Once upon a time it was anathema the publicly proclaim two things: i) that central banks manipulate and intervene in the markets and that ii) the market is rigged. Ever since this website was launched 7 years ago and made the proof of these two claims its mission, it was branded as a collection of "tinfoil hat conspiracy theorists" by either the most incompetent, most corrupt or most clueless cores of what passes for financial media and capital markets participants (with either real or virtual money).
More importantly, what has also become apparent over these same 7 years, is that we were right: it is now no longer even a debate if HFTs rig markets or if central banks intervene directly in stocks, bond or FX - it is broadly accepted and even desired: just imagine the dreadful world in which there is fair price discovery and where traders actually have to take risk. Ghastly.
To be sure, those same well-dressed if hollow talking heads and click generators who claimed precisely the opposite, fell back to the only defense they had: "well, maybe the Fed intervenes, and maybe the markets are rigged, but everyone knows that and after all, what's the big deal - they have been manipulated and rigged since the beginning."
It is usually at that point where one laughs and moves on to important topics.
Unfortunately, Nanex' Eric Hunsader - who as noted earlier won a $750,000 whistleblower award for demonstrating precisely how the NYSE had rigged the market in 2010 - was unable to "move on" because he had a little under 5 minutes to kill this afternoon on CNBC.
Instead he had to endure exchanges such as the following:
Q. What do you think this says about the way markets currently function? Do you think such issues have now been fixed? Do you think the playing field is more "fair now"? Do you still think the markets are rigged?
A. Well yeah.
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Q. Just looking at the history of markets, aren't they always rigged to some degree?
A. Yes, they are always rigged. Does that mean that if someone gets mugged in New York City we don't have to care about it?
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Q. Should long-term investors care about milliseconds.
A. Yes, they should.
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Frankly, we were impressed by Hunsader's stoic patience with this line of "questioning" because had we been presented with the logic that grudgingly admits the market is rigged and enriching a group of parasitic criminals who break the law billions of times every year, and who have made so much money through their crimes they have purchased the regulators, is really ok because it only affects a penny here and there - a few hundred million every hour a day mind you - it is not really a crime even if it confirm the entire "market" is built on a bedrock of lies and fraud and is thus susceptible to collapse at any given moment, we would have simply hung up the phone.
Actually judging by Hunsaders' twitter comments, it only hit him hours later:
I believe I got Josh Brown to admit the markets are rigged on CNBC today (because they've always been) https://t.co/VufqKDbsIx— Eric Scott Hunsader (@nanexllc) March 1, 2016
Easy to track this in electronic markets. But not the U.S. Stock market? Did you play a + or - role today? https://t.co/c9CyAKhCGH— Eric Scott Hunsader (@nanexllc) March 2, 2016
OK, followers, is Josh right?— Eric Scott Hunsader (@nanexllc) March 2, 2016
Is it OK to say "markets are always rigged, so what?"
How about a do over CNBC/Josh? https://t.co/LJgI3wnjPd
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The best exchange however was that with Bloomberg blogger Barry Ritholtz' partner Josh Brown, whose tongue in cheek question was if Hunsader needs advice on parking his $750,000 in pre-tax proceeds: "Have you considered the power of variable annuities and what they might be able to do for you?"
Hunsader's in kind response: "I was thinking about GDX, throwing it all in there. What do you think?"