Gregg Berman of the Securities and Exchange Commission has a message for those doubting that the regulator understands the U.S. stock market in the era of light-speed trading: You’re wrong. Berman, one of the SEC’s top advisers on high-frequency firms, dark pools and other elements of computerized markets, is facing pressure to respond to claims his agency has failed to police exchanges and has permitted speed traders to put other investors at a disadvantage. Other authorities, including New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, have announced their own probes into the issue. In remarks today at an Options Industry Conference near Austin, Texas, Berman aimed a rebuttal at critics and “maybe an attorney general” who might think “regulators are very behind the times and can’t keep up with market participants.” [Bloomberg]
Over the past year or so, Steve Cohen has had to swallow several bitter pills in order to continue doing what he loves– trading stocks– and not further incite the Securities and Exchange Commission, the Justice Department, and Preet Bharara. He’s written a check for over 600 million dollars and another one for $1.2 billion. He’s returned all investor money to people not related to him by blood or marriage. He’s said good-bye to friends. Most recently, he made the ultimate sacrifice when he agreed to change the name of the firm1 from his initials to Point72 Asset Management, rendering a walk-in closet full of SAC Capital fleeces utterly useless.
And although the sight of a distraught Cohen fighting with his lieutenants over the name change, of him scooping up a pile of fleeces and shouting “What the hell am I supposed to do with these?!” before collapsing atop them and whispering, “Alright…alright,” of his President and GC and CFO standing awkwardly around him as he buried his face in the zip-ups and vests before sending everyone away and letting him be alone with them, of a single tear rolling down his face as he slowly traced the stitched on ‘S’ and then the ‘A’ and finally the ‘C’ should have been enough… Read more »
Or at the Justice Department or CFTC or FCA or SFO. Read more »
Perhaps it is not the most important insider-trading trial of all time. But today’s jury selection in SEC v. Mark Cuban might mark the end of the beginning of what seems like the longest insider-trading case of all time. And, in spite of the reputation of the chief protagonist (or antagonist, depending on your point of view and whether or not you are a fan of Dallas-based sports teams), it’s not likely to be a particularly entertaining insider-trading trial. Read more »
SEC officials on Thursday told exchanges to work with other market players to come up with “comprehensive action plans” to ensure that the data feeds are resilient, and to ensure the soundness of other “critical infrastructure systems,” according to an SEC statement.
Thursday’s SEC meeting, attended by top executives from exchange operators Nasdaq, NYSE Euronext, BATS Global Markets Inc., Direct Edge Holdings LLC, and others, was marked by one snafu. Nasdaq Chief Executive Robert Greifeld was 40 minutes late due to transportation problems, according to people who attended.
And lest you thought that (slowly outgoing) CFTC Chief Gary Gensler was going to let Mary Jo have all the fun, think again. Read more »
Half of today’s financial news stories are about how some government enforcement agency is looking into something you already knew about. This is very boring for me! Remember when Goldman lost a bunch of money by fat-fingering some options trades?1 That still happened. Remember how JPMorgan did some naughty things with California electricity markets? Those historical circumstances continue to obtain. Remember the Whale? Still a thing.
You could wonder about the substance of some of these investigations. JPMorgan’s electric boogaloo, while intensely naughty, also seems pretty clearly to have followed FERC/ISO rules to the letter, so it’s hard to imagine charging anyone with a crime, as the FBI is apparently contemplating.2 And while I don’t know much about the SEC rules re: electronic options trading, the actual thing that Goldman did was sell options really cheaply, and it would be pretty weird if there were a rule against that, so I don’t know where the SEC is going with its enforcement investigation.3 (The Whale, I’ll give you, that stuff seems bad.) But basically, yeah, sure: bad things happened, rules might have been violated, market safeguards were shown to be less robust than had previously been thought, it is altogether fitting and proper that someone look into it. Or a lot of someones I guess.
Still the stories carry a whiff of looking for the keys under the lamppost: Read more »