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.
The whole situation is very reminiscent of the computer trading, which led to the 1987 Crash.
No Yen carry levitation overnight and, naturally, no Spoo levitation, with the futures struggling following the Nikkei's -1.7% drubbing (pushing it back to nearly -10% on the year) and down well from Friday's closing print. Risk averse sentiment following on from lower close on Wall Street on Friday, NASDAQ 100 (-2.7%) marked the worst session since 2011 dominated the price action in Asia, with JGBs up 32 ticks and the Nikkei 225 index (-1.7%). The Shanghai Composite was closed for a market holiday. Overall, stocks in Europe have recovered off lows but remain in negative territory (Eurostoxx50 -0.64%), with tech sector under performing in a continuation of sector weakness seen in the US and Asia, however Bunds remained under pressure as speculation of QE by ECB continued to undermine demand for core EU bonds. No major tier 1 releases scheduled for rest of the session, with focus likely turning to any policy related comments from ECB’s Weidmann, Constancio and Fed’s Bullard.
In a further demonstration of the socially destructive and ever widening gap between the haves and have nots, we see that the affluent are buying second homes at an ever increasing clip (up 30% last year), while first home buyers recede into the abyss as private equity and Chinese buyers make purchasing a home unaffordable for the average American. Specifically, a recent study from Zillow showed that more than half the homes in seven major American cities are unaffordable based on historical standards.
China is coming under close scrutiny these days, as the leadership scurries to find new sources of economic growth and control its debt. Some analysts have reassured China watchers that the Chinese government can simply write off its bad debt, at least within the major banks, and pass it on to the asset management companies that handle that resale of distressed debt (or have it later purchased by the Ministry of Finance). Others have warned that some of the debt is serious, such as that incurred by local government financing vehicles, and are dubious about the sustainability of these entities. To worry or unwind? How much debt can China really absorb?
On the heels of Russia's potential "holy grail" gas deal with China, the news of a Russia-Iran oil "barter" deal, it appears the US is starting to get very concerned about its almighty Petrodollar:
U.S. HAS WARNED RUSSIA, IRAN AGAINST POSSIBLE OIL BARTER DEAL; U.S. SAYS ANY SUCH DEAL WOULD TRIGGER SANCTIONS; U.S. HAS CONVEYED CONCERNS TO IRANIAN GOVT THROUGH ALL CHANNELS.
We suspect these sanctions would have more teeth than some travel bans, but, as we noted previously, it is just as likely to be another epic geopolitical debacle resulting from what was originally intended to be a demonstration of strength and instead is rapidly turning out into a terminal confirmation of weakness.
As Daniel Kay Hertz explains, the goal of these maps is not merely to depress you (you’re welcome!), but to suggest just how dramatically the reality of Chicago’s “two cities” has changed over the last few generations, how non-eternal its present state is, and that a happier alternate reality isn’t just possible, but actually existed relatively recently.
According to stunning new numbers just released by the federal government, that we detailed yesterday, nine of the top ten most commonly held jobs in the United States pay an average wage of less than $35,000 a year. When you break that down, that means that most of these workers are making less than $3,000 a month before taxes. And once you consider how we are being taxed into oblivion, things become even more frightening. Can you pay a mortgage and support a family on just a couple grand a month? Of course not. In the old days, a single income would enable a family to live a very comfortable middle class lifestyle in most cases. But now those days are long gone.
It is now quite clear why BATS CEO Bill O'Brien was so agitated during the Tuesday's screamfest on CNBC. As The Wall Street Journal's Scott Patterson reports, under pressure from the NYAG, BATS has hurriedly issued a statement correcting the CEO's false comments during the exchange with IEX's Brad Katsuyama. After Katsuyama said "you wanna do this, let's do this" clearly giving him an out, O'Brien stated that BATS priced its trades off 'high-speed' data feeds when in fact they price their trades off a much slower feed (and therefore 'enable' the exact HFT-front-running that is in question).
High Frequency Trading (HFT) covers such a broad swathe of 'trading' and financial markets that Mark Cuban (yes, that Mark Cuban), who has been among the leading anti-HFT graft voices in the public realm, decided to put finger-to-keyboard to create an "idiots guide to HFT" as a starting point for broad discussion. With screens full of desperate "stocks aren't rigged" HFT defenders seemingly most confused about what HFT is and does, perhaps instead of 'idiots' a better term would be "practitioners."
Japanese stocks have been bouncing back higher in the last few days as considerably worse data than expected combined with the looming consumption tax hike (which the government has to do to show the market that is, at a minimum, somewhat fiscally responsible) are driving both stocks and JPY to discount a near future dominated by an even bigger stimulus by the BoJ. However, casting a big shadow over all this is what happened the last time Japan raised its consumption tax...
As the Ukrainian crisis festers and other dangers in the Pacific and the Mideast grow, an odd consensus among alternative analysts is taking hold — namely the belief that President Vladimir Putin and Russia represent some kind of opposition to globalization and the rule of corporate financiers. Perhaps moments in Putin’s rhetoric have seduced elements of the Liberty Movement into assuming that Russia is a “victim” in the grand schemes of Western oligarchy and that Russia is truly the "white knight", the underdog willing to stand up against the New World Order. We're sorry to say that nothing could be further from the truth. Russia is just as much a tool of the global elite today as it was after the Bolshevik Revolution, and Vladimir Putin is just as much a socialist puppet as Barack Obama.
The Single Most Important Issue For the Power Elite In China… And What It Means For the Global EconomySubmitted by Phoenix Capital Research on 04/02/2014 23:13 -0400
The reason for the economic gimmicking pertains the political perspective of China’s economic data. As a communist regime, China’s government has one focus and one focus only. It’s not economic growth for growth’s sake, nor is it improving the quality of life for China’s population...
If The West really wants to 'win', turning Russian public opinion against Vladimir Putin should be the goal. Here’s how to do it.
You’ve probably heard about the recent leaked conversations involving Turkey. It was stunning to hear the highest-ranking Turks casually discussing how to provoke a false flag incident that would justify a large military intervention in Syria. This is a big deal because Turkish troops in Syria opens the door to NATO troops in Syria, which drastically expands the conflict. In case you didn’t know, a false flag is an incident that is designed to deceive people into thinking it was actually carried out by someone else. The same tactic is used by the world’s militaries and intelligence services to nefarious effect. Many believe the Reichstag fire incident that allowed Hitler to drastically expand his power was a false flag operation. So, why would the Turks propose doing such a thing in Syria?