Goldman Sachs

Here Come The Feds: FBI Probing HFT

It is perhaps little wonder that Virtu was in such a hurry to use the cover of the JOBS Act to IPO itself before the whole HFT 'game' was exposed. Just 5 years after we first drew the world's attention to the potential damage that HFT could do; and mere minutes after we posted our article on how HFT is being set up to be the scapegoat for all that is broken with the market and conveniently distracting from the Fed, and god, or perhaps his agent on earth Goldman Sachs, 'completely unexpectedly' sends in the FBI:

  • *FBI SAID TO PROBE HIGH-SPEED TRADERS OVER ABUSE OF INFORMATION
  • *FBI Working With SEC, CFTC in High-Speed Investigation
  • *FBI Investigating Whether High-Speed Firms Trade on Nonpublic Information

Now, the question is: how many HFTs will stop trading for fear that any further trading on 'non-public information' will be deemed criminal from this point... or keep trading and lobby/hope that "a reasonable man" will believe their liquidity-providing lies.

As If 194 Hedge Fund Suddenly Cried Out In Terror, And Were Suddenly Silenced

Another day, another disaster for GM. Moments ago, on top of the already previously reported numerous recalls by the car marker bailed out by the US government at a loss (but with so many votes for Obama won that who's counting), here is the latest.

GM TO RECALL MORE THAN 1.3 MILLION VEHICLES IN THE U.S.; GM EXPECTS TO TAKE A CHARGE OF UP TO APPROXIMATELY $750M

And the punchline: "GM SAYS VEHICLES MAY EXPERIENCE SUDDEN LOSS OF POWER STEERING."  Alas, as a result, hedge fund hotels may experience sudden loss of P&L, because as we reported previously GM just happens to be the most widely held hedge fund stock in the US currently, with some 194 brand name hedge fund holders according to Goldman Sachs, more than even Apple.

West Desperate To Break Russia-China Axis, But "Money Talks" Straight To Putin

Among other things, there is one major obstacle to the West's "costs" imposition on Vladimir Putin and his Russian economy - China. So far, a Xi Jinping has described, China has been a "sleeping lion" but today "the lion is awake" and with the Chinese President's first trip to Europe, as WSJ reports, western leaders are hoping to enlist his support over the crisis in Ukraine. However, privately, European diplomats concede that China's relationship with Russia remains solid and that was evidenced by their most recent investment in Russia's $10bn state-backed Direct Investment Fund (which just happens to be run by a former Goldman Sachs banker. It seems "money talks" once again and China will likely continue to play the middle ground.

Overnight Pump (Then Dump) - Day 6

By this point, one has to be impressed at the resilience with which algos repeat the same pattern over and over again, hoping for a different outcome. It is now the 6th day in a row that the JPY-carry trade (be it USDJPY, EURJPY or AUDJPY) driven levitation has pushed equity futures smartly up in overnight trading. And by all accounts - in the absence of ugly macro news which in today's sparse data line up (just Personal Income and Spending and UMich consumer condfidence) - the same post early highs fade we have seen every day in the past week will repeat again. The overnight euphoria was driven primarily by Europe where Bloomberg reported 2 Year Spanish yields have traded below those of the UK for the first time since 2009. And since it is obviously not the strong fundamentals, what is continuing to happen, as has been the case since October 2013, is everyone is pricing in the ECB's QE, which even Weidmann is openly talkin about  now, which simply means it will most likely never actually happen, certainly not until it is too late.

Frontrunning: March 27

  • BOE to Sign Agreement With China on Yuan Clearing Next Week (BBG)
  • U.S. law firm plans to bring suit against Boeing, Malaysia Airlines (Reuters)
  • Citigroup Fraud Stings Mexico Star as Medina-Mora Chased (BBG)
  • Fraternity Chief Feared for Son as Hazings Spurred JPMorgan Snub (BBG)
  • UBS suspends six more forex traders (FT)
  • Goodbye CSCO Q1 EPS: China to strengthen Internet security after U.S. spying report (Reuters)
  • Good luck: Spain Banks With $55 Billion of Property Seek Deals (BBG)
  • Citic Pacific Said to Plan About $4 Billion Public Offering (BBG)
  • Yahoo Japan to buy eAccess from SoftBank for $3.2 billion (Reuters)
  • "Whatever it takes" to talk down the Euro: Euro, peripheral bond yields fall on ECB easing debate (Reuters)

Another Morning Futures Pump - Will There Be A Fifth Consecutive Dump?

After tumbling overnight to just around 101.80, the USDJPY managed to stage a remarkable levitating comeback, rising all the way to 102.3, which in turn succeeded in closing the Nikkei 225 at the highs, up 1% after tumbling in early trade. The Shanghai Composite was not quite as lucky and as fear continue to weigh about a collapse in China's credit pipeline, the SHCOMP was down more than 0.8% while the PBOC withdreww even more net liquidity via repos than it did last week, at CNY 98 billion vs CNY 48 billion. That said, this morning will be the fifth consecutive overnight levitation in futures, which likely will once more surge right into the US market open to intraday highs, at which point slowy at first, then rapidly, fade again as the pattern has seemingly been set into algo random access memory. Which in a market devoid of human traders is all that matters.

Citi Tumbles Below $5/Share On A Split-Adjusted Basis After Failing Another Fed Stress Test

Another year, another failure by Citigroup to i) pass the Fed's stress test and ii) be able to stop investing cash in such idiotic fundamental concepts as CapEx, and instead reward activist shareholders with increased dividends and buybacks. As the WSJ reports, Citigroup "failed to get Federal Reserve approval to reward investors with dividends and stock buybacks, a significant blow to Chief Executive Michael Corbat's effort to bolster the bank's reputation following a 2008 government rescue." Hardly surprising for a bank which effectively was wiped out in the crisis and which only survived thanks to the Fed-backed crammed-up, spinoff of billions of toxic assets into a bank bank, however certainly surprising for a bank that is supposed to be "fixed" five years into a "recovery." What's worse, the stock is now trading below the infamous $5 level on a pre-split adjustment level - the same split that was supposed to at least optically, give the impression that things at Citi are ok. Turns out optics is only half the answer.

It's Another Non-Virtual Futures Ramp In A Virtual Reality World

Another morning melt up after a less than impressive session in China which saw the SHCOMP drop again reversing the furious gains in the past few days driven by hopes of more PBOC easing (despite China's repeated warning not to expect much). A flurry of market topping activity overnight once again, with Candy Crush maker King Digital pricing at $22.50 or the projected midpoint of its price range, and with FaceBook using more of its epically overvalued stock as currency to purchase yet another company, this time virtual reality firm Oculus VR for $2 billion. Perhaps an appropriate purchase considering the entire economy is pushed higher on pro-forma, "virtual" output, and the Fed's capital markets are something straight out of the matrix. Despite today's pre-open ramp, which will be the 4th in a row, one wonders if biotechs will finally break the downward tractor beam they have been latched on to as the bubble has shown signs of cracking, or will the mad momo crowd come back with a vengeance - this too will be answered shortly.

Fed Finds TBTF Banks Increase Systemic Risk, Have A Funding Advantage

For some inane reason, about a year ago, there was a brief - and painfully boring - academic tussle between one group of clueless economists and another group of clueless economists, debating whether Too Big To Fail banks enjoy an implicit or explicit taxpayer subsidy, courtesy of their systematic importance (because apparently the fact that these banks only exist because they are too big in the first place must have been lost on both sets of clueless economists). Naturally, it goes without saying that the Fed, which as even Fisher now admits, has over the past five years, worked solely for the benefit of its banker owners and a few good billionaires, has done everything in its power to subsidize banks as much as possible, which is why this debate was so ridiculous it merited precisely zero electronic ink from anyone who is not a clueless economist. Today, the debate, for what it's worth, is finally over, when yet another set of clueless economists, those of the NY Fed itself, say clearly and on the record, that TBTF banks indeed do get a subsidy. To wit: " in fact, the very largest (top-five) nonbank firms also enjoy a funding advantage, but for very large banks it’s significantly larger, suggesting there’s a TBTF funding advantage that’s unique to mega-banks."

Frontrunning: March 24

  • U.S. Small-Cap Rally Sends Valuation 26% Above 1990s  (BBG)
  • Russian troops seize Ukraine marine base in Crimea (Reuters)
  • Apple in Talks With Comcast About Streaming-TV Service (WSJ)
  • Top J.P. Morgan Executive in China to Leave Bank (WSJ)
  • Treasury's Lew to undergo treatment for enlarged prostate (Reuters)
  • Billionaire Sought by U.S. Holds Key to Putin Gas Cash  (BBG)
  • Israel closes embassies around the world as diplomats strike (Reuters)
  • Herbalife to Nominate Three More Icahn Candidates to Board (BBG)
  • Australian ship homes in on possible debris from Malaysia plane (Reuters)
  • California DMV Investigating Potential Credit Card Breach (WSJ)