To channel my inner Shakespeare, “to re-paper or not re-paper – that is the question”. I could continue with something like, “whether ‘tis nobler in the mind to stand by the price and wear the loss, or run crying to the authorities and try to get it cancelled” but that kind of loses poetic effect. Anyway, what I want to say is why do markets let people get away with rank stupidity and lack of operational discipline by letting them re-paper trades?
The annual Irrational for the Call of the Year is always competitive and this year was no different. Obviously the temptation is to hand it to someone who got the markets horribly wrong in 2018 – and the chap who thought Bitcoin’s fair value was at $14,000 (or, if you arranged a few ducks in a row $150,000!) is a contender, as are all the dollar bears at the start of the year. The winner truly comes from left field, however, because it’s me!
Inaugural financial markets research from the JP Morgan Chase Institute studies trading behaviour around three major market events, and while the findings will not come as a surprise to most FX market participants – active traders were much more involved in the market than passive investors or corporate hedgers – they should prove useful to central banks as they come to terms with a changing market structure.
The research, FX Markets Move on Surprise News, was written by Diana Farrell, Kanav Bhagat and Chen Zhao at the Institute and looks at three specific surprise events, the Swiss National Bank’s decision to remove the EUR/CHF floor in January 2015, the Brexit vote in June 2016 and the 2016 US presidential election.
There was, naturally, quite a lot of attention on the return of EUR/CHF to 1.20 on Friday, most of if, naturally again, frivolous. On a return basis, anyone who didn’t care about mark-to-market would have been back in the black in the mid-1.19s thanks to carry, but that didn’t stop people like me joining in the frivolity, tweeting the market may have an issue working through the 1.20005 offer for 20 yards. It shows though, how much the event is embedded in the market’s psyche that we are commenting about it.
A new working paper from the Bank of England analyses the role of automated trading (AT) in FX markets in a period containing the 15 January 2015 announcement by the Swiss National Bank that it had removed its EUR/CHF floor and finds that while AT “generated uninformed volatility”, human traders did the opposite.
“This ‘Swiss franc event’ represents a natural experiment as one of the largest shocks to the FX market in recent years and probably the most significant ‘black swan’ event in the period in which AT has been a prominent force in FX markets,” the paper states.
Given how the EUR/CHF cross collapsed immediately following the removal of the pair’s artificial floor by the Swiss National Bank (SNB) in January 2015, it would seem an obvious answer to the question, “was the event expected” would be “no”. The cross fell from its SNB-imposed floor at 1.2000, hitting 0.7000 at one stage before the “official” low was set at 0.85, finally settling around 1.05.
A new paper published by the Bank for International Settlements (BIS), however, studies events in the FX market leading up to the removal of the EUR/CHF floor in January 2015, and while it is not conclusive, it does find evidence that some option markets were predicted the break lower in the cross.
Even as FXCM continues to extricate it from a punitive loan that saved the firm, its travails are increasing with news the US Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) has charged the firm over events surrounding its near collapse in the immediate aftermath of the Swiss National Bank removing its EUR/CHF peg on January 15, 2015. […]