Category: forex

forex

Doing God’s Work: Goldman Made $200 Million In One Day During Feb’s “Volocaust”

Goldman’s equity trading desk can thank the early February “volocaust” for its surprisingly lucrative Q1 performance, according to CNBC.

The investment bank reaped a $200 million profit on Feb. 5, the day volatility exploded back to life in equity markets as the Dow registered its largest one-day point drop in history. The bank’s score can be attributed to long-vol positions that had recently been put on by the flow derivatives group, a group within Goldman’s equity desk responsible for trading VIX derivatives. The $200 million in winnings is roughly equivalent to what Goldman’s derivatives desk takes home for the entire year. For all of 2017, the trading business for the entire bank exceeded $100 million in revenue on just four days.

Goldman

During the selloff, demand for Goldman’s VIX options from its institutional clients suddenly rendered its positions incredibly profitable, and they were quickly sold. The trade was a major boon for Managing Director David Casner, head of the flow derivatives group, who joined the bank in 2002. Casner’s trade was by far the largest contributor to the 38% jump in equity trading revenue to $2.3 billion, which exceeded expectations for Goldman, and also exceeded results for Morgan Stanley and JP Morgan, Goldman’s two biggest rivals in the world of equity trading.

Here are the standouts from Goldman’s Q1 earnings report:

  • Equities sales & trading revenue $2.31 billion, estimate $1.85 billion, up 38% from $1.67 billion
  • Trading revenue $4.39 billion, estimate $3.89 billion, and up 31% from $3.36 billion
  • Investing and Lending (Prop) revenue $2.087 billion, up 43% from $1.464 billion

Here’s what Goldman initially said about its equities trading revenue:

Net revenues in Equities were $2.31 billion, 38% higher than the first quarter of 2017, primarily due to significantly higher net revenues in equities client execution, reflecting significantly higher results in both derivatives and cash products. In addition, commissions and fees were higher, reflecting higher market volumes, and net revenues in securities services were higher, reflecting higher average customer balances. During the quarter, Equities operated in an environment characterized by periods of high volatility and an increase in client activity compared with the fourth quarter of 2017

And here’s how Goldman’s outlier quarter, its best Q1 2015, looks in context:

Goldman

Of course, Goldman’s bets could’ve just as easily gone awry, just like an ill-fated bet on regional natural gas prices that hampered commodity trading revenues last year, which was Goldman’s worst year for trading revenues since 2004.

Fortunately – that is, if the investment bank’s strategists are correct – Goldman will soon have more opportunities to profit from a surge in volatility.

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USC Under Federal Investigation For Anti-Male Discrimination

Authored by Toni Airaksinen via Campus Reform,

The U.S. Department of Education is officially investigating allegations that the University of Southern California excludes male students from certain educational opportunities.

The Title IX investigation was launched in response to complaints submitted by a USC professor whose efforts have already instigated a similar investigation into Yale University.

According a January 28 letter obtained by Campus Reform, the department’s Office for Civil Rights (OCR) has agreed to investigate four USC initiatives, including the school’s Smart Women’s Securities chapter and the Women in Science and Engineering (WiSE) chapter. 

Both of these programs allegedly discriminate “by excluding male students from participation and providing opportunities for female students only,” according to the OCR letter, which notes that many female-only scholarships at USC are also under investigation.

The OCR agreed to launch an investigation after Kursat Christoff Pekgoz, a lecturer and Provost’s Fellow at USC, filed a Title IX complaint against the institution in October 2017. Though the OCR initially dismissed his complaint, Pekgoz filed an appeal, and the dismissal was overturned just two weeks after his January 18 interview with an OCR official.

OCR’s agreement to consider an appeal is nearly unprecedented, Pekgoz told Campus Reform

“The attorney who initially dismissed it cited a Dear Colleague Letter from 2016 which apparently allowed sex-selective scholarships ‘for the underrepresented sex,’” Pekgoz explained, saying he won the appeal by pointing out that – unlike during the 1970s when Title IX was put into law – women are no longer underrepresented in higher education. 

Men are now a slight minority at USC, constituting only 48 percent of the student body. Though data on the most recent batch of graduates has not yet been calculated, men were also in the minority of USC graduates in the 2016-2017 academic year, a school spokesman confirmed. 

Women have also outpaced men in earning BAs since the 1981-1982 academic year, according to data from the National Center for Education Statistics. Since then, the gender-gap has grown; by 2018, there is projected to be a 25 percent “gender degree gap” favoring women.

In an interview with Campus Reform, Pekgoz maintains that “there is no longer any valid reason to maintain affirmative action for women” considering their now-majority status. 

He also expressed disapproval with the lack of resources colleges provide for student fathers, citing for example how “the USC WISE program offers resources to pregnant women and women with children, [but offers] no equivalent resource for fathers.” 

In a statement to Campus Reform, USC media official Emily Gersema said that “USC is working with the Office of Civil Rights and will take steps to address any issues they may raise.” 

“USC is committed to maintaining an environment that is free from discrimination and that encourages fair treatment of all students, faculty, and staff, a value that is emphasized in university policies,” she added.

Upon further investigation, if the OCR determines that the USC programs implicated above do indeed violate Title IX, the school will be encouraged to make those programs gender-inclusive. If the school does not comply, legal action could ensue. 

Pekgoz also filed a similar complaint against Yale University. As Campus Reform reported last Monday, the OCR has also launched an investigation into seven Yale University programs for providing unfair advantages to female students. 

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ACLU Demands Amazon Stop Selling “Affordable Mass Surveillance” To Police

Amazon has been marketing its facial recognition platform, called Rekognition, a deep learning-based image and video analysis, to law enforcement agencies in Oregon and Orlando, according to recent documents acquired by American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Northern California.

The ACLU alleges that Amazon is marching society towards a dystopian future in which corporations and governments can identify and track people in real time through the use of surveillance cameras.

The ACLU and many other human rights organizations on Tuesday sent a damning letter to Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos warning about the unpleasant future of mass surveillance in the hands of law enforcement. The letter urged Bezos to sever his business ties in providing surveillance products to the government.

“We demand that Amazon stop powering a government surveillance infrastructure that poses a grave threat to customers and communities across the country. Amazon should not be in the business of providing surveillance systems like Rekognition to the government.”

The letter said Amazon had promoted itself as a “customer-centric company,” but that seems not to be the case with Rekognition, as it is a powerful mass surveillance tool readily available to violate rights.

“Amazon touts itself as a customer-centric company and directs its leadership to “work vigorously to earn and keep customer trust.” In the past, Amazon has opposed secret government surveillance. And you [Jeff Bezos] have personally supported First Amendment freedoms and spoken out against the discriminatory Muslim Ban. But Amazon’s Rekognition product runs counter to these values. As advertised, Rekognition is a powerful surveillance system readily available to violate rights and target communities of color.”

Amazon spokeswoman Nina Lindsey did not immediately address the concerns of the human rights groups to The Washington Post. “Amazon requires that customers comply with the law and be responsible when they use AWS services,” she said, referring to Amazon’s Web Services (AWS).

“When we find that AWS services are being abused by a customer, we suspend that customer’s right to use our services,” Lindsey added.

Lindsey told The Washington Post that the technology has several “useful purposes, including finding abducted people.” She even said during the royal wedding this past weekend, clients used the facial recognition platform to identify wedding attendees, such as celebrities.

Amazon’s Rekognition Helped TV Viewers Identify Royal Wedding Guests

Amazon says that Rekognition can identify people in real-time by immediately examining databases containing tens of millions of faces. Amazon offers a “person tracking” feature that it says “makes investigation and monitoring of individuals easy and accurate” for “surveillance applications.” The technology can be used to identify “all faces in group photos, crowded events, and public places such as airports.” Here is how The Washington Post, owned by Jeff Bezos, describes the technology:

“The technology works through pattern recognition: Customers put known images – of child pornography or of celebrities, for example – into a database, and the software uses artificial intelligence to scan new images for a match with those already stored. The more images that are fed into the system, the more accurate the software becomes. ”

Amazon launched Rekognition in November 2016. Corporations and governments can use the image recognition software, developed by the AWS team to analyze billions of images and videos daily, for public safety and security, detecting unsafe video, face-based verification, sentiment analysis, facial recognition, celebrity recognition, and license plate verification, according to the company’s website.

REKOGNITION VIDEO USE CASES:

Immediate Response For Public Safety And Security

Searchable Video Library

Detect Unsafe Video

Searchable Image Library

Image Moderation

Face-Based User Verification

Sentiment Analysis

Facial Recognition

Celebrity Recognition

License Plate Verification

The ACLU’s letter to Bezos also points out in an era in which cameras are almost everywhere — the low cost of Rekognition could allow for the vast expansion of mass surveillance.

“Amazon also encourages the use of Rekognition to monitor “people of interest,” raising the possibility that those labeled suspicious by governments—such as undocumented immigrants or Black activists—will be targeted for Rekognition surveillance. Amazon has even advertised Rekognition for use with officer body cameras, which would fully transform those devices into mobile surveillance cameras aimed at the public.”

“Once powerful surveillance systems like these are built and deployed, the harm can’t be undone. We’re talking about a technology that will supercharge surveillance in our communities,” said Nicole Ozer, Technology and Civil Liberties Director for the ACLU of Northern California.

Ozer even said the technology could be used “to track protesters, target immigrants, and spy on entire neighborhoods.”

ACLU’s California chapter acquired more than a hundred pages of documents revealing Amazon’s extensive partnership with law enforcement agencies in Orlando, Florida, and Oregon to deploy the facial recognition platform.

The documents uncovered lowcost, but powerful facial recognition systems were being provided to these law enforcement agencies by Amazon’s services.

For instance, the sheriff’s office of Washington County, Oregon, assembled a database of 300,000 mug shots of suspected criminals that officers could use Rekognition to cross-examine with footage of potential suspects in real-time. One invoice showed that Amazon charged Washington County Sheriff’s Office just $343.95. A spokesperson for the county told The Washington Post that it is charged between $6 to $12 per month for the Rekognition platform.

Rather than limit government’s use of Rekognition, Amazon asked law enforcement agencies to promote its Amazon experience to other public sector customers — allowing for a rapid expansion of affordable mass surveillance “coast to coast,” said the ACLU.

In Orlando, Florida, Rekognition is finding people of interest using footage from cameras all over the city. Watch the full video here

Orland Street Camera (Source: Amazon) 

It seems as Amazon Rekognition is ushering in the next chapter of America’s dystopian future in which corporations and governments are Big Brother. This is affordable mass surveillance at its best and primed for abuse in the hands of those who have power.

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Volatility Crossroad

Authored by Sven Henrich via NorthmanTrader.com,

I received a lot of questions on yesterday’s Charts that make you go: Hmmmm. That’ll teach me to post charts without commentary …

Hence let me offer some perspective on some of these charts and I want to hone in specifically on volatility, or rather the great dying we’ve just witnessed. In the most recent weeks all fear appears to have left markets again and volatility has compressed to tight intra-day ranges such as we are witnessing today. All this action is rather reminiscent of the low volatility regime market participants had become accustomed to during the artificial liquidity bonanza of 2017.

Are we heading there again and the regular buy every dingle dip mantra takes over again? Or are we rather in the center of a larger storm, witnessing a temporary reprieve from the wily winds of volatility ready to strike again?

Firstly some basic perspective.

We remain in the middle of the range we have seen for the past few months:

Perhaps ironic that volatility and fear has again subsided despite broader markets not showing significant progress from these earlier consolidation phases in the same price ranges.

But perhaps more notable is that this current volatility compression is coming at a very particular technical pivot point:

The chart above shows a long term chart of the $VXO, the original formula of the $VIX. Here we can see a multi year descending trend line that has shown to be precise resistance between 2015 and 2017 and even during its first tag in 2018. The February correction subsequently saw a massive volatility spike breaking above that trend line and $VXO has remained above the trend line throughout.

Technically speaking, for bulls to find comfort in volatility resuming its 2017 type program it needs to break below this trend line. As it is support for now it opens up the possibility that this current volatility compression is a simple technical retest that could result in a major spike yet to come.

Something like this:

Hence volatility is at a major technical crossroad here with neither side having yet proven their case.

And both bullish and bearish considerations have their merit.

On the bullish side one can make the case that price has broken above its recent descending trend line on $SPX and the 100MA has been successfully defended opening the path to higher prices:

But note, that the most recent volatility patterns are forming potential descending wedges. These are bullish patterns if $VIX breaks out above.

And if that happens, the bearish interpretation of the $SPX chart could take control targeting a potential retest or even break of February lows:

This chart argues that the February 2016 support trend line has broken and remains broken and $SPX is rather engaged in a larger bear flag pattern. And if volatility spikes and $SPX confirms this bear flag pattern a much wider lower risk range potentially opens up on $ES:

The structures of the above volatility charts suggest that markets will make up their minds in the near term.

For now things are quiet. Perhaps too quiet.

*  *  *

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Trump Gloats: “Look How Things Turned Around On The Criminal Deep State”

Continuing his gloating from late Tuesday evening, President Trump taunted the FBI in an early Wednesday tweet musing “how things have turned around on the Criminal Deep State.” Trump remarks on the irony of the FBI “getting caught in a major SPY scandal the likes of which this country may never have seen before” after they went after “Phony Collusion with Russia,” which he called “a made up Scam”.

Since the New York Times and Washington Post on Friday confirmed speculation that the FBI did, in fact, have a mole inside the Trump campaign, the president has repeatedly questioned the legitimacy of the Mueller probe, stating that if there was any evidence of collusion, the FBI’s mole would’ve discovered it during the campaign.

Instead, the Mueller probe has dragged on for more than a year, with the intelligence community insisting they never deliberately spied on Trump. But in an embarrassing revelation, we now know that the bureau FBI enlisted Stefan Halper, a US citizen, political veteran and longtime US Intelligence asset, to befriend and spy on three members of the Trump campaign during the 2016 US election. In another reference to the spying revelations, Trump quoted Fox’s Andrew Napolitano saying “it’s clear that they had eyes and ears all over the Trump Campaign,” before reiterating that “SPYGATE…could be one of the biggest political scandals in history.”

Responding specifically to Obama-era Director of National Intelligence James Clapper (who has famously lied to Congress about the US’s surveillance tactics), Trump said that “No, James Clapper, I am not happy. Spying on a campaign would be illegal, and a scandal to boot!” Apparently, Clapper thinks being under federal investigation for a year is a totally benign experience.

Trump started tweeting about Spygate last night, questioning why Halper was paid so much money if he wasn’t feeding information about the Trump campaign to the FBI. Trump also insisted that Bernie Sanders, an early contender for the Democratic nomination who ultimately lost out to Hillary Clinton, “got duped!” as the FBI used similar surveillance tactics on his campaign.

Of course, the Spygate news isn’t the only scandal plaguing the FBI this week. Emails recently obtained by Wisconsin Senator Ron Johnson seem to suggest that former Deputy FBI Director Andrew McCabe may have participated in the leaking of the Steel Dossier to CNN. The emails were from an exchange between McCabe and former Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates, where McCabe gave Yates a heads up that CNN would be running with the story. It raises questions regarding how McCabe knew about CNN’s plans.

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Trump Lawyer Received $400,000 “Secret Payment” To Arrange Meeting Between Ukraine President And Trump

The BBC claimed on Wednesday that President Trump’s personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, was paid $400,000 by Ukraine to arrange a meeting between Trump and Ukraine’s billionaire oligarch President, Petro Poroshenko, an allegation Cohen and the Ukraine presidency denies.

The payment was arranged by intermediaries acting for Ukraine’s leader, Petro Poroshenko, the sources said, though Mr Cohen was not registered as a representative of Ukraine as required by US law. –BBC

The alleged payment occurred in advance of a White House meeting last June between Trump and Poroshenko, while the BBC notes that Ukraine’s anti-corruption agency halted an investigation into Trump’s former campaign manager, Paul Manafort “shortly after” the meeting. 

A high-ranking Ukrainian intelligence officer in Mr Poroshenko’s administration described what happened before the visit to the White House.

Mr Cohen was brought in, he said, because Ukraine’s registered lobbyists and embassy in Washington DC could get Mr Poroshenko little more than a brief photo-op with Mr Trump. Mr Poroshenko needed something that could be portrayed as “talks”. –BBC

The report states that there is no indication that Trump knew about the alleged payment, while buried towards the end of the article the BBC admits: “None of our sources say that Mr Trump used the Oval Office meeting to ask Mr Poroshenko to kill the Manafort investigation.”

According to the senior official, Poroshenko tasked a former aide with establishing a backchannel – which occurred through a “loyal Ukrainian MP.”  The MP then allegedly used his contacts within a Jewish charity in New York state, Chabad of Port Washington, which eventually led to Micahel Cohen. 

A second source in Kiev told the BBC a similar story, except that Cohen’s payment for arranging the meeting was $600,000. 

Meanwhile, Stormy Daniels’ lawyer Michael Avenatti – whose law firm was just ordered to pay $10 million to a former partner over a legal feud, said that Suspicious Activity Reports (SARs) filed by Cohen’s bank with the U.S. Treasury show that he received money from “Ukrainian interests.” 

The senior intelligence official in Kiev said Mr Cohen had been helped by Felix Sater, a convicted former mobster who was once Trump’s business partner. Mr Sater’s lawyer, too, denied the allegations.

The Ukrainian president’s office initially refused to comment but, asked by a local journalist to respond, a statement was issued calling the story a “blatant lie, slander and fake”.

As was widely reported last June, Mr Poroshenko was still guessing at how much time he would have with Mr Trump even as he flew to Washington.

The White House schedule said only that Mr Poroshenko would “drop in” to the Oval Office while Mr Trump was having staff meetings.

The BBC report claims that while Poroshenko’s visit was coordinated through official channels, Cohen’s alleged $400,000 fee was in exchange for “more than just an embarrassingly brief few minutes of small talk and a handshake.” 

The Ukrainian side were angry, the official went on, because Mr Cohen had taken “hundreds of thousands” of dollars from them for something it seemed he could not deliver.

Right up until the last moment, the Ukrainian leader was uncertain if he would avoid humiliation. –BBC

Not surprisingly, when a Ukrainian journalist reached out to Poroshenko for comment, the office of the Ukraine president responded that the BBC allegations were a “blatant lie, slander and fake” only in this particular case there was no way for the Ukrainians to spin this as more “Russian propaganda fake news.” The Ukraine president also threatened to sue the BBC for its publication.

Paul Manafort’s alleged relationship with the Ukrainian government – or rather when it was a pro-Russian government, before the US-organized presidential coup in 2014 which culminated with Crimea being subsumed by Russia – was exposed in August 2016, after a report from the New York Times revealed a “secret ledger” belonging to the Party of the Regions – a pro-Russia party that paid Manafort as a political consultant along with the Podesta Group. 

Several Ukrainian sources say that Poroshenko authorized the leak of the secret ledger, thinking it would help Hillary Clinton win the 2016 U.S. election – and the BBC is implying that he paid Cohen the $400,000 in a scramble to fall under Trump’s good graces. 

Ukraine was (and remains) at war with Russia and Russian-backed separatists and could not afford to make an enemy of the new US president.

So Mr Poroshenko appeared relieved as he beamed and paid tribute to Mr Trump in the Oval Office.

He boasted that he had seen the new president before Russia’s leader, Vladimir Putin. He called it a “substantial visit”. He held a triumphant news conference in front of the north portico of the White House.

A week after Mr Poroshenko returned home to Kiev, Ukraine’s National Anti Corruption Bureau announced that it was no longer investigating Mr Manafort.

At the time, an official there explained to me that Mr Manafort had not signed the “black ledger” acknowledging receipt of the money. And anyway, he went on, Mr Manafort was American and the law allowed the bureau only to investigate Ukrainians.

While Ukraine didn’t completely terminate their inquiry into Manafort, the case was moved from the Anti-Corruption Bureau to the state prosecutor’s office where it languished.  The prosecutor in charge of the case told the BBC: “There was never a direct order to stop the Manafort inquiry but from the way our investigation has progressed, it’s clear that our superiors are trying to create obstacles.”

And now we wonder if, with the “Russian collusion” narrative having failed, it is time for the deep state to pivot to the “Ukraine collusion” story…

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Iran Lists 7 Conditions To Remain In Nuclear Deal

Two days after US Secretary of State laid out 12 draconian conditions for the US enter into a new nuclear deal with Iran, among which that Tehran must stop enrichment of uranium and never pre-process plutonium, allow nuclear inspectors “unqualified access to all sites throughout the country”, withdraw all of its forces from Syria, end its support for militant groups like Hezbollah in Lebanon, stop sending arms to the Houthi militia in Yemen, release all U.S. citizens, and cease its threats to destroy Israel”, Iran responded by listing several conditions of its own

In his first statement since Pompeo’s Wednesday speech, Iran’s Supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei set 7 conditions for the European nations if they want Tehran to remain in the agreement.

In the wake of Washington’s threats to target EU firms dealing with the Islamic Republic amid US sanctions, the Iranian leader said that – first and foremost – European banks should guarantee and assure trade with Iran.

“European banks should safeguard trade with the Islamic Republic. We do not want to start a fight with these three countries (France, Germany and Britain) but we don’t trust them either, Khamenei said. “Europe should fully guarantee Irans oil sales. In case Americans can damage our oil sales… Europeans should make up for that and buy Iranian oil.”

Khamenei laid out the full list on Twitter on Trump’s favorite social media network, remainder of continued on twitter where in a brief tweetstorm, he unveiled the following demands of Europe:

  • Over the course of 2 years, US violated #JCPOA, several times, while the Europeans remained silent. These 3 European countries should prove that they won’t be as dishonest & untrustworthy as they were during nuclear talks in 2004-2005. Europe needs to compensate for it:
  • The US has violated Resolution 2231. Europe must issue a resolution against US’s violation [of it].
  • Europe must guarantee it will not raise the issue of the Islamic Republic’s missiles and regional affairs.
  • Europe must guarantee the total sale of Iran’s oil. If US manages to impede our oil sale, we should be able to sell our desired amount of oil. Europeans should– in a guaranteed manner– compensate for it and buy Iran’s oil.
  • European banks must guarantee business transactions with the Islamic Republic. We do not have any disputes with these three countries; however, we do not trust them either because of their past actions.
  • Europe must confront imposition of any sanctions on the Islamic Republic and stand firmly against US’s sanctions on Iran

In conclusion, Iran’s Supreme Leader warned that “if the Europeans hesitate in responding to our demands, Iran is entitled to resuming its nuclear activities. When we find out the #JCPOA has no benefits, one of our options is to resume cancelled activities.”

And so with both the US and Iran listing out conditions they both know will never be met, it is clear that not only will the US not return to the deal, but the EU may end up exiting the deal as well. Which means that as the “nuclear activity” wildcard returns, so will the threat of constant Israeli attack; it also means that any traders who are quick to price out geopolitical risk in the middle east may be surprised in the not too distant future.

 

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Bearish Bias on The GBPUSD

Bearish Bias on The GBPUSD


Last post: April 22nd. See chart.

Review: Price had failed to break and close above January 2015 and the weekly 200sma resistance zone .

Update: Price is now trading below the daily 200sma suggesting an overall bearish market.

Conclusion: We will be looking for shorting opportunities if this weakness continues.

Any comments or questions, do not hesitate to leave them below. Give us the thumbs up if you share our sentiments!

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