Predatory Trading

Topics - Trading

${ numberSection } ${ text }
Predatory Trading

Large traders fear a forced liquidation, especially if their need to liquidate is known by other traders. For example, hedge funds with (nearing) margin calls may need to liquidate, and this could be known to certain counterparties such as the bank financing the trade.

Similarly, traders who use portfolio insurance, stop-loss orders, or other risk management strategies can be known to liquidate in response to price drops; a short-seller may need to cover his position if the price increases significantly; certain institutions have an incentive to liquidate bonds that are downgraded or in default; and, intermediaries who take on large derivative positions must hedge them by trading the underlying security. A forced liquidation is often very costly since it is associated with large price impact and low liquidity.

This paper provides a new framework for studying the phenomenon of predatory trading. Predatory trading is important in connection with large security trades in illiquid markets. We show that predatory trading leads to price overshooting and amplifies a large trader’s liquidation cost and default risk. Hence, the risk management strategy of large traders should account for “predation risk.”

Predatory trading enhances systemic risk, since a financial shock to one trader may spill over and trigger a crisis for the whole financial sector. Consequently, our analysis provides an argument in favor of coordinated actions by regulators or bailouts. Our analysis has further implications for the regulation of securities trading and disclosure rules of large traders, and it explains certain advantages of trading halts, batch auctions and of the up-tick rule.

Published in

The Journal of Finance

This document is not intended to, and does not relate specifically to any investment strategy or product that AQR offers. It is being provided merely to provide a framework to assist in the implementation of an investor’s own analysis and an investor’s own view on the topic discussed herein.

This document has been provided to you solely for information purposes and does not constitute an offer or solicitation of an offer or any advice or recommendation to purchase any securities or other financial instruments and may not be construed as such. The factual information set forth herein has been obtained or derived from sources believed by the author and AQR Capital Management, LLC (“AQR”) to be reliable but it is not necessarily all-inclusive and is not guaranteed as to its accuracy and is not to be regarded as a representation or warranty, express or implied, as to the information’s accuracy or completeness, nor should the attached information serve as the basis of any investment decision. This document is not to be reproduced or redistributed to any other person. The information set forth herein has been provided to you as secondary information and should not be the primary source for any investment or allocation decision. Past performance is not a guarantee of future performance. Diversification does not eliminate the risk of experiencing investment losses. 

This material is not research and should not be treated as research. This paper does not represent valuation judgments with respect to any financial instrument, issuer, security or sector that may be described or referenced herein and does not represent a formal or official view of AQR. The views expressed reflect the current views as of the date hereof and neither the author nor AQR undertakes to advise you of any changes in the views expressed herein. 

The information contained herein is only as current as of the date indicated, and may be superseded by subsequent market events or for other reasons. Charts and graphs provided herein are for illustrative purposes only. The information in this presentation has been developed internally and/or obtained from sources believed to be reliable; however, neither AQR nor the author guarantees the accuracy, adequacy or completeness of such information. Nothing contained herein constitutes investment, legal, tax or other advice nor is it to be relied on in making an investment or other decision. There can be no assurance that an investment strategy will be successful. Historic market trends are not reliable indicators of actual future market behavior or future performance of any particular investment which may differ materially, and should not be relied upon as such. Diversification does not eliminate the risk of experiencing investment losses.

The information in this paper may contain projections or other forward-looking statements regarding future events, targets, forecasts or expectations regarding the strategies described herein, and is only current as of the date indicated. There is no assurance that such events or targets will be achieved, and may be significantly different from that shown here. The information in this document, including statements concerning financial market trends, is based on current market conditions, which will fluctuate and may be superseded by subsequent market events or for other reasons.