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Opinion

Macaskill on markets: What can Citadel see?

Citadel founder Ken Griffin may have felt more annoyed than threatened by his day testifying to Congress about volatility in GameStop and other stocks popular with retail investors, but scrutiny of market making and clearing is set to increase.

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Ken Griffin, the founder of hedge fund Citadel and market maker Citadel Securities, had an insight into what to expect from the rest of a five-hour Congressional hearing on February 18 when Maxine Waters, chairwoman of the House of Representatives financial services committee, demanded that he answer some questions with ‘yes’ or ‘no’ answers.

After a query about market share, Waters asked whether Griffin could confirm that on January 27, the peak of the frenzy in GameStop trading, Citadel Securities had executed 7.4 billion shares for retail investors and whether that was more than the average daily volume of the entire US equities market in 2019.

Griffin seemed taken aback – understandably. The nugget of information about volumes was one that he had just read out himself.

“Chairwoman Waters, that was my written and oral testimony,” Griffin began to reply, in the slowed-down delivery that indicated extensive coaching by communications specialists before his day on the Congressional stage.

Griffin would later in the testimony admit that he had four people in the room for back-up, though only two potted plants could be seen flanking him as he spoke on a remote link. (Who were the mystery off-camera advisers? Citadel declined to comment.)

But


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