Remember the look on one's face when one hears there is no Santa Claus, or tooth fairy? That, more or less, is what the visage on everyone's favorite CNBC anchors Becky Quick, Joe Kernen and Andrew Ross Sorkin was, when Chris Whalen matter of fact (because it is a fact) let a rare glimpse of reality on the NBC Universal distraction and entertainment show, when he said "There is no Chinese Wall. Please. Come on. This is Wall Street." Awkward silence follows. And why not: if the banks officially call frontrunning an "Asymmetric Information Initiative" to mask the simple illegality from the idiot regulators, why not call a spade a spade, and expose one more aspect of the lies and crime that is shoved down investors' throats every single day.
Yet once again, this is certainly not news. From January 2011:
Merrill Gets $10 Million Fee For Commingling Prop And Flow Traders And Frontrunning Clients
Ever since Zero Hedge's advent just over two years ago, one of the most improper things we claimed happened routinely on Wall Street, was that the big banks' prop traders would consistently, and completely against regulations, populate their massive trading floors with both flow and prop traders, who often sat side by side, within earshot and front run the big clients' orders. Some may recall that point #8 of our follow up query to Goldman's Lucas van Praag in December 2009 was precisely a request to get the seating chart together with assigned responsibilities of all Goldman traders. To wit: "we are still hoping to get a seating chart of Goldman's trading floor (via legitimate channels) which clearly discloses flow and prop traders' seats in order to disclose to the general public that flow and prop traders do not share the same information flow, especially that emanating from core clients who tend to move markets the second they announce their trading axes to Goldman's flow traders." The reason we bring it up is that once again we seem to have been just a year ahead of the curve. In a just announced settlement, the SEC has fined Merrill, and supposedly its insolvent Bank of Calcutta taxpayer funded holdco, $10 million for doing precisely this! From Bloomberg: "The SEC found that Merrill operated a proprietary trading desk from 2003 to 2005 on the firm’s main equity-trading floor in New York, where market makers received and executed customer orders. While Merrill told clients their order information would be used on a need-to-know basis, proprietary traders got information and used it to place trades on Merrill’s behalf after executing the customer orders, according to the statement"...... So... does everyone finally understand how Goldman's (et al) prop group has no trading loss day (at near 50% margins) every single day year after year now?
Fast forward to 9:30 into the clip below.