The confidence in the people who are supposedly, as well as supposed to be “in charge” is doing more than just dwindling. It’s crumbling in Humpty Dumpty like fashion. For no matter how they try – it too may never go back together. Once confidence wanes, or is lost, regaining it can be just as monumental of a task than the actual crisis itself.
Few are the market makers that make money no matter what the market does (especially since HFT firms, long since exposed for merely frontrunning big order blocks instead of providing liquidity, are now disappearing at an accelerating pace), and there are those who, rigged casino analogies notwithstanding, still want to place their money in the market betting on either more upside or downside. For their benefit a few days ago we posted "The "Crazy Ivan" Playbook: How To Time A Near-Term Market Bottom" however, we realize that most people are visual learners, so for them, here is the Investor Business Daily's compendium of the most notable market tops and bottoms in recent market history.
Another day, another HFT firm busted for manipulating the market. Today's participant: Athena Capital, which did what every other algorithmic, HFT firm does - rig the market of course, but at least it had a sense of humor about it: Athena called the market-rigging algorithm that "manipulated the closing prices of tens of thousands of stocks during the final seconds of almost every trading day during the Relevant Period" by the very amusing name "Gravy." But remember: HFTs are really your friend - they just provide liquidity and stuff.
A few minutes ago, all hell broke loose in Intel stock when a Reuters fat finger did a JPM deja vu (as a reminder, JPM earnings were released just after 4 am, some three hours before their scheduled release due to a Nasdaq news release error) and released what the robots thought was INTC's Q3 earnings. Moments later, it was uncovered that while it was a fat finger, the finger hit the wrong button and had erroneously leaked Q2 earnings once again. Nonetheless, what happened in the interim was your typical algo idiocy, which as Nanex' Eric Hunsader summarized best, as follows: "This is crazy - note the wide swings in $INTC - some lasting less than 1 second. #HFT madness"
With S&P futures liquidity at near record lows (but what about the HFT liquidity-providers?), it seems the major stock indices are extremely sensitive to any and every headline or JPY twitch. For the 4th time today (and Nth time this week), stocks have decoupled higher from a less exuberant bond market... every other time, stocks have recooupled lower... Fool me once, shame on you... Fool me 4 times, I am Gartman...
It is very common to find examples of stock quotes changing rapidly - hundreds and sometimes thousands of times per second in a single stock. At the extreme, we've seen in excess of 25,000 quote changes in a single stock in one second of time or less. Sometimes a simple pattern evolves from the quote price changes, such as in the case of a certain High Frequency Trading (HFT) algorithm that we've recently seen run every day in Google stock. The algo starts with an order to buy 100 shares, then replaces a millisecond (ms) later with an order to buy a penny higher.. and repeats hundreds of times. "So what? HFT needs to be able to cancel quotes fast so they can tighten spreads, add liquidity and lower costs." The problem is that when HFT cancels a quote after just 1 ms, then anyone located more than 93 miles (150 km) away will see a stale quote. Worse, they won't know it's stale unless and until they try to act on it and wait for a response.
There is a saying that you don’t ring bells at the top. It’s not really true. Every time the market forms a major peak, at least in the last 15 years, there are usually a preponderance of signs of excessive speculation and leverage.
"The Markets Group at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York manages the size and composition of the Federal Reserve System’s balance sheet consistent with the directives and the authorization of the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC), supports debt issuance and debt management on behalf of the U.S. Treasury, provides foreign exchange services to the U.S. Treasury and provides account services to foreign central banks, international agencies and U.S. government agencies. Markets Group is establishing a presence at the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago and has openings for both experienced professionals and recent graduates.
It has been several years since the disjointed, confused, and extremely disorganized Occupy Wall Street movement made any headlines. Alas, in the interim, the career prospects of those who comprise its up prime age demographic have gone nowhere but down while inversely impacting the nominal free time of said cohort, which is why we were somewhat surprised it took as long as it did for the same individuals, best known for camping out in Zucotti Park (until it started snowing of course), to stage a daring comeback. Which they did today, following a weekend in which New York City was overrun with "The People's Climate March", protesting against climate change by... leaving behind them tons of non-biodegradable garbage. It is this same group that has once again made its way all the way down into the Financial district, and specifically in front of the TV studio formerly known as the NYSE.
Did someone finally inform the SEC that Bernie Madoff's business model has been adopted by every central bank in the "developed world?" Whatever the reason for today's record SEC award, which almost certainly has to do with HFT, a topic which this blog first brought to light back in 2009 when nobody had a clue what algo/high frequency trading is, congratulations to the lucky winner (unless of course it has to do with someone spilling the beans on US tax evaders in Swiss banks), and our condolences to the banks, because now that one can comfortably retire by informing the regulators of the pervasive crime that takes place within the US financial system on a daily basis, suddenly every disgruntled person laid off by the US banking sector is the next potential $30 million aware recipient.
The image below is a screen capture of the Google Earth map file which will be released officially tomorrow on his blog, with public documents linking each tower to its owner. The creator of the map thinks that it "should make some noise," although considering the vast financial resources and power over politicians the HFT lobby has, we wouldn't be surprised if, quite quickly, this latest story is promptly disappeared. After all, the last thing retail investors need to be reminder of every day, is that there is a rigged market for frontrunning, predator HFTs, and then a market for everyone else, i.e., the prey.
As business media pats itself on the back for the BABA IPO, proclaiming how it's the most important, and biggest IPO of all-time and on "the most efficient and transparent" exchange, perhaps it was just oversight that they forgot to mention BABA's 7-second halt "glitch" this afternoon as BABA trading exceeded 25% of all volume at some points. But that was minor compared to the utter clusterfuck that occurred as AAPL shares started to tumble and, as Nanex points out, 100s of individual stocks instantly flash-crashed and dashed by over 1% at 1550ET as the Russell rebalanced. These are your unrigged, transparent, efficient markets...