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Last week, the big story was how bankers use HFT (High Frequency Trading) algorithmic software not only to rig markets but also to commit theft on a daily basis (Frontrunning, like Quantitative Easing, is just fancy Wall Street lingo to disguise its true meaning of theft). Though many in the public blogosphere expressed shock that stock markets are rigged and that regulators like the Securities Exchange Commission willingly allow this theft to occur, the only thing shocking about this story was how long it took this story to reach the mainstream and that people were crediting Michael Lewis with uncovering this story with his book “Flash Boys” when in reality this story had been discussed in detail on independent financial media sites for more than five years already.
For example, an accounting professor at the Yale School of Management, X. Frank Zhang, calculated that HFT trading was responsible for a minimum of 70% of all daily trading volume in US stock markets and possibly for as much as 78% of the volume in 2009. And HFT algorithmic trading was already dominating daily trading volume on US stock exchanges prior to 2009. Thus one can clearly see that the only thing “new” about HFT algorithms is that this old news has finally moved into mainstream media headlines.
BATS CEO William O’ Brien, when confronted on MSNBC last week with the fact that HFT algos commit millions of acts that are specifically prohibited by the US Securities and Exchange Commission’s Regulation NMS, a regulation that requires brokers to guarantee customers the best possible execution of price on orders, ludicrously argued that HFT programs have no clients (David Cummings, a computer programmer that worked at the Kansas City Board of Trade, founded BATS, a stock exchange located in Lenexa, Kansas. The core code of BATS was derived from tradebot, a computer program that engages in algorithmic trading). There is only one possible way that O’ Brien’s claim that HFT programs “have no clients” can be true. If the HFT programs were artificially intelligent self-aware programs that made all decisions independent of the interests of the people that coded them and the bankers that used them, then perhaps O’Brien’s claim could be partially true. Otherwise, as long as bankers hire programmers to code HFT algorithms and employ them for their benefit and to the disadvantage of their competitors as well as the disadvantage of their clients, then the obvious clients of HFT programs are bankers and the companies that entice bankers to use them. To claim otherwise is simply a flat-out lie.
In any event, the Holy Grail that the bankers are seeking to protect is not that they use HFT programs to rig stock market trading.
The real truth the bankers wish to conceal from the public is that they use HFT programs to suppress gold and silver prices.
If this truth made it into the mainstream news and was being discussed at the same level at which HFT programs being used to rig millions of stock trades is being currently discussed, bankers would have a heart attack. However, do not let the complete media blackout of the banking cartel’s use of HFT algos to control gold and silver prices in the paper derivatives markets lead you to falsely conclude that the use of HFT programs are not critical to gold and silver price suppression.
There have been many instances in the past several years when it has been crystal clear that bankers were using the processing speed of HFT algorithmic programs to create waterfall declines in gold and silver prices that would have been impossible to create without them. In fact nearly six years ago, in 2008, I sent then US CFTC Commissioner Bart Chilton evidence of gold price slams in the New York market that would have been impossible for bankers to create without the use of HFT algorithms. Click on the following link to see the evidence I provided to Bart Chilton back then, in which gold prices literally were slammed at market open in New York in a matter of minutes by $30, $40, $60 and even more, almost always at the same exact time in New York, as well as his reply.
It was Bart’s reply in 2008 in the above link that led me to write him off as possibly being someone that would take action against the bankers’ immoral and unethical use of HFT programs to suppress gold and silver prices in paper derivative markets, and his retirement in December 2013 without any inroads being made to prevent bankers from using HFT algos to artificially slam gold and silver prices confirmed that my assessment six years ago was the correct one. In any event, though back then I couldn’t prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that bankers were using HFT algos to slam the price of gold and silver on the particular days of steep price declines that I presented to Chilton, NANEX has provided data in recent years that confirmed my previous suspicions. Let’s take a look at a couple of scenarios in which evidence is clear that bankers are using HFT algos to manipulate gold and silver prices, and I will further explain how bankers use HFT algos to create unnatural and artificial, non-free-market rapid waterfall-like declines in gold prices similar to the ones that I presented to Bart Chilton in 2008.
On February 29, 2012, at 10:47:21 the GLD dropped by about 1% in less than 1/3 of a second, and on March 20, 2012 at 13:22:33 (1:22:33 p.m. ET) the quote rate in the ETF symbol SLV sustained a rate exceeding 75,000/sec (75,000 quotes per second) for 25 milliseconds (25 thousands of one second) and also dropped by a significant amount in less than a second. (Source: The Gold Cartel: Government Intervention on Gold, the Mega Bubble in Paper, by Dmitri Speck). To put this in perspective, if the US S&P 500 index drops by 1% over the course of an entire day’s trading session, this event makes news on the headlines of every mass media US financial website. Now imagine if the S&P500 lost 1% in less than 1/3 of a second, how widely covered such an event would be? So why did these events in the gold and silver markets receive a total blackout from the US mass financial media? And why would artificial quote stuffing rates of 75,000 quotes per second executed by bankers using HFT algorithms allow the price of silver to be manipulated and suppressed? First, consider if humans, and not supercomputers, provided all trade quotes in the SLV. The quote rate would have been less than one every few seconds, and nowhere close to the HFT program rate of 75,000 per second. So what is the purpose of HFT algo quote stuffing? To explain it as simply as possible, bankers that use HFT algos to produce quote stuffing events provide quotes that they never expect to execute. In other words, bankers produce quote stuffing events to serve as exploratory probes to see if anyone reacts to the false quotes they produce that are never even real orders. Since bankers use supercomputers located right next to the stock exchanges to run their HFT programs, their goal of providing fake bids (or asks) is to see if there is anyone trying to sell (or buy) at that price.
As a hypothetical example, if the price of silver were falling on a particular day, and the bankers wanted to see if anyone wanted to sell any silver futures contracts at the silver equivalent price of $20.10 an ounce, they could produce a fake bid that amounts to a price of $20.10 per ounce per futures contract. This fake bid then may produce a sell order for 10 contracts and another one for 20 contracts. Since each futures contract represents 5000 ounces of silver, the notional amounts represented by 10 and 20 contracts are respectively over $1MM and $2MM (though the actual costs of the initial and maintenance margins per futures contract are obviously much less due to the leverage ratios of PM futures contracts). So now that the banker run HFT algo knows that a couple of parties are interested in selling silver derivatives at $20.10 an ounce for silver, the HFT algo would immediately withdraw or cancel all of its “exploratory bids” and use this information of selling interest in silver futures contracts to immediately re-price its bid to the silver equivalent price of $20.05 per futures contract. The HFT algo can then “see” if sell orders come back on line reduced to a price that amounts to $20.05 per ounce of silver. However, if the HFT algo spots 1,000 silver futures contracts that exist with orders to sell if silver hits $20 an ounce, the HFT algo will attempt to trigger all the stops if the bankers’ aim is to cause a waterfall price decline in the price of silver and will execute the wash, rinse and repeat cycle time and time again. In other words, once they know the sellers are chasing the price lower, the bankers would program the HFT algo to again immediately withdraw the bid at $20.05 and re-set it at $20 an ounce knowing that 1,000 more contracts will be automatically triggered to sell at this price and consequently send the silver price plummeting much lower than $20. How? Because as the stop losses are triggered, the banker programmed HFT algo can play the same game with those 1,000 orders and make every subsequent sell order chase the price of silver lower. Of course, these HFT algos have been programmed to make these decisions in milliseconds of time, faster than a human eye can see, and do not have a banker literally instructing the algo to pull bid quotes once a sell order that matches that quote comes in. Still, a real person had to program an HFT algo to make split-second decisions based upon information it gathers with a specific goal in mind, either to ratchet down gold and silver prices or to ratchet them up higher depending on their clients’ (the bankers) motives. Furthermore, since HFT algos are quote stuffing at rates in the tens of thousands per second, I realize that the step down increments in reality may be smaller but this is just a hypothetical example to provide an idea of how bankers can use HFT algos to rig gold and silver prices lower.
And the beauty of this entire HFT algo scam? Bankers can create a waterfall decline in the price of silver in the above hypothetical scenario before possibly even having to execute a single trade and trigger massive declines in price just by triggering a couple of trades! Thus, in the above scenario, once the orginal two selling parties take the bait and move their sell orders down to $20 an ounce per contract, the silver rout would be on. Using a poker analogy, trading in gold and silver paper derivatives against bankers that use HFT programs is like showing the bankers all of your cards every hand. You simply cwill not win against such a rigged system as long as you fail to realize that the bankers can see your hand through the use of fake quote stuffing. Or in other terms, the rigging is so egregious in gold and silver derivative markets, that if bankers were rigging a poker game in Las Vegas to the degree that they rig gold and silver futures markets, they would be taken into a back room in Vegas by casino security and well, you know the rest of what would happen next.
I suspect that this method of using HFT algos to quote stuff and pull bids (which is illegal for a human to do, but acceptable for a human employing an HFT algo to do, if that makes any sense) is the primary method by which bankers create vacuums in gold and silver derivative markets to create the types of artificially-induced, non-free-market waterfall price declines evident in the charts I sent to Bart Chilton in 2008, and that have happened every year since, especially with great frequency again in 2013. In fact, prior to last year, 2008 was the last year in which the Western banking cartel interfered with gold and silver markets to an excessive level, as can be seen in the below chart in which daily declines in gold’s paper price over 2% in less than 20 minutes spiked to 12 days (chart courtesy of Dmitri Speck of GATA). Again, this happened a dozen times in 2008 and yet was never covered one time by the mainstream financial media. Imagine if the FTSE 100 or the S&P 500 declined by 2% in less than 20 minutes just one time? This would be the lead story of every financial site around the world.
So now we know why bankers use HFT algos to create fake quotes in gold and silver derivative markets to artificially move prices, but why would bankers have to create 75,000 fake quotes per second? Think of massive volumes of quotes as traffic on a two-lane highway. If there are not many cars, you can get from point A to point B fairly quickly. However, if I wanted to prevent you from reaching your destination and could re-route 75,000 cars to occupy the lanes in front of you, it would obviously take you much longer to reach your destination. Bankers that use HFT programs to quote stuff essentially have the same goal, but think of the destination in the stock market as the ability to process information. When bankers use HFT programs to create massive volumes of artificial traffic, not only do they effectively slow down the rate of processing information down for all others, but it also raises the cost to process information as well as masks the fraud committed by the HFT programs as no information can be obtained while they provide tens of thousands of fake quotes per second. Thus, the use of HFT algos to quote stuff makes it much more difficult for competing algos, and certainly human beings, to understand that their buy and sell orders are being skimmed for illicit profits by bankers. In other words bankers can use HFT algos to create waterfall declines in gold and silver prices in a step-down manner when they are buying and likewise, when selling, can use them to get traders to chase prices higher in a step-up manner, all without a single trade even executing before prices have been moved well lower or higher.
I have laid out in the graphs below provided by NANEX, evidence of bankers that have used HFT algos to create a step-down price decline in the price of gold on January 6, 2014 from $1245 to below $1215 in less than a minute. In fact, one can clearly see the HFT algos in action in the step-down price action that happened in gold derivative markets this day as the algo was so precise that it caused the exact same number of total trades in each step-down in price. Furthermore, one can clearly see in the below charts that algo quote stuffing can sometimes cause trading platforms to completely breakdown and come to a complete halt in trading.
I want to make it crystal clear to people that the bankers using these algos and the firms employing these algos are the ones that are stealing from people and profiting from the losses they artificially inflict upon their clients. Bankers always try position all blame for all uncovered fraud and immoral activities solely on “out-of-control” technology as if the technology is somehow beyond their control. The meme that all the mass media has used last week when discussing HFT algos is that it is really not that bad because if it were, it would not be “legal”. Forget about the fact that banking and finance industry lobbyists spent nearly a quarter of a billion dollars in 2013 alone to influence law making and that much of this money is spent to make once illegal behavior legal if it benefits the banks.
In the end, it is not the speed of trading that is the problem but rather how bankers use supercomputers that process and execute information at super speeds to create artificial, fake quotes and steal from people. Thus the problem lies squarely not with out-of-control technology but with out-of-control unethical bankers that are merely crooks in $3,000 Armani suits. Furthermore, it is not the revelation that bankers are using HFT programs to rig stock markets that scares bankers, but the possibility that the current scrutiny on immoral HFT programs may reveal that bankers use HFT programs to rig the prices of gold and silver that truly puts the fear of God in them. For if this revelation goes mainstream and gold and silver prices are freed from banker executed HFT manipulation, every asset bubble that bankers have created since 2008 will come tumbling down as rapidly as their artificially-created waterfall one-minute price declines in gold and silver futures markets. However, as long as scrutiny remains high on the Western banking cartel’s use of HFT trading algorithms, their ability to use these algos to slam gold and silver prices may very well be temporarily impeded.
Hopefully, the class-action anti-trust lawsuit against the five international banks that set the London daily gold price fixings that was filed the last week of March, 2014 in the US District Court of New York by the Philadelphia law firm of Berger & Montague and the New York law firm of Quinn, Emanuel, Urquhart, and Sullivan will shed some light on how big global banks have colluded with Central Banks to additionally use HFT programs to fix gold and silver prices lower.
About the author: JS Kim is the managing director of SmartKnowledgeU, a fiercely independent consulting and research firm that strategically focuses on the best ways to buy gold and silver as an important hedge in the ongoing currency wars.
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