Taking the Street

What is Taking the Street

Taking the street is the practice of quickly buying a dominant position in one stock with the intention of selling the stock, often to the same institutions from which it was purchased, at a profit. 

Taking the street is a practice which might appear to be a useful low-risk, short-term trading strategy. An institution with deep pockets and sophisticated market knowledge, often a hedge fund, knows that market makers need to maintain an inventory of a given stock.

Understanding Taking the Street

Market makers, sometimes referred to as specialists on the NYSE, rely on their inventories to handle trades for individual and institutional traders alike. This inventory is crucial to the business model of a market maker. Without shares on hand, the market maker is at the mercy of the market to fill trades. 

Key Takeaways

  • Taking the street is when investors take a dominant position in one stock and resell it back to the same institution from which it was purchased, at a profit.
  • The strategy is more likely to succeed when there are few external factors, such as light trading and fewer market makers, affecting its price.
  • Taking the street is different from cornering the market, which is a longer-term strategy.

Taking the street relies on three assumptions.

  • First is the assumption that the market makers will be forced to replenish their inventories by repurchasing shares from the firm attempting to take the street. If another institution also holds a significant position in the stock, the market maker should be able to rebuild its inventory at a lower price.
  • The second assumption is that other market forces, such as adverse financial results or short selling, will not intervene to drive the share price down. 
  • Finally, the firm seeking to take the street must have the resources to quickly buy a substantial position in that stock so that it does not drive its purchase price high enough to undermine its strategy.

The strategy is more likely to succeed if the stock is lightly traded and has fewer market makers. Under these conditions, the firm seeking to take the street is in a position of higher market power to both amass a dominant position and to force market makers to replenish their inventories from the street taker.

Taking the Street vs. Cornering the Market 

Taking the street and cornering the market are terms which are sometimes confused and involve similar principles but differ in timing and, sometimes, in legality. Both rely on amassing a market position which allows an institution to exert control over price fluctuations. Taking the street occurs in a brief period, often the same day of trading, while cornering the market usually describes a longer-term strategy. 

Cornering the market is more likely to involve market manipulation, and many case studies exist in which this manipulation has caught the attention of regulators. A classic example, as reported by Bloomberg News, involves Salomon, the Steinhardt Management Company, and the Caxton Corporation. In this case, the cornering the market was on U.S. Treasury bonds in the 1990s. Many other cases have taken place in global commodities markets.

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