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Robinhood And Hedge Funds, Good For Me But Not For Thee

Permalink 01/31/21 15:21, by OGRE / (Jeff), Categories: Welcome, News, Background, In real life, Politics, U.S. Economy, Financial Reform Legislation

Robinhood just shot itself in the foot, but did it really? Apparently Robinhood makes it's money from hedge funds. Robinhood is taking the clients' purchasing data, and selling it hedge funds.

This is a double slap in the face for Robinhood users. Not only did Robinhood disrupt purchases in GameStop and a few other stocks, at the request of the hedge fund masters, but they are using their customers' trading data to better rig the market!

This is opening a whole new can of worms. I love this, of course, because it's proving what the stock market is. A big fraud, manipulated on the back end by people you never see, to guarantee that they are going to win.

This has caused quite a bit of action on the part of hedge fund managers.

(Bloomberg) -- Hedge fund titans Ken Griffin and Steve Cohen boosted Gabe Plotkin’s Melvin Capital, injecting a total of $2.75 billion into the firm after it lost about 30% this year.

Citadel funds and firm partners will invest $2 billion, while Point72 Asset Management’s investment will be $750 million, the firms said Monday. In return, the investors will get a non-controlling revenue share in the six-year-old hedge fund. Melvin Capital may receive an additional $1 billion infusion from other investors on Feb. 1, according to a person familiar with the plans.

The capital infusion comes after Melvin Capital, which started the year with about $12.5 billion in assets, has seen its short bets, including GameStop Corp., go awry, spurring the losses, people familiar with the firm said.

This year’s stumble is rare for Plotkin. His firm has returned an average 30% a year since it was started in December 2014 after nearly a decade working for Cohen.

The house of cards is falling. How might you ask could one company own so much of the market?

Citadel Securities estimates that it commands 27% of equity volume market share in the U.S., according to the presentation, up from 21% in 2017. It’s particularly dominant in retail order flow, with 46% of the market.

The firm’s balance sheet has swelled along with its profits. At the end of the third quarter it had assets of $84.2 billion, a 61% increase from the end of 2019, while its equity capital was up 37% in the same period.

Citadel Securities owns more than a quarter of the equity market in the United States? That doesn't sound at all like the formation of a monopoly does it? Is it a stretch to believe that Robinhood wouldn't ask, "How high?" if Citadel said, "Jump." To me this was obvious.

Robinhood routes more than half of its customer orders to Citadel, by far its largest market-making partner by volume, Robinhood disclosures show. The app also works with Virtu, G1 Execution Services, Wolverine and Two Sigma.

Robinhood’s relationships with these investment firms is likely to face new scrutiny after the online broker took the extraordinary step Thursday of limiting trading of certain stocks that were propelled to meteoric heights by conversations on Reddit message boards. After the trading halt, Reddit users accused Citadel and its billionaire founder, Ken Griffin, of pressuring Robinhood to limit trading of certain stocks, a move that may have prevented further losses for the short-sellers that lost billions betting against GameStop.

To get down to how it all went down; there are a few things to consider. First you'll have to know how short selling works. I wasn't entirely sure myself because the inner workings of it sound illegal; at the very least they are immoral.

Thanks to Kane over at "CitizenFreePress.com" for posting a link to this article over at "market-ticker.org". Karl Denninger has a brilliant explanation of how this all went down.

If you want to short a stock you are supposed to first borrow it. That is, ordinary people cannot sell what they don't have, so if you wish to short you must first borrow that which you want to sell. This is one of the ways brokers make money; they keep all the stock their customers have in "street name" and keep track of who has what. They can (and if supply is limited do) charge you to borrow that stock. There's nothing wrong with this, provided the stock borrowed is real. It's one of the things you agree to allow if you have a margin account; as part of the "price" of that privilege the broker can loan your stock to others for the purpose of shorting it. However, since you own it if you demand it back because you wish to sell it the broker either has to find some other set of shares to replace what he lent out of yours or the short-seller is forcibly bought-in at the market because they have to return your shares. If that causes to take a loss, tough crap.

Yes, I've been forcibly bought-in before. It's a risk of the game.

There is an exception to this rule: If you are a market maker then you can short naked, that is, without borrowing first. Why? Because a market maker's job is, as the name implies, to make the market -- that is, to take the other side of whatever the customer wants to do. If I want to be long something in order to do it someone else has to sell it. Now in the physical security market this is easy; there either is or is not what I want to buy out there on the sheet offered by someone else. But in the options market there is no physical security; the entirety of it is synthetic. This means if someone wishes to buy a CALL someone else has to sell one. The MM's job is to, when necessary, be that other person.

Well, that's dangerous because naked short options positions are obligations to deliver. Specifically if you are short an IBM CALL @ $100 (for example) then you are obligated to deliver 100 shares of IBM stock on demand at any time before expiration for $100 each. It does not matter what IBM's stock is worth; if the holder of the CALL exercises their option you must deliver them. If the shares cost $500 at that time you're ****ed.

Likewise I can buy a $20 PUT on some stock. This gives me the right to PUT that stock on the other person for $20/share up until expiration. IF the price is under $20 I of course have every reason to do that -- I can buy the shares for $10 and make you pay me $20! Who doesn't like that deal? Likewise, the market maker never wants that directional bet either since on the short side of an options trade you're obligated to perform if demanded by the long side.

Nobody would stay in business being a market maker if this sort of thing could happen to them, so as soon as they take the opposing side they execute a balancing trade on the other side. In short if you're a market maker you always want to be neutral on every security you make a market in; you make a (very) small profit on each transaction but you never, ever want to be exposed directionally because the amount you get paid is tiny compared to the risk, and one mistake will bankrupt you.

Therefore if you're a market maker you can short without locating first for this explicit reason. This doesn't lead to a problem generally because nobody in their right mind as a market maker wants a directional exposure, ever. As a result the failure to locate is transient and does not accumulate; you will lay that risk off and remove the imbalance if you have to since you can construct synthetic positions that perform financially the same as real ones.

So how do you get 130% of the available shares short? It would seem impossible and is unless someone cheats.

There are some players in the market who have "market maker" status but also trade their own books or have cross-interests with those who do. Allegedly there are "Chinese walls" between those pieces (or interconnected entities.) Quite obviously that is a load of crap because otherwise what you've seen would be impossible but it clearly not only has happened before but is still happening to this day. These entities are how you wind up with short sales where the locate and borrow hasn't happened first and the position remains open across time. This is supposed to be illegal but other than a few hand-slaps in the futures markets for physical commodities I'm not aware of any criminal prosecution for doing it.

And let's be clear here: This practice is counterfeiting.

So we have quite a bit of illegal activity going on here. But will ANY of the culprits be held accountable? I think not. There's not enough people that really understand what happened to create the sort of public outcry needed --to make anything happen.

However, quite a bit more people are now hip to the jive when it comes to these sorts of things happening in the market. As more of this comes out, it's liable to have a negative effect on the market. I think it's going to lead people to some pull their money out of the market and move it into real estate, or some other physical asset.

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