A bit grayer and world wearier, maybe, but there’s no mistaking the family resemblance between NYSE Chief Operating Office Larry Leibowitz and his kid brother Jon Stewart. Unlike the Daily Show host, Leibowitz mostly keeps a low profile, although he did find himself in the spotlight even before his appearance at the Reuters Global Exchanges and Trading Summit on Monday. The Wall Street Journal interviewed him in a story about the NYSE’s effort to turn some high frequency traders — who have been chipping away at the exchange’s business — into exchange floor traders.
The Global Exchanges & Trading Summit takes place as lawmakers and regulators craft new rules to avoid a repeat of the financial crisis. The rising chorus for more transparency in capital markets could drive a host of new derivatives to exchanges and clearinghouses, propelling them out of the recession, but growing calls for a clampdown on speculation and automated trading could hit some of the world’s most powerful dealers and investors, undercutting the exchanges that rely on them. High-frequency trading is behind much of the spike in volumes over the last year, but as volatility drops from crisis-era highs, traders of all kinds are forced to reevaluate strategies, and exchanges are maneuvering to attract that business. A couple years after a period of blockbuster mergers, investors wonder whether the heavyweight exchange operators are angling for another round. Join us March 29-31 as we ask some of the biggest players in the industry to share their insights and outlook for the industry at the Reuters Global Exchanges and Trading Summit which will take place in New York, London, Hong Kong.
Never before have exchanges undergone the heavy trading volumes, severe volatility, and intense scrutiny brought on by the global market crisis that began in earnest last year. Emerging from a period of blockbuster mergers, the largest market operators have so far run with few problems as investors worldwide rushed to sell securities. While the volatility could mean a short-term trading bonanza, the industry is also keeping a close eye on politicians and regulators considering sweeping changes that could mean new restrictions on capital markets and its growing ranks of participants. Some exchanges could take advantage as over-the-counter products such as credit derivatives, demonized by some for their role in the crisis, are pushed on to transparent clearinghouses.
“Well insulated” China, though suffering from sharp drops in its own equities markets, doesn’t have the sense of crisis that exists in the U.S., says Philip Partnow, managing director of UBS Securities Ltd in Beijing. UBS, the first Western bank to assume management control of a domestic mainland brokerage, points out the fact that what’s hitting companies is not subprime-related securities gone bad.
David Harris, the president and chief executive of CBOE’s relatively new stock exchange, says that in the race to New York, Chicago-based options traders will never beat out New York-based options traders looking to hedge the liquidity they just provided.
Despite a widespread movement in the world of stock, options and commodities exchanges to replace floor traders and specialists with computers, that won’t be happening anytime soon with the floor of The Chicago Board of Options Exchange, says William Brodsky, its chairman and chief executive.
Terry Duffy, the chairman of CME Group, which owns the world’s largest derivatives exchange, says he realizes the Merc can be an easy scapegoat at a time when food prices are soaring. When politicians start to talk about the evils of “speculators”, criticism of the main venue where they make their bets on wheat and other crops can’t be far behind.