High Frequency Trading
Did someone finally inform the SEC that Bernie Madoff's business model has been adopted by every central bank in the "developed world?" Whatever the reason for today's record SEC award, which almost certainly has to do with HFT, a topic which this blog first brought to light back in 2009 when nobody had a clue what algo/high frequency trading is, congratulations to the lucky winner (unless of course it has to do with someone spilling the beans on US tax evaders in Swiss banks), and our condolences to the banks, because now that one can comfortably retire by informing the regulators of the pervasive crime that takes place within the US financial system on a daily basis, suddenly every disgruntled person laid off by the US banking sector is the next potential $30 million aware recipient.
We didn’t get what we first postulated yet: Crisis became calm. Contagion became cured. And last but not least catastrophe morphed into an even grander state of complacency. What we did might be even more illuminating. Here’s what a few of us also know that we are not “wrong” about:"When a monkey throwing darts can outperform most of today's so-called 'best of the best' hedge funds – we’re going to put our money on the monkey, rather than putting it anywhere close to where these people can put their hands on it for their own personal self-serving monkey business." What we don’t need – nor want – is another bowl of the 2008ish tripe washed down with this years new flavored Kool-aid.
"The HFT Act will add the following clarification to the rules specifying the prohibition of market abuse: The placing of purchase or sale orders to a market by means of a computer algorithm which automatically determines the parameters of the order could be considered market abuse provided the placing of orders occurs without a trading intention, but (a) to disrupt or delay the functioning of the trading system, (b) to make it more difficult for a third party to identify genuine purchase or sale orders in the trading system, or (c) to create a false or misleading signal about the supply of or demand for a financial instrument."
Those 4 C’s are: Confirmation, Crisis, Contagion, Catastrophe.
The arrogance, hubris and contempt for morality displayed by the ruling class is breathtaking to behold. They think they are untouchable and impervious to norms followed by the rest of society. They may have won the opening battle, but will lose the war. Discontent among the masses grows by the day. The critical thinking citizens are growing restless and angry. They are beginning to grasp the true enemy. The system has been captured by a few malevolent men. When the stock, bond and housing bubbles all implode simultaneously, all hell will break loose in this country. It will make Ferguson, Missouri look like a walk in the park.
On July 7, Bart Chilton, a former commissioner of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, wrote an article about high-frequency trading for the New York Times's DealBook. He argued, in effect, that because high-frequency trading has become so central to the stock market, it must be serving some necessary purpose. This is false...
Barclays Wants Dark Pool Complaint Against It Dismissed, Says "Nobody Was Harmed"; NY Attorney General DisagreesSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 07/24/2014 12:18 -0400
File this one for the bizarro files. After Barclays was caught lying to its "sophisticated" clients about how it handles their order following the lawsuit by NY AG Schneiderman, the bank, having suffered an epic 75% collapse of trading volume in its dark pool, has decided to fight back and earlier today filed a motion to dismiss the dark pool complaint against it. Its main argument, as reported by the WSJ, is that the attorney general's complaint "fails to identify any fraud, establishing no material misstatements, no identified victims and no actual harm." In other words, Barclays alleges the dark pool participants were smart enough to figure out Barclays was lying to them when it promised their order flow wouldn't be offered up to predatory algos.
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- But... but... "economic patriotism" - AbbVie to Buy Shire for $54.8 Billion as Drug Deals Surge (BBG)
- SEC targets 10 firms in high frequency trading probe - SEC document (Reuters)
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The last six months have not run according to anyone’s plan. Who would have thought that equity market structure would yield a best-selling book, after all? As ConvergEx's Nick Colas notes, on the fundamental side of things, interest rates across the developed world are lower, not higher – counter to the consensus view just 180 days ago. Mutual fund investors first bought U.S. equities earlier in the year, then in the last 6 weeks have begun to liquidate in earnest. Exchange Traded Fund investors are buying more fixed income products than those dedicated to U.S. stocks. Large cap stocks are trouncing small caps in terms of performance. And as for volatility – well, Elvis has clearly left the building on that one. So which of these surprises has staying power into the back half of 2014?
VIX was monkey-hammered lower once again today, lifting stocks vertically to Russell 2000 record highs and The Dow within a point of 17,000. The question is who (or what) is doing it. Nanex seems to have found out who... It appears the un-visible hand of VIX manipulation (that we have shown previously) has been forced into the open public markets as Barclays goes dark. Simply put, massive bursts of 1-lot TVIX orders flood and delay the markets enabling HFTs to manipulate the tail that inevitably wags the market (via VXX, SPX options hedges and leverage) and now that the dark pools are disappearing, we see it all in real-time.
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.”
Having spent a week in surprisingly bright and sunny London, ConvergEx's Nick Colas reports that the consensus opinion in this global financial hub is that equities are where the sun shines the brightest. Public companies are intent on tapping those better days with more aggressive global investor outreach, and asset managers/brokers of all stripes feel that the developed economy bull market has a few more years to run. At the same time, everyone agrees that the near term feels a bit damp and acknowledges that the low levels of actual volatility are worrisome for their artificial “Keep calm and carry on” sentiment. Other heard/seen observations: London is no longer a British city, the surge in foreign buyers is creating a world-class property bubble. His conclusion, as long as humans are humans there will always be financial bubbles, either due to groupthink over real estate prices or financial assets. Just as surely as there will always be an England.
In what we are sure will be a reassuring hearing full of confirmation that markets are unrigged, safe for investors, and why retail has never had it better, the Permanent Subcommitte on Investigations will start by hearing from IEX's Brad Katusyama who will, as he did before, put them straight on the real actions of the high frequency trading community... Remember the last time HFTs tried to defend themselves... they lied.