Thursday, December 4, 2014

Central Bank Buying Of S&P 500 Futures Extended Until End Of 2015

Three months ago, we revealed that - with absolute certainty - foreign central banks trade (and by "trade" we mean "buy") S&P 500 futures such as the E-mini, in both futures and option form, as well as full size, and micro versions, in addition to the well-known central bank trading in Interest Rates, TSY and FX products. The reason for the certainty was that one of the world's largest futures exchange, the CME, was quietly peddling a service geared exclusively to central banks, called the Central Bank Incentive Program, whose purpose was to "incentivize" central banks to provide market liquidity, i.e., limit orders, by charging them 34% less than ordinary customers on every E-Mini trade.
Back then we left readers wondering "the next time you sell some E-minis, ask yourself: is the ECB on the other side? Or the BOE? Or, perhaps, you are selling S&P 500 futures to Kuroda. Who knows: there is no paper trail anywhere, although a FOIA request and/or the discovery from a lawsuit, class action or otherwise, of the CME's central bank incentive program would likely yield some stunning results."
Actually no it won't: it is now a national security issue that nobody have proof that the biggest marginal buyer of equities are central banks themselves. Otherwise, "confidence" in central planning may crumble, even if everyone knows all too well that without central banks, the equity market's artificially propped up prices would be obliterated overnight.
There was one small piece of good news: the foreign central bank rigging (because the Fed is still technically not allowed to buy equity derivatives directly: instead it has been doing so via Citadel) would end on December 31, 2014:
Well, we have some bad news.
According to a modification of the Central Bank Incentive Program, central bank rigging of, well, everything and certainly the E-mini S&P future, will go on for a much longer time, with the revised deadline now going through December 31, 2015. Further, as the CME notes, "The Exchanges certify that the Program complies with the CEA and the regulations thereunder.There were no substantive opposing views to this Program or the proposed modifications."
Of course, there weren't.
It is amusing to note that the CME decided to hike the fee for US Treasury Futures and Options: the central bank demand there must be soaring.
But that's not the only place where the demand prompted the CME to hike rates. It did so with gold as well:
One wonders just what percentage of the total gold trading on the Globex takes place among the world's central banks, if the CME felt compelled to push up the cost per side.
Finally, for those curious to learn more about this program, or if they are perhaps eligible to enjoy preferential "central bank" terms, they should send an email to or contact CME Group’s International Department in Chicago at 312.466.7473. As the CME conveniently advises, "staff at this office can provide you with additional information and assist you through the application process."