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Was there front running during the LTCM crisis

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  • Fang Cai
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    Abstract

    This paper uses a unique dataset of audit trail transactions to examine the trading behavior of market makers in the Treasury bond futures market when Long-Term Capital Management (LTCM) faced binding margin constraints in 1998. Although identities are concealed in the dataset, I find strong evidence that during the crisis market makers in the aggregate engaged in front running against customer orders from a particular clearing firm (coded "PI7") that closely match various features of LTCM's trades through Bear Stearns. That is, market makers traded on their own accounts in the same direction as PI7 customers did, but one or two minutes beforehand. Furthermore, a significant percentage of market makers made abnormal profits on most of the trading days during the crisis. Their aggregate abnormal profits, however, were more than offset by abnormal losses realized after the private sector recapitalization of LTCM. Moreover, I show that before the rescue, a market maker's cumulative abnormal profit was positively correlated both to her tie as contra party with PI7 and to the intensity of her front running, but these relationships turned negative after the rescue. The overall evidence suggests that the recapitalization plan effectively relaxed LTCM's binding constraints and therefore reversed the profitability of front running.

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    File URL: http://www.federalreserve.gov/pubs/ifdp/2003/758/default.htm
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    File URL: http://www.federalreserve.gov/pubs/ifdp/2003/758/ifdp758.pdf
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    Bibliographic Info

    Paper provided by Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.) in its series International Finance Discussion Papers with number 758.

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    Date of creation: 2003
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    Handle: RePEc:fip:fedgif:758

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    Related research

    Keywords: Capital market ; Financial crises;

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    14. Bessembinder, Hendrik, 1994. "Bid-ask spreads in the interbank foreign exchange markets," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 35(3), pages 317-348, June.
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    Cited by:
    1. Joseph Chen & Samuel Hanson & Harrison Hong & Jeremy C. Stein, 2008. "Do Hedge Funds Profit From Mutual-Fund Distress?," NBER Working Papers 13786, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    2. Viral V. Acharya & Denis Gromb & Tanju Yorulmazer, 2012. "Imperfect Competition in the Interbank Market for Liquidity as a Rationale for Central Banking," American Economic Journal: Macroeconomics, American Economic Association, vol. 4(2), pages 184-217, April.
    3. Schoeneborn, Torsten & Schied, Alexander, 2007. "Liquidation in the Face of Adversity: Stealth Vs. Sunshine Trading, Predatory Trading Vs. Liquidity Provision," MPRA Paper 5548, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    4. Dyakov, Teodor & Verbeek, Marno, 2013. "Front-running of mutual fund fire-sales," Journal of Banking & Finance, Elsevier, vol. 37(12), pages 4931-4942.
    5. Matthew Pritsker, 2005. "Large investors: implications for equilibrium asset, returns, shock absorption, and liquidity," Finance and Economics Discussion Series 2005-36, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).

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