Articles tagged by Flash Crash
I don’t think there is anyone out there who
doesn’t think the FX market performed well under the stress of the surprise
outcome from the UK referendum last week, but I suspect the real test is only
Do risk managers need
to fundamentally re-think their approach to markets? Specifically, are they
paying enough attention to liquidity risk, assuming, of course, that there is
even a way to accurately and dynamically determine this risk in markets?
I ask ...
The subject of liquidity is very much to the fore in foreign exchange markets again following what has been termed a “flash crash’ in Cable in early Asian trading.
The pair broke through 1.2600 and fell very quickly to below 1.14 before going on a mini rollercoaster ride before finally recovering to 1.24.
Although the move is very much being seen as a flash crash, sources say there was good trading volume most of the way down with markets only getting very thin on a break below 1.1800. The low according to Thomson Reuters Matching, which is the benchmark for Cable high/lows, was 1.1378.
Market sources say the low in Cable is being disputed, in spite of what traders say was a clear print at 1.1378 on Thomson Reuters Matching.
A source familiar with the matter says the low trade was a mishit and that the deal is currently being repapered to a new rate.
While several platforms are printing a low between 1.1850 and 1.1950 – something that in itself highlights the level of confusion in the industry, Profit & Loss understands that “at least” 10 trades were executed at 1.1500 on three venues.
This morning’s flash crash in Cable in which it dropped 9.5% in seconds and the low of which is still disputed raise some interesting questions for the creators of the FX Code of Conduct.
Several sources say that the mayhem was triggered by one account executing a large trade into the market, possibly for GBP 200 million. This was enough to send the market into freefall as liquidity during the already thin early Asian session, thinned out further.
If the order was executed by one account, or even by several accounts on behalf of one customer, questions have to be asked about why they did it then, and how they executed.
After Cable’s apparent flash crash Friday, analysts are trying to determine what caused the move and the broader impact that it could have.
In a special note put out Friday Australian-based hedge fund Hunter Burton Capital says the sterling moves are being attributed to comments made by French president, Francois Hollande, about Brexit.
“There must be a threat, there must be a risk, there must be a price, otherwise we will be in negotiations that will not end well and, inevitably, will have economic and human consequences,” commented Hollande.
Where to start? Well I will get to those industry “experts” who have been arguing with me for the past two weeks (actually months) that liquidity is great in FX later, for now let’s kick off by getting to the crux of the issue. This is not necessarily about whether algos ran wild, or someone ran an option barrier, this is about a(nother) fundamental breakdown of the FX market structure.
The time has come to accept that what happened Friday morning in Asia is a mess of our own making; to take our heads out of the sand and at least acknowledge there is a problem with liquidity in FX markets.
A senior member of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) has called for a “thorough and unbiased analysis” by global financial regulators of the systemic risk of “unprecedented capital constraining regulations on global financial and risk-transfer markets”.
In a statement issued today, CFTC commissioner Christopher Giancarlo repeats his warning over liquidity risk in financial markets, noting, “The increased risk is in part due to untested bank capital constraints imposed by US and overseas bank regulators under the Dodd-Frank Act and similar laws.”
There seems to be general acceptance that last week’s flash crash in sterling merely highlighted what we have known for so long – there is a growing structural problem in FX markets.
Identifying a problem and solving it are, however, two entirely different things and in spite of the spirit of innovation reawakening in foreign exchange markets, my sense is that whilst the solution I propose here is unpalatable to some in authority it may help central banks better understand markets and curb flash events
Thomson Reuters says its sterling volumes trebled on October 7, the day of the Cable flash crash which saw the pair drop from above 1.25 to below 1.15 before recovering to 1.24.
The company does not break down its volume data by product or currency on a daily basis and provides no further details, however this would appear to be further evidence of the phenomenon in FX markets whereby dealers typically head to the major matching venues of EBS Market and Thomson Reuters Matching when markets get hectic.
On October 7, Cable flash crashed in early Asian trading, leading to chaos in the market and an official investigation into events surrounding the move. Colin Lambert takes a look at what happened.
A few minutes into October 7 UK time, at 12.07.03am to where there are grounds to believe that the transaction is be precise, Cable traded through 1.2600 having fallen 30 points in the previous minute. Just 23 seconds later it traded below 1.2200 and 45 seconds later it had traded at 1.1378 on one platform.
Just two minutes later the market was trading back above 1.2100 and just 10 minutes after the initial move, Cable was trading above 1.2400. The market had “flash crashed”.
I am probably not the only person nervously awaiting the outcome of next week’s US election, although I suspect many have much different – and to them much more important – reasons.
My concern is that in spite of it being a "known-unknown" the FX market is facing a major event - and this is on a global scale not the relatively local affair of Brexit - and its recent form when it comes to handling a massive surge of business is not great.
A US district court judge has entered a consent order brought by the US Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) against UK-based trader Navinder Singh Sarao.
Sarao was accused by US authorities of helping to trigger the infamous flash crash in US equity markets in May 2010 and was extradited to the US recently.
The order requires him to pay a $25,743.174.52 civil monetary penalty and $12,871,587.26 in disgorgement. It also permanently prohibits Sarao from further violations of the Commodity Exchange Act (CEA) and CFTC regulations, as charged, and imposes permanent trading and registration bans against him.
New regulations imposed on banks since the financial crisis could be contributing to “flash crashes”, according to Christopher Giancarlo, a Commissioner at the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC).
Speaking at ISDA’s Trade Execution Legal Forum, Giancarlo said that when the British pound suddenly dropped 6% against the US dollar in October, this flash crash was exacerbated by a lack of market liquidity.
He continued: “In fact, there have been at least 12 major flash crashes since the passage of the Dodd-Frank Act. The growing incidence of these events shakes confidence in world financial markets.
Nobody should be surprised to read that the report into the Sterling flash crash of October 7 found it was likely caused by a “confluence of factors” – initial reports in this publication and others covered a wide variety of potential triggers for the event, all of which were credible.
What has surprised me a little, however, is how I find, having read the report several times, I have as many, if not more, questions – perhaps observations is a better word – than I started with.
These questions and observations can be distilled down into four generic themes and a conclusion – Evaluation; the impact of historical events; the necessary responses and lessons; and Asia.
A new paper uses trade repository data to forensically analyse the Swiss franc de-pegging and while Colin Lambert finds its conclusions are familiar, the paper offers other insights
The story is familiar to anyone in the foreign exchange business – on January 15, 2015, the Swiss National Bank shocked the markets with the announcement it was abandoning its Swiss franc ceiling to the euro at 1.2000. Chaos ensued as EUR/CHF collapsed over 40% before recovering sharply, after which the industry was left to rake over the ashes of what was to many a debacle.
Chris Salmon, executive director, markets, at the Bank of England (BoE), said in a speech today that, while he has confidence in the ability of the FX market to process identifiable risks, he expects to see more surprise flash moves in this asset class.
Speaking at the OMFIF City Lecture in London, Salmon looked at the depreciation of sterling following the UK Brexit referendum result and the sterling “flash crash” that took place on October 7, 2016, to provide insight into how the market is functioning.
This week, Wednesday March 29, Profit & Loss Forex Network London takes place against the backdrop of UK Prime Minister Theresa May invoking Article 50, formally starting Britain's exit from the European Union. The conference represents a day filled with FX industry experts assembled to discuss everything from the Global Code to Brexit to Flash Crashes to the Liquidity Crunch and much more, kicking off with a panel of experts directly involved in crafting the Global Code, including the Bank of England’s director of Markets, Chris Salmon.
Darren Jer, CEO of MarketFactory, talks to Galen Stops about flash crashes, the new latency arms race and how technology will enable the FX market to keep growing in size.
Galen Stops: What’s going to be the main focus for MarketFactory as a company in 2017?
Darren Jer: Well let me just start by saying that FX is the biggest market that not everyone knows about. In the equities market last year, $114 trillion was traded across all exchanges; in FX, that figure is $1.4 quadrillion. In FX we talk in average daily volume (ADV) numbers all the time so we’re just used to the size of the market, $5.1 trillion per day, but the general public and traders in other asset classes don’t know the degree of notional liquidity.
Following the sterling flash crash last year there has been much industry debate about what the increasingly regularity and severity of these events means for FX market participants and whether anything can be done to prevent or mitigate their impact in the future.
According to Neil Crammond, risk manager for FX at Avem Capital, part of the reason why these flash events are occurring is simply that markets aren’t used to the levels of volatility that used to exist prior to the financial crisis and the implementation of quantitative easing by a number of central banks.
“I think that the problem with the modern FX market is that pre-2008 if you came in every day and someone said to you that “we’re going to have a 300 tick move in the cable every day”, you’d trade according to that,” he says.
Although Dmitri Galinov, CEO of FastMatch, defends the controversial practice of last look in FX, he also claims that it will be eliminated within the next two years.
Explaining why last look has become such a hotly debated topic within the FX industry, Galinov explains that it is “a valuable tool” that enables liquidity providers to quote tighter prices to their customers.
The problem, as he puts it, is that “consumers want tighter prices but they don’t want last look”. For now, however, the two appear to be mutually exclusive, which is why this is a difficult issue for the industry to solve.
Sign up for the new Profit & Loss monthly Insight calls with yours truly to see what I really mean by "sometimes right; sometimes wrong; always certain!" Into the bargain we will throw in a brief section on "Things That Make You go Hmmm..." as well (and it's not often C&C Music Factory make it into financial journalism).
Oh, and while we're at it, have we seen evidence that October's sterling flash crash had nothing to do with a news item?
As the FX market becomes more automated and continues trading faster, the industry needs to implement better controls to prevent disruptive behaviour, says Greg Wood, SVP, global industry operations and technology at FIA.
Drawing on his experience working in both the FX and futures markets, Wood observes that both are fundamentally driven by technology now and are highly automated.
He adds that “with any type of automation you’re going to have increases in speed and your controls have to maintain pace with the other increases in technology, so as the market gets faster, you need to have appropriate controls.”
Closer scrutiny of the data associated with the sterling flash crash reveals some surprising results, argues Paul Aston, CEO of Tixall Global Advisors.
Speaking after delivering a presentation at Profit & Loss’ Forex Network New York conference, Aston explains that his firm replicated the environment of the FX market during the sterling flash crash on a simulator.
“In the course of doing that you have to get very close to the data, analyse every tick, and what we discovered was it really wasn’t the headline grabbing price movement that we saw in the flash crash, where you’re printing all the way down to 1.13 handles, it was right before that which was the most surprising bit of data,” he says.
I am very grateful for the responses to Thursday’s column, ranging from congratulations, through jokes, to guesses as to exactly what event triggered the Cable drop I was talking of. On the latter the favourite was the infamous (and possibly apocryphal) story of the “Carrier Down” message, but I think it was later than that.
Either way, to complete my self –indulgent look at my top 10 events from my 40 years in foreign exchange, here are the top five.