Tagged: market makers

Volcker Rocks IR

Volcker would be a great name for a shred-metal band. It seems vaguely gothic and you can picture musicians in leather with guitars and tattoos. Maybe colored hair.

Alas, no. The Volcker Rule is no band. But it’s prompting musical chairs that may rock IR. I’ll tell you how in a moment. First, this:

If you’re a member of MAPI, I’ll be regaling your IR council Friday Sept 14 with tales of the tape. If your IR program is stuck in the 1980s with a mullet and a Wurlitzer, come occupy a seat at the Intercontinental.

Second, a word on markets: No clanging claxons but we’re tapping the tam-tam on market risk. Hedging is up. Sentiment is vastly neutral – like painting the ceiling gray. Market structure to end August was a restive crowd in a mall at closing time.

Paul Volcker calmed the crowd. The six-foot-seven-inch Fed chairman loomed over markets from 1979-1987, earning praise for heeling rampant inflation. In 2010, a section of Dodd-Frank aimed at halting speculative trading by large commercial banks came to be called the Volcker Rule because the eminent economist had proposed it.

The rule hasn’t yet taken effect but Wall Street is already scurrying like a school when the bell rings. An exodus of proprietary traders – professionals deploying a bank’s own assets for return – from names like Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley is setting up shop. (more…)

Did you see the Nicole Kidman film ten years ago called The Others?

A woman becomes convinced her house is haunted. In case you’ve not seen it, I’ll save the twist, but it’s the twist that matters. Things are not as they seem.

Crack WSJ markets writer Tom Lauricella asked in a page one article Oct 18 if markets are cracked. Traders he surveyed said building positions in stocks is getting harder. Liquidity is thin. Spreads are rising. Getting trades done – completing an order to buy or sell shares within projected price ranges – is challenging now in the most liquid names.

In the movie The Others, the problem is perspective. The answer to what’s going on depends on how you look at it. Since we’re limited by the camera and the perspective of the central characters, the reality of the problem doesn’t manifest itself till near the end.

In markets, it seems like liquidity is the problem. But what if it’s a matter of perspective? Classically, liquidity is capital. Today it’s somebody on the other side of the trade. Are they the same? No. What’s on the other side of most trades? A machine. Why is it there? Incentives. It’s not there because it’s committing capital. It’s there because it’s paid to be there. (more…)

Quant Trading at the Hudson

Spring finally tossed its verdant cape over the Denver Front Range. We saw it firsthand on our bikes from Sedalia to Palmer Lake last weekend, our first 40-plus miler of the year. It’s been too cold! We know you Californians among us are already past the early and midseason allergens.

Meanwhile in Manhattan, down on Old Slip between Water and South streets there hums and whizzes a sharp shop of folks whose cares are far removed from the seasons. And apparently geography too, for Hudson River Trading sits just off the East River. (more…)