While hardly as spectacular as Hugh Hendry's supernova flameout, or the far more boring, slow motion conversion of the assorted other famous and less famous bears, a legendary hedge fund titan has decided he too has no use for excess capital in this broken market. No surprise then that Institutional Investors' Alpha reports that Baupost's Seth Klarman is returning $4 billion in capital to investors for only the second time in its history due to "a lack of investment opportunities." And watching how the epic farce that Bernanke's wealth effect known as the Stalingrad & Poorski trades in the last 30 minutes of every day nobody can blame him. And no, Klarman is not returning cash due to some hidden underperformance: "Baupost’s many partnerships were up 13 percent, on average, through the September quarter. Its annualized return since inception is in the high teens." This happens to push it in the top decile of all hedge funds in 2013.
What do the following dates have in common: September 12, October 11 and now, November 20? These are all days in which there was a forced gold slamdown so furious, it triggered a "stop logic" event on the CME resulting in a trading halt of the precious commodity. In today's case gold trading was halted for a whopping 20 seconds as the market tried to "reliquify" itself following what was a clear attempt to reprice the gold (and silver) complex lower. Needless to say, there was absolutely no news once again to drive the move. Ironically, this comes just as the London regulator is launching an investigation into London gold benchmark manipulation - we are, however, confident that all these glaringly obvious manipulative events that take places just around the London AM fix will be routinely ignored. After all it is perfectly normal for someone to dump 1500 GC contracts in one trade and suck up all the liquidity from the market with zero regard slippage costs, or getting the best execution price possible. Well, it's normal if that someone is the Bank of International Settlements.
Just another day in the markets, just another HFT algo going completely insane and Nanex catching it in the act.
On Friday October 5, 2012, the BLS released what was arguably the most important report of Obama's first term: the final jobs number, and unemployment rate before the November 2012 presidential election. As so many predicted, it "plunged" from 8.1% to 7.8% allowing the president to conduct countless teleprompted speeches praising the success of his economic recovery. It also served as the basis for the infamous Jack Welch tweet: "Unbelievable jobs numbers..these Chicago guys will do anything..can't debate so change numbers" and prompted the pro-Obama media to quickly brand all those who questioned it as conspiracy theorists... Well, as it turns out over a year later, the conspiracy theorists were once again, spot on: the Bureau Of Lies And Subterfuge manipulated the most important jobs report in Obama's career.
In the minute preceding last week's highly anticipated payrolls report, Nanex exposes the appearance of a High Frequency Trading (HFT) algo in both the December 2013 Nasdaq (NQ) Futures and the QQQs (an ETF). When it was active, it caused prices to gyrate wildly over a few seconds of time. This is the brief period that also saw Treasury Futures halted (and gold prices jumping) and looking closer at the charts, it appears this HFT algo caused wild price oscillations in the futures in a way that enable it to establish a short position in QQQs. We are sure the regulatory world is already on this blatant manipulation (or simple front-running on information received)...
+75% at the open... (and is now up to $47.23)... HFT activity is extreme
Move Over FX And Libor, As Manipulation And "Banging The Close" Comes To Commodities And Interest Rate SwapsSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 11/06/2013 13:20 -0500
While the public's attention has been focused recently on revelations involving currency manipulation by all the same banks best known until recently for dispensing Bollinger when they got a Libor end of day print from their criminal cartel precisely where they wanted it (for an amusing take, read Matt Taibbi's latest), the truth is that manipulation of FX and Libor is old news. Time to move on to bigger and better markets, such as physical commodities, in this case crude, as well as Interest Rate swaps. And, best of all, the us of our favorite manipulation term of all: "banging the close."
Having been the first to warn the world about the perils of high frequency trading nearly 5 years ago, when momentum ignition, layering and quote stuffing were still incomprehensible buzzwords to all but a select few algo traders from Citadel, GETCO and DE Shaw, and warning about such top-down systemic lock ups like flash-crash over a year in advance; as well as the bottom-up impacts of 20 year old math PhDs being in charge of market topology, our crusade from the micro has since shifted to the macro and the primary nemesis of all that is free and fair, the Federal Reserve. In the intervening years, traders such as Haim Bodek opened the HFT kimono even more publicly a few years ago. The following is a must-watch documentary for every investor and trader to comprehend just what it is (and who it is) that drives stock prices day in and day out.
Just when you thought Healthcare.gov was the worst designed system and that nothing could match government incompetence, here comes Nasdaq, and adding insult to repeated shutdown injury from over the past several months, has just announced it will not unhalt the Options Market before the weekend, and will cancel all open orders. As for the scapegoat: "a significant increase in order entries." In other words, a blast of HFT quote churn again - just like the flash crash.
Dept. of Defense on Irregular Financial Warfare
Overnight global markets have gone decidedly nowhere, in expectation of the long-overdue September payroll report, and seemingly oblivious of the Goldman pre-announcement all clear that "Any positive number will be discounted because it came before the DC theatrics and if it’s weak it confirms that tapering should be put off longer." In other words, both the September, and accompanying July and August revisions (recall it was the revisions where the August NFP number ended the FOMC's taper talk) are meaningless because everything will be spun bullish. For those who do care - mostly headline reacting HFT algos - here is the summary: consensus is for 180k (unemployment rate unchanged at 7.3%). Note that the survey period for today’s payrolls report was prior to the shutdown which started on October 1st. As for how the amusingly named "market" will react to the news: see Goldman quote above, or better yet: just call the NYFed trading desk.
Whether it is due to the recent margin hikes, a dwindling of greater fools, more scrutiny (albeit weak) by the regulators, increased free-money competition, or the monopolization of bandwidth; it would appear, from the following charts from Nanex, that we have seen Peak HFT. Quote Spam (the number of quotes per actual trade) has dropped to a 3 year low today.
We'll give you a hint, says Nanex: fantaseconds. Fantaseconds, everywhere. This is how High Frequency Trading (HFT) practically minted money during the financial crisis. With no regulators in sight, HFT robbed investors and other traders blind. With very little effort, Nanex has created numerous charts to illustrate the absurdity that markets functioned well during the financial meltdown. Many of the short term oscillations shown in these charts were created by HFT algos to induce a lag and create latency arbitrage opportunities. And yet the regulators could not spot a single one. Even after spending millions on MIDAS.
The documentary will air Novemeber 4th at Battle of The Quants in Shanghai and from there will hopefully make its way around the world
Think data leaks, in which the FOMC sends minutes to its banker supervisors a day in advance, where HFT algos pay millions to get key data to their collocated servers 10 milliseconds early, where journalists freely breach embargos and/or "secure" government lock-rooms are bypassed with a simple text message, are purely a US phenomenon? Think again. As Citi explains, today we saw just this taking place in the City.