Banks are in the liquidity transformation business, and that is a critical role. But the ossification of the institutions that perform that role, by tradition, assumption, and concomitant regulation, is a threat to its success.
Central bankers now believe that they have to fix as supervisors what central bankers have wrought as money creators. The gnomes of Basel say that the interest rate risk management regime needs work because central bankers have given the world a prolonged period of exceptionally low interest rates, which has inevitably raised the stakes in this area.
Spoofing is probably about as ubiquitous as texting-while-driving. And it is possible to make an example of a spoofer caught red-handed. But it isn't clear what purpose that will serve. The real problem is that a broken market contains a broken set of incentives.
The controversy over corporate governance, and whether the changes favored by reformers show up as superior corporate performance (as measured, for example, by Tobin's q) strikes Faille as dangerously abstract. The only way to get to the pointillist painting is by starting with particular data points.
Is it possible or desirable to separate "speculation" from operational hedging, so as to clear the way for industries to do the latter without the regulatory burdens that planners want to impose upon the former? Once Europe has decided that speculation is a bad thing, won't it end up pursuing the demon ways that will collapse the proposed distinction?
Basel III has given us three different statistics with a common goal, to keep banks to a stable funding profile, neither too illiquid nor too highly leveraged. As these requirements come on-line, what will be the consequences for the relationship between prime brokers and hedge fund managers?
The international push to mandate central clearing has expanded the clearinghouses "well beyond levels the market has ever seen," Greenwich Associates reminds us in a new report. This is an experiment, and there remains some grounds for uncertainty about the outcome.
Surveys suggest that certain conspicuous ongoing trends will continue. For example, the classic 20 + 2 fee structure will continue to crumble, replaced by "customized" structures. A full 91% of the small hedge fund managers who filled out a survey agreed with this. A mere 76% of large hedge fund managers did likewise.
A newly released report tells us that ESMA is unhappy with the national "competent authorities" as to how they've enforced MiFiD. the report implies that the adjective in the phrase "competent authorities" is to be understood as a courtesy rather than a description.
Activist investors usually aren't trying to take control of a company. And when they are, managers have strong existing tools to foil them. What activist investors can do is increase share value, over sustained periods.
In some fairly routine middle-critter corporate roles, there may no longer be much need for human managerial involvement. Enter the self-running business entity: another big step toward the obsolescence of human beings some of whom, nonetheless, will get wealthy in the process.
Commenters successful pressed for certain changes in this massive new rule during its years of gestation. For example, the rule incorporates a T + 24 approach for the reporting of block trades. But warned, though, blizzards in NYC don't stop the ticking of that 24 hour clock.
To the extent that high-frequency trading is analogized to 'insider trading,' it may be in trouble with securities regulators but still in the clear with commodities regulators. After all, the latter do allow hedgers to use non-public material information to protect themselves. But Gregory Scopino doesn't believe pinging and related HFT practices should be in the clear with the CFTC at all.
A physicist recently suggested that exchanges might do well to change the nature of the trading they host, holding batch auctions every one-hundredth of a second to better serve their real economic functions. Then a commenter proposed that taxation could achieve the same effect. Our physicist went back to the drawing board to consider this.
Out of the 31 banks surveyed by the Basel Committee for its latest progress report on risk data aggregation, 45% reported that they will not be in compliance with the Basel demands by the deadline, a year from now. But surely there is a profit opportunity in here for someone.
The first of the three patents cited by the plaintiffs was filed at a time when the crowdfunding exemption movement was making a fair amount of noise on Capitol Hill, though it had not yet had tangible success. One might already entertain certain suspicions.
Unfortunately, Gallagher and Grundfest aren't simply contributing to the on-going debate over shareholder activism, classified boards, etc. They're trying to stifle it by suggesting a litigation campaign against the side they oppose. Shame on them.
There are certain deals that banks don't want to touch with the longest lance in a joust. That doesn't mean the deals don't get done: it means they go by default to the non-bank financiers. We look at the divide.
Sprecher proposes that the exchanges and the investment banks enter into a deal, and that regulators confirm it by various tweaks in the NMS. The whole dynamic that the "grand bargain" represents is a disturing one, old-fashioned smoke-filled-room cronyism.
A December 15 opinion by the SEC limits the significance of a Supreme Court decision of three years ago, and so at least pending appeal it broadens the applicability of the basic anti-fraud rule 10b-5 to the employees of an investment adviser.
Observers of the slow slog toward an empirical test of larger tick sizes have raised concerns about the details of the three-track plan under consideration. In particular, there's an order-protection feature for one of the three "tracks" that has raised the hackles of Larry Tabb and the STA
Enron was once the leader in a category of merchant traders that mediated in the world of energy commodities. Enron died, and banks largely took it over. Yet in spirit, at least, Enron is back.
What is the real issue behind intermarket sweep orders, and the recent dust-up over an NYSE rules change? Faille answers: Privilege.
The most intriguing revelation in the exchange of briefs between the State of New York and Barclays appears in a humble footnote, where Barclays seems to concede that an employee was pressured to change an internalization number. But it was just the once....
The SEC's new rules for asset backed securities require asset level disclosures both at the time of offering and later, on an ongoing basis. The disclosures are required to appear in a standardized XML format.
The clearing-for-everything parade continues. Christopher Faille reviews three representative comments among those just released by ESMA, elicited by its consultation paper on the new clearing obligation for interest-rate swaps.
What do I mean by "front run," asked a reader. I use the term for a range of situations in which one party trades on the basis of advance [non-public] information of another party's upcoming trade, Faille replies.
Christopher Faille reviews the basic facts about SIP, the Securities Information Processor, and cites (with some incredulity) a new contention in some quarters that SIP isn't all that important because nobody really relies upon it.
The great thing about short sellers has always been that -- if they're good -- it's because they have a keen nose that can smell a boiler room. If they are open about what they're doing, they can also serve as a valuable red light for others in connection with overblown enthusiasms. Don't be the bag holder.
If such institutions as the ECB keep rewarding indebtedness, then over time they get their way. They'll get a lot of deal making, even if it amounts to a frenzy. Then investors will demand funds that play to that frenzy.
Much has been said about international regulation and its chilling effect on funds. Guest columnists Shane Brett and Alan Meaney look at set-ups and solutions.
Keeping track of the AIFMDs, FATCAs without drowning in the alphabet soup is hard work. A new paper from Grant Thornton offers some ideas on how to wade through the soup while you're looking for alpha.
Neither liquidity nor a small spread is the be-all and end-all of markets. A spread is a sort of price and, like other prices, spreads can sometimes get too small because someone is cutting corners.
Justice Scalia's opinion has the support of Justices who aren’t, to say the least, reliable allies of Scalia’s in the kind of ideologically driven splits that draw so much MSM attention, Obama appointee Elena Kagan as well as Clinton appointee Stephen Breyer are on board. On Monday, June 16th, the U.S. Supreme Court delivered a stunningly complete victory for NML Capital, the holdout bondholder in the much-watched litigation arising out of Argentina’s 2001 bond defaults. On the one hand, SCOTUS refused to hear Argentina’s appeal from the Second Circuit’s decision on what the issuing documents meant by the pari passu language. A decision not to decide has no precedential significance itself, but this of course leaves the Second Circuit’s decision, issued in October 2012, intact. Both as a matter of the law as it applies to this case, and as a matter of precedential significance for many similarly worded documents, the Second Circuit is the circuit that counts. What is Left Standing? The Second Circuit left standing, and now the Supreme Court has also left standing, a district court injunction against any payments that in any way rank holders of the restructured debt over the hold-outs. What the Second Circuit said was that in the pari passu clause in the issuing documentation of these Fiscal Agency Agreement bonds (FAA), the sovereign “manifested an intention to protect bondholders from more than just formal subordination.” The language was there to protect them precisely from what Argentina has more recently tried to do, that is, to protect them from any arrangement by which “Argentina as payor [discriminates] against the FAA bonds in favor of other unsubordinated foreign bonds.” On the same day (a few minutes later) SCOTUS also delivered a full-dress opinion on a related issue. The New York district court has interpreted the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act of 1976 narrowly, so as to allow for discovery orders that assist NML in its search for Argentina assets in third countries where they may not be immune. Since Argentina owes NML more than $1.5 billion, it has plenty of incentive to continue this search. The Supreme Court upheld that statutory construction. The opinion wasn’t closely split. There was one dissent (Justice Ginsburg) and one recusal (Sotomayor). Still, the opinion for the other seven Justices, written by Justice Scalia, had the support of Justices who aren’t, to say the least, reliable allies of Scalia’s in the kind of ideologically driven splits that draw so much MSM attention. The 7-justice majority included Obama appointee Elena Kagan as well as Clinton appointee Stephen Breyer. What Happens Next? Argentina’s immediate reaction was that it will fight on, apparently by continuing to pay the favored creditors [Exchange Bondholders] and by continuing to exclude from these payments the FAA hold-outs. “What I cannot do as President is submit the country to such extortion,” says President Cristina Fernandez. The legal fight is over, though. And I should add that part of what SCOTUS has let stand here is a district court order the copies of its pro-holdout injunction be provided to “all parties involved, directly or indirectly, in advising upon, preparing, processing, or facilitating any payment on the Exchange bond.” Argentina’s New York agents cannot now give out money to the Exchange bondholders without aiding and abetting the defiance of a court order. Argentina must now either pay $907 million to the plaintiffs by the end of this month, or lose the ability to use U.S. financial intermediaries of any kind to pay the holders it has favored. The only possible means by which Argentina can resist the “blackmail” now and continue to pursue the policy it has in recent years is if it can pay the favored creditors without the involvement of any financial intermediary subject to U.S. court orders. This would prove tricky, especially with a tight schedule. The Rest of the World And of course even success there leaves Argentine open to the second of SCOTUS’ two punches, discovery and perhaps successful seizure of assets in third countries. Leaving Argentine matters to the side: what will be the consequence of NML’s victory in this matter, and the now-regnant Second Circuit reading of the pari passu clause, on the market for EM nation bonds? If, as at least some authoritative sources have indicated through this long fight, the pari passu language used in Argentina in the FAA followed “standard language included in substantially the same form in numerous credit documents” and if this decision changes how that language has been understood, then the markets will have to develop work-arounds: because from time to time sovereigns will default, and some sort of restructuring will have to occur. How those work-arounds will work is beyond me. But then, given my poor record trying to predict the twists and turns of this saga that is perhaps for the best.
Justice Thomas writes, "Deciding whether or not a particular claim is abstract can feel subjective and unsystematic, and the debate often trends toward the metaphysical, littered with unhelpful analogies and generalizations.” He has not given the debate a different turn, it will continue to trend toward the metaphysical etc.
Who or what is responsible if an ATS' self-learning behavior drifts into terrain that, performed by a human, would constitute manipulative behavior? Does it matter than another algorithm has lately passed the Turing test?
Crisis-ridden banks yield crisis-ridden sovereigns, and vice versa. One way to make both institutions more resilient going forward is to loosen the feedback loop that connects their troubles. How to do that?
We catch up with litigation and administrative actions over the market data fees that exchanges are allowed to charge their customers, issuers, brokers, or dealers. One of the Lake Poets clues us in to what all the fighting means.
ESMA defines HFT as “a special class of algorithmic trading in which computers make decisions to initiate orders based on information that is received electronically, before human traders are capable of processing the information they observe and of taking a decision in relation thereto.” It then decides that needs further definition.
Recently we discussed Dr. Stiglitz' view of the Eurozone, a view offered to an Italian audience, with Italy (and Greece) foremost in mind. Today we complement that with Deputy Governor Hakkarainen's view of the Eurozone. He looks down at the same map from the north, with Finland and Sweden foregrounded.
After some preliminaries, McGonagle got around to the central subject of his testimony, the Concept Release on Automated Trading that the CFTC had issued back in September 2013. Much of his testimony was designed to give Congress an inkling of the range of reactions the CR has since elicited.
The lesson for investors in the new Wachtell Lipton document may simply be that a corporation that is careless about compensation at the highest level, that cannot carefully document the reasons for payouts, is asking for trouble and that one must consider whether the market has fully discounted the trouble.
After a lengthy CFTC deliberation and some controversy, the SEF system, with a "made available to trade" component, has gotten itself up and running. Some early observations from Celent.
There is an arm's race aspect to the trend toward ever-higher speeds in trading, and this has created a "latency risk" in the markets that has an adverse impact on liquidity, a new study shows. This feeds into some ongoing arguments.
Lawson, the whistle blowing employee of an investment advisor, is protected by SOX. Six Justices agreed on that, although they disagreed on exactly why, or on how far the implications might take future courts.
AIFMD brings many changes to the table. Grant Thornton Ireland has issued a new paper looking at the ramifications.
Financial firms still have people manually implementing Excel spreadsheets in connection with various mandated stress tests, a fact that suggests to a Celent research director that Fred Flintstone runs the back office.
Unless Reuters has been utterly misled, a recent report there suggests that Europe's greybeards are considering an astonishingly bad approach to the insolvency of their banking system: soak the pensioners.
The multi-state, multi-national law firm Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman has offered its clients, especially the banking entities among them, a guide to the principal elements of the newly finalized Volcker Rule, and it touches upon several significant concerns that industry participants have expressed.
A forthcoming paper by Goldstein et al opens a window onto the convergence of two market-structure issues that, until quite recently, had not even been thought very similar.