Something bad is about to go down at Robinhood.
One day after the company drew down on its bank lines and obtain a $1 billion rescue capital investment, the company found itself in lockdown mode, allowing just a handful of shares to be bought at a time, effectively shutting down in all but name …
Why is this happening? The most likely reason is that between DTC, clearinghouses and other regulatory entities, Robinhood was found to be in another capital deficiency position — even with the billions raised overnight — and it is being forced to deliver [the share certificates].
This likely means that Robinhood is as of this moment, scrambling to obtain even more capital, although we somehow doubt it will be just as easy to “take from the rich” as it was late last night especially since the client exodus is surely accelerating.
It also means that we may have to have another “Lehman Weekend” situation on our hands, only this time it will be a “Robinhood Weekend”, and an urgent acquisition from a strategic buyer may be required to prevent the worst case outcome. We only hope that the billions in funds held in custody for clients is segregated should the company collapse (pinging Jon Corzine here).
In any case, expect a lot of Robinhood related news over the weekend. …
Cash hoarding and repo market problems could be a sign of counterparties beginning to worry about clearinghouses. If initial margins rise significantly, the only assets that will see a bid will be cash, US treasuries, JGBs, Bunds, Yen and Swiss Franc. Everything else will likely face selling pressure. If a major clearinghouse should fail due to two counterparties failing, then many centrally cleared hedges will also fail. If this happens, you will not receive the cash from your bearish hedge, as the counterparty has gone bust, and the clearinghouse needs to pay from its own capital or even get be recapitalised itself. One way to think about it is that the financial crisis only metastasized when MG failed, because at that point, everyone suddenly became un-hedged, and everyone needed to sell.
Something is going to trigger the next financial crisis, and it’s usually something unexpected.