Dear Clients, Industry Colleagues and Friends of Barnhardt Capital Management,
It is with regret and unflinching moral certainty that I announce that Barnhardt Capital Management has ceased operations. After six years of operating as an independent introducing brokerage, and eight years of employment as a broker before that, I found myself, this morning, for the first time since I was 20 years old, watching the futures and options markets open not as a participant, but as a mere spectator.
The reason for my decision to pull the plug was excruciatingly simple: I could no longer tell my clients that their monies and positions were safe in the futures and options markets – because they are not. And this goes not just for my clients, but for every futures and options account in the United States. The entire system has been utterly destroyed by the MF Global collapse. Given this sad reality, I could not in good conscience take one more step as a commodity broker, soliciting trades that I knew were unsafe or holding funds that I knew to be in jeopardy.
I have learned over the last week that MF Global is almost certainly the mere tip of the iceberg. There is massive industry-wide exposure to European sovereign junk debt. While other firms may not be as heavily leveraged as Corzine had MFG leveraged, and it is now thought that MFG’s leverage may have been in excess of 100:1, they are still suicidally leveraged and will likely stand massive, unmeetable collateral calls in the coming days and weeks as Europe inevitably collapses. I now suspect that the reason the Chicago Mercantile Exchange did not immediately step in to backstop the MFG implosion was because they knew and know that if they backstopped MFG, they would then be expected to backstop all of the other firms in the system when the failures began to cascade – and there simply isn’t that much money in the entire system. In short, the problem is a SYSTEMIC problem, not merely isolated to one firm.
Look folks, the risks involved here are real.
Rick Santelli was just on CNBC pointing out that there have been no answers forthcoming on the MF Global mess. There are reports that several people who you would never expect to have gotten caught in something like this did, including Gerald Celente.
The reason they got caught is the same reason I would have gotten caught if I had been clearing through MF Global: Despite being around the markets since well before the 2000 crash and having successfully negotiated that and the 2008 mess everyone has believed, right up until MF blew up, that customer funds were in fact segregated and thus this risk would never occur.
Simply put everyone has now discovered that this assumption is wrong.
Nothing that has come out of the CME, the SEC or Washington DC that has restored my confidence that MF Global is, in fact, a one-off situation. In point of fact The Fed is now requiring margin on certain repo transactions where they never did before, implying that there may well be additional snakes in the grass and additional unrecognized and intentionally hidden risks of this sort.
Read Ann’s entire missive. Yes, it’s highly partisan, but given what has just happened and Obama’s continued insistence that “no crimes were committed” (yet no grand juries have been convened to investigate, so how would he know?) it is entirely justified.
Folks, we must insist that the rule of law be brought back into the forefront. We must do this particularly with credit instruments and other OTC derivatives and that has to happen right now. In addition all off-balance sheet BS must be ended immediately.
I have, since 2007, advocated that all credit instruments be forced onto an exchange and that cash margin be required on all underwater positions, marked nightly, without exception or offset. This has been “pooh-poohed” as impractical due to bespoke contracts and other considerations.
Now it turns that I was in fact right – there were additional “snakes” in the grass that were cheating. First we had ENRON, then Bear and Lehman and now this.
Here’s reality folks: We either fix this problem and do it now or you had better pray that Europe doesn’t detonate, because if it does you’re going to see the very thing that everyone was talking about back in 2008 happen on a global scale, it’s a hundred times the size that Lehman was, and we will not be immune to it here in the United States — in fact we’ll damn near be the “center of the sun!”
There is the potential for an imminent cascade failure on these contracts just as there was in 2008; it has not gone away, it has not been attenuated, it has in fact grown in size since 08 and if we do not act to put a stop to it and the risk becomes realized it will be too late.
Nov 17, 2011
All material herein Copyright ©2007-2011 Karl Denninger.