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)
Today, we can finally end any debate on the topic of just where the world's illegal money comes to roost. The answer: ultra-luxury real estate, primarily in New York, courtesy of a report in New York magazine that catches up with what we first said in the summer of 2012, and which is titled, appropriately enough: "Stash Pad."
- Facebook Researchers Manipulated News Feeds in 2012 Study (BBG)
- Argentina at Brink of Default as $539 Million Payment Due (BBG)
- Hedge fund correlation risk alarms investors (FT)
- As China Flexes Muscle, Obama Frets Over Rival’s Weakness (BBG)
- As caliphate declared, Iraqi troops battle for Tikrit (Reuters)
- Dubai Caps Worst Month Since 2008 as Real Estate Stocks Tumble (BBG)
- Russian Advisers Ready Iraq to Use New Combat Aircraft (BBG)
- Blackstone Readies Big-Bet Hedge Fund (WSJ) - so what was GSO?
- Pope says communists are closet Christians (Reuters)
- Thomson Reuters revising FX trading standards (Reuters)
It is the last day of not only the month but also the quarter, not to mention the halfway point of 2014, which means that window dressing by hedge funds will be rampant, as they scramble to catch up some of the ground lost to the S&P 500 so far in 2014. Most likely this means that once again the most shorted names will ramp in everyone's face and the short side of the hedgie book will soar, further pushing hedged P&L into the red, because remember: in a market in which all the risk is borne by the Fed there is no need to hedge.
- 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)
Abe's honeymoon is over. Following nearly two years of having free reign to crush the Japanese economy with his idiotic monetary and fiscal policies - but, but the Nikkei is up - the market may have finally pulled its head out of its, well, sand, and after last night's abysmal economic data from Japan which saw not only the highest (cost-push) inflation rate since 1982, in everything but wages (hence, zero demand-pull) - after wages dropped for 23 consecutive months, disposable income imploded - but a total collapse in household spending, the USDJPY appears to have finally been dislodged from its rigged resting place just around 102. As a result the 50 pip overnight drop to 101.4 was the biggest drop in over a month. And since the Nikkei is nothing but the USDJPY (same for the S&P), Japan stocks tumbled 1.4%, their biggest drop in weeks, as suddenly the days of the grand Keynesian ninja out of Tokyo appear numbered. Unless Nomura manages to stabilize USDJPY and push it higher, look for the USDJPY to slide back to double digits in the coming weeks.
Now that any credibility Barclays, pardon Darklays, may have had in the capital markets has drowned at the bottom of its (soon to be shuttered) dark pool, it is time to start making fun of the bank. To do that we bring our readers the British bank's "Ongoing Commitment to Transparency", and specifiically the "Equities Electronic Order Handling." Curiously, nowhere in said book does it say that the bank will route the vast majority of its trades to the most lucrative predatory HFT algos lurking deep in the bowels of LX, which incidentally is co-located in the Savvis NJ2 Data Center in Weehawken, New Jersey, may it rest in piece now that nobody on the buyside will ever use it again. What it does report are the following creative lies, which we reveal to the general public because after all remember: the biggest defense the HFT lobby makes is that "whatever HFT does it never hurt retail investors." We will let retail investors decide for themselves.
First, it was gold manipulation and now alleged equity market rigging; it seems investors (and customers) have finally had enough. Barclays stock price is down over 8% today and trading back at 18 month lows. Of course, we will hear that this is the kitchen sink quarter etc... "remember the London Whale" but the trail of alleged fraud (and the damning emails) suggests catching this falling knife is anything but a "no brainer"...
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).
Following yesterday's revelations that Barclays was raping its clients, maliciously misrepresenting and lying to them on a daily basis, who could have possibly foreseen the following development:
- BARCLAYS SAID TO LOSE DARK POOL TRADING CUSTOMERS AFTER SUIT
- BARCLAYS SAID TO BE SHUNNED BY BERNSTEIN, VOYA AFTER SUIT
Furthermore, traders are getting notifications that routing to LX is now down, meaning the dark pool is now merely... dark.
- 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.
First it was gold, now it is HFT - poor Barclays just can't get away with any market rigging crime these days: "In sum, Barclays’ courting of high frequency traders, and its willingness to falsify the extent of high frequency trading activity in its dark pool, was contrary to Barclays’ representations to clients that Barclays operated with “transparency” and provided a safe venue in which to trade. As described by one former senior Barclays Director: “there was a lot going on in the dark pool that was not in the best interests of clients. The practice of almost ensuring that every counterparty would be a high frequency firm, it seems to me that that wouldn’t be in the best interest of their clients . . . It’s almost like they are building a car and saying it has an airbag and there is no airbag or brakes.”
In what appears to be the first real action post-Flash Boys, NY AG Eric Schneiderman will announce at 4pm ET that Barclays will be sued over fraud allegations related to its Dark Pool's preferential treatment of high-frequency traders. As Bloomberg notes, Barclays runs one of the market's largest dark pools. This comes 2 months after the NY AG sent requests for information to various major HFT shops. It seems, just as we noted here, that a potential scapegoat is being primed 'just in case' this 'market' can't withstand the Fed's pullback.