High Frequency Trading
High Frequency Trading (HFT) covers such a broad swathe of 'trading' and financial markets that Mark Cuban (yes, that Mark Cuban), who has been among the leading anti-HFT graft voices in the public realm, decided to put finger-to-keyboard to create an "idiots guide to HFT" as a starting point for broad discussion. With screens full of desperate "stocks aren't rigged" HFT defenders seemingly most confused about what HFT is and does, perhaps instead of 'idiots' a better term would be "practitioners."
Dennis Gartman Comes Out In Defense Of HFT: "They Do Indeed Have Better Quality Computers Than Do We"Submitted by Tyler Durden on 04/02/2014 15:10 -0400
Presented with no commentary and with lots of laughter as yet one more "expert" who has no clue what HFT actually is (and every clue about being the market's best contrarian indicator - see here and here and here and here) comes out of the woodwork with a "world-renowned" opinion. Again.... and Again.... and Again. Needless to say, Gartman opining in favor of HFT effectively seals the debate if the vacuum tubes should all be done away with this nanosecond.
Almost a month ago, we wrote "This Is The One Financial Product Now Targeted By The HFT Swarm", in which after briefly perusing the Virtu S-1 filing, we concluded that "one product stood out. It is highlighted on the chart below: FX."
We are happy to report that this time the mainstream media is following our reports much more closely then five years ago, because overnight none other than Bloomberg came out with "High-Frequency Traders Chase Currencies as Stock Volume Recedes" in which we read, guess what, "Forget the equity market. For high-frequency traders, the place to be is foreign exchange." But our readers already knew this of course...
Suddenly the world is a buzz with the revelations that High Frequency Trading (HFT) may be doing more than actually harming the markets, it might be destroying the illusion they still are markets. This past Sunday the world at large was introduced that maybe, just maybe, something was amiss in the financial markets. Between the Federal Reserve's massive QE experiment amplified by the arms race of algorithmic technologies (aka HFT) to shave off a piece of that pie for themselves, the last few years have been nothing less than breathtaking. The only good thing that has come out lately on this whole issue of HFT is maybe for the first time in years the cover has been thrown off exposing the parasitic beast that’s been living just beneath the surface passing itself off as a symbiotic entity, rather than the pernicious monster its grown to be. Now the only question left to ask is: Can they invoke the death penalty for this creature... Without killing the patient?
For all the talk about how High Frequency Trading has rigged markets, most seem to be ignoring the two most obvious questions: why now and what happens next?
Since the beginning of 2013, the market has been seen as invulnerable. Despite issues in the Eurozone, rising turmoil in the Mideast, riots and political clashes, rising oil prices and weak economic data - these issues bounced off the markets will little effect. The markets craved "bad news" as it provided insurance that the Federal Reserve would continue its "liquidity drip." It is important to note in the first chart above, that some of the biggest negative annual returns eventually followed 30% up years. The current levels of margin debt, bullish sentiment, and institutional activity are indicative of an extremely optimistic view of the market. Regardless, it is important to understand that it is always just a function of "when" a mean reverting event will occur. Unfortunately for many investors who fail to understand the "risk" they have undertaken within their portfolios, when that time comes it will matter "a lot."
While every other asset class in the world has now been found to be subject to some form of manipulation (from LIBOR rates to FX fixes and from commodity warehousing to HFT equity front-running), the stakes in a COMEX silver/gold/copper manipulation lawsuit are staggering. Not only is market manipulation the most serious market crime possible, the markets that have been manipulated and the number of those injured are enormous. It is likely not an exaggeration to say that any finding that JPMorgan and the COMEX did manipulate prices as we contend could very well result in the highest damage awards in history. That’s no small thing considering the tens of billions of dollars that JPMorgan has coughed up recently for infractions in just about every line of their business. Our point is that no legal case could be potentially more lucrative or attention getting than this one. It is clear the CFTC will never act and so class-action lawsuits may just be the only way the data is du into deep enough to uncover the truth.
The Holy Grail Of Trading Has Been Found: HFT Firm Reveals 1 Losing Trading Day In 1238 Days Of TradingSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 03/10/2014 21:50 -0400
Think JPM's 0 trading day losses in 2013 was impressive? Prepare to have your mind blown. The chart below shows the chart of daily net trading income by High Frequency Trading titan Virtu, taken from its just filed IPO prospectus. The punchline: in 4 years of trading Virtu has had one, one, day in which it lost money. Let that sink in: one trading loss day and 1237 days of profits. And that, ladies and gentlemen, is the Holy Grail of the New Normal broken, manipulated markets.
There probably isn’t a more over-used phrase thrown across the media landscape than, “It’s different this time.” One can’t look at the financial markets, the political stage, and more without shaking ones head. Nothing seems to make sense. Yet if one wants to lazily answer, “It’s different this time.” Things become crystal clear. Water now seems to run uphill. The definition of words no longer mean what they once did. (we’re still marveling on what is – is) Free society means the loss of only a few freedoms per year, as opposed to everything at once. Work is a bad thing however, if someone else goes to work and pay for your things – then that’s good. You can keep your plan if you like your plan – but if we don’t like it – well – you can’t. The Federal Reserve would never monetize the debt – however if you’re a preferred dealer in the QE (quantitative easing) program – they’ll do it for you. These precarious times leave many scratching their heads. Expressed another way, When everyone is on the band wagon – except the band. You had better take notice.
- RBS plans dramatic scaling back, to fire 30,000 of its 120,000 workers (FT)
- Zuckerberg’s Data Stance Faces Privacy Backlash in Europe (BBG)
- WhatsApp Shows How Phone Carriers Lost Out on $33 Billion (BBG)
- Markets flooded with cash, should Fed prep to stamp out risk? (Reuters)
- Venezuela threatens to expel CNN over protest coverage (BBC)
- Firm Stops Giving High-Speed Traders Direct Access to Releases (WSJ)
- Obama Budget to Delete Proposal to Limit Social Security (BBG)
- Energy Holdings Prepares for a Breakup (WSJ)
- EU Struggles to Streamline Bank-Failure Plan for Weekends (BBG)
- Madoff said JPMorgan executives knew of his fraud (Reuters), and JPM admitted as much when it settled with the DOJ
The market value of a stock quote continues to plummet. As Nanex shows so graphically below, it's taking more quotes to get the same amount of trading done in today's stock market, meaning that everyone has to process more information than ever before, yet actual trading continues to stagnate... not just taking money out of the pockets of investors, but actually destroying wealth (not merely redistributing it).
The farce that is the so-called stock "market" gets more and more mindblowing every day. Following yesterday's record high volume in VIX futures and options, this morning saw one stock - the $4bn market cap WhiteWave Foods represent a stunning 27% of all quotes in this morning's pre-open. As Nanex notes in this great analysis, HFT algos generated 2.04 million quotes which created... drum roll please... 3 trades.
It's just sad now: with every passing day bringing new (and previously unseen) cases of high frequency trading algo-generated market halts or crashes, that none of the regulators are willing to take a stand against this market scourge that we have written about for nearly 5 years now, is a clear indication that the HFT lobby is firmly in control of what were once "capital markets" and that the retail investor is once again, the sacrificial lamb. But while it was one thing for the high freak thugs to control marginal price action through momentum ignition, quote stuffing, hide not slide, flash trades, and all the other well-known manipulative techniques which seemingly are too complicated for the SEC to figure out, in equities where things get really bad is when HFTs start crashing, or at least halting, the bond market at key market inflection points such as during the most important monthly data release, the payrolls release. This is precisely what happened on Friday, when as Nanex clearly shows, a momentum ignition algo sent the ZF (5 Year T-Note future) soaring and resulting in a 5 second - an eternity in today's nanosecond age - trading halt during the actual release of the BLS report.
Doing some detective work.
Nearly a year ago, we predicted that the party for bond traders was over. The reason: MBS bond trader Jesse Litvak, formerly of mid-tier, perpetual aspirational bulge bracket, and the place where every fired UBS banker has a safety cubicle, Jefferies, got not only too greedy (that's ok, everyone on Wall Street is), but what's worse, got caught, and as we said at the time, ended the party for Wall Street's bond trading cash bonanza. Little did we know how correct we would be, because not only did the former MBS trader, who "proceeded to rip virtually all of his clients on seemingly every single trade he executed for the three years he was employed at Jefferies, lying to everyone in the process: both clients and in house colleagues, generating some $2.7 million in additional revenue for Jefferies for the duration of his tenure, and who knows how much in personal bonuses", end the party, but it appears he unleashed the next big regulatory crack down on Wall Street. And one which may just cost perennial Department of Justice favorite JPMorgan another several billion in "litigation reserves."