There is a much larger structural risk for markets and investors than HFT and the whole Flash Boys brouhaha, it’s just totally under the radar and hasn’t surfaced yet. Investors may not know better yet, but they will soon, one way or another. Tomorrow a handful of governments will influence aggregate political behaviors by triggering small communications that Big Data tells them will be voluntarily magnified by individual citizens, snowballing into outsized, long-lasting, and untraceable “popular” actions. Tomorrow a handful of hedge funds will influence aggregate market behaviors by triggering small trades that Big Data tells them will be voluntarily magnified by individual traders, snowballing into outsized, long-lasting, and untraceable “market” actions. Tomorrow Big Data will be primarily an instrument of social control, with a powerful and ubiquitous impact on all citizens and all investors.
The beginning of the end of high frequency trading has arrived, and it has done so in a most unexpected fashion: with an HFT turning on other HFTs and revealing on the record, for the entire world to see, just how truly parasitic, manipulative and "market-rigging" the algorithms truly are.
Now this is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to market manipulation, I thought I would just provide a concrete example of the kind of funny business that goes on every day in financial markets.
Herbalife stock is up over 5% after hours after WSJ reports Bill Ackman (among others) made false statement about Herbalife's business models to regulators - in order to spur investigations into the company and lower its stock price. This comes just months after Ackman kinda-sorta-didn't-really insider-trade in the Allergan 'scam' that we detailed here. We suspect Whitney Tilson (and his Lumber Liquidators positions) is getting a little nervous now... and Carl Icahn is quietly laughing to himself.
One of the “mysteries” of our modern (i.e. fraudulent) precious metals markets is explaining the face-value of our gold and silver minted coins, meaning relating their nominal price to their actual value. The face-value on U.S./Canadian silver 1-oz coins is $1 and $5, and the face-value for our 1-oz gold coins is $50. For those investors (including this analyst) who began using precious metals as a vehicle for wealth-protection at a relatively late date; the face-value of these coins seems totally arbitrary.
The tide is turning against the banks. We will see more and more corporations turn away from the banks as advisory entities. They just cannot be trusted when they are also the market-makers making commissions/spreads on the trading that are totally undisclosed. The day of the banks is coming to an end. It looks more like the next downturn will drive the spike right through their hearts. Just maybe, we may get back to the way its should be – relationship business, not transactional where they have the incentive to manipulate markets for the quick buck and front-run clients.
It’s not that long ago, in 2001, that Jim O’Neill, then still with Goldman Sachs, coined the term BRICs, for the fast emerging markets of Brazil, Russia, India and China. O’Neill saw a global power shift from the west to these four nations happening. Fast forward to today, and we see Russia under multiple attacks, including economic ones, from the west, as India just announced the second rate cut this year and China is attempting controlled demolition of the possibly biggest financial bubble in the history of the world. And Brazil? If anything, it’s falling even faster off its pedestal than the other three nations.
Regular readers are well aware of an unresolved problem/issue which has permeated these commentaries for (especially) the past three years: the lack of any rational or objective means for pricing assets, most notably precious metals themselves. There are two enormous obstacles facing any analyst, in attempting to resolve this issue.
According to the WSJ, "prosecutors in the Justice Department’s antitrust division are scrutinizing the price-setting process for gold, silver, platinum and palladium in London, while the Commodity Futures Trading Commission has opened a civil investigation, these people said. The agencies have made initial requests for information, including a subpoena from the CFTC to HSBC Holdings PLC related to precious-metals trading, the bank said in its annual report Monday. Who is involved in this latest gold-rigging scandal? Why everyone! ... which makes it immediately obvious why the European regulator had to promptly cover up the whole affair. Under scrutiny are Bank of Nova Scotia , Barclays PLC, Credit Suisse Group AG , Deutsche Bank AG , Goldman Sachs Group Inc., J.P. Morgan Chase & Co., Société Générale SA, Standard Bank Group Ltd. and UBS AG , according to one of the people close to the investigation.
We have remarked numerous times, thanks in many cases to the detailed analysis of Nanex LLC, that oil markets (among others) are manipulated or rigged. But, just as Michael Lewis was what equity market participants needed to comprehend what was occurring stocks, so WSJ reports today on 'spoofing' in the oil markets. Spoofing is rapid-fire feinting, which as Tabb group's Matt Simon notes, "raises a question now about whether someone is engaging in legitimate market activity or clear market manipulation." Here's how they do it...
"Holy Grail Of Trading" Crosses Into The Twilight Zone: HFT Firm Virtu Has Lost Money Once In 1,485 Trading DaysSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 02/21/2015 14:54 -0400
"The chart below illustrates our daily Adjusted Net Trading Income from January 1, 2009 through December 31, 2014. The overall breadth and diversity of our market making activities, together with our real-time risk management strategy and technology, have enabled us to have only one overall losing trading day during the period depicted, a total of 1,485 trading days..."
Right now there is a world war taking place right in front of us but all we see on cable news are the nightly military skirmishes on the periphery of the conflict. The real war is economic, financial and currency related and the empire is already over-extended in debt, military operations and financial manipulation. Surely the near-term dollar strength is evidence that while defeat is not imminent and that all markets can be manipulated for a season, ultimately real global market forces will prevail. Just remember that all empires eventually become over-extended financially, economically or militarily and the consequences of retribution and blowback are real and deadly to innocent populations.
CEO Of Rosneft Compares Oil Market Manipulation Which "Doesn't Reflect Reality" To Gold Price RiggingSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 02/16/2015 20:33 -0400
"In today’s distorted oil markets, prices do not reflect reality. They are driven instead by financial speculation, which outweighs the real-life factors of supply and demand. Financial markets tend to produce economic bubbles, and those bubbles tend to burst. Remember the dotcom bust and the subprime mortgage crisis? Furthermore, they are prone to manipulation. We have not forgotten the rigging of the Libor interest rate benchmark and the gold price."
- Igor Sechin, CEO of Rosneft
The world is running out of oil. Peak Oil is a reality, all that is open to debate is how fast production will drop off, and how quickly the world will simply run out of oil. The lack of certainty is due to the fact that (as with everything else) we can’t trust the “official” numbers fed to us, with respect to either global production or global reserves.