Tyler Durden: A reader, and long-time futures trader, shares his views on the evolution of the “market”, where it was, where it is, and where it may be going.
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I have been an independent trader for 23 years, starting at the CBOT in grains and CME in the S&P 500 futures markets long ago while they were auction outcry markets, and have stayed in the alternative investment space ever since, and now run a small fund.
I understand better than most I would think, the “mechanics” of the markets and how they have evolved over time from the auction market to ‘upstairs”. I am a self-taught, top down global macro economist, and historian of “money” and the Fed and all economic and governmental structures in the world. One thing so many managers don’t understand is that the markets take away the most amounts of money from the most amounts of people, and do so non-linearly. Most sophisticated investors know to be successful, one must be a contrarian, and this philosophy is in parallel. Markets will, on all time scales, through exponential decay (fat tails, or black swans, on longer term scales), or exponential growth of price itself. Why was I so bearish on gold at its peak a few years back for instance? Because of the ascent of non-linearity of price, and the massive consensus buildup of bulls. Didier Sornette, author of “Why Stock Markets Crash”, I believe correctly summarizes how Power Law Behavior, or exponential consensus, and how it lead to crashes. The buildup of buyers’ zeal, and the squeezing of shorts, leads to that “complex system” popping. I have traded as a contrarian with these philosophies for some time.
The point here is, our general indices have been at that critical point now for a year, without “normal” reactions post critical points in time, from longer term time scales to intraday. This suggests that many times, there is only an audience of one buyer, and as price goes up to certain levels, that buyer extracts all sellers. After this year and especially this last 1900 point Dow run up in October, and post non-reaction, that I am 100 percent confident that that one buyer is our own Federal Reserve or other central banks with a goal to “stimulate” our economy by directly buying stock index futures. Talking about a perpetual fat finger! I guess “don’t fight the Fed” truly exists, without fluctuation, in this situation. Its important to note the mechanics; the Fed buys futures and the actual underlying constituents that make up the general indices will align by opportunistic spread arbitragers who sell the futures and buy the actual equities, thus, the Fed could use the con, if asked, that they aren’t actually buying equities.
They also consistently use events through their controlled media, whether bad or good price altering news, to create investment behavior. The “ending” QE 3, and the immediate Bank of Japan QE news that night, and thus the ability to not quit QE using them as their front, and then propping our markets on Globex, like this is suppose to be good news, free markets totally dependent on QE, is one example. Last night, Obama passing the amnesty bill, and the more great news about how Europe and now China are also printing money out of thin air and “stimulating” their economies with QE too, which in turn prompts the Fed to prop up overnight futures markets on Globex to make that look like great news as well. I guess this is suppose to create a behavioral pattern for investors, that dependency on government gives us positive feedback and is good, much like Pavlov’s dog and the ringing of the bell.
Why would the Fed prop up our stock market to begin with? Weren’t they just supposed to “stimulate” the treasuries market only, to keep interest rates low, indirectly, by an eventual direct purchase in secondary markets, keeping them propped up (for five years now!)? Well, first of all as it relates to equities and utilizing the “Plunge Protection” mandate, why not just bypass the “plunge” altogether. Can’t the definition of Plunge Protection be just that? Protection against a plunge instead of during a plunge? Doesn’t propping the market equate to “Plunge Protection” since propping alleviates plunge and “protects” us? Does it depend on what the definition of “is” is? And really, doesn’t the Fed buying futures directly alleviate those bankers who take their money in TARP or however means and then this money doesn’t make its way into the very heart of what the public deems as its consumption motivator, higher stocks and real estate? Plus, buying futures is a means of then delivering fiat cash upon every expiration, therefore, “stimulus” to someone who receives it.
The Fed boasts about having a printing press, and I guess this allows them to “fix” everything. They “print money out of thin air” we keep hearing (which is true by the way) and with US taxpayer backing (fiat currency (always fails throughout history)), (perhaps post QE 3 there is an Executive Order for QE infinity), they sit on the actual bid and hold our treasury markets steady, and by buying out big sellers as they arise like Russia and China via their Belgium central bank franchise as an example, propping our dollar and then staying on that bid by other franchises, having constant bid flow into equity futures in real time hours and Globex overnite, all in order to retain US consumer confidence (since that is what we are suppose to continue to do) and the image of global strength to keep the dollar from losing its reserve status. Their obsession of stopping a deflationary depression, has headfaked people like Bill Gross, formerly of PIMCO, and known to have started hedging long bond positions five years ago with the assumptions that Fed printing would be inflationary, and rates would move higher, but without the assumption of the perpetual direct bid in the market place by the Fed creating, “price discovery”. For now, that is.