About Paul Rowady

Paul Rowady is the Director of Research for Alphacution Research Conservatory, the first digitally-oriented research and strategic advisory platform uniquely focused on modeling and benchmarking the impacts of technology on global financial markets and the businesses of trading, asset management and banking. He is a 30-year veteran of the proprietary, quantitative and derivatives trading arenas with specific expertise in strategy research, risk management, and techno-operational development. Contact:; Follow: @alphacution.

Puzzle: Two Sigma and the Sons of D. E. Shaw

"The voyage of discovery is not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes." - Marcel Proust I had hoped to be able to publish the executive summary to our latest case study on Two Sigma this week, however instead, here is one of the more fascinating findings from that research (that we explore in detail in that case study) in the form of a puzzle: In the chart below, Alphacution presents the average stock position by value for the 67-quarter period beginning Q4 2002 and ending Q2 2019 for the four legendary quant managers, Renaissance Technologies, Millennium Management, D. E. Shaw & Co., and Two Sigma Investments. What's fascinating here is how these four leaders, with their core strategies in equities, assembled their portfolios. Four managers with two methods for implementing position sizing; one method based on market capitalization weighting, the other based on liquidity weighting... Which manager is associated with which method? One more thing: If you think this is too deep in the weeds for where [...]

By | 2019-11-06T22:28:28+00:00 October 31st, 2019|Alphacution Feed|

More Bridgewater Associates: Modeling Ray Dalio’s Modeling

"Treat your life like a game." - Ray Dalio In many ways, aspects of this research are like playing a game of "Name That Tune." With a few snippets of data, we try to figure out what's going on with a trading or investment strategy - and by extension, the business strategy, too. Certainly, boosting the signal of a snippet or two of data can be done with contextual evidence; other snippets of data from neighboring strategies and players that help improve the accuracy of our interpretations. And yes, by now, this is all starting to sound a little rudimentary. "Of course. Obviously. Sure, that's been well known for a while..." But, though it now seems like years, it's only been eleven months since publishing our first "Hiding in Plain Sight" post. It's an understatement to say that we've learned a ton in that time because certain components of the landscape - a spectrum of strategies; zones and emerging rankings of competitors among them can now be seen with a [...]

By | 2019-10-30T23:06:40+00:00 October 30th, 2019|Alphacution Feed|

BlackRock, Bridgewater, Citadel: The Decline of Speculation at Scale

"Capitalism has defeated communism. It is now well on its way to defeating democracy." - former HBS professor, David Korten “The most important question facing humanity is this: Can we reach global empathy in time to avoid the collapse of civilization and save the Earth?” - Jeremy Rifkin, principal architect, "The Third Industrial Revolution   "...Bizarre..." and "...inscrutable..." is how one notable content aggregation platform has recently described Alphacution's work (after we maxed out their popularity scores with the articles in question - and while being the youngest research and advisory group to be competing for attention with the likes of the Wall Street Journal, Bloomberg News and the Financial Times, among many others). On that score, I'd say we're punching well above our weight class. But, with this - uh - compliment, it seems like as good a time as any to pause for a minute and perform a few extra Mark 'The Bird' Fidrych moves on the mound before making the pitch for today's (1st Mad Lib here) [...]

By | 2019-10-27T17:22:46+00:00 October 24th, 2019|Alphacution Feed|

HSBC: Considers More Towel Throwing in US Equities

"The Adviser integrates information, computing power and human skill to attempt to systematically extract alpha." - Two Sigma Advisors, LP brochure On October 17, 2019, Bloomberg reports that "HSBC Considers Equity Pullback in London, New York, Germany." We used this as a catalyst to add to our ongoing bank-owned broker-dealer modeling. Here's a review of Alphacution's prior analysis in this space: Alphacution has begun to assemble a composite model on bank-owned broker-dealer operations. Before now, we have conducted the first phase of modeling for: Goldman Sachs & Co. Morgan Stanley & Co. Deutsche Bank Securities, Inc. UBS Securities, LLC Credit Suisse Securities (USA), LLC J. P. Morgan Securities, LLC - formerly known as Bear Stearns & Co. Among the notable players remaining, we still need to add Bank America / Merrill, Citigroup, Barclays, BNP Paribas and likely Nomura, too. In time, we could expand further from there... However, given this latest news referenced at the opening, we now add SocGen's and HSBC's broker-dealer arms, SG Americas Securities, LLC and HSBC [...]

By | 2019-10-24T01:22:57+00:00 October 23rd, 2019|Alphacution Feed|

(UPDATED) Citadel Punks Blackstone

"What is to give light must endure burning." - Viktor Frankl “The backbone of surprise is fusing speed with secrecy.” – Carl von Clausewitz Why is it coming out now, apparently months after the talks took place, that Blackstone inquired about buying a stake in Citadel? There are a few reasons we can think of for monetizing coveted equity - or, at least showing enough leg to solicit an updated "mark" on the assets - but, the most likely one has been the same for years: Ken wants to become an investment bank. Ok, so what does Citadel need to become an investment bank that it doesn't already have? Well, given leadership - and, occasional dominance - in listed equity-linked markets by Citadel, the next beachhead for investment banks-in-training is fixed income. And, Citadel-like prowess in fixed income may require lots of technology and smart folk, but the one thing it definitely needs is balance sheet. The next question, then, is: Do you build a balance sheet or buy a [...]

By | 2019-10-24T01:23:21+00:00 October 17th, 2019|Alphacution Feed|

Hedge Fund Alert Showcases Alphacution

"Learn how to see. Realize that everything connects to everything else." - Leonardo da Vinci A quick shout out to Howard Kapiloff for assembling the piece on Alphacution that went out today in the latest edition of Hedge Fund Alert. Thankfully, those who operate closest to the sources of liquidity know this work well. But, those who operate at some distance from the sources of liquidity and still realize that the impacts we are quantifying and illustrating here are relevant to them speaks volumes about their eye for something new that might matter. Thanks for paying attention... Here's the article, and more can be found here: Support the Feed! Individual Subscription Options Annual Subscription : $275.00 USD - yearly Monthly Subscription : $25.00 USD - monthly Note: Business credit cards and bank accounts can be used via our PayPal payment portal. Alphacution is in the intelligence business. For those of you who are eager to derive greater value from this work and apply that intelligence to your own business interests, [...]

By | 2019-10-16T22:35:07+00:00 October 16th, 2019|Alphacution Feed|

Schwab and Others Confirm Status as Casinos, Purveyors of Financial Opioids

“Learn how to see. Realize that everything connects to everything else.” - Leonardo da Vinci "There's no such thing as a free lunch." - Milton Friedman Maybe I imagined it, but a couple weeks ago, I thought I saw an article claiming that Jack Dorsey, CEO of the world's largest kazoo - you know, the thing with the familiar harmony and enough dissonance to over-stimulate your reptilian id - was set to replicate Robinhood's free trading platform on Twitter. Sure. Why not? What could go wrong?! All businesses should aspire to thrive on the basis of frictionless impulses and whatever "dumb money" is still left on the face of the planet... Anyway, it seems that the search for that gem of strategic intelligence may have been catalyzed by recent announcements by none other than Schwab, Fidelity, E*Trade, TD Ameritrade, and Interactive Brokers - which is pretty much everyone within spitting distance of the retail brokerage universe - that they were all dropping commissions on stocks, ETFs and options to $zero. [...]

By | 2019-10-16T22:34:30+00:00 October 11th, 2019|Alphacution Feed|

A Brawl Breaks Out in the Futures Market – Part 2

"You can't connect the dots looking forward, you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future." - Steve Jobs   It's truly amazing what we find deep down in the weeds... The solution to any puzzle starts with the pieces that are easiest to fit into place. Translation: Solutions can start most easily where the most granular data is readily available and easiest to interpret. In this case, and though not (yet) flowing smoothly from a firehose, that means regulatory disclosures based on long positions reported by various trading and asset management firms that correspond with the quarterly-updated 13F securities list managed by the Securities and Exchanges Commission (SEC). At Alphacution, the core mission is to solve, and keep re-solving, a very large puzzle made up of many other smaller puzzles which, themselves, may contain even smaller, more detailed puzzles... Think of this like the claim made by the Kirk Lazarus character in the movie, Tropic Thunder - [...]

By | 2019-10-17T00:59:44+00:00 October 11th, 2019|Alphacution Feed|

Tradebot Systems: There’s Still Room Under the Radar

"Great things are done by a series of small things brought together." - Vincent Van Gogh In late 2001, $1.1 million in member contributed capital is dropped into Northtown Trading, LLC. By 2005, this operation becomes Tradebot Systems, Inc. and the rest has become a notable component of  high-frequency trading history - and mythology. In comparison to much of our other modeling, we don't know much about Tradebot. However, given the contextual evidence provided by that other modeling, we can leverage the data we do have on Tradebot much further than we'd otherwise be able to. For the trained eye, the exhibit below - wherein Alphacution presents the total assets and a summation of cash and net receivables found in Form X17A5 for the years beginning 2001 and ending 2018 - shows that this trading operation is mostly holding cash and receivables from brokers. This means that they're position exposure is limited, which further means that they are trading fast enough - and small enough - to be (mostly) flat [...]

By | 2019-10-03T00:19:30+00:00 October 3rd, 2019|Alphacution Feed|

DRW, Jump: A Brawl Breaks Out in the Futures Market

“All profound distraction opens certain doors. You have to allow yourself to be distracted when you are unable to concentrate.” - Julio Cortázar Sometimes we are working one research project, get a call and then need to go chase a squirrel that is part of a different research project. This is one of those squirrels... And as such, it's a chart that causes a reaction - but, we're not ready to say precisely what our reaction is (title and title image to this post notwithstanding), nor what that might mean. So - like many teasers - we're going to drop it here for now, and then follow up later, except for this: Significant growth in assets is not necessarily indicative of a corresponding increase in profitability, but there may be advantages as a result of scale. Let's see if we can make a stronger case, one way or another, and then come back with that... BTW, the dotted lines signify missing reports... Support the Feed! Individual Subscription Options Annual Subscription : [...]

By | 2019-10-02T21:37:48+00:00 October 2nd, 2019|Alphacution Feed|