Flash Orders

The Problem With HFT Explained In One Chart

The problem is now readily apparent: without any gates to prevent HFT (ab)users from positioning themselves anywhere they wish in the constructiveness/profitabilty spectrum, it goes without saying that everyone will immediately flock to the most profitable, and hence, least constructive and most predatory, HFT strategies.

The Father Of High Speed Trading Speaks: "The Market We Created Is A Casino; A Complete Mess; A Rigged Game"

"I must confess to you that I was an ardent proponent of bringing technology to trading and brokerage. Unfortunately, I only saw the good sides. I saw how electronic trading and record-keeping could be used to force people to be more honest, to make the process more efficient, to lower transaction costs and to bring liquidity to the markets. I did not see the forces of fragmentation and the opportunity for people to use technology to keep to the letter but avoid the spirit of the rules -- creating the current crisis....  Technology, market structure, and new products have evolved more quickly than our capacity to understand or control them. ... To the public the financial markets may increasingly seem like a casino, except that the casino is more transparent and simpler to understand.... The result has been a series of crises over the past few years that have caused many investors to lose confidence or to think that the whole system is a rigged game."

Themis Trading Flops Its 2011 Market Structure "Predictions"

Our friends at Themis Trading, who continue the good, if seemingly futile fight, for a fair and untiered market, refresh on their late 2010 market structure forecast, only to find that with a 1 out of 10 "success" track record, they have the same predictive hit rate as Byron Wien and Joe LaVorgna. Which, incidentally, is not a good thing: it simply means the US stock market is now more broken and corrupt than ever, a development that is not lost on US investors, who later today we will find have redeemed a near record amount of cash from US equity mutual funds in 2011, and have pulled cash for 34 out of 35 weeks in a row, leaving mutual funds with virtually zero cash buffer, massive leverage and dreading that day when the Santa rally coupled with low volume levitation is no longer sufficient to mask the massive capital hole in the heart of the S&P 500.

Themis Trading's 5 Best Themes Of 2010

Despite our relatively light coverage on the subject recently, we haven't forgotten that the US stock marketplace is broken beyond what some say, any chance of fixing. Unfortunately, it has become painfully obvious that between the corrupt SEC and CFTC, there will be no proactive regulation, no actual changes to a broken market structure, until the next, and far more serious flash crash takes place, and destroys the last trace of market credibility. In the meantime, looking back at 2010 market developments, aside form the one event that punctuated just how broken the market is, namely the May 6th flash crash, there were other notable events. Below we present Themis Trading's five best market structure themes of 2010.

Europe Begins Push To Ban HFT: Calls "Quote Stuffing" Market Abuse, Dark Pools "Tragic Error", And "Explicitly Rules Out" Flash Orders

The push back against the HFT market-propping travesty is finally starting to gain steam...but for now only in Europe. After all, the Fed realizes all too well that it needs all the resources it can get in its bid (no pun intended) to keep stocks as artificially high as possible, of which the HFT upward biased feedback loop is a critical one (the PD POMO monetization circuit being a second one... and when both fail, there is always the Citadel dark pool direct purchasing channel). Reuters reports thet "Britain and France flagged on Thursday a looming crackdown on ultra-fast share trading that featured in May's brief "flash crash" freefall on Wall Street, alarming regulators and investors globally. French Economy Minister Christine Lagarde said a
form of computerized trading known as high-frequency trading (HFT) may
need banning in some cases
" Lagarde, who has recently shown a willingness to be seen as not part of the Bernanke mold, told reporters that her "natural tendency would be at least to
regulate, to oversee it very strictly and after a cost-benefit analysis
of these methods, maybe to forbid it.
" Elsewhere, a European Parliament November 16 report on MiFID "Calls for the practice of ‘layering’ or ‘quote stuffing’ to be explicitly defined as market abuse." This is something Zero Hedge has been demanding for about a year now, and obviously something that the corrupt regulators at the SEC, headed by the galactically incompetent Mary Schapiro continue to pretend does not exist. Lastly, in an attempt to make the life of the NYSE easier, whose primary source of revenue, now that Chinese IPOs have been uncovered to be a pathological, unauditable scam, has collapsed, the target has now shifted to dark pools: "
The proliferation of dark pools was a tragic error and I would like us to come back to it" according to Bank of France Governro Christian Noyer. The latest onslaught against dark pools is not at all surprising: after all the NYSE is pushing hard to preserve some semblance of relevance (and EPS) as it is now attempting to create "a global network of as many as 40 "liquidity hubs" in data centers around the world." All in all, this smells like the role of HFT right here in our own back yard is about to get seriously curbed. Add the fact that Prett Bharara is about to open at least one criminal case against a domestic HFT outfit, and the robotic permabid behind the market may soon be very, very scarce.

Senator Ted Kaufman's Final Remarks On Market Structure And Integrity

One of the last true defenders of a long lost honest and efficient market is riding away into the sunset. Today, at 2:15 PM Delaware Senator Ted Kaufman will deliver his farewell address on the Senate Floor. The full speech will be broadcast here. He will be sorely missed by everyone who laments the days when good news meant to buy stuff, while bad news did not mean to buy ten times more stuff. Alas, in the great race for technological supriority, the market broke some time ago, and the retail investing class, which accounts for a vast majority of the stock market's capitalization via its trillions in ever diminishing investments, has now lost all faith that stocks reflect anything but the Fed's desire to reflate the troubles of a few massively underwater bankers away. It is sad, but it is a fact. There is no more fair and efficient market. Which is why we know that those corrupt and captured cronies of the status quo at the SEC will be applauding Kaufman's departure - after all he was the last voice in Washington who dared to put up a fight for the little investor. Soon, everything will be back to normal, where the only guaranteed outcome of any stock trade is a loss. In the meantime, we present to you Senator Kaufman's last speech (of seven) on market structure issues and the unending scourge that is high frequency trading. We also present Carl "Shitty Deal" Levin's follow up comments to Kaufman's speech.

Summarizing Mary Schapiro's Comments On Being Only 20 Years Behind The Market Structure Curve

Mary Schapiro is making some waves at the Economic Club of New York, where for the first time ever, she has given some indication she is only two decades behind the curve when it comes to a market that now has a 5 to 1 ratio of HFT to retail participation (yes, you are all not only frontrun daily, but also surrounded by Sky Net). Here is a summary of her key points from the Economic Club speech earlier, courtesy of Themis Trading.

Is Chuck Schumer's Market "Activism" Merely A Cover Up For Protecting HFT Lobby Interests?

We were pleasantly surprised yesterday when we saw news that Chuck Schumer was starting a campaign to aggressively rein in the HFT market members (which he correctly categorized as responsible for excessive volatility and the flash crash). Some reading between the lines, however, makes it appear that this action could be nothing but a red herring distraction, which attempts to actually promote the interests of the very same HFT lobby which the senator is presumably attempting to control.

Themis' Take: May 6, 2010 – The Day That Will Change Market Structure

Today’s action left us amazed, and we have been warning about this stuff since December 2008. Where do we even start? Yesterday afternoon and evening all the business programming focused on how the markets were in turmoil, and Greece this, and overdue correction that, and fat finger the other thing. They couldn’t even recognize the story, as even the business media doesn’t understand that the markets are a changed structure and beast. The story is not a key-punch error. The story is a failed market structure. The market failed today. - Themis Trading

The Day The Market Almost Died (Courtesy Of High Frequency Trading)

A year ago, before anyone aside from a hundred or so people had ever heard the words High Frequency Trading, Flash orders, Predatory algorithms, Sigma X, Sonar, Market topology, Liquidity providers, Supplementary Liquidity Providers, and many variations on these, Zero Hedge embarked upon a path to warn and hopefully prevent a full-blown market meltdown. On April 10, 2009, in a piece titled "The Incredibly Shrinking Market Liquidity, Or The Black Swan Of Black Swans" we cautioned "what happens in a world where the very core of the capital markets
system is gradually deleveraging to a point where maintaining a liquid
and orderly market becomes impossible: large swings on low volume,
massive bid-offer spreads, huge trading costs, inability to clear and
numerous failed trades. When the quant deleveraging finally catches up
with the market, the consequences will likely be unprecedented, with
dramatic dislocations leading the market both higher and lower on
record volatility."
Today, after over a year of seemingly ceaseless heckling and jeering by numerous self-proclaimed experts and industry lobbyists, we are vindicated. We enjoy being heckled - we got a lot of it when we started discussing Goldman Sachs in early 2009. Look where that ended. Today, we have reached an apex in our quest to prevent the HFT "Black Monday" juggernaut, as absent the last minute intervention of still unknown powers, the market, for all intents and purposes, broke. Liquidity disappeared. What happened today was no fat finger, it was no panic selling by one major account: it was simply the impact of everyone in the HFT community going from port to starboard on the boat, at precisely the same time. And in doing so, these very actors, who in over a year have been complaining they are unfairly targeted because all they do is "provide liquidity", did anything but what they claim is their sworn duty. In fact, as Dennis Dick shows (see below) they were aggressive takers of liquidity at the peak of the meltdown, exacerbating the Dow drop as it slid 1000 points intraday. It is time for the SEC to do its job and not only ban flash trading as it said it would almost a year ago, but get rid of all the predatory aspects of high frequency trading, which are pretty much all of them. In 20 minutes the market showed that it is as broken as it was at the nadir of the market crash. Through its inactivity to investigate the market structure, the SEC has made things a million times worse, as HFT-trading seminars for idiots are now rampant. HFT killed over 12 months of hard fought propaganda by the likes of CNBC  which has valiantly tried to restore faith in our broken capital markets. They have now failed in that task too. After today investors will have little if any faith left in the US stocks, assuming they had any to begin with. We need to purge the equity market structure of all liquidity-taking parasitic players. We must start today with High Frequency Trading.

SEC Votes Unanimously To Tag HFT Traders

The SEC has finally acknowledged it is hopeless at regulating the latest generation of market forntrunning specialists, in the form of various iterations of High Frequency Traders. We are happy that one year after starting our campaign against the complete travesty to market efficiency that is HFT (yes, they frontrun and scalp and subpenny and generate artificial momentum, but they bring liquidity!.... in five bankrupt stocks while raising slippage costs everywhere else) the SEC has realized that there is so much more than meets the eye, and that no matter how many conflicted Op-Eds are publish in Advanced Trader, that will not change the nature of what HFT is.At a meeting today, the Securities and Exchange Commission voted unanimously for a plan to tag high-frequency traders with ID numbers and give the SEC access to information on their trades. Branding sure is an appropriate act for all these parasitic market participants. Hopefully the SEC will tear itself away from the terabytes of kiddie and tranny porn available on the internet to actually analyze and compile the data it receives (we realize that releasing it to the public would be far too much in keeping with Obama's initial and soon forgotten promise of unprecedented transparency), instead of just dumping it in the shredder as it has done in the past with Madoff, with Greenspan, and with other masters of the ponzimonium.

Senator Kaufman Reminds Most HFT Issues Still On Table; Notes Rising Market Structure Concern By Regulators And Market Participants

Yet another much needed reminder that the topic of High Frequency Trading is far from resolved. On Tuesday, Senator Ted Kaufman reminded that increasingly more regulators and market participants remain divided over HFT, even as concern about possible improprieties associated with market structure grows. Kaufman's most recent topic of focus - order cancellations. He said the SEC should address the "burgeoning" number of order cancellations involved in high frequency trading, which, he added, are "clearly excessive" and virtually a "prima facia" case that battles between competing algorithms have become "all too commonplace, overloading the system and regulators alike."

The SEC Seeks Your Advice On How To Fix A Broken Market

Since the SEC is beyond incompetent, and all it knows is how to place its employees at major Wall Street firms, the regulator is appealing to you, dear reader, to inform Mary Schapiro just how busted up the current equity market truly is, and to provide ideas on how to fix it, and to explain why "the current highly automated, high-speed market structure" is fundamentally unfair for investors.