CIRCUIT BREAKERS POPPED
The little-used NYSE ‘Rule 48’ to tame a wild market
by Krysia Lenzo & Mark Koba / 26 Aug 2015
“The New York Stock Exchange invoked the little-used Rule 48 to pre-empt panic trading at the stock market open for the third day in a row on Wednesday. In a historic move, the exchange used the rule before Monday’s open following a dramatic drop in pre-market open futures, including the Dow Jones Industrial Average futures falling more than 700 points. The goal of Rule 48 is to ensure orderly trading amid financial market turbulence. It’s only used in the event that extremely high market volatility is likely to have a floor-wide impact on the ability of designated market makers (DMMs) to disseminate price indications before the bell.
Unlike a circuit breaker that stops stock trading, Rule 48 speeds up the opening by suspending the requirement that stock prices be announced at the market open. Those prices have to be approved by stock market floor managers before trading actually begins. Without that approval, stock trading can begin sooner. To invoke Rule 48, an exchange would have to determine that certain conditions exist that would cause market disruptions. Those conditions include:
- volatility during the previous day’s trading session
- trading in foreign markets before the open
- substantial activity in the futures market before the open
- the volume of pre-opening indications of interest
- government announcements
Rule 48 was invoked a few times in recent years, including on Tuesday, January 22, 2008 and on Thursday, May 20, 2010. In 2008, the stock markets were subject to great volatility over fears of a global recession and in 2010, the European debt crisis caused panic buying and selling. The rule was also invoked during the August-September 2011 time frame, when European debt crisis fears and U.S. government shutdown debate again roiled the markets, and in January 2015, during extreme winter weather. In all, Rule 48 has been invoked 76 times since 2008 (it was approved by the Securities and Exchange Commission on Dec. 6, 2007.) Rule 48 waives requirements under the older Rule 123D for stock openings when an individual stock is going to open significantly lower or higher than the prior day’s close. And in what was quite likely a first for hidden stock exchange protocols — Rule 48 was trending on Twitter.”
CENTRAL BANK MARKET MANIPULATION
Central Banks Have Become A Corrupting Force
by Paul Craig Roberts & Dave Kranzler / August 23, 2015
“Are we witnessing the corruption of central banks? Are we observing the money-creating powers of central banks being used to drive up prices in the stock market for the benefit of the mega-rich? These questions came to mind when we learned that the central bank of Switzerland, the Swiss National Bank, purchased 3,300,000 shares of Apple stock in the first quarter of this year, adding 500,000 shares in the second quarter. Smart money would have been selling, not buying. It turns out that the Swiss central bank, in addition to its Apple stock, holds very large equity positions, ranging from $250,000,000 to $637,000,000, in numerous US corporations — Exxon Mobil, Microsoft, Google, Johnson & Johnson, General Electric, Procter & Gamble, Verizon, AT&T, Pfizer, Chevron, Merck, Facebook, Pepsico, Coca Cola, Disney, Valeant, IBM, Gilead, Amazon. Among this list of the Swiss central bank’s holdings are stocks which are responsible for more than 100% of the year-to-date rise in the S&P 500 prior to the latest sell-off.
What is going on here? The purpose of central banks was to serve as a “lender of last resort” to commercial banks faced with a run on the bank by depositors demanding cash withdrawals of their deposits. Banks would call in loans in an effort to raise cash to pay off depositors. Businesses would fail, and the banks would fail from their inability to pay depositors their money on demand. As time passed, this rationale for a central bank was made redundant by government deposit insurance for bank depositors, and central banks found additional functions for their existence. The Federal Reserve, for example, under the Humphrey-Hawkins Act, is responsible for maintaining full employment and low inflation. By the time this legislation was passed, the worsening “Phillips Curve tradeoffs” between inflation and employment had made the goals inconsistent. The result was the introduction by the Reagan administration of the supply-side economic policy that cured the simultaneously rising inflation and unemployment. Neither the Federal Reserve’s charter nor the Humphrey-Hawkins Act says that the Federal Reserve is supposed to stabilize the stock market by purchasing stocks. The Federal Reserve is supposed to buy and sell bonds in open market operations in order to encourage employment with lower interest rates or to restrict inflation with higher interest rates.
If central banks purchase stocks in order to support equity prices, what is the point of having a stock market? The central bank’s ability to create money to support stock prices negates the price discovery function of the stock market. The problem with central banks is that humans are fallible, including the chairman of the Federal Reserve Board and all the board members and staff. Nobel prize-winner Milton Friedman and Anna Schwartz established that the Great Depression was the consequence of the failure of the Federal Reserve to expand monetary policy sufficiently to offset the restriction of the money supply due to bank failure. When a bank failed in the pre-deposit insurance era, the money supply would shrink by the amount of the bank’s deposits. During the Great Depression, thousands of banks failed, wiping out the purchasing power of millions of Americans and the credit creating power of thousands of banks.
The Fed is prohibited from buying equities by the Federal Reserve Act. But an amendment in 2010 – Section 13(3) – was enacted to permit the Fed to buy AIG’s insolvent Maiden Lane assets. This amendment also created a loophole which enables the Fed to lend money to entities that can use the funds to buy stocks. Thus, the Swiss central bank could be operating as an agent of the Federal Reserve. If central banks cannot properly conduct monetary policy, how can they conduct an equity policy? Some astute observers believe that the Swiss National Bank is acting as an agent for the Federal Reserve and purchases large blocs of US equities at critical times to arrest stock market declines that would puncture the propagandized belief that all is fine here in the US economy.
We know that the US government has a “plunge protection team” consisting of the US Treasury and Federal Reserve. The purpose of this team is to prevent unwanted stock market crashes. Is the stock market decline of August 20-21 welcome or unwelcome? At this point we do not know. In order to keep the dollar up, the basis of US power, the Federal Reserve has promised to raise interest rates, but always in the future. The latest future is next month. The belief that a hike in interest rates is in the cards keeps the US dollar from losing exchange value in relation to other currencies, thus preventing a flight from the dollar that would reduce the Uni-power to Third World status.
The Federal Reserve can say that the stock market decline indicates that the recovery is in doubt and requires more stimulus. The prospect of more liquidity could drive the stock market back up. As asset bubbles are in the way of the Fed’s policy, a decline in stock prices removes the equity market bubble and enables the Fed to print more money and start the process up again. On the other hand, the stock market decline last Thursday and Friday could indicate that the players in the market have comprehended that the stock market is an artificially inflated bubble that has no real basis. Once the psychology is destroyed, flight sets in. If flight turns out to be the case, it will be interesting to see if central bank liquidity and purchases of stocks can stop the rout.”
‘NO MARKETS, JUST INTERVENTIONS’
by Tyler Durden / 06/16/2014
“Another conspiracy “theory” becomes conspiracy “fact” as The FT reports “a cluster of central banking investors has become major players on world equity markets.” The report, to be published this week by the Official Monetary and Financial Institutions Forum (OMFIF), confirms $29.1tn in market investments, held by 400 public sector institutions in 162 countries, which “could potentially contribute to overheated asset prices.” China’s State Administration of Foreign Exchange has become “the world’s largest public sector holder of equities”, according to officials, and we suspect the Fed is close behind (courtesy of more levered positions at Citadel), as the world’s banks try to diversify themselves and “counters the monopoly power of the dollar.” Which leaves us wondering where are the central bank 13Fs?
While most have assumed that this is likely, the recent exuberance in stocks has largely been laid at the foot of another irrational un-economic actor – the corporate buyback machine. However, as The FT reports, what we have speculated as fact for many years now (given the death cross of irrationality, plunging volumes, lack of engagement, and of course dwindling credibility of central planners)… is now fact…
Central banks around the world, including China’s, have shifted decisively into investing in equities as low interest rates have hit their revenues, according to a global study of 400 public sector institutions. “A cluster of central banking investors has become major players on world equity markets,” says a report to be published this week by the Official Monetary and Financial Institutions Forum (Omfif), a central bank research and advisory group.The trend “could potentially contribute to overheated asset prices”, it warns…
The report, seen by the Financial Times, identifies $29.1tn in market investments, including gold, held by 400 public sector institutions in 162 countries… China’s State Administration of Foreign Exchange has become “the world’s largest public sector holder of equities”, as the report argues is “partly strategic” because it “counters the monopoly power of the dollar” and reflects Beijing’s global financial ambitions… In Europe, the Swiss and Danish central banks are among those investing in equities. The Swiss National Bank has an equity quota of about 15 per cent. Omfif quotes Thomas Jordan, SNB’s chairman, as saying: “We are now invested in large, mid- and small-cap stocks in developed markets worldwide.” The Danish central bank’s equity portfolio was worth about $500m at the end of last year. [Read more]
So there it is… conspiracy fact – Central Banks around the world are buying
stocks in increasing size. To summarize, the global equity market is now one massive Ponzi scheme in which the dumb money are central banks themselves, the same banks who inject the liquidity to begin with. That would explain this chart above. That said, good luck with “exiting” the unconventional monetary policy. You’ll need it.”
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