Every year, David Collum writes a detailed "Year in Review" synopsis full of keen perspective and plenty of wit. This year's is no exception. "I have not seen a year in which so many risks - some truly existential - piled up so quickly. Each risk has its own, often unknown, probability of morphing into a destructive force. It feels like we’re in the final throes of a geopolitical Game of Tetris as financial and political authorities race to place the pieces correctly. But the acceleration is palpable. The proximate trigger for pain and ultimately a collapse can be small, as anyone who’s ever stepped barefoot on a Lego knows..."
Blind faith in policymakers remains a bad trade that’s still widely held. Pressure builds everywhere we look. Not as a consequence of the Fed’s ineptitude (which is a constant in the equation, not a variable), but through the blind faith markets continuing to place bets on the very low probability outcome – that everything will turn out well this time around. And so the pressure keeps rising. Managers are under pressure to perform and missing more targets, levering up on hope. Without further delay we present our slightly unconventional annual list. Instead of the usual what you should do, we prefer the more helpful (for us at least) what we probably wouldn’t do. Five fresh new contenders for what could become some very bad trades in the coming year.
"At the end of the day, the Fed is confused and confusing, so if you spend too much time addressing their comments you end up confusing as well." The FOMC meeting was, simply put, slightly hawkish. Unfortunately, the markets’ outsized and illogical reactions are signs and symptoms that financial markets are broken. The FOMC’s meddling in financial market behavior could easily catch up to them in an ugly fashion.
"As humans struggled to understand what nuance, if any, existed between the two catch phrases, the automated computer programs that do so much of the trading these days immediately reacted and so stocks and Treasuries shot higher in tandem. Did the machines start a buying binge after a simple, successful search for “considerable time?” It’s possible, according to Paul Tetlock, an associate professor at Columbia Business School, who has researched how stocks react to news stories."
The Terrorist Hackers Win: Sony Pulls Release Of "The Interview" Due To Fears Of "9/11-Style Retaliation"Submitted by Tyler Durden on 12/17/2014 16:55 -0500
One of the biggest conspiracy theories in recent weeks has nothing to do with the stock market and the Fed, or with HFT manipulation, or with Ukraine's gold, or with who brought down the two Malaysian airliners, but whether the now beyond ridiculous drama surrounding Seth Rogen and James Franco's latest movie, The Interview, which has its very own cast of C-grade characters, including an alleged furious North Korean dictator and his hacker disciples, a mega corporation whose servers were hacked releasing the content of thousands of emails into the open, and of course, delighted marketing stuiod execs, has been staged and planned from the beginning. Because the latest development in this soap opera is almost as surreal as today's shocking detente with Cuba: as the Hill reports, America's top five movie theater chains have decided to pull the Sony Picture's comedy "after cyberattackers on Tuesday threatened Sept. 11-style attacks against any theater showing the movie."
Alongside the just announced revenue warning, Citi's CEO Corbat also announced yet another $2.7 billion in legal, related charges in 4Q, as well as another $800 million in repositioning expenses. This simply means that for yet another quarter Citi will be charged with billions in recurring, non-one time "one-time, non-recurring" charges which will be dutifully added back to non-GAAP EPS by analysts at all the other banks (whose criminal employers are now engaged in the same racket with the US government). But what it really means is that it cost Citi some $3.5 billion to keep its employees out of jail for yet another 3 months.
When the 5th largest dark pool trading venue (by volume) in America is shuttered, as Citi notes because its "capital, resources and efforts would be better redeployed elsewhere," you know there is a problem in US stock trading volumes and liquidity. Everyday we get 'glimpses' of this collapse - most recently yesterday's AAPL flash-crash - as human traders (who provide the 'fish' for the machines) disappear and HFT liquidity-providers pull liquidity in a flash. Crucially, as we hinted previously, we wonder if the large firms are exiting the dark pool business before some engineered market collapse is pinned on these opaque 'markets' who have come under increased regulatory scrutiny.
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.
"This last 1900 point Dow Jones push upwards - and the Ebola events leading into it - it was so orchestrated and heightened at critical points but the ascent and push straight up in price, and sideways nonreaction after was completely unlike anything I've seen before. After going up for a record-breaking amount of time the last five or so years, in a nonlinear exponential mania type of ascent, there should normally be tremendous volatility that follows... After this year and especially this last 1900 point Dow run up in October, and post non-reaction, that I am 100 percent confident that that one buyer is our own Federal Reserve or other central banks with a goal to "stimulate" our economy by directly buying stock index futures."
Looking for answers to both financial safety as well as financial freedom in the same light or viewpoint where it seems one only needs to “think like a billionaire” or “tweak” or “slightly modify” perceptions on how one approaches these financial markets today – will hurt more than it will help. The Wall Street everyone believes they are dealing with today is just in name and memory. What made sense just 6 years ago not only doesn’t but rather if you try to apply any sense that resembles “common sense” you might as well be asking the Cheshire cat for a more straight answer. "How exactly are you handling the stresses and strains having to basically push sound fundamental theories or market underpinnings aside and now trade and position money at risk based solely on what some Central Bank will do next?" This is the avenue I wish Tony had driven or sought.
This is the first installment in a series of HFT War Stories, submitted anonymously by high frequency and algorithmic traders highlighting the perils of their profession. Today we look at a $2 Billion near miss that never made the news. The public only hears about these types of SNAFUs if they blow up a firm. Hundreds more go unnoticed by anyone but the traders who lived through them.
Anti-HFT Revulsion Grows: IEX Ties For Fourth In Dark Pool Trading Thanks To World's Largest Wealth FundSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 11/17/2014 14:56 -0500
While Wall Street is certainly free to broken record that Michael Lewis' hugely popular story about HFT and market rigging did not impact the natural course of events, the reality is it did: the collapse in Barclays' dark pool LX (shown in the bolded red line on the chart below), in the aftermath of the NY AG case against the British bank, has been documented in the past, and is just one example. An even more vivid case study comes from the surge in popularity of upstart dark pool IEX (green dotted line below), the protagonist of Lewis' Flash Boys book, and which out of nowhere, has just tied with Lavaflow's dark pool for fourth spot in ATS trading with just over 200 million shares in the week ended October 27. The catalyst? Norway's sovereign wealth fund just said not to HFT parasites.
The key event overnight was the release of European Q3 GDP data, which saw Germany averting a recession by the narrowest of margins when following a -0.2% drop in Q2 economic growth, Germany grew by the smallest amount possible in Q3, or 0.1%, in line with expectations, thus averting two consecutive quarters of decline, the technical definition of a recession. The French economy likewise posted a modest increase in Q3, although one wonders how aggressively the data had to be fudged for a country whose PMIs all indicate a -1% or greater contraction. Italy however was less creative with its use of "hookers and blow", and continued its recession with a 3rd negative print, contracting at -0.1% as expected, while Portugal also missed third quarter growth estimates.
while the algos would have been delighted to let October 15 slide into the collective memory made obsolete by a constantly rising market (because investors are only truly angry when the market plunges not when it surges) just as the regulators made a mockery of their fiduciary responsibilities in the aftermath of May 6, and now markets are more fragile than ever as HFTs comprise the vast majority of all trades, some appear to be complaining and even, gasp, asking questions how it is possible that the $12 trillion US Treasury market traded like an illiquid Pink Sheets pennystock, or worse, the Nikkei.Here is the WSJ with some of the complaints: “It starts moving faster and faster, and you can’t point to anything."Actually, yes you can.