Monday, March 31, 2014

"The Market Is Rigged" - Michael Lewis Explains How HFTs "Screw" Investors Every Day ..... Key takeaway -- A reoccurring metaphor Lewis uses in his book "Flash Boys" is one of "prey and predators."According to Lewis, the prey is "anybody who's actually an investor in the stock market." ..... Hat Tip for Zero Hedge for its relentless coverage and prior expose of same ...... And just look at the news of the day - FBI announces its investigating HFTs ! Imagine that ? " Scape pigs " by no less than the vampire squid aka Goldman Sachs identified for the next market crash ?


http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2014-03-31/high-frequency-trading-why-now-and-what-happens-next


High Frequency Trading: Why Now And What Happens Next

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For all the talk about how High Frequency Trading has rigged markets, most seem to be ignoring the two most obvious questions: why now and what happens next?
After all, Zero Hedge may have been ahead of the curve in exposing the parasitism of HFT (anyone who still doesn't get it should read the following primer in two parts from Credit Suisse), but we were hardly alone and over the years many others joined along to expose what is clear market manipulation aided and abeted by not only the exchanges but by the regulators themselves who passed Reg NMS - the regulation that ushered in today's fragmented and broken market - with much fanfare nearly a decade ago. And yet, it took over five years before our heretical view would become mainstream canon.
One logical explanation is the dramatic and sudden about face by none other than Goldman Sachs, which from one of the biggest proponents of quant trading strategies including algo trading, and which used to make a killing courtesy of HFT (who can possibly forget Goldman's charges against Sergey Aleynikov's code theft which alleged "there is a danger that somebody who knew how to use this program could use it to manipulate markets in unfair ways"), has in recent weeks unleashed a de factowar on HFT, first with the Gary Cohn HFT-bashing op-ed, and then with the implicit backing of the IEX pseudo dark pool exchange, whose employee just mysteriously also is the protagonist of the Michael Lewis book that has raised the issue of HFT to a fever pitch.
So does Goldman know something the rest of us don't that it is now ready to give up on the HFT goldmine which lost money on just one day in 1238? Why of course it does. And one would imagine that judging by the dramatic turnaround exhibited by Goldman that said something is very adverse to the ongoing future profitability of the HFT industry. The amusement factor only rises by several notches when one considers that Goldman also happens to be lead underwriter on the Virtu IPO offering: one wonders what they uncovered and/or what they know about the industry that nobody else does, and just how the VRTU IPO will fare now that Goldman is so openly against HFT.
But what does all of that mean for the big picture? We hinted at it yesterday, on twitter when we had the following exchange.
  1. Yep @zerohedge got that right. No one has cared about it for 5years, and no one will care tomorrow. The public is apathetic to
@LongOnlyTrader Only until market crashes. Then HFT will be the torches and pitchforks scapegoat. Not the Fed.


and......


http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2014-03-31/here-come-feds-fbi-probing-hft

Here Come The Feds: FBI Probing HFT

Tyler Durden's picture





 
It is perhaps little wonder that Virtu was in such a hurry to use the cover of the JOBS Act to IPO itself before the whole HFT 'game' was exposed. Just 5 years after we first drew the world's attention to the potential damage that HFT could do; andmere minutes after we posted our article on how HFT is being set up to be the scapegoat for all that is broken with the market and conveniently distracting from the Fed, and god, or perhaps his agent on earth Goldman Sachs, 'completely unexpectedly' sends in the FBI:
  • *FBI SAID TO PROBE HIGH-SPEED TRADERS OVER ABUSE OF INFORMATION
  • *FBI Working With SEC, CFTC in High-Speed Investigation
  • *FBI Investigating Whether High-Speed Firms Trade on Nonpublic Information
Now, the question is: how many HFTs will stop trading for fear that any further trading on 'non-public information' will be deemed criminal from this point... or keep trading and lobby/hope that "a reasonable man" will believe their liquidity-providing lies.
Bloomberg reports,
Federal agents are investigating whether high-frequency trading firms violate U.S. laws by acting on nonpublic information to gain an edge over competitors, according to a person with knowledge with the probe.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation’s inquiry stems from a multiyear crackdown on insider trading, which has led to at least 79 convictions of hedge-fund traders and others. Agents are examining whether traders abuse information to act ahead of orders by institutional investors, according to the person, who asked not to be named because the probe is confidential. Even trades based on computer algorithms could amount to wire fraud, securities fraud or insider trading.
And since the FBI can't be expected to know much about what it is actually investigating, considering the entire farcical investigation apparently was triggered by a Michael Lewis book and/or an anonymous phone call from Goldman Sachs, it would be nice if traders actually did the FBI's work for them. Pretty please:
An FBI spokesman tells me: "we want people to contact us." Says traders with tips about HFT should call 212-384-1000.





And from earlier today .... what set off the firestorm ! 






"The Market Is Rigged" - Michael Lewis Explains How HFTs "Screw" Investors Every Day

Tyler Durden's picture






It was almost excatly five years ago to the day, on April 10, 2009, that Zero Hedge - widely mocked at the time by "experts" - began its crusade against HFT and the perils of algorithmic trading (which of course were validated a year later with the Flash Crash). In the interim period we wrote hundreds if not thousands of articles discussing and explaining the pernicious, parasitic and destabilizing role HFT plays in modern market topology, and how with every passing day, markets are becoming increasingly more brittle, illiquid and, in one word, broken. Or, as Michael Lewis put it most succinctly, "rigged." With Lewis' appearance last night on 60 Minutes to promote his book Flash Boys, and to finally expose the HFT scourge for all to see, we consider our crusade against HFT finished. At this point it is up to the general population to decide if this season's participants on Dancing with the Stars or the fate of Honet Boo Boo is more important than having fair and unrigged markets (obviously, we know the answer).
For those who missed it, here it is again. In the video below, Lewis explains how an extra millisecond allows high-frequency traders to exploit computerized trading in the U.S. stock market. By "beating" investors to exchanges, Lewis argues that high-frequency traders can buy stocks and quickly sell them back at higher prices.

Billions have been spent by Wall Street firms and stock exchanges to gain the advantage of a millisecond. "Is it a scam?" 60 Minutes correspondent Steve Kroft asks. Bigger, Lewis says.

Lewis further explains, video below, how ordinary investors are affected and argues that high-frequency traders have created instability in the stock market -- for everyone.

A reoccurring metaphor Lewis uses in his book "Flash Boys" is one of "prey and predators."According to Lewis, the prey is "anybody who's actually an investor in the stock market."