The blog posts and defenses of high frequency trading in the past week have come with dizzying high frequency. Flash Boys has struck many a nerve; the truth can be a bitter pill at times. And of course, the pro-HFT defenses are all made by many who are very, very staked in the status quo of our market structure. Now, bloggers using twitter is one thing; conflicted insiders using television to make their HFT defenses are another.
Yesterday's #Hash-Crash has brought the tough reality of just how entirely mechanized the so-called equity 'markets' have become in the US to every mom-and-pop who watch nightly news. Mainstream media is even discussing the correlations between JPY carry trades and equity indices now as CNBC's Rick Santelli notes "the high-speed casinos our markets have become". All things we have discussed for years. But there is one potentially fascinating insight from the ongoing robotization of the TBTF banking sector - Wall Street jobs are now at an all-time record low. Once again, it would appear, that cost-cutting demands (and a government backstop and huge subsidy no matter how bad the things are that you do) trumps any job creation. As Joe Saluzzi explains to CNBC's Rick Santelli in this excellent clip, the "liquidity is fickle" - the fake-tweet was a mere catalyst, he added, "we see these flash-crashes every day." The benefits for the major exchanges far exceed the conflicts of interest of these so-called "market-makers" who front-run their clients millisecond by millisecond.
Presenting Dave Collum's now ubiquitous and all-encompassing annual review of markets and much, much more. From Baptists, Bankers, and Bootleggers to Capitalism, Corporate Debt, Government Corruption, and the Constitution, Dave provides a one-stop-shop summary of everything relevant this year (and how it will affect next year and beyond).
Joe Saluzzi, expert on algorithmic trading -- also known as high-frequency trading, or HFT -- returns as a guest this week to explain how the players behind this machine-driven process act as parasites that are destroying our financial markets (and, increasingly, even themselves). Since Joe first spoke with us last year, HFT firms have only increased in size and share of market activity. Here are some staggering statistics on how influential they have become:
- HTFs make up between 50-70% of the volume seen across market exchanges today
- 2% of the traders on many exchanges (HFTs, specifically) represent 80% of the volume
- a single large HFT firm (referred to as a Direct Market Maker) can account for 10%+ of a market's volume on a given day
- Large HFT firms make between $8 to $21 billion a year
- HFT trades occur in milliseconds (i.e. a small fraction of the time it takes your eye to blink)
With such scale, speed and profitability, HFTs have turned the market away from being an efficient price-setting mechanism and perverted it into a casino where the clientele (i.e. human investors) gets fleeced. And our regulators are so outmatched by the scope, complexity and funding of these titanic HFT players that at moment, there are pretty much zero consequences for bad actors.
Chris Martenson Interviews Joe Saluzzi on High-Frequency Trading: The Equity Market Is Now Controlled By The MachinesSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 02/05/2011 14:17 -0400
Joe Saluzzi, co-founder of Themis Trading LLC and outspoken exchange expert, is concerned with how high-frequency trading has brought the capital markets into uncharted - and dangerous - territory. "Things have changed," he cautions. With 50-70% of all trades being conducted by algorithms at micro-second time intervals, real human traders are increasingly challenged to understand how our markets actually work. "No longer do the technical patterns - that have lasted for years and years, and are written about all over - work anymore." In the following interview, Joe and Chris plunge into "dark pools" and other poorly-understood elements of our now-machine-dominated financial exchanges. The current system is fraught with risks of further "flash crash"-like disruptions, and at a fundmental level, feels a lot like sanctioned theft by the deep-pocketed institutions who can outspend on technology and speed. This is an important interview for anyone involved in trading (professionally or personally), as well as investors who want to know how today's markets truly operate.
Joe Saluzzi has been let out of his cage and is disseminating yet more truthiness, this time on Bloomberg with Margaret Brennan, where he references the ICI number we disclosed yesterday about $28 billion in equity outflows and says he "doesn't really blame" investors for bailing. After ongoing daily stock beatings, those people will be the smart ones. Joe has long been a proponent of the double dip, yet without a good soundbite, he could only have been classified as a second-tier bear at best so far. We are happy we has realized this little omission, and with Catherine's assistance, we now have one for JS as well: "We are one headline away from S&P 900." Definitely catchy/snazzy. As for the reasons why he thinks the market is doomed to a 150 point swoon (at least), he notes "stimulus is starting to run out, and in addition to all the problems from last year, now we've got all the issues in Europe, we've got pension funds that need to be bailed out... the government knows this, the Fed knows this, and they are just one step away from another stimulus packages, which the stock market loves." As for trading, Saluzzi once again explains why nobody should still trade stocks, courtesy of market distorting forces like the HFT SPARC brigade, whereby a few astrophysics Ph.D. determine the price of market (and thus US economy) defining Apple. Joe's long-term thesis is spot on: "Right now we are the flight to safety but that won't last long." Indeed - there is only so many countries whose CDS can hit 1,150 (ahem Greece) before the specs reorient themselves to a better upside/downside investment thesis (ahem Bund, Bobl, Schatz, and, of course, UST).
Themis Trading's Joe Saluzzi, who still has oddly not be asked to discuss his perspectives on the flaws in not only HFT but broader market structure and topology issues before a congressional commission, is interviewed by Bloomberg (and amusingly Carol Massar, after mocking him the last time around, finally gives him props for having been right all along). Fans of A. Joseph Cohen would be better advised to look elsewhere for their daily dose of Vitamin Hopium. The take home message"It's gonna crumble, it's just a matter of when." Alas, with gold now at $1,241 even lifelong Keynes fanatics are finally throwing in the towel. The time when we could have done something to fix the system is now long gone, courtesy of the administration's waffling for the past two years as instead of getting to the root cause of the last and future crash, it was focused on bailing out bankrupt banks. And in related news, Jim Rogers, joins the Euro death squads, and says that the $1 trillion bailout is the "Nail in the coffin for the euro." As Rogers said in discussing the now failed bailout: "I was stunned. This means that they’ve given up on the euro, they don’t particularly care if they have a sound currency, you have all these countries spending money they don’t have and it’s now going to continue. It’s a political currency and nobody is minding the economics behind the necessities to have a strong currency. I’m afraid it’s going to dissolve. They’re throwing more money at the problem and it’s going to make things worse down the road.”
Joe Saluzzi Discusses Why This Is Now A "Jason Bourne" Market In Which Everyone Just Keeps An Eye Out For The ExitsSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 03/11/2010 17:15 -0400
Themis Trading's Joe Saluzzi once again points out the flaws in the all clear psychology, and that if only we can break 1,150 on the S&P (which we just did), we are headed straight to 36,000 on the Dow (although as we are now in a fully blown melt up as we pointed out last week, we very well might). As Saluzzi says, we find ourselves in a "A momentum driven, fragmented equity market. What we see is a very lite volume morning normally, jacked up really fast by a couple of programs that come in, and then you get this churn most of the day. There is not a lot of conviction out there." And the reason why the market closed above 1,150 (1,150.24 on the last print to be specific - what a computer programmed joke) today as a last minute buy program ramps up: "This market is built on lies and rumors." (a topic previously discussed on Zero Hedge). Technicals and algos rule, and the Fed will take care of all the rest. And the faster one's reactions (on the exit button)the better, which is why if one is an Xbox gaming champion and 18 years old or younger, Getco and Goldman will hire you on the spot. According to Saluzzi, this observation has lead to a new nickname: this is now "the Jason Bourne market, because when he goes into a room, the first thing he checks for is where the three exits are. How do I get out. That's what investors are doing."
Some more macro observations from Joe Saluzzi: Last "Friday's stock market was the biggest tell: when you saw an unemployment number come out like that, that tells you what an absolute joke the stock market is, and how it's a lagging indicator, not a leading indicator of what's going on... When you're in the basement you can't stay in the basement, you have to walk up the stairs to get out. We aren't walking up the stairs, we just stopped walking down the stairs... a $77 Estimate on the S&P, you are looking at a 15x forward multiple on that earnings, yet you are in an economy which is closer to the 80's which deserves a 10x P/E. Why do you give it a 15x P/E?... If California was a public corporation they would be the next Lehman Brothers: that's how bad this thing is. The government is saying 'We're not going to bail you outCalifornia.' We're they going to come out with the $9 billion that they owe?"
Some recapitulating thoughts on High Frequency Trading, in the year in which HFT probably became the primary market dynamic, courtesy of Themis Trading's Joe Saluzzi. "A NYSE study done recently indicates that spreads shrunk and liquidity was increased in large cap names, but in the small to mid-cap names it is just the opposite: liquidity has shrunk and volatility has increased because now you have predatory action." Yet with everyone trading just a few key stock purely on momentum trends, and everything else rising or falling on the beta wave, nobody will care until, again, it is too late.
"You can not fight the government, you can not fight the Fed" - Joe Saluzzi
Who knows, maybe he is wrong
Some more observations on the stock market bubble: Joe Saluzzi raising hell at Bloomberg even as his nemesis Irene Aldridge gets interviewed by a cow.
And no, no discussion of HFT, predatory algos or flash orders. Tune in for a broader, comprehensive market analysis.
Impressive how much more informative Joe can be when he is not caught avoiding the book pitches of assorted blonde HFT "specialists" on CNBC.
Some more insight from Themis Trading's Joe Saluzzi from a video clip with BNN earlier today. Also follows up on his earlier post about program trading in the context of AIG. The part about algorithms looking for bonuses and Lexuses is amusing but morbidly troubling.