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This Is What Happens When An HFT Algo Goes Totally Berserk And Serves Knight Capital With The Bill

Tyler Durden's picture


We all know something went horribly wrong in various NYSE-traded stocks today between 9:30 am and 10:15 am. So wrong in fact that the NYSE had to step in and cancel numerous trades in 6 symbols. However it did not DK millions of other trades in 134 other symbols, the vast majority of which we assume traded errantly due to the market making of Knight Capital (as admitted by the company), which today saw its biggest drop ever since going public on volume about 60 times greater than its average. We also all know that one should buy low and sell high. At least that is what human traders are taught, and that is what they attempt. Because if one consistently does the opposite, one will simply run out of money. Well, the opposite is precisely what the berserk algo in Knight's Market Making group may have done if Nanex, which has done a forensic analysis of one of the trades in question, is correct. In other words, instead of at least attempting to provide liquidity via limit trades, Knight's algorithm acted as a market order... gone horribly wrong. As the third chart below shows what the algo did with furious repetition and steadfast consistency was to buy at the offer, and sell at the bid, in other words buy high and sell low. Over and over and over and over. As Nanex laconically notes, "In the case of EXC, that means losing about 15 cents on every pair of trades. Do that 40 times a second, 2400 times a minute, and you now have a system that's very efficient at burning money." Which also means that by not DK'ing several hundred million prints, the NYSE may have just thrown Knight under the bus, because the market maker is suddenly on the hook for tens if not hundreds of millions in inverse market making profits.

Here we will assume that readers are sufficiently familiar with market structure to know that market makers only participate in the market in order to collect liquidity rebates, i.e., to be the limit on the bid which is hit, or the offer which is lifted. What Knight did was effectively the opposite, and it also collected the opposite of a rebate: i.e., it paid someone else for no reason at all... well technically to withdraw liquidity. However liquidity that led to creation of losses not profits.

Naturally, when the entire logic of trading was perverted courtesy of Knight's busted algo, everything went Bizarro Day, and stocks went higher, because they went higher, and the higher they went, the greater the incentive for the algo to keep pushing the stock higher. This explains not only the volume surge, but also the shocking price moves in some stocks such as China Cord Blood which exploded several hundred percent higher before someone had to finally step in. And what is most notable is that because there were neither fat finger trades, nor busted algos that took out the entire bid or offer stack in one trade, thus triggering circuit breakers, but a slow methodical bleed, there was no reason under the current SEC order cancellation methodology to bail out Knight and its berserk algorithm.

Simply said: today may be the single worst day in Knight's market making history. And sadly, as the NYSE already noted minutes before the market close, the decision to not cancel any more trades is "not subject to appeal."

From Nanex:

What really happened, or how to lose a ton of money, fast.

What follows should strike you as crazy. If it doesn't, read it again, because it is.

The following 3 charts plot non-ISO trades (regular trade condition) reported from NYSE in the stock of Exelon Corporation (symbol EXC). By plotting and connecting only regular trades from NYSE we get a clearer picture of the nature (some might say horror) of this event.

1. EXC One second interval chart. Circles are trades, the blue coloring is the NYSE bid and ask which is mostly covered by gray lines that connect the trades.


2. Zoom of above chart showing about 27 seconds of data. Now the gray lines connecting trades are more clearly visible. NYSE's bid/ask is the blue shaded area (the bid price is the bottom of the shading, and the ask is the top).

3. Zooming in to a 1 millisecond interval chart, we can see one second of data which shows 39 trades.

Note how the trade executions ping pong from bid to ask. As if someone is buying at the offer, then 10 ms later selling at the bid, and so forth. It turns out, the gray shading you see in the first chart of EXC is from this alternating between buying and selling. That's right, almost all these trades alternate between buying at the offer and selling at the bid, which means losing the difference in price. In the case of EXC, that means losing about 15 cents on every pair of trades. Do that 40 times a second, 2400 times a minute, and you now have a system that's very efficient at burning money.


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Wed, 08/01/2012 - 17:24 | 2670312 Dr Benway
Dr Benway's picture

At least someone is looking, unlike in Australia.


Note to ASIC: AFI, ARG, SOL, DJW are all manipulated in a way that is trivial to prove.


Support algo: All trading during the day at bid, yet the bid doesn't move?

Ramping algo: For every trade at bid, a higher bid is posted. This means the buyer is trying to get the worst possible price by raising his bid even as everyone's selling, ie the opposite of normal market behaviour, and the share price rises even though every trade is at bid.

Both of these algos leave a ridiculous paper trail, and are very easy to forensically prove.


But ASIC are accomplices to the criminals and refuse to do anyhting.



Wed, 08/01/2012 - 17:38 | 2670380 Daily Bail
Daily Bail's picture

It couldn't happen to a more deserving, more corrupt market maker.

Wed, 08/01/2012 - 17:47 | 2670409 Daily Bail
Daily Bail's picture

The only way the story could get better is if we learn that Knight's Algo got hacked from the outside by some hedge fund that was exacting revenge after being raped by NITE for tens of millions thru the years.

Wed, 08/01/2012 - 18:05 | 2670450 Tippoo Sultan
Tippoo Sultan's picture

Knight -- you rapacious, Luddite bastards. And this is what living, breathing specialists have been replaced by ?

Wed, 08/01/2012 - 19:10 | 2670572 Aziz
Aziz's picture

"This is what happens when Snooki takes a lot of cocaine and exposes her vagina in public"

Wed, 08/01/2012 - 19:19 | 2670584 nmewn
nmewn's picture

Well thanks for that visual, now I need titty bar therapy to erase

Wed, 08/01/2012 - 21:50 | 2670899 IBelieveInMagic
IBelieveInMagic's picture

Knight = Feds ?

Wed, 08/01/2012 - 22:01 | 2670925 Manthong
Manthong's picture

They are all partners in fraud.

Wed, 08/01/2012 - 21:50 | 2670898 GMadScientist
GMadScientist's picture

Okay, fine, but put a new diaper on it!

Wed, 08/01/2012 - 22:22 | 2670978 CCanuck
CCanuck's picture

+1000 Best laugh of the day, cleaning another screen and keyboard.


Wed, 08/01/2012 - 22:50 | 2671039 RiverRoad
RiverRoad's picture

Why do I have the feeling that somewhere under the full moon tonight a small group of people are popping champagne corks and laughing.........?

Wed, 08/01/2012 - 19:43 | 2670608 dvfco
dvfco's picture

Daily Bail - How about - maybe you are very close (the Chinese did it). How about, the reason China Cord Blood went up several X was because (the Chinese did it) it was hacked from Guongdong and the greedy hackers were greedier than they should have been. Instead of hacking into Knight and placing trades on say, American and Israeli companies and planting the seed that the smartest Iranian did it, maybe they made a boatload of money, but knew they could double it because they were already long a native stock?

I'm probably crazy, but what I hear is that the Chinese have hacked so far through some firms that that can be done is to have the problem covered with tar paper by the NYSE and others.

Chinese hackers? No way. If that were the case, every time I checked my routers, I'd notice that ports up and down my router were being randomly pinged – all by Chinese IP addresses – or at least 95% from China, and that it happened several hundred times each day.

Oh, shit, wait - that is what I see when I review my router log.

Knight got the whack this time. More coming soon.  Looking back sometime in the future, the flash and this may become known as the straws that broke the camel's back and the timing of PIMCO’s statement might become legendary. How many investors would there be if we all knew we weren't just getting hosed by our brokers, who had the list of all the limit orders in front of them and all other GTC trades, but that the Chinese were hacking these guys? It's more rigged than a Macao casino!!!

We're FUCKED! (Oh yeah - let's give those Chinese kids scholarships to MIT - that should help us. Let's sell Lenovo to them - they probably couldn't learn anything from owning the original IBM computer company. Let's give them all our plans because they can build everything at 1/10th the cost - they won't fuck us in the end.)

Why do deals with the Chinese all seem like the first deal street kids do with drug dealers?

Can you say “Flash Crash” - No , you say – “Frash Crash”. BITCHZ!

We get this for making fun of girl’s world record in swimming.  She went to BALCO!!!


Wed, 08/01/2012 - 20:15 | 2670706 sunaJ
sunaJ's picture

Fortune in browser cookie reads:

Steal from thief, he no can go to police.

Wed, 08/01/2012 - 20:32 | 2670746 DeadFred
DeadFred's picture

That's crazy paranoid, I love it. I also wondered the same. Of course that's not unusual for me. What I thought was that it was the morning's warning to the Fed "We told you no more QE or else and we want to remind you of what 'or else' means"- kind of like the horsehead scene in The Godfather. You know Ben want to print but he doesn't. You know the big players could have taken the market down low enough to justify printing on three or four occasions but they didn't. Blackmail is one of the possible reasons there is no QE candy. Of course it could be functional market forces that are keeping Ben from doing his job but how improbable is that?

Wed, 08/01/2012 - 21:31 | 2670853 RiverRoad
RiverRoad's picture

Looks like Hal is alive and well.

Wed, 08/01/2012 - 21:34 | 2670863 Fail2Deliver
Fail2Deliver's picture


Thu, 08/02/2012 - 02:56 | 2671268 dvfco
dvfco's picture


Thu, 08/02/2012 - 05:11 | 2671316 StandardDeviant
StandardDeviant's picture

"Never ascribe to malice that which is adequately explained by incompetence." --Napoleon Bonaparte

I have to say, ZH readers take the gold for the shortest interval between event and explanatory conspiracy theory.  Well done, sir!

Thu, 08/02/2012 - 11:30 | 2672406 spine001
spine001's picture

Your are way too innocent for this site. If they were hacked do you believe that they would tell the sheeple? NO WAY, it would be hidden like you can't imagine with the complete complicity of the US government.

Otherwise, imagine the panic it'd create worldwide if the NYSE could be affected the way it was by rogue hackers that could be sitting in Iran or China.

This type of hacking could be lot more effective weapon than any neutron bomb that couldn't possibly be used in today's world, thus making them only "capital cost" that doesn't produce anything tangible.

But the only way you'll ever find out is by seeing the USA take NO real action against IRAN or CHINA when it's obvious to all that it should. That will tell you that they have the USA by our neck.

Until next time,


Note: never expect positive proof for sensitive news, you will need to infer them from the actions of the powerfull .0001%


Wed, 08/01/2012 - 22:44 | 2671001 Michael
Michael's picture

Amazing, just like the good old Dr Ron Paul I know and love.

Ron Paul on CNBC's Closing Bell, 8/1/12

Thu, 08/02/2012 - 01:03 | 2671191 Michael
Michael's picture
Court Demands TSA Explain Why It Is Defying Nude Body Scanner Order

A federal appeals court Wednesday ordered the Transportation Security Administration to explain why it hasn’t complied with the court’s year-old decision demanding the agency hold public hearings concerning the rules and regulations pertaining to the so-called nude body scanners installed in U.S. airport security checkpoints.

The U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit’s brief order came in response to the third request by the Electronic Information Privacy Center for the court to enforce its order.

A year ago, the circuit court, in a lawsuit brought by EPIC, set aside a constitutional challenge trying to stop the government from using intrusive body scanners across U.S. airports. But the decision on July 15, 2011 also ordered TSA “to act promptly” and hold public hearings and publicly adopt rules and regulations about the scanners’ use, which it has not done.

Thu, 08/02/2012 - 01:10 | 2671193 Michael
Michael's picture

Awesome Video;

Ron Paul on Fox Business with Melissa Francis 8/1/12

Thu, 08/02/2012 - 02:29 | 2671236 Element
Element's picture


" it-covered-too-much-territory"


Surreal ... just what the fuck does THAT mean?

Are we supposed to understand something to be ever so clarified by this obfuscatory utter gob-shyte?

Or did it, intentionally make this sound like a complete load of mysterious and insane horseshit - on purpose?

Why is that an excuse or convincing rationale?  Is it merely because that's what the hapless moron came up with?

When the revolt comes, the fetid idiot needs to be drowned in a week-old unflushed toilet bowl ... slowly ... water-board style ... with lots of swallowing and gagging.


(and if I flew to the USSA today, I'd have to explain that comment to a pack of TSA and Homeland sickurity cocksuckers, who are looking outside at nothing, ... instead of inside at something ... and pretend they're defending the freedom of speech or some laughable bs)

Thu, 08/02/2012 - 02:48 | 2671259 CompassionateFascist
CompassionateFascist's picture

 The Fed does not need to be audited. It needs to be taken apart brick by brick, and the bricks dumped in the deepest part of the ocean. With a banker attached to each brick.

Thu, 08/02/2012 - 03:24 | 2671286 Vic Vinegar
Vic Vinegar's picture


-who is the power bottom between you and High Plains Drifter?

-I say Ian wins Big Brother - what about you?

-how are you going to take apart the Fed?

-I say this is the best Katy Perry video around - what about you?

Thu, 08/02/2012 - 03:39 | 2671289 Vic Vinegar
Vic Vinegar's picture

Somebody greened you in the meantime.

Call it a conspiracy, but I say the greener has other thoughts about taking apart the Fed.

Rather than sharing them, he/she thinks it is better to green a Katy Perry video.  Same difference? 


Wed, 08/01/2012 - 17:48 | 2670412 DoChenRollingBearing
DoChenRollingBearing's picture

@ Daily

+ 1  It's almost like we have a Third World country's regulators here!

Meanwhile in Peru...

Wed, 08/01/2012 - 17:49 | 2670416 Born-Again Bankster
Born-Again Bankster's picture

Echo that.  And thanks to Tyler for posting that 20 minute video explanation of what happened.  I was 10 minutes into it when I went very long August $5 puts on KCG.  They've tripled already.  That's a lot of monster boxes coming my way. 

Wed, 08/01/2012 - 18:46 | 2670537 GMan_
GMan_'s picture

I Agree 100%. I can't count how many times NITE kept going against me in my trades. They're f*cking retarded.

Wed, 08/01/2012 - 20:30 | 2670744 Mac1492
Mac1492's picture

knight has been involved in shady market making practices for a long time this link (does not work anymore was saved way back in 2004)..... knight=corrupt 

[ ... Interestingly, a big chunk of Knight's overall stock-trading last month came from one single Pink Sheets tiny-priced stock, CMKM Diamonds Inc. Knight traded an average of about 3.36 billion CMKM shares a day, representing more than 40% of Knight's average daily share volume for the month. ]

Feb. Trading Was Mixed At Knight, Ameritrade 

Friday March 12, 2004 2:14 pm ET

NEW YORK (Dow Jones)--Last month's stock-trading activity mostly slowed from January's pace at online broker Ameritrade Holding Corp. (NasdaqNM:AMTD - News) and at trade- processing firm Knight Trading Group Inc. (NasdaqNM:NITE - News) . But Knight's numbers showed that the firm had stepped up its trading of more-obscure stocks. 

These are companies whose shares trade not on high-profile markets like the New York Stock Exchange (News - Websites) , but on lesser-known venues such as the Pink Sheets and the Over-the-Counter Bulletin Board. Last month, such trading averaged about 6.9 billion shares a day at Knight, a stock and options trading firm in Jersey City, N.J., compared with daily averages of about 3.8 billion shares in January and 769 million shares in February of last year. 

Interestingly, a big chunk of Knight's overall stock-trading last month came from one single Pink Sheets tiny-priced stock, CMKM Diamonds Inc. Knight traded an average of about 3.36 billion CMKM shares a day, representing more than 40% of Knight's average daily share volume for the month. 

CMKM describes itself as "a new company involved in the exploration for diamonds in the Canadian province of Saskatchewan." The company, whose stock trades on the Pink Sheets under the CMKX symbol, trades "at prices in the hundredths of a cent," Knight said. 

According to the Pink Sheets Web site, a whopping 762.36 million shares of CMKM had recently traded Friday. The last sale price shown for the stock was 0.0001. 

Asked why so much of Knight's business last month came from one little-known stock, Knight spokeswoman Margaret Wyrwas said, "the stocks that we trade represent what our clients are buying and selling." She declined to comment further. 

A representative for CMKM said he couldn't account for the stock activity. "I can't tell you why we're having such a huge volume in trading." 

More broadly, Knight's growing OTCBB and Pink Sheets business gave pause to one Wall Street analyst. Daniel Goldberg, who tracks Knight for Bear Stearns, said in a note that such stocks were "low margin" and that he believed "this will exert further downward pressure on (Knight's) revenue capture per share." 

Wyrwas said that Knight viewed its dollar-volume figures as "the most meaningful statistic," more so than revenue capture per share. In February, Knight's average daily dollar volume fell by nearly 18.5% from what Wyrwas said were "January's extraordinary levels," but rose by 91% from a year ago. February's dollar volume was "in line" with the monthly averages seen in the fourth quarter, Wyrwas added. 

Knight's revenue capture per share numbers weren't immediately available. 

Knight shares were recently up 18 cents, or 1.5%, at $12.22. Over the past 52 weeks, the stock has traded as high as $17.27, on Jan. 21, and as low as $3.88 on March 31 of last year. 

Overall at Knight, February's average daily trade volume dropped by 17.8% from January but climbed by 78.9% from February 2003. Daily average share volume rose both from January and year-earlier levels. 

But that increase was largely due to the rise in OTCBB and Pink Sheets trading. Knight's share volume in Nasdaq and in listed stocks fell from January to February. Market performance in February was mixed, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average advancing and the Nasdaq Composite Index losing ground. 

"The market generally considers February to be a weak month, and this February held to that expected pattern," said Knight Chief Executive Thomas Joyce, in a statement. 

(Goldberg said he didn't own Knight shares. Bear Stearns didn't disclose any investment-banking ties to Knight.) 

Ameritrade Adjusts Earnings Expectations 

Separately, Ameritrade raised the bottom end of its earnings expectations for the second fiscal quarter and the entire 2004 fiscal year, which ends in September. 

The Omaha, Neb., firm now expects to earn 16 cents to 19 cents a share in the second quarter ending in March and 56 cents to 79 cents a share for the full 2004 fiscal year. The top end of the projections didn't change, but the bottom end was lifted. Last month, Ameritrade expected earnings per share could fall to as low as 13 cents for the second quarter and to 53 cents for the full fiscal year. 

Ameritrade's February trading activity rose by 97% from year-ago levels, but was down by 22% when compared with January.

Ameritrade's updated earnings projections came a day after news that three of the company's units were fined $10 million by the National Association of Securities Dealers for allegedly extending credit to clients in an improper manner. Ameritrade, which didn't admit or deny wrongdoing, had said that the fine wouldn't affect its earnings because the firm accrued for it in previous periods. 

Ameritrade was recently off 16 cents, or 1.1%, at $14.53. During the last 52 weeks, the shares have risen to as high as $17.67, on Jan. 21, and have dropped to as low as $3.83, on March 12 of last year. -By Gaston F. Ceron, Dow Jones Newswires; 

Wed, 08/01/2012 - 21:29 | 2670849 banksterhater
banksterhater's picture

Burn these Knight bastards at the stake! SHUT DOWN THE CASINOS!

Thu, 08/02/2012 - 04:32 | 2671305 FinkPloyd
FinkPloyd's picture

By my calculations the bill is around:

2400 times a minute X $.15 X 45 minutes X across 134 symbols


Wed, 08/01/2012 - 18:08 | 2670453 DanP1966
DanP1966's picture

If you wanted to really hurt the US you could hack in or infect one of these and really take down the market. Even better, if you could infect a few you could destroy the entire market.

All you would need is to have some sense of how the other bots would respond to some given set of numbers, trends or actions. That could be figured out fairly simply.

Because everything happens automatically and in seconds, you could do serious harm before the humans could step in.

Even better, because of the circuit breakers, you would want to do a phased attack. Start on a Monday with one set of bots and take the market down 15% then hit with different bots on Thursday or even the following week and take the market down again. You could even do it just in specific sensitive sectors like financials or energy and then pivot to a new sector on the next attack.
Wed, 08/01/2012 - 19:02 | 2670561 Tijuana Donkey Show
Tijuana Donkey Show's picture

Uh, think Iran hitting the US with that, and a power grid attack. The bad news is that the NYSE would reverse the trades, but the grid will still be fucked. India was a little warm-up for the big show. They cut off tech support, and this is what happens. Thank God that the Apple Geniuses are based in America.

Wed, 08/01/2012 - 21:04 | 2670796 DanP1966
DanP1966's picture

I have worked designing and implimenting secure financial systems as a lead architecht and as a project or program manager for 20 years. I've worked at or with FDIC, OCC, the Fed and BAC. Done some smaller consulting with a couple of smaller banks and with some other financial groups. That and I have done work for Homeland Security and the Department of Defense.

One thing I have learned is that no matter how good you think that your security is....someone with time, resources and determination can find a way in. If hackers can get to the plans for the MX Missile they can get to an HFT algo.

AND, just as with any form of terrorism, they only need to get lucky once, you have to be perfect in defence every time.

How many of these HFT's are out there?

What is the probability that at least a few will be vulnerable.

How many would you need to take over to execute a phased attack? Three? Four at most.

If you are the atacker, you do not even need to successfully mess up the trades or stock prices permanently. From the attackers perspective it makes no difference if the NYSE backs out or invalidates trades.

ALL that matters is that the very act of doing it completely undermines the trust in the market such that even the pros will not trade without a serious level of fear. Not to mention, that multiple attacks would see the regulators and congress scream to destroy and outlaw HFT and so take a huge chunk out of profits from some big players.


Thu, 08/02/2012 - 06:07 | 2671333 Acet
Acet's picture

Two-thirds of the software in Investment Banks is developed in India by cheap, barelly skillful monkey-coder types (no, the monkey bit has nothing to do with skin color, it's dev-speak for a disorganized coder who is paid peanuts) and is not exactly tested in a thorough, structured way (much less undergo code reviews) so the Chinese would not even need any crazy cyber-hacking operation: good old social-hacking like $50k in cash to pay a disgruntled Indian coder to insert a nice backdoor or time-bomb is all that's needed.

Wed, 08/01/2012 - 19:48 | 2670636 disabledvet
disabledvet's picture

Actually I would argue the exact opposite. This is nothing more than "price discovery in reverse." crushing blow to Knight...they'll probably be out of business by the end of the week along with a big chunk of CNBC. The fact is these clowns have been using technology that only goes to prove "people are lazy." the purpose of using the machine isn't to create an algo of TRADING outcomes but to create an algo of HUMAN RESPONSES to "trading stimuli.". That's why the human looks...AND IS the machine. Not some friggin model! Knight's model was a dinosaur as soon as it was created. So long knight! Amazingly the Government has unleashed The I Phone on the world! The amount of tradable info on this little sucker is beyond imagination. Now I can hack entire industries...mess with their employees and their business...short the stock (don't do that myself) and make a MASSIVE fortune. Of course "all those Americans lose their job" but hey..."doing God's work here!" of course if I'm out 100 billion on my Facebook IPO that's a lot of businesses to take out..probably a State or two as well. No worries tho! Americans are so busy fighting with each other "I'll be sittin in Rio by the time they know what hit 'em." thank God they're people on the other side of that trade to make it all look good. Oh, wait. THAT WAS KNIGHT TRADING! HELLO GOVERNMENT. ARE YOU GOING TO STOP THIS OR WHAT?

Wed, 08/01/2012 - 20:43 | 2670762 DeadFred
DeadFred's picture

And you might even want to do this if the country where you ythe exchanges are housed devalued your trillion dollar bond portfolio by wanton monetization of debt or if it threatened one of your allies with military force. Of course this could be as simple as shark feeding on shark or the most mundane of causes, human stupidity.

Wed, 08/01/2012 - 22:48 | 2671033 disabledvet
disabledvet's picture

anything done with mathematical precision sets off an alarm bell in my book. "to precise to be an accident." says MORE TO COME. my guess would be Europe which has already been clobbered by the worst Central Bank action ever. "gonna make Japan look like a champ" here soon. and if this Knight thing is any example of what awaits...i say "nationalization is imminent."

Wed, 08/01/2012 - 18:39 | 2670522 ACP
ACP's picture

It's one thing to DK Bud Fox for 7g's, but for millions over the course of what, a couple seconds?

Take that one straight in the pooper KNIGHT!


Wed, 08/01/2012 - 21:26 | 2670719 AlaricBalth
AlaricBalth's picture

Knight to Taxpayers: Can you spare a few million? Pay you back next month, promise.
Taxpayers to Knight: Stop going for the easy buck and start producing something with your life. Create, instead of living off the buying and selling of others.

Wed, 08/01/2012 - 20:06 | 2670686 slaughterer
slaughterer's picture

Worst case scenario: $150m loss for KCG.

This is not another MFG.

Wed, 08/01/2012 - 21:17 | 2670822 emersonreturn
emersonreturn's picture

please, may it be viral, may it spread through one and another and leave legions of algos feeling the effects of black death and the lice escaping the rats that sorrily infected them.

Wed, 08/01/2012 - 21:41 | 2670876 DanP1966
DanP1966's picture

Does it seem strange to you that a firm that is so heavily into the electronic trading does not list its CIO on the leadership team?

Wed, 08/01/2012 - 22:10 | 2670952 Super B
Super B's picture

Algos, bitchez!!!

Thu, 08/02/2012 - 00:41 | 2671174 Dixie Rect
Dixie Rect's picture

Negative, I am a meat popsicle.

Wed, 08/01/2012 - 17:19 | 2670313 Michael
Michael's picture


Wed, 08/01/2012 - 19:07 | 2670569 Zero Govt
Zero Govt's picture

probably running on Microshite software

you get exactly what you deserve running on garbage

as the saying goes, Microshite in, garbage out 

Wed, 08/01/2012 - 19:38 | 2670618 superflyguy
superflyguy's picture

No, MS works just fine. They were probably doing cost savings and hired some of those budget code writers... you know they type, fresh out of school, willing to work for $7/h.

Thu, 08/02/2012 - 03:14 | 2671282 Nage42
Nage42's picture


Try the situation-normal environment nowadays.

French/Russian Quants getting their Mumbai/Chennai smurfs to do what they're told... what could possibly go wrong?!?  LOL!

Wed, 08/01/2012 - 17:20 | 2670314 SHEEPFUKKER

check please

Wed, 08/01/2012 - 17:35 | 2670384 ghengis86
ghengis86's picture

for $1.62 million?  because if my math is correct (which is highly doubtful), $0.15*100 shares/trade*2400 trades/minute*45 minutes of freakout = $1,620,000

That's just for the Exelon chart, correct?

And would this now be considered the anit-Corzine/GS, pro-muppet Algo?  Are there some moles at Knight doing the Devil's work?

Wed, 08/01/2012 - 17:42 | 2670401 sabra1
sabra1's picture

don't forget to add on  management fees!

Wed, 08/01/2012 - 19:48 | 2670640 inkarri9
inkarri9's picture

I think there were like 140 seperate stocks involved so multiply that $1.62M by 140?

Wed, 08/01/2012 - 17:21 | 2670315 Pretorian
Pretorian's picture

Now I am starting to bealive that this is fully organized gang involving State agencies. No other explanation why SEC and  FBI is not involved. Billions are traded in capital worldwide this is massive manipulation.

Wed, 08/01/2012 - 17:40 | 2670391 sunaJ
sunaJ's picture

I know, you probably used to be skeptically-minded about conspiracy theory...a normally healthy mindset.  We are not living in healthy times, however.  The insane are running the asylum.

Wed, 08/01/2012 - 18:02 | 2670445 Questan1913
Questan1913's picture

suna 3,


That would be........ CRIMANALLY INSANE.

Wed, 08/01/2012 - 19:50 | 2670647 disabledvet
disabledvet's picture

"not until they're tried and convicted." nice thought tho.

Wed, 08/01/2012 - 20:03 | 2670671 AlaricBalth
AlaricBalth's picture

SunaJ, you are referring to a Normalcy Bias. Here is an excellent study on the subject.

Wed, 08/01/2012 - 21:21 | 2670826 sunaJ
sunaJ's picture

Yes, normalcy bias is the pull used by manipulators to construct the cauldron for the slowly boiling frog.  We are seeing Orwell's illuminations put into practice.  But I think that generally, they are losing the game in the information war.  People (at least on this site) know when it is getting too hot in the pot.

Wed, 08/01/2012 - 22:59 | 2671056 disabledvet
disabledvet's picture

it was too hot for me over two years ago. and for this frog "the pot was boiling when they threw me in it." anywho "we're talking traders here." the House always win...unless "you're really weird." then "they do experiments on you to determine the secrets of your weird science." nowadays it can be done remotely. very disturbing actually. i'm glad i live a very humble and discreet life between couch and fridge and nothing more.

Thu, 08/02/2012 - 02:02 | 2671231 Cardinal Fang
Cardinal Fang's picture

Thanks for the link, very interesting read. It is interesting how people shut down their decision making process in the face of the 'curse of dimensionality'...

Wed, 08/01/2012 - 17:49 | 2670415 Bartanist
Bartanist's picture

Obama giving the baners a taste of the future if they don't relent and give him billions of dollars for this campaign?

Maybe. Revenge of the Communist dictator.

Wed, 08/01/2012 - 18:57 | 2670551 pashley1411
pashley1411's picture

Like most larger organizations, the employees of the regulatory agencies are engaged in the important things; watching the Olympics, bs'ing with the skirts, sucking up to the boss.

Actually interacting with the real world is left to some smuck in the basement.

NITE is probably on the phone now looking for some company that needs a couple hundred mil tax loss credit.

Wed, 08/01/2012 - 19:58 | 2670662 lotsoffun
lotsoffun's picture

really?  you really think that?  have you seen jonnie corzine lately?

geez - i wonder if he's still allowed to trade his own account.


Wed, 08/01/2012 - 19:59 | 2670665 lotsoffun
lotsoffun's picture

hmmm.  wonder about my own statement.  corzine trading his own account means he couldn't lose somebody else's money.

seems less likely.


Wed, 08/01/2012 - 17:20 | 2670316 Roy Bush
Roy Bush's picture

How an average person can be investing is the stock market is beyond me.  What a mess.  Everything is manipulated.  As Celente says, "what you need is the three G's...Gold, Guns, and a Getaway Plan".

Wed, 08/01/2012 - 17:22 | 2670326 SHEEPFUKKER


Wed, 08/01/2012 - 17:32 | 2670375 mt paul
mt paul's picture

goose juice

Wed, 08/01/2012 - 17:36 | 2670386 exi1ed0ne
exi1ed0ne's picture

Those will be easy enough to find when times get desperate if you have the above supplies.

Wed, 08/01/2012 - 17:39 | 2670393 phalfa5
phalfa5's picture

no sheep...

Wed, 08/01/2012 - 17:39 | 2670394 phalfa5
phalfa5's picture

no sheep...

Wed, 08/01/2012 - 20:08 | 2670689 mick_richfield
mick_richfield's picture


Wed, 08/01/2012 - 20:22 | 2670724 takinthehighway
takinthehighway's picture


Wed, 08/01/2012 - 17:43 | 2670404 sabra1
sabra1's picture

and the 4th G, Geitner!!!

Wed, 08/01/2012 - 19:56 | 2670657 disabledvet
disabledvet's picture

This is EXACTLY when you invest! For example "Apple disappoints." that is an EMOTION. "I trade on that." stock sells we are a couple weeks later...BAM...hit the sell button for "your first buck." of course "it works in reverse too"! Dread, fear, outright can make money on those emotions too. That's why I say "buy NYSE Group on this news" if you are...ahem.."risk tolerant." (aka "loaded with dough." I am not of course.) and if you hate my advice...HEY PHUCKER YOU GET WHAT YOU PAY FOR!

Wed, 08/01/2012 - 23:44 | 2671077 sunaJ
sunaJ's picture

Your strategy is based on making money (in a money-making world that is entirely false - the basis of fiat trade). Congratulations on figuring out the difference of the analytical and the emotional.  I encourage you to not play this game, as it is soul-corrupting.  Decide what you believe in and then trade on that - that is the new game.  You will find that if you have any moral character, those with any goodwill, will follow you and you can lead with your knowledge. Be a shepherd.

Wed, 08/01/2012 - 17:20 | 2670319 Popo
Popo's picture

The next question is:  Did their algo bo beserk all on it's own?  Or did it get a little, y'know... "help"?

Wed, 08/01/2012 - 17:36 | 2670387 Buckaroo Banzai
Buckaroo Banzai's picture

Indeed, the algo went bad in the most specific way possible to cause maximum harm to Knight. Difficult to detect and driving the maximum loss possible on a gazillion different trades.

Hard to believe it happened by accident. "Nice little market maker you got there, would be a shame if something happened to it."

Wed, 08/01/2012 - 17:54 | 2670424 Hype Alert
Hype Alert's picture

So the question is, did they fire the programmer after this happened, or BEFORE?

Wed, 08/01/2012 - 19:10 | 2670566 JLee2027
JLee2027's picture

In the 70's and 80's yes. Nowadays programmers are the young kids who don't know squat these days. They just hand off modules for testing. You would first fire the idiot(s) who failed to properly test it and those who actually signed off saying this was production ready and fully tested code.

There's also a small chance that whoever was managing the software configuration put the wrong patch into production.

Wed, 08/01/2012 - 21:05 | 2670800 Vagabond
Vagabond's picture

"the wrong patch" who creates a patch with a retard algorithm in the first place?  There is no chance that a wrong patch was made and accidentally got deployed... and ran for an hour and a half.

Thu, 08/02/2012 - 00:37 | 2671137 JLee2027
JLee2027's picture

Been there, seen it happen. No one created it "intentionally". Programming errors can have unpredicable consequences. And yes, it can take hours to figure out the issue and pull the plug because the complexity and lack of knowledge.  I was in that industry for 30 years.  

A system can have hundreds of software components each with multiple versions. It's very easy when you package something together to pull the wrong version. There is actually configuration software to help you manage the process of assembling a system for production, but again if you label something incorrectly a month later it can come back and bite you because the version numbers changed, and you overwrote one tiny module of the current version with a prior one, etc. It can take days to track that down.

Programmers (aka Developer) are a lot "dumber" than they used to be. They do much less today. No more design, no more testing. Just get handed a spec with a delivery date. Write code, hand off, done.  Somebody else tests it. And it has to interact with other code segments, which the "Developer" has no access to. Somebody else has to find all the problems before it's placed into real-time service, and work with the Developer to solve them. And if they don' can have a disaster like you did today.

Could even be a spec (design) error. Todays "Developers" are trained not to think, just code to spec and deliver. In other old days you actually had to understand the business. Not anymore. So, if somebody just verified this met the spec and signed off and then went live, well, they all probably just got canned for not catching a problem the Spec had. 

Thu, 08/02/2012 - 06:29 | 2671343 Acet
Acet's picture

... and the really funny bit is that the specs are usually crap, because the technical analysis they were based on was crap, because the business analysis it was based on was crap. One is more likelly to win the lottery than to find a Business Analysis document that doesn't contain contradictory requirements.

The Business Analysts are ex-sales types that don't know shit about an organized, structured gathering, analysis and validating of business requirements ...

The Technical Analysts don't really exist and instead are some senior coder or other who has never worked in more than one or two systems and never saw enough to really know just how many ways there are to fuck up a system design ...

The Programmers are some cheap guys in India who went into coding because you make a lot of money as a Programmer over there and have ZERO natural ability for it, while the few really good ones have been promoted to Project Managers (which they suck at) because over there the salary framework is so completelly screwed that an exceptional programmer makes less than a crap project manager (and, trust me, the management style in India is ridiculously bad).

It's a damn near perfect shit-in-shit-out system.

In my experience, the way Investment Banks try and make up for this is to use at least 3x more people as a Tech company would for the same results (I've worked in both industries).

Thu, 08/02/2012 - 10:48 | 2672200 Vagabond
Vagabond's picture

The idea that Knight capital would let a change like this go out untested, and would leave it in production for 45 minutes as it loses hundreds of millions of dollars makes no sense to me.  They'd have to be complete idiots... although I see this morning that is exactly what they are claiming.

Wed, 08/01/2012 - 21:54 | 2670905 Henry Hub
Henry Hub's picture

Come on everyone knows the customer is the beta tester these days. Most projects are under specked 50% on cost and time. The customer will find the bugs.

Thu, 08/02/2012 - 00:20 | 2671149 JLee2027
JLee2027's picture

You can bet the Farm that once the software problem arose, every affected IT department (probably dozens) went into scramble mode to find the problem and point fingers saying "It's not us". Lots of shouting and angry phone calls demanding answers and politcal fallout behind the scene.  Remember this was headline news on CNBC.  A bunch of folks just got fired at Knight Capital is my guess.  Customer as a Beta Tester? Not in this environment.


Thu, 08/02/2012 - 01:55 | 2671228 Cardinal Fang
Cardinal Fang's picture

Um, the technology customer is always the beta tester in every environment. Caveat Emptor!

Wed, 08/01/2012 - 19:08 | 2670567 sunaJ
sunaJ's picture

"White Rabbit Object?  What the hell is that - his own private joke?" - John Arnold, in Jurassic Park re: Dennis Nedry's stealth computer program.

Wed, 08/01/2012 - 19:58 | 2670659 disabledvet
disabledvet's picture

Maybe "they" gave him a raise!

Wed, 08/01/2012 - 22:27 | 2670984 DanP1966
DanP1966's picture

They wont fire him.

He knows too much.

More likely they retire him in place or reach a very substantial seperation agreement.

Wed, 08/01/2012 - 17:21 | 2670320 malikai
malikai's picture


Thu, 08/02/2012 - 04:54 | 2671312 ebear
ebear's picture

This... is... WALL STREET!!!!

Wed, 08/01/2012 - 17:21 | 2670321 Martin T
Martin T's picture

HAL: Let me put it this way, Mr. Amor. The 9000 series is the most reliable computer ever made. No 9000 computer has ever made a mistake or distorted information. We are all, by any practical definition of the words, foolproof and incapable of error.

Wed, 08/01/2012 - 17:30 | 2670342 grunk
Wed, 08/01/2012 - 17:26 | 2670348 Paul Atreides
Paul Atreides's picture

Try getting it to lie...

Wed, 08/01/2012 - 17:43 | 2670403 ImnotPOTUS
ImnotPOTUS's picture

HAL's crisis was caused by a programming contradiction:  HAL was constructed for "the accurate processing of information without distortion or concealment", yet HAL's orders, directly from Ben Bernake at the FED, required HAL to keep the discovery of Mark to Market a secret for reasons of national security. This contradiction created a "Hofstadter-Moebius loop", reducing HAL to paranoia. Therefore, HAL made the decision to kill the equity markets, thereby allowing HAL to obey both his hardwired instructions to report data truthfully and in full, and his orders to keep the mark to market a secret. In essence: if the traders of the Dark Knight were dead, HAL would no longer have to keep the information secret.

 "Appologies to the Wiki authors, for my butchering of their HAL 9000 wiki text"

 The whole quant hedge fund computer driven nanosecond trading thing is the big black swan for me. Did anyone think to ask, What happens when all the quants decide to go the way of HAL or maybe the WHOPPER. This is my second rewrite, how many more times will I get to do this?

Wed, 08/01/2012 - 18:10 | 2670461 Mr. Fix
Mr. Fix's picture

Good work, POTUS!

Wed, 08/01/2012 - 18:52 | 2670545 sunaJ
sunaJ's picture

Moral humans are to a lesser degree the same as Hal, regarding deception.  Seeing as how they hand out TS Security clearances like candy, all they have to do is say that you are now ordered to not only deny any knowledge of this issue, but directly lie about it.  Enter paranoia.

Wed, 08/01/2012 - 20:17 | 2670708 Things that go bump
Things that go bump's picture

Famous last words?

Wed, 08/01/2012 - 17:22 | 2670330 New_Meat
New_Meat's picture

"Algo Goes Totally Berserk And Serves Knight Capital With The Bill"

Yep, the old 'Chew and Screw.'

- Ned


Wed, 08/01/2012 - 17:25 | 2670332 Cognitive Dissonance
Cognitive Dissonance's picture

Too bad. It seems Knight was checkmated. You (we) lose.

Wed, 08/01/2012 - 17:23 | 2670334 grunk
grunk's picture

The parasites have almost killed the host, so they are now turning on each other.

Wed, 08/01/2012 - 17:57 | 2670429 Hype Alert
Hype Alert's picture

If gambling on sporting events is illegal, you would think they would know this would lead to a problem too.

Wed, 08/01/2012 - 17:23 | 2670336 kdrury12
kdrury12's picture

finally an article that recognizes the enormous trading losses Knight sustained today, instead of the others theorizing that NYSE covered the bill or somehow let Knight off the hook for their algo-gone-wild trades

Wed, 08/01/2012 - 17:27 | 2670358 Zymurguy
Zymurguy's picture

But, why cancel any trades?  That's where I get suspicious about this whole thing.

I mean, if it's their algo' that fooked up... sorry 'bout that, guess you're gonna lose some money, huh?


It's the great line from Animal House:

Algo' to Knight, "You fooked up... you trusted us."

Wed, 08/01/2012 - 17:58 | 2670430 XitSam
XitSam's picture

Absolutely.  If I go to Las Vegas and play $10,000 blackjack and lose a several hundred thousand, I don't say "Cancel all my losses over $100,000."

Wed, 08/01/2012 - 17:24 | 2670339 Centurion9.41
Centurion9.41's picture

Whole new meaning to a Blue Light special.

Wed, 08/01/2012 - 17:25 | 2670340 elwu
elwu's picture

The Iranian revenge for Stuxnet?

Wed, 08/01/2012 - 17:29 | 2670362 Cognitive Dissonance
Cognitive Dissonance's picture

Not likely. We are perfectly capable (and willing) to shoot ourselves in the foot.
Mission Accomplished.

Wed, 08/01/2012 - 18:36 | 2670515 sunaJ
sunaJ's picture

Indeed.  Either way, the U.S. Economy falls victim to any Fabian strategy.  That is why outright war will be the final push by the power elite cocksuckers.

Wed, 08/01/2012 - 17:25 | 2670343 Clovis Man
Clovis Man's picture

So they made some bad trades. I don't see any problem.

Wed, 08/01/2012 - 17:25 | 2670345 williambanzai7
williambanzai7's picture


Wed, 08/01/2012 - 17:32 | 2670370 New_Meat
New_Meat's picture

"One ringy-dingy, two ringy-dingy..."

Wed, 08/01/2012 - 19:37 | 2670616 tom a taxpayer
tom a taxpayer's picture

The Mahwah connection.

Wed, 08/01/2012 - 20:33 | 2670748 old naughty
old naughty's picture

WB, Good one.

So this is the 9000?

I thought it bigger...It's supposed to cover the entire ship, no?


Wed, 08/01/2012 - 17:25 | 2670346 Money 4 Nothing
Money 4 Nothing's picture

The return of BATShit!

Wed, 08/01/2012 - 17:25 | 2670347 MillionDollarBoner_
MillionDollarBoner_'s picture

Where can I git me one of them thar algos?

Wed, 08/01/2012 - 17:59 | 2670436 Hype Alert
Hype Alert's picture

You can steal it, but Goldman gets really pissed.

Wed, 08/01/2012 - 17:27 | 2670349 Ignorance is bliss
Ignorance is bliss's picture

How anyone can invest their $401K retirement money is this crap shoot is beyond me. People tell me Gold and Silver are volatile. Really, and that rigged carnival game you invest your life savings is a better alternative?

Wed, 08/01/2012 - 17:32 | 2670373 cossack55
cossack55's picture

Hit that 59.5 on Monday.  401k is history.  Been bitin' my nails for the last 2 years.  Silver is starting to look cheap again.

Wed, 08/01/2012 - 19:54 | 2670653 lotsoffun
lotsoffun's picture

as a goldman prop trader once told me 'cramer is my favorite little imp'.

that's how. MSM.  that was years ago.  a decade.  he's still working his magic, and he's got backup now.


Wed, 08/01/2012 - 17:29 | 2670352 houserich
houserich's picture

if (iForgotToTestMyCode)
  while (stillInBusiness) {

Wed, 08/01/2012 - 17:27 | 2670355 FeralSerf
FeralSerf's picture

Iran gets even for stuxnet.

Wed, 08/01/2012 - 18:27 | 2670497 ThisIsBob
ThisIsBob's picture

Its a start.

Wed, 08/01/2012 - 17:27 | 2670356 hannah
hannah's picture

let me tell you...i am a programmer and i was approached by these people to write an algo that would lose 15 cents on every trade...? i thought they were crazy but i wrote the program anyway as they paid me $25 and bought me lunch.

i never thought they would use the program...?

Wed, 08/01/2012 - 17:28 | 2670359 Marc45
Marc45's picture

Ahh, the sweet smell of irony...

Wed, 08/01/2012 - 17:28 | 2670360 dwayne elizando
dwayne elizando's picture

I so hope they go bankrupt. That would make this week complete!

Wed, 08/01/2012 - 17:29 | 2670363 lolmao500
lolmao500's picture

Can someone use that algo and hit JPM, Goldman, Citi and BAC with it?? Please??

Wed, 08/01/2012 - 17:33 | 2670364 williambanzai7
williambanzai7's picture


I can't decide which is funnier, today's blowout or BATS IPO...

Wed, 08/01/2012 - 18:17 | 2670476 Lost Wages
Lost Wages's picture

BATS IPO. Biggest day of their lives and straight to 0.

Wed, 08/01/2012 - 18:21 | 2670484 Jay Gould Esq.
Jay Gould Esq.'s picture

Mary Schapiro, nee Goldberg. Rube would indeed be proud of the apparatus his progeny now commands.

Wed, 08/01/2012 - 20:42 | 2670759 chump666
chump666's picture


Wed, 08/01/2012 - 17:30 | 2670366 Bones265
Bones265's picture

Something sounds fishy. Very Fishy! So Knight is trying to say their algo for changing their bid and ask, automatically move their markets they are market makers are market algo's?  That hit Bids and take offers for a loss? Highly unlikly. If that was the case it would happen every day

Wed, 08/01/2012 - 17:39 | 2670395 Ignorance is bliss
Ignorance is bliss's picture

To your point. If the algo was going nuts last night, why not kill the program? Why wait so long? Your right, something else is happening under the covers. Could be a virus, malicious code purposely written to inflict damage. Revenge? Could also be a coverup for other trading losses.

Wed, 08/01/2012 - 20:23 | 2670727 Things that go bump
Things that go bump's picture

The beginnings of open warfare between large financial entities?

Wed, 08/01/2012 - 18:13 | 2670469 max2205
max2205's picture

I guess there will be a few computers in jail soon

Wed, 08/01/2012 - 18:33 | 2670506 Money 4 Nothing
Money 4 Nothing's picture

Naaa, just unplugged and sent to China as scrap. Cash for Computers drive will be next.

Wed, 08/01/2012 - 17:33 | 2670377 I am a Man I am...
I am a Man I am Forty's picture

If you trade one stock and one order at a time like I do you don't do stupid shit like this.

Wed, 08/01/2012 - 17:33 | 2670378 Fix It Again Timmy
Fix It Again Timmy's picture

Looks like KC is going to have a few bake sales to make up the losses...

Wed, 08/01/2012 - 17:33 | 2670379 printmoremoney
printmoremoney's picture

Hats off to Tyler for this fine forensic. I am off to now make a donation to ZH to keep this fine work flowing. This kind of real work needs to be rewarded. And fuck the Matrix and its exabytes and slavery via programming code. Be Free

Wed, 08/01/2012 - 18:54 | 2670549 RockyRacoon
RockyRacoon's picture

I'm donating as well.  I've had 3 years of great entertainment and education here at ZH!

Wed, 08/01/2012 - 23:29 | 2671098 THX 1178
THX 1178's picture

Can't I interest you in a ZH Thong?

Wed, 08/01/2012 - 17:34 | 2670381 mt paul
mt paul's picture

bail out

the algo..

Wed, 08/01/2012 - 17:37 | 2670389 Catflappo
Catflappo's picture

Ummm, if I shorted some stocks just before the Draghi comments, can I now say that it was "my algorithm" and get my trades cancelled?

Wed, 08/01/2012 - 19:20 | 2670586 Matt
Matt's picture

only if you were off by at least 30% for the day, it seems.

Wed, 08/01/2012 - 20:03 | 2670677 disabledvet
disabledvet's picture

A+ on the page break Tylers' Durden!

Wed, 08/01/2012 - 17:43 | 2670390 Swarmee
Swarmee's picture

If I jokingly drive my car in a mild zigzag on an empty street and a cop sees it I am likely to be pulled over and ticketed for reckless endangerment or operating a vehicle in an unsafe manner. If there are others in the street the charges might be worse, and my license to drive might even be suspended. If I actually injury someone? Probably jail for multiple years which will destroy my ability to find work and prosper.

Now if instead I let loose a financial algorithm that causes millions to billions in trade dislocations and completely manipulates markets costing real investors money, it's cool, I'll be back in business tomorrow.

Corporations want to be people? OK I say, then they can be "jailed" or "executed" or have their license to operate XYZ revoked just like us plebes.

Support the corporate death penalty for those which operate with reckless abandon in the markets. Fines are not enough, remove the entities from the market and watch confidence be gradually restored.

We are all one corporate "mistake" away from having our entire life's savings corzined.

Wed, 08/01/2012 - 19:49 | 2670643 lotsoffun
lotsoffun's picture

ah yes,  we are all equal.  we all have rights.  we have ten commandments.  we have the rules of whatever religion and social belief exits to co-operate and learn to play fair and respect others.

and then i woke up.  i had lloyd and jamie at the side of my bed, slapping me around and laughing.

i had that nightmare a longtime ago and left the markets since.

guys.  it's rigged.  doesn't anybody get it?  you still think you're going to beat the casino?


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