Ken Griffin

What DOJ Probe: Citadel Acquires Electronic Trading Pioneer ATD To Cement HFT Dominance

Less than a week after Reuters broke the story that the Department of Justice is probing HFT powerhouse Citadel, which admits it executes 35% of all trades by retail investors in U.S.-listed stocks, whether it is also frontrunning those orders (an allegation that many are convinced is a rock-solid fact) we find that billionaire Ken Griffin is not at all concerned about the outcome of the investigation on his core business model and is instead expanding. Citadel is acquiring the equity-trading operations of Citigroup’s Automated Trading Desk division, one of the pioneers of high-frequency trading.

DOJ Probing Whether Citadel Is Frontrunning Its Clients

We were not surprised, though certainly delighted, to see that after years of railing against Citadel's dominant position at the intersection of HFT trading and retail orderflow - recently Citadel was found to be the largest private US trading venue - this morning Reuters reports that Federal authorities are investigating the market-making arms of Citadel LLC and KCG Holdings looking into the possibility that the two giants of electronic trading are giving small investors a poor deal when executing stock transactions on their behalf. In other words, the DOJ is looking into whether Citadel is frontrunning its clients, something we have claimed for years.

Is Citadel Unwinding A $50 Billion Portfolio In The Aftermath Of The Surveyor Debacle

The WSJ writes that "through the second week of February, Citadel’s main fund is down 6.5% this year, a person familiar with the matter said." As Copeland notes, "Mr. Griffin grapples with a money-losing stretch unusual for one of the hedge-fund world’s marquee names." That is only part of the story. Here is what the WSJ missed. As our source reveals, Citadel is quietly trying to unwind the $50 billion leveraged Surveyor portfolio.

The Billionaire's Pick: How Marco Rubio Became The Preferred Puppet Of GOP Oligarchs

As concerning and hateful as so much of Trump’s commentary is, we can at least be sure he speaks from his own twisted mind. This is precisely why he appeals to so many people in this day and age of completely captured politicians. People like the fact that every word out of his mouth hasn’t been carefully placed there by some billionaire patron. On the exact opposite end of that spectrum we find Marco Rubio. A man so incapable of free-thought, he becomes the ideal target for billionaires looking to craft the perfect puppet. Forget Jeb Bush, Marco Rubio is now the establishment GOP’s pick, and they will do everything in their power to get him the nomination.

Frontrunning: August 4

  • Unhappy Voters Shake Up Presidential Race (WSJ)
  • China stock exchanges step up crackdown on short-selling (Reuters)
  • China Dethroned as World’s Most Liquid Stock Market After Curbs (BBG)
  • Xiaomi retakes the smartphone lead in China as Apple slips (Engadget)
  • Impact of EPA’s Emissions Rule on Industry to Vary (WSJ)
  • Citadel’s Ken Griffin Leaves 2008 Tumble Far Behind (WSJ)
  • Greece says expects bailout deal by Aug 18 (Reuters)

"More Probable Than Not"

To use the ponderous, legally parsed language of the NFL’s Wells Report on “deflate-gate”, language which we think wonderfully encapsulates the pinched spirit of our age, here are four things that we believe are “more probable than not”: 1) Alex Rodriguez has routinely used steroids and PED’s of various stripes since he was a sophomore in high school; 2) Tom Brady has routinely bribed equipment managers with autographed jerseys and new shoes in order to receive footballs deflated well below what he knew was the legal limit; 3) Janet Yellen has routinely leaked market-moving information to favored private sector conduits, and has also sought to quash internal investigations of same; and 4) Ben Bernanke is for sale to the highest bidder.  But here’s the thing, we're not that worked up about 'any' of these issues. What we are worked up about, though, is the mendacity - the utter lack of character and authenticity - on full display in all of these cases. All of these cases and so many, many more.

Tepper Topples From Top 10 Highest-Earning Hedgies

For the first time in 4 years, Appaloosa Management's David Tepper is not the highest-earning hedge fund manager in the world. Plunging from No.1 to tied-for-11th (with a mere $400 million earned last year) Tepper appears to have suddenly found investing difficult now that The Fed has stopped printing money (up just 2.2%). What is more ironic, perhaps, is that the other alleged beneficiary of Fed largesse (and recent hirer or blogger Ben Bernanke) - Citadel tops the list with Ken Griffin making $1.3 billion last year.

Citadel Head Bond Trader (And TBAC Member) "Leaves" After Losing $1 Billion

It is almost too coincidental to be a coincidence: on the day Ben Bernanke, who until a year ago was the biggest fixed income portfolio manager in the world courtesy of the Fed's $4.5 trillion in assets, joins Citadel as an advisor, the massively levered "market-neutral" hedge fund which as we showed earlier has $176 billion in regulatory assets, "loses" its global head of fixed income, senior managing director Derek Kaufman. Well not exactly loses. The reason for his "voluntary" departure: according to Bloomberg Kaufman is leaving Citadel not because he is about to be replaced by the former Fed chairman but because last year he lost $1 billion "in a variety of trades."

The Plunge Protection Team Is Opening An HFT-Focused Chicago Office

"The Markets Group at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York manages the size and composition of the Federal Reserve System’s balance sheet consistent with the directives and the authorization of the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC), supports debt issuance and debt management on behalf of the U.S. Treasury, provides foreign exchange services to the U.S. Treasury and provides account services to foreign central banks, international agencies and U.S. government agencies. Markets Group is establishing a presence at the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago and has openings for both experienced professionals and recent graduates.

Key Events In The Coming Busy Week

Now that the World Cup is over, and following last week's global macro reporting slumber (aside for the Portuguese risk flaring episode of course), things pick up quite a bit in the coming week. Here are the key events.

CME Sued For Giving "High-Frequency Traders Peek At Market" Since 2007

Now that both the FBI and the DOJ have woken up from a half-decade slumber realizing there was riggedness, RIGGEDNESS going on in these here stock markets courtesy of Michael Lewis' book, it wasn't long before those most impacted by the frontrunning startegies of HFTs spoke up - anyone who has lost money in the stock market since Reg NMS was conceived. Sure enough, in a lawsuit that was just filed by lead plaintiff William Charles Braman, seeking class-action status, and filed on behalf of all users of real-time futures market data and futures contracts listed on the CBOT and CME from 2007 to now, the CME is allegd to have sold order information to high-frequency traders ahead of other market participants.