“It’s not bragging if you can back it up.” – Muhammad Ali While so many seem to be pleasuring themselves with the Tiger King, some of us continue to geek out with the latest data. Now, with March so freshly in the review mirror, certain monthly and quarterly data updates are going to be among our first chances to benchmark the significance of what has just happened in capital markets. We started with a focused comparison of the volatility patterns of the GFC period to the unfolding CVP period here and here, and then detailed the first trading casualties of that volatility here, here and here. Below, is our latest visual of that volatility comparison, where we are beginning to break down the components of volatility represented by the gap and range... Among the more fascinating aspects of this perspective is the illustration that there have been 8 volatility spikes with intraday ranges greater than 20 VIX points since January 2008, and the greatest of these occurred on February [...]
"Knowing is not enough; we must apply. Willing is not enough; we must do." - Johann Wolfgang von Goethe With a name like Parplus, it's difficult not to take the bait. Not quite as fruitful as Lev Parnas' company, Fraud Guarantee, but ripe nonetheless, given the circumstances... For instance, we may never know if the advice - as recounted by Carl Spackler - of the Dalai Lama ever entered Jim Carney's mind: Gunga galunga. And, we may never know for sure whether the Parplus crew received total consciousness as the reality of the situation became clear. In fact, we may never know - as the Arnold Palmer story goes - what par actually was for this hole... But, one thing's for sure: It all happened fast... Here's the setup: Seeking to satisfy some of the hunger for yield enhancement solutions (and, ideally, some downside protection) - typically offered of late in the form of structured notes, "smart beta" products, and other clever overlay strategies - Parplus Partners was established [...]
“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. You have to trust in something – your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever." - Steve Jobs In an article published today (March 26) by Risk.net based on a statement also released today from ABN AMRO (below), new details about the demise of Ronin Capital emerge - along with that of a "mysterious second default." According to Risk.net, a spokesperson for ABN AMRO has repeatedly suggested Ronin was not the source - a US client - of the $200 million (net) loss. It's just a matter of time now before we learn of another potential victim of this latest volatility spike... ++++++ Update 9:59PM NYC: Well, that was fast! The source of $200 million loss revealed by Risk.net as New York-based Parplus Partners, an equity volatility hedge fund with close ties to Ronin... Until next time, stay safe out there...
“Do what you can, with what you have, where you are.” - Theodore Roosevelt In last week's Feed post, "Marketquake: The Volatility of Volatility," we set up a comparison of volatility levels - and duration - from the GFC with that of the current pandemic period. In that, I implied that elevated volatility persisted for 218 trading days after the initial GFC shock. In other words, it took about 218 trading days for the VIX to traverse the round trip from normal vol levels (~mid-20's) through the associated shocks and back to normal. The chart below is a picture of that path along with where we are as of today, 23 trading days into the latest market shock... Now, 218 trading days into the pandemic shock puts us into early January 2021. The problem, however, is that with the latest vol shock being faster and higher than that of the GFC - and the likelihood that there will be subsequent shocks from the combined ongoing health and economic impacts [...]
“If it be now, tis not to come, if it be not to come, it will be now; if it be not now, yet it will come. The readiness is all." - Shakespeare: Hamlet Act 5, Scene 2 UPDATE HERE (3/26/2020) Last Friday, March 20, CNBC was first to report that "one of the CME’s direct clearing firms was unable to meet its capital requirements. The move forced the exchange to step in and invoke its emergency protocols to auction off the portfolios. Ronin Capital, based in Chicago, was confirmed to be the firm in question, according to sources. Additional sources said Ronin’s problems stemmed from positions in futures tied to the CBOE Volatility Index (VIX)." In concert with Alphacution's recent feed post, "Marketquake: The Volatility of Volatility," on unprecedented volatility levels that surpass that of the 2008-2009 Global Financial Crisis (GFC) period, I wanted to assemble whatever we could on Ronin. A story not well known outside of Chicago prop trading circles, John S. Stafford, Jr. - the founder of [...]
“To develop a complete mind: Study the art of science; study the science of art. Learn how to see. Realize that everything connects to everything else” – Leonardo da Vinci If there was ever a moment in time when we realized just how much everything connects to everything else - a quote (and concept) I have been using to repeatedly bludgeon you lo these many past months - now would be that moment. However, so as not to jump on the singularly overcrowded bandwagon of doom that is the current events flow of content (for now), I'd like to walk through a storyboard of related significance. That sadly familiar aroma in the air is fear; a specific vintage of which has not washed over the market ecosystem since 2008. Many are coming to the conclusion that if the virus doesn't take us down, the arsenal of preventative measures just might - and therefore, one way or another, we are likely entering a period of financial stress (to put it [...]
The latest from Lynne Marek, Crain's Chicago Business: "Why Citadel Securities may not be cheering all these retail brokerage mergers: The combos of Morgan Stanley and E-Trade, plus Schwab and TD Ameritrade, could squeeze an important revenue stream."
“That which does not kill us makes us stronger.” - Friedrich Nietzsche “We adore chaos because we love to produce order.” ― M.C. Escher One intangible cost of being the sole US publicly-traded market making firm is the required level of financial and operational transparency - and the investor relations burden - that comes with that status. In this case, that cost may be unusually high because of the relative opacity of the competitors in this sector - what Alphacution typically refers to as the structural alpha zone of its asset management ecosystem map - coupled with the unparalleled use of technology and extraordinary magnitude of wealth generated by that small group of players. To compound this dynamic, recent dramatic shifts in the landscape for retail order flow sparked by the late 2019 moves - en masse - to $zero commissions by retail-oriented brokerage platforms, and the quick follow-on consolidations of TD Ameritrade (by Charles Schwab) and E*Trade (by Morgan Stanley), and given the pandemic-fueled volatility and volumes of [...]
“Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—I took the one less traveled by, And that has made all the difference.” - Robert Frost Jane Street is one of the most exciting players among the roster of proprietary market making firms in the entire trading ecosystem. What began in 2000 as Henry Capital, with memberships on the American Stock Exchange and Midwest Stock Exchange, today sports a broad global footprint and continues to solidify its legendary status among those that trade for their own account. As such, Jane Street is the subject of our next comprehensive case study to be published in the coming weeks. This post is an appetizer for that... Until next time...
"There's a point, seven thousand RPM, where everything fades. The machine becomes weightless, just disappears. And all that's left is a body moving through space and time. Seven thousand RPM." - Carroll Shelby In the early days of Quantlab, we suspected that there were stock trading signals in option data. Our futures program had waaaay too much slippage in it, and we needed to make a shift into a strategy with far less position concentration if we were ever going to survive. It was 1996 - or maybe it was 1997 - and the biggest challenge we faced in making such a shift was finding clean historical option data. That's when we met Sandor Strauss, Renaissance Technologies' first data guru... My brother recently gave me a copy of Greg Zuckerman's book, "The Man Who Solved the Market: How Jim Simons Launched the Quant Revolution," for Christmas. Not being someone who allocates much time to reading hard-bound books, it sat at the corner of my desk, beckoning for the right moment to [...]