While institutional investors and money managers have a very specific list of worries when it comes to their "financial concerns" such as Fear Of Missing Out (FOMO), monthly/quarterly performance and redemption requests, losing top traders, what the year end bonus will be, order fill slippage, being frontrun by HFT algos, what the Fed chairwoman may say any given day, whether it is 3:30pm or if it is a Tuesday, ordinary Americans have a far simpler list of concerns. According to a recent Gallup poll, the one thing that has most Americans very/moderately worried is "whether or not they have enough money for retirement."
On the subject of High Frequency Trading, our respondents are thus far unimpressed with the argument that HFT helps U.S. equity market participants. Fully half answered that it is “Harmful” or “Very Harmful”. Only 19% said it was “Helpful” or “Very Helpful” to participants. ... In short, the survey seems to tell a very clear story. Most professional investors and institutional brokers do not feel that markets treat all participants fairly. They worry about how fragile markets might become during periods of abnormally high volume. At the same time, they are cautiously picking their way through the minefield in which they find themselves and are unsure what role regulators should play. How the landscape will change as a result of their unease is still unclear. What is certain is that change is coming.
Back in August of last year, we first reported data that not even believed at first, but has since been proven correct using existing home sales data, namely that a whopping 60% of all home purchases are "cash only." However, not even that data could prepare us for what we learned today courtesy of CoreLogic, which narrowed down the range from the broader "housing" segment just to the most appetizing (especially for investors and flippers) condo market. What it found was stunning: not less than 80% of all condos in key markets such as Florida, Nevada And New York are all cash.
- Ukraine forces kill up to five rebels, Putin warns of consequences (Reuters)
- Obama to Russia: More sanctions are 'teed up' (AP)
- Vienna Banks Bemoan Russia Sanctions Testing Cold War Neutrality (BBG)
- GE’s $57 Billion Cash Overseas Said to Fuel Alstom Deal (BBG)
- GM posts lower first-quarter profit after recall costs (Reuters)
- Apple Stock Split Removes Obstacle to Inclusion in Dow (BBG)
- U.S. regulators to propose new net neutrality rules in May (Reuters)
Ultimately, I think the problem for HFT liquidity providers is not that they are skinning investors, but that they are outsiders. They're doing what the keepers of the market infrastructure keys have always done - skin investors, retail and institutional alike, to the outer limits of what technology and the law allows. But while their outward behavior and appearance may be familiar, they are clearly an alien species on the inside, without so much as a microgram of Wall Street DNA. They are Rakshasa's. HFT liquidity providers are technology companies disguised as financial intermediaries. They hijacked the market infrastructure in the aftermath of the Great Recession, stealing it away from under the noses of the big financial firms who had come to see control over market structure as their birthright, and they had a good run. But now the big boys want their market infrastructure back, and they're going to get it.
The majority of global growth in the next decade will instead be generated by "frontier markets". in fact, over the past five years, 43 of the 47 highest-growth economies have come from the frontier.
We believe Fed’s actions would be more appropriately described as permitted cancerous beliefs to spread throughout the financial system, thereby killing Democratic Capitalism which is the basis of the capital markets.
In what the firm believes will be an improvement over other so-called dark pools because it will be a collaboration among big mutual-fund firms, WSJ reports that the giant fund manager is quietly building a new trading venue designed to let big money managers sidestep many of the problems that they argue lead to unfair or costly trading - i.e. avoid the HFT predation. Fidelity, with $1.95 trillion of assets under management, is in the initial stages of planning the trading venue and has just begun to pitch the idea to other large asset managers. It seems 5 years of vociferous exposure and a Michael Lewis book may be beginning to starve the HFTs of their prey.
"Fear Of Missing Out" - that is the only way one can explain the irrational idiocy with which asset "managers" are scrambling to allocate other people's money into today's "historic" Greek (where unemployment just printed at 26.7%) return to the bond market, and which according to Greek PM Venizelos was eight times oversubscribed, or far more demand than for the Facebook IPO. Ironically, while we joked earlier this week, when the Greek 5Y was trading in the 6% range that the new bond would issue at 3%, we were not too far off on the final terms which were largely expected in the mid-5% range. Instead, Greece shocked everyone when it announced that the avalanche of lemmings had made it possible for Greece to issue debt at a sub-5% yield, and a 4.75% cash coupon! Here is the final term sheet.
I contend that Lewis should have done a lot more to identify the parties involved and tell the full story of latency arbitrage in Sigma X.
Echoing Charlie Munger, Oaktree's Howard Marks warns today's institutional and retail investors that "everything that’s important in investing is counterintuitive, and everything that’s obvious is wrong." These words seem critically important at a time when the world and his pet rabbit is a self-proclaimed stock-picking export. Be "uncomfortably idiosyncratic," Marks advises, noting thaty most great investments begin in discomfort as "non-conformists don’t enjoy the warmth that comes with being at the center of the herd." Dare to be different is his message, "dare to be wrong," or as Charlie Munger told him, "it’s not supposed to be easy. Anyone who finds it easy is stupid." While Marks philosophically adds that "being too far ahead of your time is indistinguishable from being wrong," he warns the lulled masses that "you can’t take the same actions as everyone else and expect to outperform."
- Russia's Gazprom says Ukraine did not pay for gas on time (Reuters)
- Ukraine Moves to Keep Control in East (BBG)
- Banks Set to Report Lower Earnings as Debt Trading Slumps (BBG)
- More DeGeners and Obama selfies needed: Samsung's lower first-quarter estimate highlights smartphone challenges (Reuters)
- Citi Is Bracing to Miss a Profit Target (WSJ)
- Another slam from GM? Safety group calls for U.S. probe of Chevy Impala air bags (Reuters)
- Japan drugmaker Takeda to fight $6 billion damages imposed by U.S. jury (Reuters)
- EU court rules against requirement to keep data of telecom users (Reuters)
- White House may ban selfies with president after Ortiz-Obama photo promotes Samsung (Syracuse)
In the aftermath of Michael Lewis' book "Flash Boys" there has been a renewed surge in interest in High Frequency Trading. Alas, much of it is conflicted, biased, overly technical or simply wrong. And since we can't assume that all those interested have been followed our 5 year of coverage of a topic that finally has earned its day in the public spotlight, below is a simple summary for everyone.
- Nato chief defends eastern advance (FT)
- Russia looks east as it seeks to rebalance trade interests (FT)
- Plane from Guinea briefly quarantined in Paris after Ebola scare (AFP)
- US attacks Japan’s stance on Trans-Pacific Partnership (FT)
- Thank you IMF: Ukraine PM says will stick to austerity despite Moscow pressure (Reuters)
- U.S. Army seeks motive for Fort Hood shooting rampage (Reuters)
- China Slowdown Adds to Emerging-Market Growth Hurdles, IMF Says (BBG)
- Top investors press Allianz to step up oversight of Pimco (Reuters)
- U.S. to Evaluate Role in Mideast Peace Process, John Kerry Says (WSJ)
- Scientists dismiss claims that Yellowstone volcano about to erupt (Reuters)
- Ukraine detains 12 riot police on suspicion of 'mass murder' (Reuters) - on CIA orders?
As the following table also by RealtyTrace confirms, the US still has an abundance of "own-to-rent" cities, where one can generate a return as high as 30% in one year, if one is willing to drive through the downtown area at 65 mph. Places like bankrupt Detroit, where the median sales price is $45K, and somehow the average market rent is $1.1K, meaning one can recoup their investment in just over 3 years! (how Detroit's residents can afford $1K on rent is another of those great mysteries of life). In other words, the housing bubble will still be raging in these 20 cities, at least until such time as the yield drops sufficiently due to soaring prices that the Blackstones of the world are forced to dump other people's money in such undervalued places as Ulan Bator and Almaty.