This measure of cash to meet margin calls remains at an extreme low or negative reading below the February 2000 low of $-129b. The risk is if the market drops and triggers margin calls, investors do not have cash and would be forced to sell stocks or get cash from other sources to meet the margin calls. This would exacerbate an equity market sell-off." - BofA
The last couple of hours of today's US session were quite surreal for many cross-asset-class traders. As the following chart shows, the "need" for the S&P 500 to achieve 2,000 (and green post-FOMC) was evident in a 3-step process of manipulating VIX, USDJPY, and Gold. All they could achieve was 1,999.79 highs but not without an epic last minute VIXtermination effort...
With precious metals back at 4-year lows against a backdrop of gold migration from west to east, paper vs physical divergences, 'disappearing' Comex positions, dark pools in London, collateral grabs, and massive monetary policy extremist actions; we thought the following two presentations worth considering. Tocqueville's John Hathaway delves into the darker corners of today's gold markets while Mike Maloney reminds us of the big picture behind gold and silver as wealth insurance. The failure of a monetary system is never a smooth road - it is rocky and undulating, with twists and turns that don't appear on any map. But the destination is always without question, despite suppression efforts: Gold will inevitably respond to an expanding fiat currency supply. That simple.
Encouraging and supporting asset bubbles is essentially the only force remaining to keep the system intact as we know it.
Direct Edge wasn’t the only exchange, nor the first exchange, to do what it did, which was the creation of symbiotic relationships between exchanges and HFTs.
Investing in oneself and enterprises one actively controls may now be the only legitimate deployment of capital that qualifies as an investment in the traditional sense - that is, capital isn't being risked in rigged gambling halls and Ponzi schemes.
On July 7, Bart Chilton, a former commissioner of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, wrote an article about high-frequency trading for the New York Times's DealBook. He argued, in effect, that because high-frequency trading has become so central to the stock market, it must be serving some necessary purpose. This is false...
- EU finalises Russian sanctions as BP warns of impact on business (FT)
- Geopolitical Risk Rises for Global Investors (BBG)
- Jaded Argentines brace for looming debt default (Reuters)
- In Argentina, Mix of Money and Politics Stirs Intrigue Around Kirchner (WSJ)
- Mom ‘Trusting God’ for Ebola-Infected U.S. Doctor’s Life (BBG)
- Thanks NSA: Tech Companies Reel as NSA's Spying Tarnishes Reputations (BBG)
- Goldman unit eyes foray into China amid metals financing scandal (Reuters)
- Cash out time: London’s Gherkin Tower Offered for Sale by Its Lenders (BBG)
- Apenomics strikes again: McDonald’s Japan axes profit guidance amid food safety scandal (FT)
- Do you see what happens Larry when you are the only USDJPY bid? Nomura Profit Falls More Than Estimated on Broking Slump (BBG)
Barclays Wants Dark Pool Complaint Against It Dismissed, Says "Nobody Was Harmed"; NY Attorney General DisagreesSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 07/24/2014 12:18 -0400
File this one for the bizarro files. After Barclays was caught lying to its "sophisticated" clients about how it handles their order following the lawsuit by NY AG Schneiderman, the bank, having suffered an epic 75% collapse of trading volume in its dark pool, has decided to fight back and earlier today filed a motion to dismiss the dark pool complaint against it. Its main argument, as reported by the WSJ, is that the attorney general's complaint "fails to identify any fraud, establishing no material misstatements, no identified victims and no actual harm." In other words, Barclays alleges the dark pool participants were smart enough to figure out Barclays was lying to them when it promised their order flow wouldn't be offered up to predatory algos.
A week ago, when we commented on the latest publicly available data for Barclays' fraud-embroiled LX dark pool, whose volume as we reported had tumbled 37% in the week of the lawsuit announcement, we said that the downward volume trend "is about to get a whole lot worse for Barclays as the trickle becomes an avalanche." Sure enough, following today's reported by Finra's ATS database for the week of June 30, we find just that, and one can largely say lights out to Barclays LX operation, whose total shares traded plummeted from 197 million (and 312 million the week before) to a paltry 66.4 million, a two-week drop of 79% from its recent highs, putting it, in 12th total dark pool volume place, below ITG and above BIDS trading. So much for any ambitions of becoming America's top dark pool. Last on the other hand...
In another indication that the ongoing FX probe is picking up steam, or at least preparing for primetime public PR consumption, the FT reports that US prosecutors are offering immunity deals to junior traders in London. The quo for this quid: rat our the senior staff involved in what has previously been reported to be years of currency manipulation (recall "How Wall Street Manipulates Everything: The Infographics"). And continuing the tradition of the DOJ only focusing on European banks, because apparently nobody in the US ever engaged in manipulation of anything, ever, the "US Department of Justice staff have flown to the UK in recent weeks to interview foreign exchange traders, who have been offered partial immunity in exchange for volunteering information about superiors, people familiar with the situation said."
Stocks trod water for most of the day until the Fed said they would take the punhbowl away and that markets were complacent and that triggered buying in stocks, bonds, and gold. VIX was the catalyst (just as we saw at the actual FOMC meeting) and we would not be shocked to see a major volume dump after-hours in VXX (as dark pools unload their manipulations). The Dow ripped higher, desperate to reach 17,000 and prove that 'wealth' was back - but failed (although it did manage to get back to unch from the payrolls). Treasury yields limped higher, spiked higher on FOMC then dumped to the low yields of the day by the close (0-1bps lower on the day). Precious metals leaked lower into FOMC but spiked notably after with gold closing near 4-month highs. Oil was sliding into the minutes and did not bounce to close at its lowest in 2 months. VIX did its best to remind everyone that when the FOMC speaks, it's always good market news.
A nervous peace prevails in the financial markets as central banks sit on their throne, fingers at the ready on the liquidity switch. As UBS' Bhanu Baweja notes, most volatility buyers have been 'rolled' into their graves. As they have explicitly targeted risk premia in addition to rates, a lot more hangs on the monarchs of monetary policy today than it has in previous cycles. While growth and inflation are both low, they are not necessarily uncertain; and although every crisis is different, certain patterns tend to repeat and certain events have reliably driven volatility higher.
Be careful what you wish for. As the Fed imbibes a sense of confidence in its ability to manage any bumps in the road on its perpetual bubble-blowing mission through the use of macro-prudential policies (big words that truly mean nothing) as stock valuations surge and the repo market is experiencing severe problems; it can always point to VIX as an indicator that all is well in the world and no real risk exists. The problem is - the world is beginning to wake up to the 'odd' micro-structure of the US equity markets and how 'dark pools' are beginning to dominate trading volume. As Barclays faces major legal problems over its alleged dark pool lies, lies, and more lies, the Fed must be growing concerned... as the following chart shows JPMorgan indicates there is evidence of an inverse relationship between equity volatility and the share of off-exchange trading.
What "harsh weather", aka completely unpredictable cold snaps and snow during the winter were to Q1 US GDP, which somehow cratered from an expected 2.5% increase to a -2.9% collapse (a $200 billion negative swing in the US economy due to weather, let that sink in for a second), the Brazil world cup may be to the stock market. At least that is the following chart from Bloomberg, highlighting the "World Cup Syndrome" shows.