Latest Commentary

Unintended consequences of the post-Lehman landscape

There has been a lot of analysis of the post-Lehman world this week as we passed the five year anniversary of that firm's demise. I completely understand the party-poopers who complain that Lehman wasn't the lynchpin of the financial crisis and shouldn't be celebrated as such. Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac were in receivership. Subprime mortgage lenders were imploding. There was a lot going on.

New-era bank consultants in harsh spotlight

The financial crisis and its regulatory aftermath proved to be a solid business opportunity for a group of consulting firms that have risen to help banks with their compliance needs. The like of Promontory Financial Group, Rust Consulting, PricewaterhouseCoopers, Deloitte & Touche and others flew under the radar for many years. But just recently, they have found themselves in a harsh spotlight, as more people awoke to some big issues involving these "shadow regulators." 

Latency arbitrage: Return of SOES bandits?

If you are of certain age in this business, you might remember the glory days of the SOES bandits. They had figured out a way to tap into the Nasdaq's small order execution system to trade in ways that took full advantage of the enormous spreads that characterized the era. Early on anyway, it was easy to make money. But that gave rise to an explosion of retail day traders that made it much harder to profit via SOES. Many bandits flamed out, in deep debt to their broker-dealers. It wasn't long before the entire industry flamed out.

Competition + Fragmentation = Regulation

A new regulation requiring  dark pools to disclose their trading volumes is rumored to be about to be released, and  it seems almost welcome. The two traders quoted in the article basically say there will be some questions about the specifics of disclosures (frequency, etc.) but the rule "will pass."

New era looms for exchanges

It's no secret that the exchange industry has undergone a radical transformation as of late. New players have emerged, volume has declined and the technical complexity of the business has intensified. These days, the risks have never been higher. A single technical glitch could easily spell catastrophe.

Verizon offering to test the debt market

Verizon, which had taken out bridge financing to the tune of $61 billion to support its Vodafone deal, will attempt to market up to $30 billion in bonds soon. The proceeds will be used to partially offset the bridge financing burden, and hopefully send a strong signal to the world that the deal is right on track.

Beware high-frequency scammers

Thanks to a new law, hedge funds can now advertise and offer their services to smaller investors. And the potential for abuse is still present.

What to do about market systems?

Technical glitches that wreak havoc on the markets seem to come in spurts. Earlier this year, there was reason to cheer on this front.  FINRA announced over the summer that the number of "clearly erroneous" trade reports was down 84 percent over the last six months of 2012, compared with the first six months of 2009. That was hailed as great news, even as sign that Wall Street was doing much better on the QA front.

Welcome to the Month of the Trading Glitch

Remember when August was sleepy and dull? Nearly everyone was on vacation at the lake or the shore watching the kids play before the siren call of a new school year. Or they were dropping off the older ones at college with a few tears and instructions not to put that new pair of red socks in the load of white laundry. It was all so … dull but in a good way.

A new look at stock research industry structure

Much of the stock research industry is organized around industries. We have banking industry analysts, internet company analysts, and so on. But is this really the most logical organizational structure?