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."
This is what happens when Central Banks attempt to control the economy.
Remember that persistent seller of epic and oddly periodic amounts of gold futures contracts, whose dumps have resulted in two NYMEX "stop logic" shutdowns in the past month alone, and whose daily tape bombing is now watched carefully by all (even the CFTC's Bart Chilton who can rejoice - the CFTC is now open and he can go back to "supervising" the market and stuff)? Well, he is mysteriously absent this morning, as gold (which is now back in backwardation for the second day in a row) soars by $50 from $1275 to $1320 in the matter of minutes, showing just how furious the short covering spreed in the gold space can and will be when it becomes clear just how right Dagong was. The next such instance of clarity we expect will take place in December, early January when the farce repeats itself.
European equities trade negatively as political tensions on both sides of the Atlantic dampens risk appetite and a lower than expected HSBC manufacturing PMI figure from China further weighs upon investor sentiment. In the US, government is on the precipice of the first shutdown since 1996 after House Republicans refused to pass a budget unless it involved a delay to Obama’s signature healthcare reforms. If the Republicans follow through with their threat a shutdown will occur at midnight tonight. As a result a fixed income in the US and core Europe benefit with investors wary of the immediate harm a shutdown will do to confidence in the economy.
The present picture for the oil price looks increasingly bullish once more. Citi asks, is this a replay of the dynamics seen in the 1970’s? We hope not... but the feedback loop (from oil prices) to the economy and markets is undeniable...
“… gold is the hard currency of choice, and we expect for this trend to accelerate going forward. We still believe that in the next couple of years we will be looking at a gold price of around $US3,500. As the gold/silver ratio plummets near 30, this would also suggest a silver price above $US100.”
If SocGen is right in its just released oil price forecast in a "Syrian war world", then the global economy is about to undergo an apoplectic shock the likes of which have not been seen since the summer of 2008, when Lehman brothers had to be taken under to generate the deflationary shock sending crude from $130 to $30 in the matter of days. The French bank's forecast in a nutshell: "Base case scenario: $125 for Brent. We believe that in the coming days, Brent could gain another $5-10, surging to $120-$125, either in anticipation of the attack or in reaction to the headlines that an attack had started. In our base case, we assume an attack begins in the next week. Upside scenario: $150 for Brent If the regional spill over results in a significant supply disruption in Iraq or elsewhere (from 0.5 – 2.0 Mb/d), Brent could spike briefly to $150." And if indeed 2008 is coming back with a vengeance, the next question is who will be this year's unlucky Lehman Brothers?
Last week it was the Nasdaq, today it was the Eurex Exchange, which broke down "due to technical issues" shortly after 2 am Eastern and which was offline for over an hour. Further keeping a lid on liquidity and upward momentum is today's UK market holiday which has resulted in a driftless move lower across European stocks, following a red close in the Nikkei225. It only means that the inevitable ramp up in the disconnected from all fundamentals and reality market will have to come only during US trading hours when the NY Fed trading desk steps up its POMO-aided levitation.
On the surface, there is nothing spectacular about the weekend news that JPMorgan is seeking to sell its 1 Chase Manhattan Plaza office building. After all, the former headquarters of Chase Manhattan Bank, located deep in the heart of the financial district and which was built by its then chairman David Rockefeller, is a remnant to another time - a time when banking was about providing loans, not about managing and trading assets which has become the realm of Midtown New York, and since JPM already has extensive Midtown exposure with its offices at 270, 270 and 245 Park, the 1 CMP building always stood out as a bit of a sore thumb. Of course, as Zero Hedge readers first learned, the big surprise is literally below the surface, some 90 feet below street level to be exact, where the formerly secret JPM gold vault is located, which also happens to be the biggest commercial gold vault in the world.
If the physical gold market is anywhere near as tight as these two market observers indicate, get ready for some serious fireworks in the precious metals markets... "After this drop [in price] we have 90 days order logbook. So we cannot fill the demand we have at this stage."
Greed; corporate arrogance; lobbying influence; excessive leverage; accounting tricks to hide debt; lack of transparency; off balance sheet obligations; mark to market accounting; short-term focus on profit to drive compensation; failure of corporate governance; as well as auditors, analysts, rating agencies and regulators who were either lax, ignorant or complicit. This laundry list of causes has often been used to describe what went wrong in the credit crunch crisis of 2008-2010. Actually these terms were equally used to describe what went wrong with Enron more than twenty years ago. Both crises resulted in what at the time was the biggest bankruptcy in U.S. history — Enron in December 2001 and Lehman Brothers in September 2008. Naturally, this leads to the question that despite all the righteous indignation in the wake of Enron's failure did we really learn or change anything?
Lately, the parasitic, price manipulative "Office Space"-inspired HFT practice known as "spoofing" has been consistently in the news: a week ago, it was the third largest futures broker, Newedge, who made headlines following a "record" FINRA handslap. Then yesterday, a Red Bank, NJ-based HFT shop called Panther Energy Trading, and its sole owner Michael Coscia were fined $4.5 million and got a 1 year ban from the industry for engaging in the same activity. "Panther, based in Red Bank, New Jersey, and Coscia used a computer algorithm that placed and quickly canceled bids and offers in futures contracts for commodities including oil, metals, interest rates and foreign currencies. Panther and Coscia engaged in spoofing from August 8, 2011, to October 18, 2011, related to 18 futures contracts. The firm accumulated $1.4 million in profits by using the algorithm." While none of this is fundamentally new to any of our readers, we are happy to report that in conjunction with Nanex, we can now present documentary evidence of the Panther algo in action.
Mortgage rates surging, check! Oil prices surging, check! Consumer Confidence surging, check? Equities surging, check? A funny thing happens when consumers face higher energy prices and mortgage rates - but, it seems, that this time is different (for now)...
In testimony yesterday on Capitol Hill before the Senate Banking Committee, Federal Reserve Chairman Bernanke remarked:
“Gold is an unusual asset. It's an asset that people hold as disaster insurance. A lot of people hold gold as an inflation hedge. But movements of gold prices don't predict inflation very well, actually. But anyway, the perception is that by holding gold you have a hard asset that will protect you in case of some kind of major problem.
But Phil's shorting oil - betting against a crime scene.