Ironically, the very success of stock market manipulation only thins the market of legitimate participants and thus increases the probability that risk that has been suppressed for years will erupt uncontrollably. That the stock market is manipulated is no longer in question. One explicit goal in the Fed's zero-interest rate policy (ZIRP) is to drive capital into risk assets such as stocks. That is a first-order, transparent policy of manipulation, i.e. a centrally managed policy aimed at managing markets to meet a key central-planning goal: creating an illusion of prosperity via an elevated stock market and the resultant "wealth effect" for the 10% who own enough stocks to matter. Indirect manipulation is hidden from public view lest the rigging of the market taint the perception that a rising market is "proof" that Federal Reserve and Administration policies are "succeeding." Indirect manipulation is achieved via Federal Reserve quantitative easing operations, unlimited liquidity and lines of credit to fund bank speculations and masked buying of market futures. This multilevel manipulation creates a Boolean either/or for any Bear market: either it is a planned "panic" that profits the banks or a systemic failure of the orchestrated campaign of market manipulation.
If you often wonder why ‘free market capitalism’ feels like it is failing despite universal assurances from economists and political pundits that it is working as intended, your intuition is correct. Free market capitalism has become a thing of the past. In truth free market capitalism has been replaced by something that is truly anti-free market and anti-capitalistic. The diversion operates in plain sight. Beginning sometime around 1970 the U.S. and most of the ‘free world’ have diverged from traditional “free market capitalism” to something different. Today the U.S. and much of the world’s economies are operating under what I call Monetary Fascism: a system where financial interests control the State for the advancement of the financial class. This is markedly different from traditional Fascism: a system where State and industry work together for the advancement of the State. Monetary Fascism was created and propagated through the Chicago School of Economics. Milton Friedman’s collective works constitute the foundation of Monetary Fascism. Today the financial and banking class enforces this ideology through the media and government with the same ruthlessness of the Church during the Dark Ages: to question is to be a heretic. When asked in an interview what humanities’ future looked like, Eric Blair, better known as George Orwell, said “Imagine a boot smashing a human face forever.”
- Global easing deluge resumes: Bank of Korea Slashes Policy Rate (WSJ)
- And Brazil: Brazil cuts Selic rate to new record low of 7.25 pct (Reuters)
- With Tapes, Authorities Build Criminal Cases Over JPMorgan Loss (NYT) Just don't hold your breath
- IMF snub reveals China’s political priorities (FT)
- Add a dash of trade wars: Revised Duties Imposed by U.S. on Chinese Solar Equipment (Bloomberg)
- IMF calls for action as euro zone crisis festers (Reuters)
- Dubai Losing Billions as Insecure Expats Send Money Abroad (BBG)
- Softbank in Advanced Talks to Acquire Sprint Nextel (WSJ)
- Lagarde calls for brake on austerity (FT)
- EU lambasts Turkey over freedoms (FT)
- Race Tightens in Two States (WSJ)
...the pushback from Wall Street was intense and multi-pronged. The Blob oozed through the halls of government, seeking, through its glutinous embrace, to immobilize the legislative and regulatory apparatus, thereby preserving the status quo. The executive jets of the Wall Street air force flew sortie after sortie, transporting high-ranking emissaries from new York to Washington to meet with the SEC, [Senator Chris] Dodd and [Senator Richard] Shelby staff, and the staff of other senators on the Banking Committee. Some of the executives, no doubt less enthusiastically, even met with Josh and me. The research companies and market experts Wall Street employs also raised their voices against us. At times it got ugly. Ted was called a crackpot and dangerously uninformed. He was accused of “politicizing” market regulation (a strange notion considering he wasn’t running for election). It seemed as if Wall Street, which wasn’t used to someone on Capitol Hill asking in-depth questions about arcane issues, wished to silence or marginalize its critics. Industry people would always ask me, “What got Kaufman so interested in this stuff?” Used to politicians whose top priorities were to please their home-state business interests and raise money, they had trouble fathoming that Ted was so interested because it was the right thing to do. He believed in fair markets. And because he was genuinely concerned about emerging issues that threatened the stock market, where half of all Americans keep a sizable portion of their retirement savings.
Here are some common-sense rules for such a "new market":
- Every offer and bid will be left up for 15 minutes and cannot be withdrawn until 15 minutes has passed.
- Every security--stock or option--must be held for a minimum of one hour.
- Every trade must be placed by a human being.
- No equivalent of the ES/E-Mini contract--the futures contract for the S&P 500--will be allowed. The E-Mini contract is the favorite tool of the Federal Reserve's proxies, the Plunge Protection Team and other offically sanctioned manipulators, as a relatively modest sum of money can buy a boatload of contracts that ramp up the market.
- All bids, offers and trades will be transparently displayed in a form and media freely available to all traders with a standard PC and Internet connection.
- Any violation of #3 will cause the trader and the firm he/she works for to be banned from trading on the exchange for life--one strike, you're out.
Is such a retail-trader friendly exchange possible? There would certainly be a nice profit in it, for everyone who is tired of providing liquidity for HFT firms would flee the existing exchanges in a New York minute.
Nanex's excellent and thorough analysis of sub-penny trade data doesn't support SEC's conclusions about internalizers as written in the final flash crash report. There is abundant evidence that internalizer software was acutely sensitive to the integrity of the consolidated feed and would switch off internal matching only if and only when the quote was crossed. Furthermore, short term volatility had little, if any impact on the number of sub-penny trades. About the only thing Nanex findings have in common with the SEC report on this matter, is that the date in question was May 6, 2010. This revelation, that internalizer software is sensitive to the integrity of the consolidated quote, means someone could manipulate the consolidated quote in order to cause internalizer software to reject valuable retail orders and spill them to dark pools or exchanges. This may explain the common micro-bursts of activity that occur throughout the trading day and cause a number of stocks to have crossed quotes in the consolidated feed - and implicitly open the broad market itself to these micro-bursts causing another flash crash.
In tort law, an attractive nuisance is any potentially hazardous object or condition that is likely to attract the naive and unwary, i.e. children. A classic example is an abandoned swimming pool half-filled with fetid water. The stock market is demonstrably an "attractive nuisance" and should be closed immediately. It should never be reopened unless these conditions can be met: 1) All shares must be owned for at least four hours 2) All trading must be executed by humans on a transparent exchange where all trading activity (and open orders) is visible to all participants 3) Intervention in the market by the Federal Reserve or any Central State agency or agents is against the law. If you insist on putting money at risk in the stock market, be aware that you are playing a rigged roulette wheel and thus you are a mark. You might win, or the entire game might collapse in a rotten heap of lies and corruption. Just remember that the market is ruled by parasites who need to keep their hosts (investors) alive so they can continue to feed off them (i.e. biotrophic parasites). If the hosts all leave the market, the parasites will have only themselves to feed on, and they will quickly expire.
The 'what we lose in margin, we'll make up for in volume' strategy is failing. And for the NYSE it is failing large. The decision to 'enable' HFT - for its 'liquidity-provision', which after all has done nothing but expose the dismal reality of a market structure designed to nickel-and-dime retail til the last penny drops, has had the absolute opposite unintended consequence of driving the only real liquidity provider - the retail trader putting his real money to work - out of the market. As Securities Technology reports, the NYSE Euronext reports daily volume of trading stocks down 16.9% from a year ago (and down 17.8% YTD compared to last year) and down 9.9% from June alone. NYSE/Arca/MKT's share of trading in NYSE-listed stocks is down 34.3% from a year ago as the dark pools rise, and with volumes collapsing it is only likely that we will see far more 'incidents' such as Knight - where companies whose top-line explicitly stems from flow trading - increasingly find themselves redundant; whether or not this is due to a self-inflicted algo, or other, potentially more sinister, reasons.
Active traders and professional money managers already know how the U.S. stock market actually works, but Joe and Jane Citizen, whose pensions generally depend on the market in some way, typically do not. This entry is for them. Today's financial markets are endlessly complex, and this complexity implicitly serves to mask the true nature of market operations. Most of this complexity can be boiled away with zero loss of understanding. Indeed, manipulating this complexity is what earns the big bucks on Wall Street, while boiling it away earns the big bucks for commentators and analysts. Thus complexity serves the financial industry extremely well.
- The first and most important thing to understand about the U.S. stock market is how few humans are actually involved in the decision to buy or sell large blocks of shares.
- The second important thing to know about the stock market is that central banks and governments intervene as buyers to trigger rallies and put floors under declines.
- The third thing to know about U.S. stock market is that their operations are opaque, invisible, and hidden from the citizenry and non-Elite human traders.
- The fourth and last thing to know about U.S. stock markets is that this skimming and intervention have left the markets extremely vulnerable to collapse.
While the attached interview between the Casey Report and HFT expert Garrett from CalibratedConfidence will not reveal much unknown new to those who have been following the high frequency trading topic ever since ZH made it a mainstream issue in April of 2009, it will serve as a great foundation for all those new to the topic who are looking for an honest, unbiased introduction to what is otherwise a nebulous and complicated matter. We urge everyone who is even remotely interested in market structure, broken markets and the future of trading to read the observations presented below.
The Island-Renaissance fusion was a vision of the future in which high-speed AI-guided robots would operate on lightning-fast electronic pools, controlling the daily ebb and flow of the market. The AI Bots poured their valuable liquidity into Island, which, in turn, made it possible for the Bots to operate at high frequencies. They fed off one another, creating a virtuous cycle that would become un- stoppable. Little-known outfits such as Timber Hill, Tradebot, RGM, and Getco would soon start trading on Island, forming the emergent ganglia of a new space-age trading organism driven by machines. Tricked-out artificial intelligence systems designed to scope out hid- den pockets in the market where they could ply their trades powered many of these systems. In the process, the very structure of how the U.S. stock market worked would shift to meet the endless needs of the Bots. The human middlemen, though they didn’t know it, were being phased out, doomed as dinosaurs. And the machines were breeding more machines in an endless cycle of innovation, as programmers pushed the boundaries of speed more ruthlessly than Olympic sprinters. Trading algorithms would mutate, grow, and evolve, feeding off one another like evolving species in a vast and growing digital pool.
High-frequency trading became so competitive that on a truly level playing field no one could make money operating at high volumes. Starting in 2008, there had been a frantic rush into the high-frequency gold mine at a time when nearly every other investment strategy on Wall Street was imploding. That competition was making it very hard for the firms to make a profit without using methods that Bodek viewed as seedy at best. And so a complex system evolved to pick winners and losers. It was done through speed and exotic order types. If you didn’t know which orders to use, and when to use them, you lost nearly every time. To Bodek, it was fundamentally unfair—it was rigged. There were too many conflicts of interest, too many shared benefits between exchanges and the traders they catered to. Only the biggest, most sophisticated, connected firms in the world could win this race.
Haim Bodek thought practically nonstop for days about what the trade-venue representative had told him that night at the New York party. The way that the abusive order types worked made him think back to a document he’d been given by a colleague that summer as he researched what was going wrong at Trading Machines. The document was a detailed blueprint of a high-frequency method that was said to be popular in Chicago’s trading circles.
It was called the “0+ Scalping Strategy.”
In early December 2009, Haim Bodek finally solved the riddle of the stock-trading problem that was killing Trading Machines, the high-frequency firm he’d help launch in 2007. The former Goldman Sachs and UBS trader was attending a party in New York City sponsored by a computer-driven trading venue. He’d been complaining for months to the venue about all the bad trades—the runaway prices, the fees—that were bleeding his firm dry. But he’d gotten little help.
Some interesting market chatter was recently intercepted: if true, then JP may be quietly offloading at least some part of his financial exposure using dark liquidity.