"...we anticipate that the start of US rate hikes will do damage to markets in the short term, but that there will be greater differentiation over a more medium term between liquid and less liquid assets. In the short term, investors sell what they can, making liquid assets more vulnerable." - JPMorgan
Roughly a month ago, we exposed CYNK Technology Corp. The CYNK bubble was, of course, the result of carefully planned deceit and clever promotion by a handful of people who stood to make a lot of money on the trade. But when you think about it, CYNK’s stock wasn’t really any dumber than owning US Treasuries. In the case of CYNK, it only took about a month for the bubble to inflate and burst. The Treasury bubble, on the other hand, was built on credibility earned over decades; but while previous generations earned the world’s trust, modern day politicians have blown through it. Now all they have left is their snake oil sales pitch. And a mountain of obligations that closed July 2014 at a record high $17.69 trillion.
Low volatility is being driven, in BofAML's view, by both fundamental and technical factors. Fundamentally, the volatility of real economic activity and inflation has fallen to near 20 year lows in what some are calling the Great Moderation 2.0. However, the recent further collapse in volatility is also explained by a feedback loop fueled by low conviction, low liquidity, low yields and low fear. Central bank policy has been the largest explanatory factor of both the fundamentals and technicals... and that has BofAML concerned about the risks of short-term volatility spikes exacerbated by market illiquidity.
There is no better way to describe what the recently departed CFTC commissioner Scott O'Malia just did when he bailed from the commodity watchdog to become the new head of the International Swaps and Derivatives Association, aka ISDA, the biggest banking group that has constantly opposed every intervention and attempt to regulate the swaps market by the CFTC since the Lehman crisis, than an epic farce.
Despite yesterday's lackluster earnings the most recent market levitation on low volume was largely due to what some considered a moderation in geopolitical tensions after Europe once again showed it is completely incapable of stopping Putin from dominating Europe with his energy trump card, and is so conflicted it is even unable to impose sanctions (despite the US prodding first France with BNP and now Germany with the latest DB revelations to get their act together), as well as it being, well, Tuesday, today's moderate run-up in equity futures can likely be best attributed to momentum algos, which are also rushing to recalibrate and follow the overnight surge in the AUDJPY while ignoring any drifting USDJPY signals.
"My 10-year-old knew it was a scam. It was a complete joke," rages Tom Laresca - a market-maker at Buckman Buckman & Reid - who sold "pure madness" stock CYNK Technology short at $6 last week. Laresca assumed (reasonably so) that the SEC would suspend trading, sending the price towards zero. Despite Zero Hedge's initial exposure of this farce to the world (and the rest of the mainstream media's attention following), the SEC was slow and CYNK soared to $16, squeezing Laresca and forcing his firm to cut off his ability to hold positions - he plans to resign today. "I wish people would just not trade the stupid things."
This is a big deal. On the heels of our pointing out the surge in Treasury fails (following extensive detailing of the market's massive collateral shortage at the hands of the unmerciful Fed's buying programs), various 'strategists' wrote thinly-veiled attempts to calm market concerns that the repo market (the glue that holds risk assets together) was FUBAR. Even the Fed itself sent missives opining that their cunning Reverse-Repo facility would solve the problems and everyone should go back to the important business of BTFATHing... They are wrong - all of them - as yet again the Fed shows its ignorance of how the world works (just as it did in 2007/8 with the same shadow markets). As JPMorgan warns (not some tin-foil-hat-wearing blogger with an ax to grind) "the Fed’s reverse repo facility does little to alleviate the UST scarcity induced by the Federal Reserves’ QE programs coupled with a declining government deficit." The end result, they note, is "higher susceptibility of the repo market to collateral shortages" and thus dramatically higher financial fragility - the opposite of what the Fed 'hopes' for.
"Whatever one feels about financials and the wider financial system, credit markets did arguably get a small glimpse of what things will be like when this cycle does actually end as the structurally impaired liquidity that exists in credit caused a small amount of panic yesterday morning before markets recovered in the European afternoon session. Liquidity is really poor in credit these days which doesn't matter when markets are in buy only mode as they have been for many quarters now, but it does matter on the days when you get a negative story."
Two weeks ago when news broke about the first confirmed instance of gold price manipulation (because despite all the "skeptics" claims to the contrary, namely that every other asset class may be routinely manipulated but not gold, never gold, it turned out that yes gold too was rigged) we said that this is merely the first of many comparable (as well as vastly different) instances of gold manipulation presented to the public. Today, via the FT, we get just a hint of what is coming down the pipeline with "Trading to influence gold price fix was ‘routine’." We approve of the editorial oversight to pick the word "influence" over "manipulate" - it sound so much more... clinical.
- Yellen Concerned by Housing Slowdown She Has Scant Power to Cure (BBG)
- Because snow in Q1? Citigroup’s CFO Says Trading Revenue Could Slide 25% (BBG)
- Banks Raise Caution Flag on Trading (WSJ)
- The answer is yes: Hilsenrath asks if BOJ’s Kuroda Awakening to His Limits? (WSJ)
- Google Develops Prototype Cars for Fully Autonomous Driving (WSJ)
- Amazon Expects Lengthy Hachette Dispute (WSJ)
- Tencent $1 Billion Game Shows Global Hunt for Mobile Hits (BBG)
The recent public outcry over high frequency trading is pointless. Solutions exist. Virtually every comparable market in the world uses them already. But, some electronic exchanges may not willingly adopt them. Doing so may disrupt their current business model. The incentives are misaligned, and competitors or regulators may need to force the issue to see change. Luckily, the issue to be forced is far simpler than most think. It’s time to add quality to the matching process.
Long before Virtu was forced to pull its IPO due to the backlash against HFT frontrunners in party due to being stupid enough to post its perfect trading record of 1 trading day loss in 5 years which could only be the result of a grossly rigged market, we pointed out that another entity, one having little in common with your garden variety HFT parasite, namely JPMorgan, had a 2013 trading record which could be summed up on one word only: perfection. Yet while one could simply attribute the same kind of market rigging to JPM as one can (and should) to the average hi-freak, it seems there may be more here than meets the eye so used to seeing manipulation everywhere it looks. According to Australia's Sydney Morning Herald, "a technical support person who worked for JP Morgan in Australia claims the bank regularly misled its New York parent and the US Federal Reserve by failing to report losing trades."
It seems that no market tops until the bag has been fully passed to retail muppets, and we appear to be in the process of that happening right now. The retail investor is getting back into the stock market and is seemingly focused on the riskiest types of shares; unlisted penny stocks. They aren’t just dipping their toes in either, the pace exceeds that of the tech boom of the late 1990?s and has just hit the highest amount on record.
- Headline of the day goes to... Cold weather seen temporarily slowing U.S. economy (Reuters)
- Americans Want to Pull Back From World Stage, Poll Finds (WSJ)
- U.S. Plans to Charge BNP Over Sanctions (WSJ)
- What about Jay Carney: Putin Threat to Retaliate for Sanctions Carries Risks (BBG)
- Fed expected to take further step toward ending bond buying (Reuters)
- A Fed-Watcher’s Guide to FOMC Day: Steady Taper, Green Shoots (BBG)
- Alstom accepts 10 billion euro GE bid for its energy unit (Reuters)
- BOJ projects inflation exceeding 2 percent, keeps bullish view intact (Reuters)
So, I'm off to the races to raise money for UltraCoin, my uber-disruptive startup, and I come across the resistance of certain parties to take common stock. Now, the standard in the professional VC community is to take preferred stock with a stack of anti-dilutive measures, control premiums and liquidation preferences.