Friday, July 24, 2009 EST

High frequency trading is in the news again. The common investor is getting scalped for pennies (or more) on each trade while companies like "Golden Slacks" (Cramer-ism) makes money each day in the market with little or no risk. 

Any investor, trader, speculator that knows of this should email the SEC and complain about it. It is not about faster computers, but it is about SEC allowing companies to have these fast computers right at the exchange. The software opens and cancels trades in milliseconds to see what is out there.

This is theft. I called into NPR on the Diane Rehm's show and asked a group of investment experts about this issue. They laughed and said it is about competition. I was not able to make a follow up comment, if I was I would have told them they were incompetent.

If you do not have a computer on the exchange floor to steal pennies or more per trade then you (and I) are being ripped off.  You can reach the SEC at tradingandmarkets@sec.gov

New York Times:

"Nearly everyone on Wall Street is wondering how hedge funds and large banks like Goldman Sachs are making so much money so soon after the financial system nearly collapsed. High-frequency trading is one answer. "

"And when a former Goldman Sachs programmer was accused this month of stealing secret computer code — software that a federal prosecutor said could “manipulate markets in unfair ways” — it only added to the mystery. Goldman acknowledges that it profits from high-frequency trading, but disputes that it has an unfair advantage. "

Read the full article here

Thursday, July 16, 2009 EST

Just when you thought you heard about the last major scam on Wall Street... 

Mark posted a comment on the forum regarding a white paper that discussed how companies are able to scalp a penny, or two, or three from each trade. Basically at no risk. The white paper showed that this is done by "Automated Market Makers" or AMM.

These are computer applications that make the market, where people on the exchange floor (Specialists) use to make the market (or trades). Now programs have algorithms that search out pending trades to inflate prices by pennies, buy it, short it, then drives the stock down. Then the next AMM member comes along and picks it up cheaper, turns around an dumps it and make a penny or two. Really you have to read the white paper to get it all. 

The real slap in the face is these computers have to be on the floor of the exchange. Right now it is only at the NYSE. You can thank the SEC ( tradingandmarkets@sec.gov ) and the NYSE again for taking money out of investors pockets. 

White Paper: Toxic Equity Trading on Wall Street (from Themis Trading)

Themis has another white paper discussing "Where Has All The Volume Gone?" In this paper they show that most of the volume on the exchanges have come from these AMM and not from Mutual Funds.

This you have to read this... here is a comment from the paper.

“We saw our full-service institutional clients retrench this quarter subsequent to significant declines in their assets under management, while our direct market access clients increased business with us,” said Howard Naphtali, Chief Financial Officer - Investment Technology Group.

Institutional block trading has fallen for several reasons:

1. Asset deterioration. A survey by Greenwich Associates found that U.S. investment managers' portfolio assets declined in value by an average 31% in 2008.

2. Mutual fund outflows. Investment Company Institute data on equity mutual funds shows a $25 billion outflow in February and overall redemptions of more than $185 billion since September 2008.

3. Hedge fund redemptions. HedgeFund.net estimates that hedge fund industry assets of $1.724 trillion are 41% lower than their peak in June 2008.

Clearly, the buy and hold, long only equity fund managers have slowed their trading activity. Instead, what we are seeing is high volatility days leading to more high frequency trading and higher volume. In turn, this is confusing traditional investors about the true direction of the market. "

So it sounds like so much volume comes from these AMM trades that volume shoots up, it appears the market is moving up, but really it is a bunch of micro-second round trip trades. This nonsense will make technical analysis even tougher and really steps on the toes of the average investor. 

Tuesday, July 14, 2009 EST

The automated MTR-TM was down for a few days for a couple of reasons.

First, maintenance was performed on the site a couple of weeks ago and some of the historical signal data was updated and it was incorrect. There were 97 signals showing on the web site but there should have been 60 based on the results in AMIBroker.  This impacted historical trading signals prior to 2007 and more recent signals may have been pushed by 1 day. 

Second, one of MTR members, Kevin, discussed in the Forum that he wanted to run some tests using the signals and compare to S&P 500, NASDAQ, and other indexes. 

Kevin performed some great work with Excel to check the MTR-TM signals vs. the S&P 500, NASDAQ, and other indexes and emailed the results.  It was Kevin's email that prompted us to look at the data and saw the bug with the 97 signals vs. the 60.   The trade signals from the MTR-TM did not correlate enough to the movements in the S&P 500 or NASDAQ to make holding ETFs based on the indexes a viable long term strategy using MTR-TM signals.  The 4% Model, as with the MTR-TM, main purpose is to determine if overall the market would move higher or lower. Then based on these signals a trader could trade in that direction but it is clear just sitting on ETFs that fit the S&P 500 or NASDAQ 100 would not be the best call. 

There was some work already being performed on the MTR-TM formula and the model on the site now represents the updated logic. Looking for a simple strategy to trade these signals it is clear a trader can use an ETF that closely correlates to the Value Line Arithmetic Index such as the S&P 400 MidCap ETF.

The Market Timing Model documentation was updated to discuss this in more detail. Please Section II and III.

We thank Kevin for his work in testing the MTR signals vs. other indexes. This helped to uncover a data issue on the web site and prompted additional research as to better trading methods using the MTR-TM signals.

 
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