Having been the first to warn the world about the perils of high frequency trading nearly 5 years ago, when momentum ignition, layering and quote stuffing were still incomprehensible buzzwords to all but a select few algo traders from Citadel, GETCO and DE Shaw, and warning about such top-down systemic lock ups like flash-crash over a year in advance; as well as the bottom-up impacts of 20 year old math PhDs being in charge of market topology, our crusade from the micro has since shifted to the macro and the primary nemesis of all that is free and fair, the Federal Reserve. In the intervening years, traders such as Haim Bodek opened the HFT kimono even more publicly a few years ago. The following is a must-watch documentary for every investor and trader to comprehend just what it is (and who it is) that drives stock prices day in and day out.
- Fed likely to reduce bond buying, pass policy milestone (Reuters)
- Fall in Home Loans Pushing Fed Away From Taper in Mortgage Bonds (BBG)
- Russia says U.N. report on Syria attack preconceived, political (Reuters)
- China House Price Surge Raises Prospect of Steps to Cool Market (FT)
- Cyprus Plans to Complete End of All Capital Controls... some time in 2014 (FT)
- GOP Reworks Budget Terms (WSJ)
- U.S. Navy was warned that Washington shooter 'heard voices' (Reuters)
- Berlusconi Impeachment Vote Looms (WSJ)
- Ageing could weaken central banks, spur rate volatility (Reuters)
BlackBerry All But Finished Following "Dismal" Sales, "Virtually No Demand" For Keyboard-Equipped Q10Submitted by Tyler Durden on 08/29/2013 08:14 -0500
Research In Motion BlackBerry may have to rename itself again. Or Thorstein Heins will have to do a Vogue cover spread. Or the company will have to take a page from the Amazon playbook and revel in its losses (with the help of a few DE Shaw algos of course). Or, worst case, Carl iCahn will have to tweet that his breakfast plans include checking his email on a BlackBerry. Because operationally the company is set to become the functional equivalent of JCP, especially following the latest news from the WSJ that sales of the company's Hail Mary product, the keyboard-equipped Q10, have been "dismal."
Nearly three years ago, following the publishing of "Is The SEC's Insider Trading Case Implicating FrontPoint A Sting Operation Aimed At S.A.C. Capital?" which exposed the key aspects of SAC's insider trading strategy, and which linked SAC, and the hedge fund world in general, to expert networks three weeks before virtually anyone outside of the 2 and 20 (or 3 and 50 as the case may be) world had heard of them and before they became a household euphemism for insider trading, we expected the full rabid fury of the world's best paid legal team to fall upon us. It didn't, which meant only one thing: we were correct, or they had bigger fish (to avoid harpooning) on their mind. Turns out it was both.
A peculiar trading session, in which the usual overnight futures levitation has not been led by the BOJ-inspired USDJPY rise (even as the Nikkei225 rose another 0.6% more than offset by the Shanghai Composite drop of 0.86%), which actually has slid all session briefly dipping under 99 moments ago, but by the EURUSD, which saw a bout of buying around 5 am Eastern, just after news hit that the UK would avoid a triple dip recession with Q1 GDP rising 0.3% versus expectations of a 0.1% rise, up from a -0.3% in Q4 (more in Goldman note below). Since the news that the BOE will likely delay engaging in more QE (just in time for the arrival of Carney) is hardly EUR positive we look at the other news hitting around that time, such as Finland saying that the euro can survive in Cyprus exits the Eurozone, and that Merkel has rejected standardized bank guarantees for the foreseeable future, and we are left scratching our heads what is the reason for the brief burst in the Euro.
Brian Sack, he who held the fattest finger on the Fed's green buy button until Simon Potter and his young protege Kevin Henry stepped into those prodigious shoes, has landed a role at mega quant fund D.E.Shaw. As Reuters reports, the former head of the Fed's Market Group will be the co-Director of Global Economics. The fund, with its reputation for mathematical modeling and computer-driven trading over short-term horizons will, we are sure, benefit from Sack's empirical ability to stomp on the throat of the VIX and tinker with VWAPs, though we hope he lasts longer than Larry Summers did. Of course, this almost guarantees that former-D.E.Shaw alum Jeff Bezos' Amazon.com share price will continue to surge as its fundamental performance plunges. The Plunge Protection Team, it appears, is in strong demand, though we hope someone explains that maybe D.E.Shaw does have a MtM policy (and not unlimited balance sheet).
The most cartoonish stock of all time just came out with results that can only be characterized as ugly. To wit:
- Q4 revenue of $21.27 billion missed expectations of $22.23 billion
- Q1 EPS of $0.21 missed expectations of $0.27;
- The firm guided top-line lower, seeing Q1 sales of $15-$16 billion, below the estimate of $16.5 billion
- The firm guided operating income much lower, seeing Q1 op income of ($285)-$65 Million on expectations of $261.4 MM
- The firm said the its physical books sales had the lowest growth in 17 years
- Total employees grew by 7,000 in the quarter and 32,200 Y/Y to a record 88,400
- Worldwide net sales Y/Y growth was the slowest in years at 23%, down from 30% in Q3 and 34% a year ago
- And, last and certainly least, LTM Net Income is now officially negative, or ($49) meaning as of this moment the firm with the idiotically high PE has an even more idiotic N/M PE.
... And the stock is soaring in the after hours. Thank you DE Shaw.
Another Flashing Red Light: Euro Liquidity Shortage Leads To First ECB Sterilization Failure Since November 2011Submitted by Tyler Durden on 12/28/2012 09:35 -0500
The ECB's original bond monetization program (the SMP) may now be defunct, having been replaced with the mythical OMT which will work as long as it never has to be used (see Spain), but its aftereffects linger on. Specifically, the aftermath of the SMP manifests itself in the weekly sterilization of accrued SMP bond purchases, which at last check amounted to some €208.5 billion. Why do we bring this up? Because a few hours earlier, the ECB failed, for the first time, to find enough demand and interest to sterilize the full amount of rolling peripheral bond purchases, and was instead able to find only enough bidders, 43 of them or the lowest in a year, to "sterilize" just €197.6 billion of the total weekly allottment. The last time the ECB failed in a sterilization action? November 29, 2011, one day before the coordinated global central bank bailout of 2011.
Instead of uttering one more word in a long, seemingly endless tirade that stretches all the way to April 2009, we will this time let such dignified members of the credible, veritable status quo as Credit Suisse, who have released a two part primer on everything HFT related, with an emphasis on the broken market left in the wake of the "high freaks", which is so simple even a member of congress will understand (we would say a member of the SEC, but even at this level of simplicity its comprehension by the rank and file of the SEC is arguable). As Credit Suisse conveniently points out "market manipulation is already banned", but that doesn't mean that there are numerous loophole that HFT can manifest themselves in negative strategies that have virtually the same impact on a two-tiered market (those that have access to HFT and those that do not) as manipulation. Among such strategies are:
- Quote Stuffing: the HFT trader sends huge numbers of orders and cancels
- Layering: multiple, large orders are placed passively with the goal of “pushing” the book away
- Order Book Fade: lightning-fast reactions to news and order book pressure lead to disappearing liquidity
- Momentum ignition: an HFT trader detects a large order targeting a percentage of volume, and front-runs it.
After tumbling to lows of 1.2735, and dragging the entire 100% correlated risk complex down with it, the EUR has since seen a straight line push higher despite the sad reality that for all expectations, Europe was embarrassingly simply unable to come to a resolution over Greece and has kicked the can to November 26, leaving Greece with zero cash to fund obligations to European banks, and if anything is left over, to fund domestic operations. The reason for the move up? The market, in all its wisdom, hopes that 6 short hours after saying "9", Merkel has already softened her stance and that a deal in 5 days is inevitable. Of course, these are the same people who said a deal last night was inevitable. These are the same people who also said that Washington is this close from a reconciliation on the Fiscal cliff, despite this thing called reality (see Rough start for fiscal cliff talks from Politico). Adding to the surrealism was a French spokesman who said the country would "do everything to reach a Greek accord." Since a recently downgraded France will "do" nothing (that's Germany), but will "say" everything, it is safe to say that France is now the comic relief typically attributed to Jean-Claude Jun(c)ker. Finally, and wrapping up the bizarro surreality of central planned markets, the recent spike in Brent on Gaza re-escalations has been interpreted by those uber-complex DE Shaw algorithms as a risk on move, and pushed all risk indicators to overnight highs. With volume today set to be abysmal as trading desks will be empty around noon, expect some more absolutely insane zero volume moves in the SkyNet battleground formerly known as the "market."
By unanimous vote, the ISDA determinations committee (which also includes such hedge funds as DE Shaw, Citadel and BlueMountain...and Goldman Sachs) has agreed that Allied Irish Banks PLC has officially experienced a Restructuring Event. CDS settlement to proceed next. And yes, thanks to daily variation margin on CDS this means absolutely nothing, and should the cash/physical settlement auction clear tight of prevailing prices depending on where CTD bonds trade, it means CDS sellers will (gasp) receive daily margin cash at the end of the day. Yes, contrary to AIG-related stigma, selling CDS on an entity does not mean an automatic default for the sellers of protection. But that won't prevent those who have no idea how the CDS market operates to spread more BS stories, especially as relates to Greek, then all other PIIGS, CDS.
The man who probably more so than anyone else can be singled out as the person (behind the scenes) responsible for the destruction of America, first with his successful drubbing of every vestige of regulation, then his isolation of Brooksley Born and her all too prescient concerns on structured products and derivatives, and finally, with carrying over his debilitating management practices from Harvard over to the US in general for the past two years, just had his farewell speech, which in typical fashion can be summarized as follows: "I am smarter than you peasants, go to hell." For a more official summary of his valedictory, here is WaPo's Dana Milbank: "Summers's final performance was very much in character. He arrived 10
minutes late for the speech, his suit jacket open, his shirt pulling
tightly at the buttons, his suitpants stained on one of the knees. His
hair showed signs of bedhead, but it could have been mussed by Summers
during one of his morning meetings. He jiggled his legs while listening
to the introduction by EPI President Larry Mishel, who had some edgy
words for his guest. Although both men grew up in Philly, Mishel said,
"when he moved to Boston, he adopted the Boston Red Sox as his baseball
team. Me? I'm still a fan of the Fightin' Phils." Summers rushed to rebut this point - by insulting the home team. "If I
lived in Washington, I might still be a Phillies fan, too." There were
groans in the audience." And of course, it is not like it was Summers fault for doing anything to bring unemployment down even as total US debt under his watch increased by over $2 trillion: "On Monday morning, he went to the Economic Policy Institute, a liberal
think tank, to give his "perspectives on the past two years." But in his
remarks, he spoke of not a single wrong decision he made." So now that the disastrous, and hopefully final, reign of this distant Tatooine descendant is over, here are the three finalist to fill his extra wide chair, two of whom promise to do absolutely nothing to break Wall Street's stranglehold over the White House, and thus increase the odds for a widespread populist mutiny with each passing day.
The current divergence in the AUDJPY-ES pair is reminding us of the great divergences seen in the during the summer just after the temporary DE Shaw stat arb desk unwind threw every correlation pair out of whack for hours. And with the telecom and commodity subsectors of the CSI undergoing a drubbing, we are confident that the AUD, especially following the earlier lack of action by the RBA, will continue to face ongoing weakness. And sooner or later that means that dollar funded shorts (USDJPY/AUDUSD) which have been the primary source of purchasing power in the US market, will need to be unwound. In the meantime, a compression trade here seems quite attractive.
Paolo Pellegrini Is Coming Back As A Quant, Laments Loss Of Traditional Investment Thought In A Fed-Dominated WorldSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 12/02/2010 17:46 -0500
It appears Paolo Pellegrini, the brains behind Paulson & Co. most profitable trade, is coming back... as a quant. As we reported in August, the billionaire manager's former fund - PSQR - had decided to return all capital to investors citing "challenging market conditions." It only took Paolo 3 months to realize that money is no longer to be made in a macro world dominated by central bank infighting, in which a schizophrenic market goes up or down by several percentage points on a daily basis depending on what word feels out of place in any given central banker's speech, and instead will focus on "quantitative disciplines" along the lines of DE Shaw and RenTec. And why not: the only ones left making money in this market are momentum chasing strategies which have millisecond frontrunning arbitrage over the rest of what is left of the heard. As to the visionary's current market views, his mantra is "don't fight the Fed" even as he sees bond trading at ridiculously high levels, although with a caveat: "of course you don’t want to fight the Fed, until the Fed loses control which is what happened obviously in the sub-prime and financial crisis. That is very difficult, though, to predict." As we predicted earlier in the year not only are macro funds soon going to be extinct but the same fate lies in store for the traditional long/short 130/30 group. Very soon every fund will need to have their own quant/HFT group (SAC has already quietly amassed almost 20 HFT pods) just to be able to attract outside investors. After all why else is the woefully underpaid SEC admitting it has no idea how to fix the market now entirely dominated by HFT, and will merely extend its completely worthless "circuit breaker" model for another three months, then another three months, and so on.