Dear Investors, The last few weeks have exposed that our equity markets are not as liquid as we have long claimed mainly due to market fragmentation and the lack of diverse liquidity pools...
During Monday's flurry of tripped circuit breakers and flash crashing mayhem, ETF investors learned the hard way that Howard Marks was precisely correct when he warned that ETFs "can't be more liquid than the underlying and we know the underlying can become highly illiquid." The question now, is whether subsequent flash crashes will trigger even more spectacular divergences between fair value and ETF unit prices on the way to proving, once and for all, that ETFs may indeed be the new financial weapons of mass destruction.
So to be technically accurate, what happened in May 2010 was one marketwide flash crash, while today we had a market paralysis which was the direct result of countless isolated mini flash crashes, all of which precipitated the market from failing for the first 30 minutes of trading.
HFT critics are crowing over the ITG confession. You see! HFT is front running, plain and simple! Told you! And HFT defenders are largely silent because... well, you can’t defend the indefensible. However, if history is any guide at all, the existence of a clearly identifiable small-v villain will forestall the unmasking of what we believe is a Big Bad... the subterranean influence, bordering on control, of human investment behaviors by firms controlling advanced inference machines.
"I think we have to blame central bank intervention. How can we not? It’s all around the world. They’re setting interest rates at a ridiculous level. Quantitative easing is distorting all sorts of prices of assets. How do you price things anymore when you have such a giant manipulator out there?"
Q: How do you make a small fortune on Wall Street?
A: Start with a large fortune.
~ old investing adage
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..."
In August 2013, the Nasdaq SIP broke and trading in Nasdaq stocks was halted for 3 hours. Yesterday, at 1:07 PM ET, the NYSE SIP broke but trading was allowed to continue until the backup facility was put on line. ?Apparently, the NYSE didn’t think it was necessary to halt trading in their listed stocks... despite customers not receiving accurate pricing.
Could we have imagined anything more far-fetched and unlikely as this practice by the SEC itself? We’ll answer this question. No.
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).