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KNIGHT: The Roundtable Falls

Knight Capital Group, one of the big players in retail brokerage order flow and market making on the Street, lost $440 million this week and is scrambling for funding after a “technology screw up” that caused the firm to screw up quotes for NYSE-listed stocks. We don’t believe that they will be able to get more than $60-80 million in funding and will be forced to go into bankruptcy or reorganization of some sort.

Knight’s counterparties are no longer routing order flow or using algos with the company. The entire Street has shunned them. This has really hurt confidence with investors, similar to the events of the flash crash and MF Global. The Financials SPDR (XLF), has been down significantly after big events like the aforementioned, and this will likely happen.

There will most likely be some kind of hearings in Washington or some kind of investigation. The Knight event will no doubt be used as fodder for regulation, particularly the Volcker Rule. We’ve been bearish on Morgan Stanley for some time and question how Knight will affect them. Counterparty risk affects the firm quite a bit but there hasn’t been a huge flight from the firm.