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Whack-A-Mole Algo Is Back

Tyler Durden's picture




 

It feels like it was just yesterday that the Whack-A-Mole algo in Earthlink was wreaking NBBO havoc (completely unsupervised mind you: it is not like anyone would expect the SEC to move its little finger to address this glaring Reg NMS 'outlier'). Wait, it was... Which probably explains why the very same algo is back in the very same name, at the very same time.

From Nanex:

Ladies and Gentlemen, who wants to play Whac-A-Mole today?

Yesterday (Aug 2'nd, 2011) we reported on the wild "Whac-A-Mole" algorithm. It appears it was not an isolated event as whac-a-mole was again spotted running in ELNK right after regular trading closed at 16:00.

ELNK - EARTHLINK

Price Only:

Price and Size:

Scatter plot of trades only (Price and Size):

Zoom in of price and size activity:

 

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Wed, 08/03/2011 - 17:06 | 1522020 Rodent Freikorps
Rodent Freikorps's picture

Someone really needs to get this guy a couch in his office. Secretary must be bucking for a raise.

Wed, 08/03/2011 - 17:38 | 1522108 zorba THE GREEK
zorba THE GREEK's picture

The last chart looks like Atari Space Invaders game.

Wed, 08/03/2011 - 17:41 | 1522115 Rodent Freikorps
Rodent Freikorps's picture

I was thinking Missle Command.

Wed, 08/03/2011 - 18:26 | 1522218 Hobbleknee
Hobbleknee's picture

The color palette is clearly Centipede.

Wed, 08/03/2011 - 23:59 | 1522915 floydian slip
floydian slip's picture

Its so obvious.

The top one spells out MOWTOWN

Detroit bitches!

Wed, 08/03/2011 - 17:38 | 1522109 slaughterer
slaughterer's picture

Here are the AH fills for Earthlink (I  not think anybody is getting rich from this):

 
16:00  $ 7.88 100 16:00  $ 7.89 500 16:00  $ 7.89 200 16:00  $ 7.89 700 16:00  $ 7.89 1,400 16:00  $ 7.89 1,400 16:00  $ 7.89 300 16:00  $ 7.88 200 16:00  $ 7.88 200 16:00  $ 8.03 200 16:00  $ 8.03 200 16:00  $ 8.03 200 16:00  $ 8.03 400 16:00  $ 8.03 200 16:00  $ 8.03 600 16:00  $ 8.03 600 16:00  $ 8.04 100 16:00  $ 8.05 1,000 16:00  $ 8.04 600 16:00  $ 8.04 600 16:00  $ 8.04 200 16:00  $ 8.04 400 16:00  $ 8.04 1,400 16:00  $ 8.04 1,000 16:00  $ 8.04 100 16:00  $ 8.04 1,400 16:00  $ 8.04 100 16:00  $ 7.99 1,000 16:00  $ 7.98 1,100

Read more: http://www.nasdaq.com/aspxcontent/ExtendedTradingTrades.aspx?selected=ELNK&mkttype=after#ixzz1U0KBrvQb

 

Wed, 08/03/2011 - 17:50 | 1522137 Raynja
Raynja's picture

7.88 to 8.05 is a 2.157% move in price in less than a minute.

some leverage and knowledge of where the price is headed and i think someone is getting extremely rich.

Wed, 08/03/2011 - 18:02 | 1522158 phungus_mungus
phungus_mungus's picture

Agreed...

Wed, 08/03/2011 - 18:31 | 1522234 slaughterer
slaughterer's picture

OK, so everybody on ZH set limit orders AH on Earthlink tomorrow, +/- 2% from the closing price.  + = sell, - = buy.  And lets see how much $$$ our whack-a-mole HFT whacks over to us.   C'mon, put this website to use!

Wed, 08/03/2011 - 20:07 | 1522414 Stares straight...
Stares straight ahead's picture

That wouldn't work.  The algo would harvest the profits as it sold the -2%limit holders to the +2% limit holders.  If we did what you suggest, we would be setting up more dominoes for the W-A-M algo to knock down.

Now, go give your gregarious secretary a raise, get a couch placed in your office, and leave the sheeple alone.  ; )

Wed, 08/03/2011 - 20:10 | 1522429 karzai_luver
karzai_luver's picture

that's gonna leave a mark....OUCH!!!!!!!!!

 

Wed, 08/03/2011 - 20:48 | 1522486 Stares straight...
Stares straight ahead's picture

Actually, i apologize. I misunderstood his point and spoke too quickly. It might be a good idea and i was hoping to see some more ideas on how one might profit during these "raids."

However, I suspect the algo would be flooding the market with so much noise, that the theoretical ZH limit placers would not get their trades executed.  I have seen where a limit placed (in a scottrade account), should have been executed during a flash crash, but it didn't execute. I supposed this to be the reason.  My slow-ass scottrade account was not even in the market place while this algo was zipping it up.

One would have to place a lot of trades for it to result in a good profit.  What if only one side of the trades got activated? 

Would fees for the trade eat up the pennies profit?

 

 

 

 

Thu, 08/04/2011 - 20:26 | 1525132 Tunga
Tunga's picture

Ha Ha! Good one Stares straight...

 You assume that there are actually humans running this website! Tunga not only naieve human on this planet!

 

Thu, 08/04/2011 - 21:58 | 1525347 Stares straight...
Stares straight ahead's picture

Whispers,  "....reptilians??"

Wed, 08/03/2011 - 21:18 | 1522563 johngaltier
johngaltier's picture

Seriously doubt they are making money on the actual price movement. Too risky. The algo does not have the security cornered. Any other trader is free to come in and role some marbles in front of Citadel, DE Shaw, Renaissance, whoever the quant is thats picking up the pennies. Easy way to get hit by a steamroller.

Wed, 08/03/2011 - 21:15 | 1522547 Left Right Wrong
Left Right Wrong's picture

Sorry to hijack, but can someone please explain this in layman's terms?  I get it that there is some awesome technicolor manipulation going on, but I'd appreciate someone with knowledge walking me through the process of flooding fake bids/asks at different prices, what it means, and how it equals profit.

Wed, 08/03/2011 - 23:29 | 1522847 mason5566
mason5566's picture

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Wed, 08/03/2011 - 17:06 | 1522021 papaswamp
papaswamp's picture

Whack-a-bitchez!

Wed, 08/03/2011 - 17:44 | 1522126 spiral_eyes
spiral_eyes's picture

whack-a-bernanke

Wed, 08/03/2011 - 17:09 | 1522031 Jambo Mambo Bill
Jambo Mambo Bill's picture

looks complicated...

Wed, 08/03/2011 - 17:12 | 1522037 Doubleguns
Doubleguns's picture

Remember its hump day. The market was going to screw someone, guess it was earth link.

Wed, 08/03/2011 - 17:17 | 1522039 Sudden Debt
Wed, 08/03/2011 - 17:16 | 1522048 fishface
fishface's picture

someone needs to hack into this computer and put everything for sale for a penny

 

 

Wed, 08/03/2011 - 17:21 | 1522055 Zero Govt
Zero Govt's picture

Very colourful ...it's like a technicolour yawn (someone puked on the screen?) ...i'm sure private investors will be flooding back to the markets real soon

...meanwhile gather round for the big one coming in 3... 2... 1...

Wed, 08/03/2011 - 17:21 | 1522056 lovesmoney
lovesmoney's picture

this is insane. 

Wed, 08/03/2011 - 17:24 | 1522065 Zero Govt
Zero Govt's picture

no it's a lack of inner consciousness ...a brain dead computer ...think pre-designed intelligence, like a toilet flush mechanism, it doesn't question when its flushed

Wed, 08/03/2011 - 17:40 | 1522113 Oh regional Indian
Oh regional Indian's picture

Nice Zero G.

In-sensate! Whack whack whack, no pain all gain.

ORI

http://aadivaahan.wordpress.com/2011/07/30/pre-cursor-01/

Wed, 08/03/2011 - 20:50 | 1522488 tekhneek
tekhneek's picture

I'd be pretty good at making money too if I bought what I sold and sold what I bought using an algorithm for bid/ask placement and monetization or... the actual transaction.

Can someone honestly explain this?

Is it like 1 account takes a 1% loss while another highly leveraged account makes a 3% gain and then puts 1% of that back into the account and starts all over... that kinda thing? I find this awesomely confusing.

(Maybe I'm just ignorant... probably/actually/yeah/tradition ignorant.)

Wed, 08/03/2011 - 21:11 | 1522536 johngaltier
johngaltier's picture

There are plenty of synthetic instruments out there that can give exposure to a name with no ownership required, not the least of which is a total return swap.

Probably not the case here though. whoever the trader was probably made some money on a volatility bet. Make price swings so wild, you are the only one brave enough to trade. Jiggle the volatility until desired level is achieved and leave the price more or less where you found it. I think the key would be to have the price swings stay in a narrow band as not to trigger any limit orders or short coverings. Manufactured volatility without a loss on your account. Pretty sweet.

Not a professional so take with a grain of salt. Or a spoon full of sugar, whichever you prefer.

 

Wed, 08/03/2011 - 17:22 | 1522060 gorillaonyourback
gorillaonyourback's picture

best way to beat these hft algos is go straight to the company and buy it there, by pass wall street

Wed, 08/03/2011 - 17:24 | 1522067 gorillaonyourback
gorillaonyourback's picture

I really believe over there next few years if the dow is still around more and more people will demand buying stock from the company itself

Wed, 08/03/2011 - 17:26 | 1522074 Johnny Lawrence
Johnny Lawrence's picture

OT: The ruthless attacks on the Tea Party are insane.  MSNBC just had on some pyschologist who specializes in addiction, and asked him if the Tea Party basically suffers from mental illness.

God forbid we do something to break up this ridiculous 2-party, Wall-Street assbanging political system.

Wed, 08/03/2011 - 17:29 | 1522081 JW n FL
JW n FL's picture
The billionaire Koch brothers: Tea Party puppetmasters? The New Yorker makes a case that a pair of wealthy brothers is the force behind the Tea Party movement. Here, 5 key assertions from a new article

http://theweek.com/article/index/206405/the-billionaire-koch-brothers-tea-party-puppetmasters

Wed, 08/03/2011 - 21:24 | 1522124 Rodent Freikorps
Rodent Freikorps's picture

So Soros and the Chinese have some competition?

How horrific.

Y'all trying to Alinsky the Koch brothers does not make me dislike them. I makes me think they are f'king heros.

Wed, 08/03/2011 - 20:00 | 1522400 muckraker
muckraker's picture

Why would you "junk"/red arrow this post? One would think that ZHers of all people would be willing to follow corporate money, which includes the financing of the TP by the Koch Brothers. Americans for Prosperity or FreedomWorks ring any bells for anyone? Or are you naive enough to believe that the TP is really a grassroots movement? There are chumps on both sides of the political spectrum. Please keep this in mind at all times.

Wed, 08/03/2011 - 20:14 | 1522430 karzai_luver
karzai_luver's picture

why, because either the dude that posted the junked mess above is clueless or a party shill.

 

junk well deserved.

 

Wed, 08/03/2011 - 18:49 | 1522239 gwar5
gwar5's picture

.

 

It shows you who TPTB fear most -- Constitutional rule of law, fiscal conservatives -- those rebels!

The MSM is going down with Obama, they just can't help themselves. They become more pravda, and Soviet-like, everyday. It's no accident they're calling little old lady TPs radicals, they're trying business branding techniques to inject the meme. But the MSM also has a huge vested interest because they want $60 billion/yr taxpayer subsidies to spout the party line on the all major channels and NYTs, and can't do it if Valdimort isn't reelected and makes good.

The old Soviet tactic was also to discredit the opposition in the USSR by declaring them "mentally ill" or insufficient in some way. Anyone who didn't agree with marxist ideology was, by definition, a mentally ill apostate to marxist "truth". They sent people to those "re-education camps" to get their minds straight with immersion in marxist ideology until they capitulated.  Gulags were the next level threat if your actions could be deemed criminal or an outright threat to the status quo. China did the same thing. Our reeducation camps are the MSM with marxist product placements everywhere.  

Alexandr Solzhenitsyn: "The worst part about living under communism was living a lie".

 

A Cuban-America women describes what it was like as a little girl in Castro's Cuba:

"I remember I was 5 years old in the first grade, and everyday the teacher would tell us close our eyes and put our heads down on the desk.

Then she would tell us to pray like that to God for a piece of candy. Then she would tell us to open our eyes and look up. There would be no candy.

Then she would tell us to close our eyes and put our heads back down and pray to Fidel Castro for a piece of candy.

When she would finally tell us to open our eyes and look up, there would be a piece of candy on our desks.

That is what is what like to be a little girl in Fidel's Cuba."

 

Sarah Palin actually had a good one: "If the Tea Party was really a terrorist organization Obama would want to pal around with them."

 

 

Wed, 08/03/2011 - 20:57 | 1522508 Bastiat
Bastiat's picture

In either case it was bullshit, wasn't it?

Wed, 08/03/2011 - 17:27 | 1522077 JW n FL
JW n FL's picture

It is hard to do Gods Work and Never have a losing trading day!

Wed, 08/03/2011 - 17:38 | 1522107 bob_dabolina
bob_dabolina's picture

Show me an algo that can lick my taint and you have an investor.

Wed, 08/03/2011 - 17:39 | 1522110 Oh regional Indian
Wed, 08/03/2011 - 17:46 | 1522130 buzzsaw99
buzzsaw99's picture

it takes two to tango or maybe it is an[sic] masturbatory algo? it's not like the sec cares.

Wed, 08/03/2011 - 17:56 | 1522135 bbq on whitehou...
bbq on whitehouse lawn's picture

One should remember that computers only do what their

swiches tell them to.

Sooner or later speed will no longer work and foward or push Algos will come into being. Then push will no longer work, then you will need interpretive algos  must come online; then multii-linked, then quantive phased, then muti-quantium linked forced pushed algos.

Until one day in 2025 only recombinative reversed phased algos start to form and with them. Human thought, emotion and judgement.

With only computers choosing investments and positions in hyper-fractions of seconds. You will find nothing in the space of either a bid or ask. They will only exist in the ephemeral nature of computer process.

Its not a bad thing these HFTs only a loss of human priceing.

As much as your mourn the death of human expression. These computer algos are the next stupid thing in human thought.

Its worth to step back and acknowlage the greatness of such... stupid.  Stand in awe of it.

All these computer programes thinking and acting for humans.

Horrific and wonderful.

 

 

 

Wed, 08/03/2011 - 20:08 | 1522424 ToddGak
ToddGak's picture

Used to be that the Space and Defense programs drove technology forward.  Now it's high finance.  Guess that seems about right.

Wed, 08/03/2011 - 20:53 | 1522500 cougar_w
cougar_w's picture

I don't think the Financial sector is doing anything cutting-edge here. They are certainly not advancing the science. I'm with Volker on this one; the last great innovation from the banking sector was the ATM.

The algo thing is interesting but just an application of existing tools. The algos are using mathematical methods that have been around for 30 years. The actual trading code is probably really simple Fortran or C, just enough to wrap the math libraries in a short loop and parse the incoming market data into fields. Probably 15 lines of python, if you knew what you were doing.

Where these guys are pushing things is in the networking. They are wired for the shortest possible network latency, over the fastest path they can find. But that's not anything you cannot fix with money. It's hardware and lots of it, and then leverage to get a feed as close to the market making engines as you can.

Any good math student with a girlfriend working the IT department at one of the exchanges could run with these fuckers. $5K for a hot server build, a few weeks to code the bitch up, and then your GF drops it in the rack with a "don't ask me" look on her face if anyone notices. Probably happens every day.

Someone should make a movie. Yeah, I have the concept script right here.

Wed, 08/03/2011 - 21:12 | 1522541 fuu
fuu's picture

"Used to be that the Space and Defense programs drove technology forward.  Now it's high finance.  Guess that seems about right."

 

It was called the military industrial complex to keep the banks out of the limelight. It takes money/resources to build a military with industry.

Wed, 08/03/2011 - 22:23 | 1522697 Tunga
Tunga's picture

Total downer man.

Wed, 08/03/2011 - 23:46 | 1522900 HarryHaller
HarryHaller's picture

...and they shall call it NEUROMANCER.

Wed, 08/03/2011 - 17:55 | 1522148 jo6pac
jo6pac's picture

Where is the govt. ws is the govt. and can moniter themselves.

Wed, 08/03/2011 - 18:01 | 1522155 moofph
moofph's picture

...they've taken the "pre-crime" mentality and are applying i to electronic droids as a sort of "pre-investment" algo-mole.

Wed, 08/03/2011 - 18:16 | 1522188 bbq on whitehou...
bbq on whitehouse lawn's picture

Not yet, give it 15 years and you will not want to be correct. Even now the math works its just not needed.

Its also way, to expesive and not nearly fast enough to even play working. In 10-15 years yes now no.

Crazy, stupid and accorate.  Think crossing a streat during rush hour. Can you do it? How about for a billion will you try? Yes it can be done its just knowing and forceing other actors to act against their better judgement. It can be done now. But the cost is  not worth the risk of legislation being passed to abort your inovation.

Its a big world out there and the closer you are to the acton the better...for now.

Wed, 08/03/2011 - 20:21 | 1522443 karzai_luver
karzai_luver's picture

"legislation passed to abort that action"

 

Now that is some PURE lightspeed sarc right there.

 

NoBODY can be that .............naieve.

As to your traffic point , no it's like they WANT you to cross the street but they are sure you will have to cross again and agsin and again and again.

 

 

Wed, 08/03/2011 - 18:04 | 1522156 sitenine
sitenine's picture

Price discovery at its finest. /sigh

I have never been a fan of HFT in any form for several reasons. Computers don't give a shit who they screw, obviously. Algorithms aren't looking for 'investments' either; they are simply playing the arbitrage opportunities created by other algos. The entire system is being compromised and turned over to robots that, as stated in a previous post, don't care when they flush. Small investors are disadvantaged because the faster bid will get the most equitable buy in every case, and this is nothing but legalized theft imho. But I digress, as tptb are pleased with their system, and there isn't shit we can do about it anyway.

Personally, I buy physical, and have it delivered. Whack that bitchez! sitenine 1, HFT 0

Wed, 08/03/2011 - 18:05 | 1522165 RobotTrader
RobotTrader's picture

 

 

Anyone who is a daytrader playing ES futures made an absolute fortune the last 10 trading days playing these fast moves.

It was a "clothesline move" that occurs about once a year after the market gets overbought.

Why in the world would anyone want to bat around some crummy stock like Earthlink for a few pennies???

Wed, 08/03/2011 - 18:09 | 1522175 bbq on whitehou...
bbq on whitehouse lawn's picture

No they didn't because it was on the fringe. sub-margin nothing that was used by a few sub-par lossers to collect some fringe trade.

Real money is going into gold, nothing else.

Wed, 08/03/2011 - 18:23 | 1522205 cougar_w
cougar_w's picture

FWIW, there was a similar algo working JNPR in the first half of the day, until regular volume swamped it out. But it was putting a sine-wave on volume of all things, rather than price. I wonder what that was supposed to accomplish.

But very definitly some kind of machine trade. Like a metronome. tic-toc-tic

EDIT: I wonder if that sort of thing is testing volume sensitivity? JNPR has been volitile of late, so maybe someone was attempting to time sell/buy ramps by working the volume. That's all I can think of.

Wed, 08/03/2011 - 19:19 | 1522300 Ye Ye
Ye Ye's picture

Sorry to be dense, but can somebody explain to me what this algo is attempting to do?

Wed, 08/03/2011 - 20:09 | 1522425 bbq on whitehou...
bbq on whitehouse lawn's picture

A computer program is ment to force you or (encourage you) out of the market. The program puts up false prices (quotes, bids) that arnt back by more then a smile. Then before that bid is place it is pulled. Vary vary var quick. Thats how these things price and pull and price again.

The buy side are other computers forceing the price down by placeing prices that dont exist.

Its like placeing a bid for a ticket that 1000 times a second and never ever ever meaning to buy that ticket at that price.

Other programs  seek to cause chaos by haveing multi-computer at different locations place prices and bids that never are to be priced with real money.

Its a screeming match in a WWF areana. its alll crazy, stupitd and meaingless.

Thats why so many come to ZH to see if one. The would has ended and 2 tif the markets are back to normal.

The answer is the same NO. So we sit in gold , silver and  some other  stuff. it all means the same the world has whent to shit and Tyler keep the data flowing even if none of us want to see it.

 

Wed, 08/03/2011 - 20:05 | 1522416 NumNutt
NumNutt's picture

Maybe some fund manager was railing his secretary in his office and her ass was on the keyboard? Just a theory......

Wed, 08/03/2011 - 20:23 | 1522445 bbq on whitehou...
bbq on whitehouse lawn's picture

Tayler sharp not so sharp that you will  get your daily trades right but he they do get the trends spot on.

if its trends your lookng for ZH is the place to be. Daily trends.. well ill give Tyler weekly better then any other. If you want day tradeing its dead.

As in gone no more. if you still want nano second false bids and nano second  dividend holder bid. You need to start flipping coins because that will do you  better then anything else.

Wed, 08/03/2011 - 20:49 | 1522487 chinaboy
chinaboy's picture

may be they are licensed to whack any stock they want.

Wed, 08/03/2011 - 23:53 | 1522910 Yen Cross
Yen Cross's picture

 Juniper?

Wed, 08/03/2011 - 20:51 | 1522494 FranSix
FranSix's picture

I hear the Iraqi Dinar is having momentary flash melt-ups, immediately followed by flash crashes.

Wed, 08/03/2011 - 22:05 | 1522669 Tunga
Tunga's picture

Transitory Regulation Bitchez.

 

Wed, 08/03/2011 - 23:00 | 1522783 johnnysize
johnnysize's picture

Morons use Dark Pools....Morons ship Vwaps...morons use "smart" algo's.... here's the deal...Take liquidity and walk....repeat. Market orders cant be gamed...By LAW if they are gamed we can shut HFT down overnight. You are the morons bidding dark mid quote while HFT test u and then bid in every market simultaneously....probably for rebate. If the risk in a trade is sub- penny HFT will continue to F u in the can. WHY IS THIS LEGAL? GLOB the markets NOW!!!!!!

Wed, 08/03/2011 - 23:52 | 1522908 Yen Cross
Yen Cross's picture

  BBQ I'm in the mood for some Siberian/ Panda { Goulash}

Thu, 08/04/2011 - 00:40 | 1522978 Jovil
Jovil's picture

George Carlin's words ring truer today, "They don't give a fu@k about you."

 

http://lonerangersilver.wordpress.com/2011/08/02/george-carlin-they-dont...

Thu, 08/04/2011 - 01:37 | 1523016 bakken
bakken's picture

With HTML5,  corporations would actually be able to list and sell their stocks from a very simple website.  Some other party could then take polls of the individual corporate sites and have a "Hyper" market, showing price comparisons  only, no trades.    Settlements should be made instantaneously, cash, wired from the account of a  trader.  Further trades prohibited until payment clears.  Companies could make a market or just let prices run.  My guess is that big corps would make a market and thus keep a high measure of liquidity.  There are ways to controi "FLASH CRASH" incidents, actually many ways.

If companies wish to let HFTs churn their stocks,  that might be a self limiting exercise.

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