Tagged: rule filings

Reality or Fantasy

Don’t forget to write your letters, folks!

Which letters? See last week’s Market Structure Map on prompting the NYSE or the NASDAQ to file a rule for better data.

Speaking of rule-filings, here’s an example. Last week ahead of an SEC review deadline, NYSE Arca, an automated facility focused on ETFs and global derivatives-trading, withdrew a proposal permitting ETF sponsors to pay market-makers to trade ETFs.

Filed in April last year, the proposal is similar to one from the NASDAQ on which we commented. We opposed it because these plans distort prices and true supply and demand. If you were paying brokers to buy and sell your shares, would your share-price reflect the views of investors or the market-incentive offered by payments to brokers?

At best, it would be hard to tell. Plus, if a party with a financial incentive to create demand for its product can manipulate outcomes for its own gain, it’s sometimes called racketeering when prosecuted criminally. Why would we permit something that in one place is considered criminal to in another one serve as a barometer for market demand?

Despite this logical conundrum, word is that NYSE Arca will reformulate and re-file the proposal. The NASDAQ’s proposal supporting sponsor payments for ETF traders is still matriculating, and the SEC must decide on it by March 8, according to Traders Magazine. (more…)

Issuer Data Initiative

“Nobody seems to care about the issuers.”

That short sentence in an email from an investor-relations officer recently reflects what many in our profession feel about share-ownership and trading data for public companies.

Back in March 2011, we decided to do something. You old-timers here at the Market Structure Map, you remember? With hope, fanfare and even media coverage, we launched our quixotic quest for better data. We beseeched the SEC, FINRA and staffers for members of Congress on committees regulating markets.

Turns out we were more like Don Quixote than Sancho Panza. Moving Congress is nearly a fool’s errand. And we also found that unless it produces dollars for regulators, yours is their last priority. But we also made a startling discovery about how to succeed.

Here’s the problem today. Shares trade in fractions of seconds but reports on ownership follow months later. Vanguard founder Jack Bogle says data on share turnover show average holding periods for institutions are now less than five months. Since 13fs are filed 45 days following quarter-end, reporting periods are longer than holding periods!

But ownership data don’t mean what they did before rules the last 15 years transformed market structure. Let me drive that point home. Too much attention is paid to WHO, and not enough to WHY.

Trading “back in the day” was the means to the end. Today, trading IS the end. Nearly 85% of volume is the product of a trading objective, not investment. So complete trading data matter greatly now – and you don’t have them.

ModernIR provides great statistical measures of trading behavior because markets run on rules and math, and we can apply statistics to both. But why do public companies have incomplete data? The act creating the SEC says all constituents shall have equal treatment. (more…)