Alphacution Feed

Virtu, ITG: Much More Than Meets The Eye…

"The real voyage of discovery consists, not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes." - Marcel Proust (1923) “Develop your senses — especially learn how to see. Realize that everything connects to everything else.” — Leonardo Da Vinci (~1500) If you  - like the precious thousands of other professionals, mostly notably from the high-performance end of the global trading spectrum, who will venture this way - have come this far in search of Alphacution's unique brand of irreverent spin on Virtu's 3rd quarter earnings announcement, then you are about to miss most of the intelligence that is on offer from the growing portfolio of evidence that we are assembling here. Yes, our modeling and charting and narratives surrounding this latest catalyst from Virtu - along with its and others' exploits in this rare corner of the financial world - can be found here and throughout our Feed. But, for those who choose to stretch their go-to frame of perspective, there is much more going on here than initially meets the eye... What is actually going on [...]

By | 2018-11-15T00:10:58+00:00 November 15th, 2018|Alphacution Feed|

Robinhood and Payments for Order Flow

It was a recent father-son (and dog) road trip. Several hours in the car, on our way to support daughter / sister, Emma, at her final regatta of the season. Head of the Hooch in Chattanooga, Tennessee. And, an opportunity for some undistracted conversation. Among the many topics was our ongoing debate about how to trade Tesla (TSLA). Eddie has proven himself to be fairly decent scalper of this volatile name, so I usually ask how he is positioned and the levels he thinks are meaningful. Anyway, it turns out, he is trading on the Robinhood platform - no more than a few shares at a time - and paying zero commissions which, of course, improves his net profitability. This is the main attraction on top of the fact that he can toggle between trading stocks, playing video games, watching YouTube, Instagramming with his friends and listening to music all on the same device. (No wonder he is always wiped out!) So, this got me to thinking about some of [...]

By | 2018-11-14T22:35:42+00:00 November 14th, 2018|Alphacution Feed|

IBM Hides Watson Under a Red Hat

A charitable assessment might have called it an experiment, really; an experiment to find out if the headwinds on the hardware and infrastructure services side of the house could be mitigated to some meaningful extent by perceived tailwinds on the software side of the house. A less charitable assessment might have called it a gamble... But now, with the (Sunday evening) October 28, 2018 announcement that it will be acquiring open source software leader, Red Hat for an astounding multiple of nearly 12x FY2018 revenue, or $34 billion, IBM signals that the promise of the high-profile experiment / gamble within their software group - relabeled, Cognitive Solutions in 2015, and where "Watson" became the poster child for the recent hyperbolic expectations of artificial intelligence (AI) - was not likely to arrive soon enough to stem the internal bleeding caused by competitive threats within the cloud infrastructure services market. With Red Hat, IBM now turns to defend its 3rd fiddle position in the cloud market (just ahead of Google) - which [...]

By | 2018-11-12T22:33:04+00:00 November 12th, 2018|Alphacution Feed|

When #ETFs Ate The Beta

These days, making a point - and then creating enough initial magnetism to draw folks' attention further down into that point-making exercise - has become quite an art form. Would anyone even notice if a piece of writing had already been published under a different image and title? Perhaps someday we will perform that exercise. ;-) In any case, this post completes the natural progression of our tour of the three primary segments of Alphacution's asset management ecosystem "map" and our attempt to illustrate the overarching driver that is impacting each of them: automation. We started this tour back in July with the highly popular post, When Market Makers Ate Their Own, wherein we showcased how advancements in technical performance by a declining roster of players had led to the current self-destructive extremes of consolidation and concentration within the market-making zone of our map (since relabeled, structural alpha zone). Following on the heals of that came the post When Hedge Funds Ate Their Own wherein we introduced the hypothesis that [...]

By | 2018-11-11T21:54:58+00:00 November 11th, 2018|Alphacution Feed|

@VirtuFinancial: Yes, There Are More Acquisitions on the Way!

No problem can be solved from the same level of consciousness that created it. - Albert Einstein On October 4, news broke on all the major market news outlets that - after feasting on a meal formerly known as KCG Holdings, Inc. (KCG) in 2017, which itself was a combo platter made up of GETCO and Knight Capital - Virtu Financial, Inc. (Virtu) was returning to the all-you-can-eat buffet to consider the total consumption of multinational agency brokerage and financial markets technology firm, Investment Technology Group, Inc. (ITG). Of course, this news generated a chuckle around here because it seemed that it was not too long ago that someone was predicting that this kind of pairing would make sense for Virtu - if conditions were such that they needed to bolt something else onto their expanded frame. Oh, wait a sec, that was us... To wit, from Alphacution's post "Virtu Financial: More Acquisitions on the Way, If..." (March 27, 2018): "One other notable move for significant growth for a firm [...]

By | 2018-11-01T18:53:18+00:00 October 31st, 2018|Alphacution Feed|

Adventures in Speed: @VirtuFinancial, @FlowTraders

“Study the science of art. Study the art of science. Develop your senses — especially learn how to see. Realize that everything connects to everything else.” — Leonardo Da Vinci (~1500) It has been a little while - since here - that we updated our analysis on the market making and high-speed trading strategy end of the playing field. And, during that time it came to our attention that our friends at Flow Traders N.V. (FT) had begun to feel a little left out of the fun. After all, it seemed we had inadvertently given that impression by showcasing our thoughts on Virtu's progress and outlook as if it were the only remaining stand-alone public market making firm - now that the KCG acquisition had closed. (For those of you who are just joining us, you might refresh the thread on prior work around this topic, most notably, here...) Personally, I don't think Virtu will mind sharing a bit of the spotlight. With the Panthers near the basement of the NHL's Atlantic division, [...]

By | 2018-10-24T09:48:57+00:00 October 23rd, 2018|Alphacution Feed|

Vision and the Pace of Innovation: A Little Perspective…

“Study the science of art. Study the art of science. Develop your senses — especially learn how to see. Realize that everything connects to everything else.” — Leonardo Da Vinci Da Vinci is now known to have been able to "see things" that he had the tools to make real in the period, and see some that he couldn't. For those visions he couldn't bring into reality, that disconnect - I have concluded - was mainly a function of the underlying pace of innovation. Da Vinci simply would not live long enough for the pace of certain innovations to intersect with his lifespan. Today, the pace of innovation is so severe, it's difficult to imagine what might not intersect with our own lifespans. Food for thought...  

By | 2018-10-18T21:55:31+00:00 October 18th, 2018|Alphacution Feed|

The Privatization of Alpha

“Study the science of art. Study the art of science. Develop your senses — especially learn how to see. Realize that everything connects to everything else.” — Leonardo Da Vinci (~1500) "Hedge funds — there are too many of them and most of them are lousy." - Stevie Cohen (2016) The highest Sharpe Ratios - which, for the uninitiated, is a measure of risk-adjusted returns for specific strategies and financial portfolios - now live behind a declining roster of gilded gates. And the impacts of this "privatization of alpha" are enormous for the asset management industry and its stakeholders. Alphacution expects additional consolidation, concentration, re-engineering, disruption, disintermediation, and exits to be on the menu for this group along the road ahead. Here's the setup: Continuing on the overarching and transformational theme for how information technology impacts the constellations of strategies, players and markets in the financial universe, Alphacution has been leveraging its growing model library to focus on the development of a comprehensive asset management ecosystem "map" to demonstrate, along with many other [...]

By | 2018-10-24T23:07:46+00:00 October 17th, 2018|Alphacution Feed|

Does Big #FinTech Innovate? Introducing Alphacution’s #BigFinTech Index

Jensen Huang, CEO, Nvidia: "Software is eating the world, but AI is going to eat software..." One of the most fascinating aspects of innovation is its resistance to scaling. At least this is one observer's interpretation. Those trying to innovate at increasing scale - like, inside a large enterprise - might prefer to describe it as frustrating, to say the least. The rabid interest in startups - small groups of visionaries and entrepreneurs that are able to deliver radical levels of change to the provision of solutions for unmet market needs - is a reaction to this resistance. During the post-global financial crisis (GFC) hangover, it became vogue for large banks to establish externalized "innovation laboratories" to protect relevant and critical innovations from the harsh bureaucracies and incumbent politics inherent to large enterprises. Best case, they keep the proximity of innovation close; worst case, the messaging serves as a marketing tool. Of course, #fintech innovation has been a raging hotbed of innovation for the past few years, and many expect [...]

By | 2018-10-10T23:29:47+00:00 October 10th, 2018|Alphacution Feed|

When #Hedgefunds Ate Their Own

If you have bought into our arguments that the capacity of alpha is finite and that the leading managers of automated trading methods can achieve "winner-take-all" performance characteristics in the sources of alpha that they target, then it stands to reason that the causes for where assets are concentrating and which funds are closing are related. Without even looking at track records, these two facts lead to the conclusion that systematic strategies are more consistent than, and therefore, winning a battle over allocations to traditional, fundamentally-oriented and "manual" strategies in modern markets. Something amazing - and, potentially terrifying - is happening at the crossroad of asset management and global markets. The drumbeat of clues in support of this theme is increasing and those observers with keen insights into market dynamics are beginning to notice. Alphacution has played a small role in giving voice and illustration to this theme by placing a bow around a unique interpretation of unprecedented market phenomena worth paying attention to, most relevantly to this part of [...]

By | 2018-10-10T21:58:56+00:00 October 10th, 2018|Alphacution Feed|