In case there is still any confusion on whose behalf the US regulators work when they "fine" banks, the latest announcement from Finra should make it all clear. Recall the spectacle full of pomp and circumstance surrounding NY AG Scheinderman's demolition of Barclays after it was announced that the bank had lied to its customers to drive more traffic to Barclays LX, its dark pool, and allow HFT algos to frontrun buyside traffic. Yes, it was warranted, and the immediate result was the complete collapse in all buyside Barclays dark pool volume, meaning predatory HFT algos would have to find some other dark pool where to frontrun order flow. Such as Goldman's Sigma X. Which brings us to, well, Goldman's Sigma X, which moments ago, in a far less pompous presentation, was fined - not by the AG, not by the SEC, but by lowly Finra - for "Failing to Prevent Trade-Throughs in its Alternative Trading System." The impact: "In connection with the approximately 395,000 trade-throughs, Goldman Sachs returned $1.67 million to disadvantaged customers." The punchline, or rather, the "fine": $800,000.
- Ceasefire over, Ukraine forces attack rebel positions (Reuters)
- No Good Iraq Options for Obama as Russia, Iran Jump In (BBG)
- Japan’s Cabinet Agrees to Allow Military to Help Defend Allies (BBG)
- Obama says to reform immigration on his own, bypassing Congress (Reuters)
- South Stream Pipeline Project in Bulgaria Is Delayed (NYT)
- Foreign Banks Still in the Dark About Missing Metals in China (WSJ)
- Quelle indignity: several bankers at French bank BNP Paribas will face demotions and cuts to their pay and bonuses (FT)
- Symantec Warns of Hacker Threat Against Energy Companies (BBG)
- Shrinking Office Spaces Slow Recovery (WSJ)
- Rand Paul Slams ‘Fat Cats’ With Hedge Fund in Top Donors (BBG)
Yesterday we hinted at the one 'uncertainty' that was anything but at record-lows; and it seems Goldman Sachs (who recently opined on what's at stake in the Midterms) agrees that after a period of relative calm, the US political environment looks likely to become more uncertain again. Recent developments have raised the prospect of renewed political tensions this fall. While they suggest the chance of another government shutdown is not high, the political environment has changed enough that the deadlines are likely to create real uncertainty, and an agreement may be reached only at the last minute. Crucially, if Republicans succeed in capturing the majority in the Senate following the November midterm elections, the routine around fiscal deadlines that markets have become accustomed to over the last few years may become more unpredictable (and may spill over into another debt limit debacle).
The Great Depression did not represent the failure of capitalism or some inherent suicidal tendency of the free market to plunge into cyclical depression - absent the constant ministrations of the state through monetary, fiscal, tax and regulatory interventions. Instead, the Great Depression was a unique historical occurrence - the delayed consequence of the monumental folly of the Great War, abetted by the financial deformations spawned by modern central banking. But ironically, the “failure of capitalism” explanation of the Great Depression is exactly what enabled the Warfare State to thrive and dominate the rest of the 20th century because it gave birth to what have become its twin handmaidens - Keynesian economics and monetary central planning. Together, these two doctrines eroded and eventually destroyed the great policy barrier - that is, the old-time religion of balanced budgets - that had kept America a relatively peaceful Republic until 1914. The good Ben (Franklin that is) said,” Sir you have a Republic if you can keep it”. We apparently haven’t.
There are a few “market anomalies” affecting the seasonality of stock returns that have captured some investor attention, like the day-of-the-week effect or the January effect, for example. They are called anomalies because – according to financial theory – the market should arbitrage away the regularity of such patterns. But in reality, it does not. As Goldman notes, there are similar patterns exist with respect to market volatility; and they are equally puzzling.
In Hillary Clinton's attempt to seem "one of the people", she made the public relations debacle of portraying herself as "dead broke" at the time she and Bill Clinton left the White House. Of course, the reason this attempt at populist pandering backfired is because as is well-known, even the least educated American, the bulk of wealth American president families accrue is not while in office but after, when they hit the speaking/book publishing circuit. This is just what WaPo found when it conducted a review of the Clintons’ federal financial disclosure: it found that Bill was paid $104.9 million for delivering 542 speeches around the world between January 2001 and January 2013, when Hillary left her job as secretary of state.
- Yellen Spending Recipe Lacking Key Ingredient: Bigger Wage Gains (BBG)
- Ukraine signs trade agreement with EU, draws Russian threat (Reuters)
- GM Documents Show Senior Executive Had Role in Switch (WSJ)
- Australian Report Postulates Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 Lost Oxygen (WSJ)
- World’s Biggest Debt Load Lures Distressed Funds to China (BBG)
- GPIF Rushing Into Riskier Assets Before Ready, Okina Says (BBG)
- Japan Prices Rise Most Since ’82 on Tax, Utility Fees (BBG)
- Italian Debt Swells to Rival Germany as Bond Yields Slide (BBG)
- China’s Manhattan Project Marred by Ghost Buildings (BBG)
- BOE's Carney Says Rates Won't Rise to Levels Previously Considered Normal (WSJ)
While Janet Yellen is bust ignoring "noisy" inflation and dismissing low volatility as indicative of any complacency, Goldman is a little more concerned. The decline in economic and asset market volatility this year from already low levels in 2013 has been striking, which as Markus Brunnermeier states, means "the whole system is more prone to a financial crisis when measured volatility is low, which tends to lead to a build-up of risk in the background – the so-called 'volatility paradox'."
As the probe into alleged fraud at Qingdao continues to escalate (with liquidity needs growing more and more evident as Chinese money-market rates surge), Bloomberg reports that China’s chief auditor discovered 94.4 billion yuan ($15.2 billion) of loans backed by falsified gold transactions, in "the first official confirmation of what many people have suspected for a long time - that gold is widely used in Chinese commodity financing deals." As much as 1,000 tons of gold may have been used in lending and leasing deals in China and Goldman reports that up to $80 billion false-loans may involve gold. As one analyst noted, this was unlikely to have a significant impact on the underlying demand for gold in China and as we have pointed out before, any unwind of the Gold CFDs would lead to buying back of 'paper' gold hedges and implicitly a rise in prices.
With all eyes firmly focused on the dismal Q1 GDP print and summarily dismissing it as 'noise', backward-looking, 'weather', and 'exogenous'; today's worrying spending data has sent the serial extrapolators among the sell-side economist herd scrambling to downgrade over-exuberant Q2 GDP expectations (five so far). One glance at this chart is all one needs to know about the "bounce back" in pent-up demand spending (that is not there). As Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi's Chris Rupkey told Bloomberg, "Don’t start betting on those 3% GDP numbers yet." This only trumped Goldman Sachs 'oh-so-embarrassed-again' Jan Hatzius who slashed his exuberant 4% Q2 GDP growth estimate to 3.5% (for now).
UPDATE: FIFA bites back and bans Uruguay's Luis Suarez for 4 months
As 12ET rolls around and USA's soccer team prepares to engage zee Germans with the goal of advancing to the FIFA World Cup's knockout stage, Bloomberg undertook an 'economic' face off to see just how the two powerhouse nations stack up. The result - a 4-0 win for Germany does not bode well for the soccer...
- Minorities Seen Driving U.S. Household Growth (Reuters)
- GM prepares to recall some Cruze sedans with Takata air bags (Reuters)
- PBOC Halts Repos as China Money Rate Climbs to Seven-Week High (BBG)
- Ukraine Optimism Wavers on Peace as Cease-Fire Winds Down (BBG)
- Economic Rebound Seen Undercut by Weak Pay as Vote Winner (BBG)
- Cracks Open in Dark Pool Defense With Barclays Lawsuit (BBG)
- The Survivor: How Eric Holder outlasted his (many) critics (Politico)
- IBM, Lenovo Tackle Security Worries on Server Deal (WSJ)
- Militants take Iraqi gas field town, president calls parliament session (Reuters)
- Carney Surprises Confounding Markets as BOE Manages Guidance (BBG)
Following yesterday's S&P surge on the worst hard economic data (not some fluffy survey conducted by a conflicted firm whose parent just IPOed and is thus in desperate need to perpetuate the market euphoria) in five years, there is little one can comment on how "markets" react to news. Good news, bad news... whatever - as long as it is flashing red, the HFT algos will send momentum higher. The only hope of some normalization is that following the latest revelation of just how rigged the market is due to various HFT firms, something will finally change. Alas, as we have said since the flash crash, there won't be any real attempts at fixing the broken market structure until the next, and far more vicious flash crash - one from which not even the NY Fed-Citadel PPT JV will be able to recover. For now, keep an eye on the USDJPY - as has been the case lately, the overnight USDJPY trading team has taken it lower ahead of the traditional US day session rebound which also pushes the S&P higher with it. For now the surge is missing but it won't be for longer - expect the traditional USDJPY ramp just before or as US stocks open for trading.
“It’s going to get a lot hotter in the United States over the next 100 years, and worse going forward," notes a report cited by Bloomberg.The report, below, fearmongers the mutually assured destruction that will happen if something is not done right now about global warming (despite the implications being out to the year 2200) concluding... "The risks are much more perverse and cruel than we saw with the financial crisis, because they accumulate over time...a business-as-usual approach is actually radical risk-taking." Can you guess who sponsored the report and used those M.A.D. words?
Forget Maradonna's "Hand Of God", and Luis Suarez' "Jaws Of Doom"; Goldman Sachs just issued their latest set of updated predictions for the FIFA World Cup and unleashed a "kiss of death" on USA. The bank (whose win rate on predictions so far has been a lowly 30%) forecast the odds of USA making it to the 2nd Round (the knockout stage) is 81.6% (with Portugal a lowly 5.3% likely). Given the variance of results so far, we hope they are right; but their odds seem a little long (and they have Belgium beating USA in the next round).