Prop Trading

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All That Is Broken With The US Financial System In One Chart





We have shown this chart before. We will show it again because, to nobody's surprise, nothing has changed.

 
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Is The SEC Asking These Hedge Funds Why They All Rushed Into Allergan Last Quarter?





It remains to be seen if frontrunning the general public on collusive, material, non-public information that a strategic would be about to announce a bid for Allergan is indeed "completely lawful", however we do have a question: now that the SEC is formally investigating Ackman for what may be a massive frontrunning scam, is it also looking at all the other hedge funds which reported brand new stakes (some of which also entirely in the form of calls) in Allergan in the second quarter?

 
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Two Weeks After Upgrading Stocks, Goldman Downgrades Stocks





Yesterday, in what was probably a case of moronic drivel penner's remorse, the same firm which just upgraded its S&P price target by 150 points two weeks ago, decided to... downgrade stocks. But only kinda, sorta and only for the next 3 months: Kostin is unwilling to go so far as to tell the whole truth so while he did downgrade stocks to Neutral through October, he is still Overweight equities over the next 12 months. In other words, sell in July but don't go away, and keep on buying over the next 12 months, or something. To wit: "We downgrade to neutral over 3 months as a sell-off in bonds could lead to a temporary sell-off in equities. This makes the near-term risk/ reward less attractive despite our strong conviction that equities are the best positioned asset class over 12 months, where we remain overweight."

 
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Goldman Is Baaack: Slide In Trading Volume Offset By Second Highest "Prop" Trading Revenue Since Lehman





Moments ago Goldman Sachs surprised Wall Street by trouncing expectations of a $3.09 EPS print with a beat over $1, printing at $4.10, coupled with a surge in revenue which declined from Q1's $9.3 billion by far less than consensus (Est. $7.98 billion) had expected, printing at $9.125 billion. What drove this? Clearly not a pick up in trading volumes: FICC declined 10% Y/Y and 22% from a quarter ago, while total Institutional Client Services dropped 11% Y/Y. Investment Banking did pick up modestly, up 15% from last year's $1.552 billion to $1.781 billion but this too did not explain the difference. The answer: Goldman's prop trading group is baaaaack.

 
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White House Former Chief Of Staff Joins Hedge Fund Launched By Former JPM Prop Traders





"The amount of experience he has is ridiculous," says former JPM prop trader Galuti, adding "- in a positive way," as he explains why former Clinton Commerce secretary (and Obama chief of staff) Bill Daley has joined the small Swiss-based hedge fund. The revolving door of favors continues as Daley, who The FT reports will be based in Chicago and oversee US expansion (as well as provide macroeconomic and political advice), joins an ever-growing number of former Obama administration officials to have taken jobs in the financial sector.

 
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Goodbye Blythe Masters





A week ago we wrote: 'While it has been public for a long time that i) JPM is eager to sell its physical commodities business and ii) the most likely buyer was little known Swiss-based Mercuria, there was nothing definitive released by JPM. Until moments ago, when Jamie Dimon formally announced that JPM is officially parting ways with the physical commodities business. But while contrary to previous expectations, following the sale JPM will still provide commercial gold vaulting operations around the world, it almost certainly means farewell to Blythe Masters." Sure enough:

JP MORGAN COMMODITY CHIEF BLYTHE MASTERS LEAVING, WSJ SAYS       

Farewell Blythe: we hope your replacement will be just as skilled in keeping the price of physical gold affordable for those of us who keep BTFD every single day.

 
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Double Whammy Shocker From Goldman Which Is Also Waving Goodbye To The NYSE





In what is a true double whammy of market structure stunners from Goldman over the past week, not only has the firm done an about face on HFT (we eagerly await Goldman's pardon of "HFT market manipulator" and former Goldman employee Sergey Aleynikov) and is now actively bashing the high freaks (much to the chagrin of Virtu and its pulled IPO, whose lead underwriter Goldman just happened to be), overnight it was reported that Goldman is also in the process of selling its "designated market-maker" unit to Dutch firm IMC Financial Markets to sell the trading business.

 

 
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The Stunning History Of "All Cash" Home Purchases In The US





Yesterday's news from the NAR that in February all cash transactions accounted for 35% of all existing home purchases, up from 33% in January, not to mention that 73% of speculators paid "all cash", caught some by surprise. But what this data ignores are new home purchases, where while single-family sales have been muted as expected considering the plunge in mortgage applications, multi-family unit growth - where investors hope to play the tail end of the popping rental bubble - has been stunning, and where multi-fam permits have soared to the highest since 2008. So how does the history of "all cash" home purchases in the US look before and after the arrival of the 2008 post-Lehman "New Normal." The answer is shown in the chart below.

 
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When Even Goldman Complains About HFT





For the past five years we have been complaining about the two-tiered, and broken, market resulting from the near-ubiquitous presence of HFT trading strategies, where fundamentals have been tossed into the trash, and where quote churning, packet stuffing and not to mention, momentum ignition, put on candid display just before market open today when the Emini was ramped in a vertical line straight up taking the S&P to new all time highs, have become the only trading strategies that matter. Why? Because algos were in a panic buying mode as other algos were in a panic buying mode, and so reflexively on. The SEC long ignored our complaints, even after the HFT-precipitated flash crash, which we had warned apriori would happen, in a market as broken and manipulated as the one the Fed and the algos have unleashed. This changed recently when NY AG Schneiderman finally decided to "look into things" following the release of Virtu's ridiculous prop trading profits when the firm, in its IPO prospectus, announced it had made money on 1327 of 1328 trading days. However, when even Goldman Sachs begins complaining about HFT, it may be time to fire all those 20-some year old math PhDs who devies your trading algorithms.

 
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Corporate Insiders Most Bearish In 24 Years





Just last week Goldman noted that February was "the busiest month in the buyback desk's history," so one has to wonder just what management is thinking when the Wall Street Journal reports that corporate insiders are more bearish than they have been at least since 1990. According to this adjusted measure, there have been two prior occasions when the insider ratio got almost as bearish as it is today - early 2007 and early 2011 - and the first came a half a year before the beginning of the worst bear market since the 1930s. Simply put, it seems management teams are using their company's balance sheet as their own personal piggybank.

 
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Bond Trading Grinds To A Halt: Goldman Set To Report Weakest Q1 Since 2005; Revenues Down As Much As 25% Elsewhere





Since Wall Street has been explicitly fighting the Fed (remember: the main reason there is no volume is because nobody is selling) Wall Street has once again lost, and despite its appeals, the time to pay the piper has come. Said payment will be taken out of bank Q1 earnings which as everyone knows, will continue the declining trend seen in recent years (so much for that whole Net Interest Margin fable), but to learn just how bad, we go to the FT which reports that fixed income groups across Wall Street "are set for their worst start to the year since before the financial crisis, with revenue declines of up to 25%." The punchline: "Analysts now expect Goldman Sachs to record its weakest first quarter since 2005 and JPMorgan Chase and Bank of America are forecast to see their lowest revenues since they bought Bear Stearns and Merrill Lynch, respectively, in 2008."

 
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America's Most Overvalued Companies Are...





Over the weekend we reported that even Goldman has now highlighted what has been clear to most, but certainly not the Fed, for quite some time: stocks are in such an epic bubble, with many of the key valuation metrics notably EV/sales, off the charts and at all time highs, that even Goldman's own clients are asking "When does the party end?" Goldman Sachs was kind enough to point out that while buying into undervalued stocks at this record high market junction may be a safe bet, the alternative, going long the most overvalued stocks usually ends in tears. So just what are these most overvalued stocks? To answer this question David Kostin screens for those Russell 1000 companies with the highest EV/Sales ratios, and finds 40 companies, with a ratio between 10x and 875x (median of 15x compared to the overall Russell's 2x), that fit the bill. The answer - the list of the America's most overvalued companies - is shown in the table below.

 
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"When Does The Party End?”" - Goldman Finds Revenue Multiples Have Never Been Higher





According to Goldman, the median company’s EV/sales ratio is now the highest in 35 years, surpassing even the dot com bubble.

 
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Average Pay Of Goldman Banker Rises To $383,374 On Expectations Beat Despite Plunge In Order Flow





Yesterday Bank of America beat thanks to (among other things) ye olde "plunge in the effective tax rate" gimmick which let it beat EPS by two cents instead of missing by three. Today it was Goldman's turn to "beat" lowered EPS expectations of $4.18, posting a substantial beat of $4.60. So did Goldman also fudge its tax rate? Not exactly: instead, what Goldman did was to reduce its compensation benefits from $2.4 billion to $2.2 billion, which meant the firm's compensation margin declined from 35.2% to a tiny 24.9% of revenue. Had Goldman kept the comp margin flat it would have missed EPS by about 50 cents. However, unlike the other "banks" Goldman at least did post a notable beat in GAAP revenues (it was reluctant to use a non-GAAP top line, hear that Jamie?) as well, with Q4 sales rising from $6.7 billion in Q3 to $8.8 billion, on expectations of $7.8 billion. However, compared to a year ago, the top line was 5% lower, while Net Income of $4.60 was 21% lower than a year earlier.

 
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