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...
- US, Russia talks fail to end Ukraine deadlock (AP)
- Russian forces 'gradually withdrawing' from Ukraine border (AFP)
- Turkish PM Erdogan tells enemies they will pay price after poll (Reuters)
- And Goldman arrives: Credit markets open to Argentina for first time in years (Reuters)
- Regulators Twice Failed to Open GM Probes (WSJ)
- Bad loan writedowns soar at China banks (FT)
- Investors Breathe Life Into European Banks' Bad Loans (WSJ)
- Euro zone inflation drops to lowest since 2009 (Reuters)
- Yellowstone National Park rattled by largest earthquake in 34 years (Reuters)
After ramping in overnight trading, following the spike in Japanese stocks following another batch of disappointing economic data out of the land of the rising sun and setting Abenomics which sent the USDJPY, and its derivative Nikkei225 surging, US equity futures have pared some of the gains in what now appears a daily phenomenon. Keep in mind, the pattern over the past 6 consecutive days has been to ramp stocks into the US open, followed by a determined fade all the way into the close, led by "growthy" stocks and what appears to be an ongoing unwind of a hedge fund basket by one or more entities. Could the entire market be pushed lower because one fund is unwinding (or liquidiating)? Normally we would say no, but with liquidity as non-existant as it is right now, nothing would surprise us any more.
The dismal list of financial executive deaths has recently increased to 11 in the last few months. Speculation has surrounded many of these deaths (and suicides) as to the reasoning; none more than the first - William Broeksmit, an executive who worked in Deutsche Bank's risk function and advised senior leadership who hanged himself in his South Kensington home in late January. However, as the WSJ reports, we now know why this poor man felt compelled to take his own life: he was "anxious about various authorities investigating areas of the bank where he worked" (and yes, we are well aware of the grammatical and temporal impossibilities suggested by this article's title).
- How Putin Parried Obama's Overtures on Crimea (WSJ)
- West Readies Tighter Sanctions After Russia Seals Crimea Claim (Bloomberg)
- Putin says U.S. guided by 'the rule of the gun' in foreign policy (Reuters)
- JPMorgan Said to Agree on Commodities Unit Sale to Mercuria (BBG)
- Short Sellers Target Chinese Developers as Rout Deepens (BBG)
- HFT finally under the spotlight: High-Speed Trading Firms Face New U.S. Scrutiny (WSJ)
- Chinese Dollar Bond Investors Demand Higher Yields After Default (BBG)
- According to Joe LaVorgna it's the snow's fault: Deutsche Bank Said to Plan Job Cuts at Investment Bank (BBG)
- Israeli airstrikes kill 1 Syrian soldier, wound 7 (AP)
Not a week seems to pass without some banker or trader committing suicide. Today we get news of the latest such tragic event with news that 28-year old Kenneth Bellando, a former JPMorgan banker, current employee of Levy Capital, and brother of a top chief investment officer of JPM, jumped to his death from his 6th floor East Side apartment on March 12.
While the sight of Russian flags, pro-Russian troops, and Russian navy ships in Crimea is now a day-to-day thing; this morning brings a new normal for the eastern Ukraine region - long lines at bank ATMs as the bank runs have begun. We noted last night the dreaded inversion of Ukraine's yield curve, the greater-than-50% yields on 3-month Ukraine government debt, and the pressures on local bank debt maturities as the ability to garner dollars cost-effectively was becoming a problem but on the heels of concerns by the head of the central bank that moving cash in Crimea was difficult, ATM withdrawal limits have been cut. People in long ATM lines are reported to be concerned because "banks are closing" but it is Deutsche Bank's comments this morning that raised many an eyebrow as they suggest that Ukraine's debt is pricing in a "burden-sharing" haircut for bondholders (which as we have seen in the past - in Cyprus - can quickly ripple up the capital structure and become a depositor haircut).
For a market that is flirting with all time highs on a daily basis, the recent banker and trader suicide epidemic seems oddly out of place. And yet, it continues to claim even more victims, with the latest casuality being Edmund Reilly, 47, a trader at Midtown's Vertical Group, who as the Post reported, jumped in front of an LIRR train station yesterday at 6 am near the Syosset train station and was pronounced dead at the scene.
Bond Trading Grinds To A Halt: Goldman Set To Report Weakest Q1 Since 2005; Revenues Down As Much As 25% ElsewhereSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 03/12/2014 11:47 -0400
Since Wall Street has been explicitly fighting the Fed (remember: the main reason there is no volume is because nobody is selling) Wall Street has once again lost, and despite its appeals, the time to pay the piper has come. Said payment will be taken out of bank Q1 earnings which as everyone knows, will continue the declining trend seen in recent years (so much for that whole Net Interest Margin fable), but to learn just how bad, we go to the FT which reports that fixed income groups across Wall Street "are set for their worst start to the year since before the financial crisis, with revenue declines of up to 25%." The punchline: "Analysts now expect Goldman Sachs to record its weakest first quarter since 2005 and JPMorgan Chase and Bank of America are forecast to see their lowest revenues since they bought Bear Stearns and Merrill Lynch, respectively, in 2008."
We noted last night that Iron Ore futures prices were in free-fall as the vicious circle of China's commodity-collateral-backed shadow banking system unwind hits home amid fears of contagion from the Chaori Solar default. The first domestic Chinese corporate bond default has retail investors running scared as surprise spreads that the local government did not come to the rescue. The deleveraging is now spreading to copper prices (remember the massive cash-for-copper schemes of last year) as borrowers are forced to sell to meet cash calls which in turn drops copper prices, reducing collateral values and tightening credit conditions even more. This is the biggest copper price drop since Dec 2011...
Following yesterday's abysmal employment and service data which led to an unchanged close it quite clear that the market has returned to a mode where it ignores all newsflow - at least the bad, which is due to the weather, the good news is due to the recovery - and instead is simply driven by such "fundamental drivers" as the momentum and position of the Yen carry trade. And overnight the USDJPY positively exploded following news that the Japan advisory committee has decided the nation's pension fund, the GPIF, does' t need a domestic bond focus. Implicitly this means that the GPIF will soon be able to purchase stocks like Facebook and Tesla, which is a guaranteed way of generated short-term gains and longer-term total losses for the Japanese pensioners. Of course, when the latter happens, nobody will have been able to foresee it and some scapegoat somewhere will be summarily fired. As for what this means for futures, the drift higher has made SPOOs rise once more and at last check was just below if not at new all time highs on an ongoing barrage of increasingly negative macro news.
The last few weeks have been dismally littered with two things. The virtual losses of virtual wealth from virtual currency speculation and the very real losses of very real humans with very real senior financial services positions. Sadly, as NewsWatch reports, tonight sees the two trends converge as the 28-year-old CEO of Singapore-based Bitcoin exchange First Meta has been found dead. The exact reason that may have led to the suicide is not known, and whether the Police have concluded that the cause of death is suicide is also unofficial.
Jefferies, Deutsche Bank, and now Citi and JPMorgan are all facing a collapse in trading volumes as Bloomberg reports the two banks brace for a fourth straight drop in first-quarter trading revenues - a period of the year when the largest investment banks typically earn the most from that business. “It sounds like more bloodletting on Wall Street,” warns one analyst, as Citi expects trading revenue to drop by a “high mid-teens” percentage.
While the FT promptly retracted an article on precisely the topic of gold manipulation from earlier this week (recorded for posterity here), Bloomberg appears to not have had the same "editorial" concerns and pressures, and today released an article once again slamming the final conspiracy theory that while every other asset class is manipulated, gold is in a pristine class of its own, untouched by close-banging, price fixing traders or central bankers, and reports that "the London gold fix, the benchmark used by miners, jewelers and central banks to value the metal, may have been manipulated for a decade by the banks setting it, researchers say." And the punchline: "Large price moves during the afternoon call were also overwhelmingly in the same direction: down. On days when the authors identified large price moves during the fix, they were downwards at least two-thirds of the time in six different years between 2004 and 2013. In 2010, large moves during the fix were negative 92 percent of the time, the authors found."
And just like that the Chinese yuan devaluation has shifted away from the merely "orderly." In the past few hours of trading, China, which as we reported two days ago has started intervening aggressively in the Yuan market, has seen its currency crash by nearly 0.9%, which may not seem like much, but is in fact the largest drop since December of 2008, and at last check was trading at around 6.18, even as the PBOC fixed the CNY reference rate 0.02% higher from the last official close to 6.1214, erasing pivot support point at 6.1346 and 6.1408. Naturally this means that the obverse, the CNYUSD, has crashed to as low as 0.1620. Should this move sustain without reverting, this will be the biggest weekly loss ever! The dramatic move is shown on the chart below.