“The Mother of All Flash Crashes”- Doug Kass Sees Cyber Surprises in 2016

If you don't like doom and gloom, these financial industry predictions for 2016 aren't for you, as terrorism looks to
Photo: FSociety/Mr Robot (Youtube screenshot)

Among the interesting reads regarding predictions for investments in 2016 is Doug Kass’s two part ’15 Surprises for 2016’. President of hedge fund Seabreeze Partners Management, Doug Kass is well known as a longtime contributor to TheStreet.com and its Real Money Pro site.

Taking a gloomy stance, Kass didn’t hold back as he expects terror acts, both in the physical and cyber world, to wreak havoc on the global financial markets during 2016.

Among the predictions is that “Terrorism Goes Cyber”. Kass expects a large cyber terrorism event to be triggered by Middle Eastern, Russian and Chinese hackers who invade computers of the US financial industry. The results would lead to a series of trading outages affecting trading markets and overnight settlement systems.

For stock prices, Kass expects these disruptions to trigger the ‘The Mother of All Flash Crashes’ and lead to the largest single day point drop in the Dow Jones 30 as it falls 1,100 points. Among the effects, Kass stated that the flash crash would lead to renewed anti-HFT sentiment from the US government. This would cause legislation being written up to curb the “unfair trading field” of HFT traders and the outlawing of co-location servers and spoofing of trades and market depth.

Cyber fraud in 2015

While Kass’s cyber predictions for 2016 are extreme, they do follow unfortunate trends from 2015. In addition, many of his other scary forecasts are based on problems faced last year. For example, Kass’s top surprise of 2016 is “Terrorism Dismantles an Already Fragile Global Recovery”. The gist is that Kass believes that shares in airlines, hotels and entertainment companies will underperform. While surprising for some, elements of this problem were seen in 2015 as the alleged ISIS downing of a Russian commercial jet decimated Egypt’s tourism to the Sinai region.

In terms of cyber related problems, 2015 turned out to be a tough year for many financial firms. Topping the list was the use of cyber theft of broker databases. Stealing customer information from brokers and banks such as JPMorgan Chase, ETrade, FXCM and Scottrade, hackers pumped penny stocks to these clients as well as posed as them to issue bank transfers to external accounts.

Another problem was a bout of DDoS attacks affecting many forex related brokers and service providers. With their servers inundated with attacks, traders were not able to access their accounts and the dissemination of real time prices was halted.

On the bright side, with cyber hacking moving to the top of the headlines in 2015, awareness has increased in the financial industry of vulnerabilities and potential solutions. As such, financial firms are now more likely to be using technology for DDoS prevention, database protection and payment transfer tokenization.

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