Gross: What hath Kuroda wrought? JGB yields a bigger influence on Treasuries than tapering potential.
— PIMCO (@PIMCO) May 28, 2013
Just over 4 hours ago we discussed the stunning collapse in 10Y Japanese bond yields. Since then - things have taken a very dramatic turn for the worse for bonds. 10Y JGB yields have exploded higher. The move from 32bps to 65bps triggered circuit breakers on the Tokyo Stock Exchange in JGB Futures trading as JGB prices plunged by their largest amount since September 2002. We can only imagine there is liquidations galore occurring given the massive outsize moves we are seeing in Japanese bonds, stocks, FX, swaps, and CDS. Did the BoJ just lose control?
According to the updated NYSE Q2 circuit breaker levels, it will take a 4,350 point drop in the NYSE for an all day trading halt. Of course, if the DJIA tumbles by 30% intraday, whether to close the several hundred shares trading on the NYSE will be the last thing on people's minds.
Here a three views that are outside the consensus.
A few days ago, Credit Suisse did something profoundly unexpected: its Trading Strategy team led by Jonathan Tse released a report titled "High Frequency Trading - Measurement, Detection and Response" in which the firm - one of the biggest flow and prop traders by equity volume in both light and dark venues - admitted what Zero Hedge has been alleging for years (and has gotten sick and tired of preaching), and which the regulators have been unable to grasp and comprehend: that high frequency trading is a predatory system which abuses market structure and topology, which virtually constantly engages in such abusive trading practices as the Nanex-branded quote stuffing, as well as layering, spoofing, order book fading, and, last but not least, momentum ignition. While we we cover the full report in the next few days and all its SEC-humiliating implications, it is the last aspect that we wish to focus on because while all the prior ones have been extensively covered on these pages in the past, it is the phenomenon of momentum ignition that goes straight at the dark beating heart of today's zombie markets: momentum, momentum, and more momentum, in which nothing but stop hunts and even more momentum, define the "fair value" of any risk asset - i.e., reflexivity at its absolute worst (in addition to Fed intervention of course), where value is implied by technicals and trading patterns, and where algos buy simply because other algos are buying. Behold robotic stop hunts: HFT-facilitated "Momentum Ignition."
The EU assembly just voted affirmatively to impose a spate of rules to control 'high-frequency-trading that, as the WSJ reports, was advanced by Germany following their concerns that speedy traders have brought instability to markets. It is somehow reassuring that three-years after we first brought HFT to the mainstream's agenda, at least one nation is taking it seriously, doing something about it, instead of being filibustered into the 'liquidity-providing' meme. The rules will initially require registration, collect fees on excessive use of HFT methods, and install circuit breakers with the goals to "limit the risks associated with high-frequency trading" per a senior German FinMin; but the more stringent rules to come will have the greatest impact as they intend to include requirements for orders to rest on the exchange book for at least half-a-second, and potentially order-to-trade ratio caps. Not surprisingly, the HFTs believe a "one-size-fits-all approach would be very harmful." Indeed - to their profits.
- Italy Says It Won't Seek Aid (WSJ)... and neither will Spain, so no OMT activation, ever. So why buy bonds again?
- European Lenders Keep Ties to Iran (WSJ)
- Fink Belies Being Boring Telling Customers to Buy Stocks (Bloomberg)
- Dutch Voters Buck Euro Debt Crisis to Re-Elect Rutte as Premier (Bloomberg)
- China's Xi cited in state media as health rumors fly (Reuters)
- China vs Japan: Tokyo must come back 'from the brink' (China Daily)
- Manhattan Apartment Vacancy Rate Climbs After Rents Reach Record (Bloomberg)
- Well-to-do get mortgage help from Uncle Sam (Reuters)
- Princeton Endowment Expected to Rise Less Than 5% in Year (Bloomberg)
- Protesters Encircle U.S. Embassy in Yemen (WSJ)
- US groups step up sales of non-core units (FT)
In the aftermath of Knight's crushing algo-driven error and subsequent cash loss, which may well prove terminal for the business - an artifact of a broken market we have been warning and writing about since 2009 - we present some informative insights into the various eras of Wall Street trading errors courtesy of that grizzled trading veteran, the Chairman of the Fermentation Committee, Art Cashin.
We all know something went horribly wrong in various NYSE-traded stocks today between 9:30 am and 10:15 am. So wrong in fact that the NYSE had to step in and cancel numerous trades in 6 symbols. However it did not DK millions of other trades in 134 other symbols, the vast majority of which we assume traded errantly due to the market making of Knight Capital (as admitted by the company), which today saw its biggest drop ever since going public on volume about 60 times greater than its average. We also all know that one should buy low and sell high. At least that is what human traders are taught, and that is what they attempt. Because if one consistently does the opposite, one will simply run out of money. Well, the opposite is precisely what the berserk algo in Knight's Market Making group may have done if Nanex, which has done a forensic analysis of one of the trades in question, is correct. In other words, instead of at least attempting to provide liquidity via limit trades, Knight's algorithm acted as a market order... gone horribly wrong. As the third chart below shows what the algo did with furious repetition and steadfast consistency was to buy at the offer, and sell at the bid, in other words buy high and sell low. Over and over and over and over. As Nanex laconically notes, "In the case of EXC, that means losing about 15 cents on every pair of trades. Do that 40 times a second, 2400 times a minute, and you now have a system that's very efficient at burning money." Which also means that by not DK'ing several hundred million prints, the NYSE may have just thrown Knight under the bus, because the market maker is suddenly on the hook for tens if not hundreds of millions in inverse market making profits.
Back in October 19, 1988, in response to Black Monday from a year earlier (the SEC is not known for fast turnaround times) a little known SEC rule came into effect, known as Rule 80B, and somewhat better known as "Trading Halts Due to Extraordinary Market Volatility" which set trigger thresholds for market wide circuit breakers - think a wholesale temporary market shutdown. According to Rule 80B (as revised in 1998), the trigger levels for a market-wide trading halt were set at 10%, 20% and 30% of the DJIA. Needless to say, a 30% drop in the market in our day and age when the bulk of US wealth is concentrated in the stock market, would be a shot straight to the heart of the entire capitalist system. Which is why the smallest gating threshold is and has always been the key.However, despite the revision, as anyone who traded stocks on that fateful day in May knows, the market-wide circuit breakers were completely ineffective and unused during the HFT-induced and ETF-facilitated flash crash of May 6, 2010. In turn, the SEC's flash crash response was to implement individual stock-level circuit breakers which however, instead of restoring confidence in the market, have become the butt of daily jokes involving freaked out algos. This was merely the most recent indication of how horribly the SEC's attempts to "regulate" a market it no longer has any grasp or understanding of, backfire on it. However, even that may pale in comparison to just how badly the SEC may have blundered yesterday afternoon, when it proposed yet another revision to its market-wide halt rule. And once again, instead of making traders and investors more comfortable that the SEC is capable and in control, the questions have already come pouring in: is the SEC preparing for another massive market crash?
While much has already been written on the topic of peak valuation, social bubbles popping, and the ethical social utility of yesterday's historically overhyped IPO, nobody has done an analysis of the actual stock trading dynamics as in-depth as the following complete forensic post-mortem by Nanex. Because more than anything, those tense 30 minutes between the scheduled open and the actual one (which just happened to coincide with the European close), showed just how reliant any form of public capital raising is on technology and electronic trading. And to think there was a time when an IPO simply allowed a company to raise cash: sadly it has devolved to the point where a public offering is a policy statement in support of a broken capital market, which however is fully in the hands of SkyNet, as yesterday's chain of events, so very humiliating for the Nasdaq, showed. From a delayed opening, to 2 hour trade confirmation delays, virtually everyone was in the dark about what was really happening behind the scenes! As the analysis below shows, what happened was at times sheer chaos, where everything was hanging by a thread, because if FB had gotten the BATS treatment, it was lights out for the stock market. Well, the D-Day was avoided for now, but at what cost? And how much over the greenshoe FaceBook stock overallotment did MS have to buy to prevent it from tumbling below $30 because as Reuters reminds us, "had Morgan Stanley bought all of the shares traded around $38 in the final 20 minutes of the day, it would have spent nearly $2 billion." What about the first defense of $38? In other words: in order to make some $67 million for its Investment Banking unit, was MS forced to eat a several hundred million loss in its sales and trading division just to avoid looking like the world's worst underwriter ever? We won't know for a while, but in the meantime, here is a visual summary of the key events during yesterday's far less than historic IPO.
"In the last three plus years, central banks have had little choice but to do the unsustainable in order to sustain the unsustainable until others do the sustainable to restore sustainability!" is how PIMCO's El-Erian introduces the game-theoretic catastrophe that is potentially occurring around us. In a lecture to the St.Louis Fed, the moustachioed maestro of monetary munificence states "let me say right here that the analysis will suggest that central banks can no longer – indeed, should no longer – carry the bulk of the policy burden" and "it is a recognition of the declining effectiveness of central banks’ tools in countering deleveraging forces amid impediments to growth that dominate the outlook. It is also about the growing risk of collateral damage and unintended circumstances." It appears that we have reached the legitimate point of – and the need for – much greater debate on whether the benefits of such unusual central bank activism sufficiently justify the costs and risks. This is not an issue of central banks’ desire to do good in a world facing an “unusually uncertain” outlook. Rather, it relates to questions about diminishing returns and the eroding potency of the current policy stances. The question is will investors remain "numb and sedated…. by the money sloshing around the system?" or will "the welfare of millions in the United States, if not billions of people around the world, will have suffered greatly if central banks end up in the unpleasant position of having to clean up after a parade of advanced nations that headed straight into a global recession and a disorderly debt deflation." Of course, it is a rhetorical question.
UPDATE: Added Nanex tick/quote charts "Thank you Mary for the wonderful stub quote ban..."
Presented with little comment except absolute incredulity that this is still occurring day-in and day-out with no real discussion beyond our friends at ITG...
*SHORT MUNI ETF PAUSED BY CIRCUIT BREAKER ON RISE OF UP TO 43%
SMB just jumped 43% in seconds on a string of 100/200 lot trades cascading up and then disappearing as circuit breakers halted it.