"Trading Strategy" Posts
T+1 ?

T+1 ?

Should US stocks settle T+1? The current T+2 settlement date is considered antiquated, and the Robinhood affair (gee, them again???) has relaunched the debate. Here is a review of the DTCC’s proposal, as well as an idea for derivatives traders.

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Are the Robinhood traders going after the VIX?

Are the Robinhood traders going after the VIX?

‘When you combine ignorance and leverage, you get some pretty interesting results.” Warren Buffett

Three good notes from the derivatives research teams of Morgan Stanley, Société Générale, and Nomura point to a potential squeeze in the VIX, as a result of the increasing retail activism. This technical post explains the contents of the research papers. Spoiler alert, yes, the VIX is prone to a squeeze.

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The revenge of the retail trader

The revenge of the retail trader

GameStop’s rally and its short squeeze are more than just market exuberance. Thanks to low-cost trading, employees working from home, and a Fed-induced market rally, retail traders are pushing the market to new highs and enjoying the excitement of the rally. Worse, social media allow them to focus on a few instruments, with wild rallies.
It is only a matter of time before this party is over, for this stock or the market. We should start thinking of the aftermath.

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Robinhood’s $65m SEC penalty and the ‘gamification’ of trading

Robinhood’s $65m SEC penalty and the ‘gamification’ of trading

Robinhood has just been fined $65m for overcharging its customers, despite trades being free of charge – the company sells its order flow, and the net result is that traders are overcharged $35m/y.

The firm also mislead its clients in its advertising.

But in the back of these already serious issues, is the question of ”gamification’ of trading, where inexperienced individuals actively day-trade on margin. They end-up facing professional investors, who are much better informed and equipped than them. A previous note (https://lnkd.in/gCjKwtM) showed that most if not all end-up losing money.

This five-year-old article below still remains a good analysis of what ‘gamification’ entails. It is probably fine for school teaching and corporate training, but feeding a “high-octane gambling need” is probably not ideal for financial markets.

Robinhood’s documented bubbles, coupled with many new accounts and likely overpriced markets, could turn pretty ugly pretty fast.

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Betterment and Wealthfront on the brink of major changes

Betterment and Wealthfront on the brink of major changes

If you are not in the RIA space, you may have missed a profound change in the area. Robo-advisors are taking a solid market share, and their AUMs are now in the multi-billions. The big boys (Fidelity, Vanguard…), were actually forced to create their own such services not to be left out of this new segment.

Robo-advisors are not really growing at the expense of the usual wealth managers (which still better grasp complex situations), but are concentrating on the under-served low AUM investors. Robos charge a fraction of the existing management fees, thanks to artificial intelligence. They only offer the human touch past a certain $ nominal, therefore bringing the number of advisors per client really low. In fact, Robos also help the usual RIAs with the practical aspects of asset management (cash handling, rebalancing…).

Two leaders, Betterment and Wealthfront, are preparing for the next step of their growth. This article gives an idea of how the senior changes should impact their future.

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Portfolio managers shouldn’t keep the best trades for themselves

Portfolio managers shouldn’t keep the best trades for themselves

Nope, portfolio managers shouldn’t keep the best trades for themselves (at the expense of other investors).
BlueCrest moved its best traders into a management-owned fund, and used AI to replicate their trades in the main fund. Unfortunately, the replication was poor, and investors redeemed and sued when the intel of the new approach came out.

The SEC is now forcing BlueCrest to compensate investors $130m for the underperformance, with a $37m penalty on top.

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A terrible, horrible, no-good year for quants

A terrible, horrible, no-good year for quants

Quant hedge funds have had a bad year. One of their core factor, value, a staple of investment for many years, has strongly underperformed.

Quants rely on backtests to see what has performed / is performing well. In a changing universe, models naturally have short lifetimes as a result. In this covid world, the past really doesn’t reflect the future anymore, and many models do not work at all. Some quants have self-doubt on the validity of their approach (see the previous post on Inigo Fraser Jenkins).

It’s probably way too early to call for the demise of quant investing, but COVID surely brings a regime shift.

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Previous Posts

The state of crypto hedge funds

The state of crypto hedge funds

PwC released its annual Crypto Hedge Fund report; it contains many interesting statistics – fees, size, investor source, strategies, liquidity, performance…

The G7 adopts a global minimal tax rate for corporations

The end of corporate tax shenanigans? The global minimum tax

Corporate taxes have been decreasing for the last decades, the result of tax competition between countries, tax havens, as well as corporate tax shenanigans. The finance ministers of the G-7 have now agreed to a global minimum rate of 15%. This is big news, with important consequences.

MM Warburg & Co office in Hamburg

Cum/Ex: the first jail sentence is frightening German finance

The first jail sentence has been pronounced in the Cum/Ex tax fraud. The fine is a death knell for one of Germany’s oldest private banks. The judgment is causing frights in board rooms and trading floors.

Big Pump video explanation

Crypto-pumps: the widespread pump-and-dumps schemes in cryptocurrencies

Pump-and-dump are ubiquitous in crypto currencies. The schemes are well organized online groups, acting for the explicit purpose of manipulating currencies.
Organizers are front-running their groups and make great returns for themselves, so why would other participate? For hubris and gambling fever, say academics.
Regulators are absent, and the situation will deteriorate. This is the long-form review of this Far West of modern ages.

Wirecard - Financial Times

Wirecard, fintech fraud and supervisory blunder

The credit card processor was actually a purpose-built money laundering scheme.
Wirecard tricked its auditors, its board, external investigators. It retaliated against whistleblowers. With the support of its regulator.
That wouldn’t happen over here, but could it? Thoughts?

Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse - Viktor Mikhaylovich Vasnetsov- 1887

Volmageddon, miscalculation, new regulation?

On February 5th, 2018 (Volmageddon) the volatility reverse ETF XIV lost 96% of its value in the space of a few hours. Its iNAV was also miscalculated for an hour.
We have now discovered why: S&P Dow Jones was understaffed and did not release an ‘auto hold’ safety.
This human error contributes to current debate on the need to regulate index providers as investment advisors.

ChineseWoman-with-a-fan-Is China-A-Paper-Dragon

China isn’t a threat. America is the world’s only superpower

We have all heard that China is a growing economic & military threat to the US and the world order. But is it really?
Michael Beckley’s book ‘Unrivaled: Why America Will Remain the World’s Sole Superpower’ demonstrates it isn’t, says The Atlantic’s David Frum. Here is why.

Whistleblower takes the entire CFTC gold pot

The Libor manipulation whistleblower takes the entire CFTC pot

The risk manager who blew the whistle on Deutsche’s Libor manipulation is entitled to a $100m award.
That’s a problem. It would empty the coffer for the entire program, and block other actions.

Dogecoin Rap, or how social media can pump a crypto high.

Dogecoin Rap unwrap – social media push crypto to a new high price.

The Dogecoin Rap video is funny and right on cue, if you listen carefully. But crypto can only go up via social media advertising, experts say.

We have seen such exuberance in the past. But now the GameStop Redditors who bankrupted hedge funds say that Dogecoin is next.

It very much looks like a “pump”, as in “pump-and-dump”.

Robinhood side effects include headaches, suicide, anxiety, withdrawals and IPO.

Robinhood: side effects include headaches, suicide, addiction, anxiety, withdrawals. And IPO.

Robinhood has demonstrated and deleterious effects on day traders, including enormous tax losses, suicide, anxiety, addiction.

Meanwhile, the firm is the subject of major regulatory and legal procedures, whose outcomes are hidden or unknown.

The firm’s IPO looks very much like passing on the hot potato… again to unsuspecting and inexperienced traders.

Non-Fungible Tokens in Non-Fungible Markets

Non-Fungible Tokens are the new asset class of digital art, and the spearhead of ‘decentralized finance’. Can with reconcile innovation with good sense? NFTs with regulations?

This article reviews their nature, their legal & regulatory difficulties, pinpoints extreme examples, highlights their volatility and more importantly, asks how a digital economy could be constructed around these loosely regulated assets.

Driving a nail in the coffin

The last nail for binary options?

The SEC has hit yet another nail in the binary option coffin, and what a big nail that is. SpotOption was the industrial-size engine behind this global scam.
This article explains binary options, what their true risk really is, how some have weaponized it, the SEC’s actions, as well as shares comments from the investigative press.

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