US Treasury Warns Investors Underestimate "Potential For A Market Reversal", Take "Low Volatility For Granted"Submitted by Tyler Durden on 12/04/2014 13:26 -0500
"Investors may have taken low volatility for granted and underestimated the potential for a reversal. While quantitative easing policies are intended to encourage investors to buy risky assets, there is also a risk that the perceived reversal of such policies will lead investors to turn the other way, triggering market instability.... Similarly, investors may have become too sanguine about the availability of market liquidity — the ability to transact in size without having a significant impact on price — during both good times and bad. Accommodative global monetary policy, coupled with the Federal Reserve’s purchases of large amounts of low-risk assets and changes in risk sentiment, helped to compress volatility and risk premiums. "
While VIX pumped-and-dumped (in a manner never seen before in its history), 'real' volatility of the day to day moves across the major stock indices remains extremely elevated. For the Nasdaq and Dow Transports, the average true range over the last few weeks is the highest since the post-Lehman collapse...
"If you like your broken markets," it would appear you can keep them... but this time in bond futures. June 2015 30Y Futures prices are surging today (up a stunningly fat-finger-esque 7.4% (or 10 points)). This, however, is being traded... there is volume being exchanged... and at 151-19/32, it implies 30Y Bond yields will be below 2.4% by the middle of next year (from 2.99% today).
"The HFT Act will add the following clarification to the rules specifying the prohibition of market abuse: The placing of purchase or sale orders to a market by means of a computer algorithm which automatically determines the parameters of the order could be considered market abuse provided the placing of orders occurs without a trading intention, but (a) to disrupt or delay the functioning of the trading system, (b) to make it more difficult for a third party to identify genuine purchase or sale orders in the trading system, or (c) to create a false or misleading signal about the supply of or demand for a financial instrument."
As regular readers are well aware, when it comes to "more than arms length" equity market intervention in New Normal markets, the New York Fed's preferred "intermediary" of choice to, how should one say, boost investor sentiment aka "protect from a plunge", is none other than Chicago HFT powerhouse, Citadel. Yet one question had remained unanswered: just how does Citadel manipulated stocks? We now know the answer, and perhaps more importantly, it also links in to the true culprit behind the May 2010 Flash Crash, no not Waddell & Reed, but quote stuffing. Most importantly, the revelation that for Citadel quote stuffing is not just some byproduct of some "innocuous" HFT strategy, is that none other than the Nasdaq has now stated on the record, that the most leveraged hedge fund (at 9x regulatory to net assets), and the third largest after Bridgewater and Millennium, used quote stuffing as a "trading strategy."
The person in charge of navigating the "transition" from the old fixing mechanism, of which he was part as recently as April, was a person who was, drumroll, supervising said transition. Surely, his "consulting" was fair and impartial. Naturally, Mr. Spall is no longer at gold-rigging Barclays, a bank which is for all intents and purposes, falling apart but at GCubed Consultants: enjoy perusing the company at the following link.Said another way, one of the Barclays guys who was accountable in the Gold Market Fixing Company for the price manipulation of his trader (the infamous Daniel Plunkett) is then rewarded by the LBMA to conduct an independent review of the applicants to run the Silver fix!
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Committees, investigations, concerns... but no actions. The SEC's Mary White spoke about market micro-structure this morning but mereley asked a lot of questions - as opposed to answered any. Two things she did mention of note: increased transpraceny for dark pools and internalizers; and forcing more high-frequency traders (and prop shops) to register as broker-dealers (and thus come under closer regulatory scrutiny). However, by the time any of this becomes 'law', we suspect the lobbyists will have created loopholes the size of Draghi's ego for HFTs to walk through. As WSJ reports, the SEC's enforcement division is investigating whether some high-speed traders are using order types - commands exchanges provide that determine how traders' buy and sell orders will be handled - in ways that can give them an advantage over less-savvy investors. We apologize for not seeing this 'investigation' as a positive but we've been here before with every other regulator... vested interests remain strong.
How many people in the financial services industry understand how the financial system works?
We've all experienced it, we are dealing with someone who has all sorts of masters degrees, PhD's, and doesn't know the Federal Reserve is a private corporation, and even doesn't know the product their company is selling.
In the spirit of professionalism, we must keep these quotes anonymous, but certainly if you have survived long enough in Finance or read the Financial news regularly, you will not need any references because you've probably heard it before.
• the risk of runs and asset fire sales in repurchase (repo) markets;
• excessive credit risk-taking and weaker underwriting standards;
• exposure to duration risk in the event of a sudden, unanticipated rise in interest rates;
• exposure to shocks from greater risk-taking when volatility is low;
• the risk of impaired trading liquidity;
• spillovers to and from emerging markets;
• operational risk from automated trading systems, including high-frequency trading; and
• unresolved risks associated with uncertainty about the U.S. fiscal outlook.
There's a Monetary Firestorm Coming
Since 2006, there have been a total of 18, 520 crashes, mini-crashes and flash-crashes or flash freezes (we have more names than we know what to do with) since that year.
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As it turns out, just as we had suspected, the 6% move in the Chinese A-shares index, was nothing more than a CNY7 billion (just over $1 billion) fat finger in the "arbitrage system" of Everbright securities. And just what system is that - if the market is about to sell off do a smash-the-open to kill all downward momentum, and as for the losses from the trade, well there is a PBOC to foot the costs? Also, if all it takes to move a multi-trillion stock market is just a $1 billion "fat finger", imagine what $85 billion per month would do...