For Subscribers

Susquehanna Securities and the Hidden Stat Arb Strategy

"The mind is not a vessel to be filled but a fire to be kindled.."Plutarch The comment has been made here before, likely more than once: As we go along the path of our research, our ability to see - to interpret the data, and the shapes that are formed from that data - tends to improve. This is not only true of newer shapes forged from amalgamations of newer data - and additional sources - but of older shapes, as well. Recently, I stumbled over a series of charts first published in July 2019 in the Feed post, "Ranking Strategy Speed for Top Quants, Market Makers," which remains among our more fascinating discoveries. Therein, we compared average stock position sizing for a list of notable trading and hedge fund firms, from Renaissance Technologies (RenTech), D. E. Shaw, and Two Sigma to Jane Street, Hudson River Trading (HRT), and Tower Research Capital (TRC). Citadel Securities and Susquehanna Securities were in the mix, as well. The rankings were roughly delineated between [...]

By |2020-12-03T21:00:23-05:00December 1st, 2020|For Subscribers|

HAP Trading’s Book: Hiding in Plain Sight

"It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is the most adaptable to change, that lives within the means available and works cooperatively against common threats."Charles Darwin Consider that the capital markets are like an evolving ecosystem wherein the players - from market makers to hedge funds to the largest asset managers, among others - are like various species of creature. Depending on environment conditions and levels of adaptability, some species thrive and some don't... On the extinction front, just today Bloomberg reported that York Capital Management's founder, Jamie Dinan, announced that he would be existing the firm's hedge fund strategies thus joining other high-profile hedge fund exits for the year, including John Paulson of Paulson & Co and Louis Bacon of Moore Capital Management and a growing list of legends and luminaries who have already retreated from the hedge fund business. In parallel, this event strengthens Alphacution's core thesis about the finite capacity of alpha, the [...]

By |2020-12-03T20:38:56-05:00November 24th, 2020|For Subscribers|

The Plot Thickens: IEX Intervenes in Citadel Securities v. SEC

"It has long been an axiom of mine that the little things are infinitely the most important."Sherlock Holmes For those of you who prefer the Cumberbatch version of Holmes - or anything else you might want to get off your chest - feel free to take your leave to intervene at feedback@alphacution.com... For the rest of you, this is a quickie to highlight the fact that (on Friday the 13th) IEX has taken its own leave to intervene in Citadel Securities v. SEC in defense of its newly approved discretionary limit order, "D-Limit," which is further based on its crumbling quote indicator (CQI). We had a little more to say in the recent Feed post, "Citadel Securities Picks Fight With SEC Over Crystal Ball," around preserving the value of a peek at the future... The meat of the matter from the court filing - pages 1 thru 9 of 16 - is posted below. We may not know much more until April 2021 when the proposed joint briefing schedule has [...]

By |2020-12-03T21:04:24-05:00November 16th, 2020|For Subscribers|

Pennies and Locomotives: Hypothesis for Virtu’s Next Acquisition

"Words ought to be a little wild, for they are the assault of thoughts on the unthinking."John Maynard Keynes Back in the day, we called it picking up pennies in front of locomotives. Today, that locomotive is one nasty beast... Virtu is having a banner year in 2020, with 9-month net trading income (NTI) at an all-time high of nearly $2 billion. Virtu also appears to be well-positioned to benefit from periods of heightened volatility and volume in its core US cash equity strategy going forward. In other words, there is no specific need for Virtu to do anything dramatic. So, our hypothesis here is this: If there was a dramatic move to be made by Virtu that would cause a material uptick in growth potential, what could it be? Note: If you haven't already done so, our recent Feed post, "Trading Strategy Secrets: Hiding in Plain Sight" is worth reading as a detailed setup for this post... Right out of the gate it needs to be said that we [...]

By |2020-12-03T20:42:28-05:00November 13th, 2020|For Subscribers|

Trading Strategy Secrets: Hiding in Plain Sight

"Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom."Viktor Frankl Alphacution's exploration to tease insight from the available data - to make the data dance - continues to expand. Sometimes this is due to weaving a new and unfamiliar data source. And, sometimes it's due to seeing something entirely new in a familiar dataset. A challenge in the process is the growing sense that we can never quite tell all the fascinating nuggets of the stories we discover. Be that as it may, the fact that data can be electrified to dance about the most consequential and mythological players in the capital markets ecosystem after they have expended so much energy to remain secretive makes this journey that much more thrilling. What follows here is a concentrated example of our expanding capabilities... Today's story takes advantage of Virtu Financial's latest Q3 2020 earnings-related data dump. Virtu is a regular topic on the [...]

By |2020-11-17T18:09:30-05:00November 11th, 2020|For Subscribers|

Summary: 2020 Order Routing Revenue Expected to Exceed $2 Billion

"The opportunities that everyone cannot see are the real opportunities."Jack Ma When counting the top four retail brokerage platforms engaged in payments for order flow - including Robinhood, TD Ameritrade (along with TD Ameritrade Clearing - both of which currently in the process of being acquired by Charles Schwab), E*Trade (now a unit of Morgan Stanley), and Charles Schwab - Alphacution estimates YTD order routing revenue for 2020 thru the third quarter is nearly $1.8 billion. Of these main players, only Robinhood grew its order routing revenue for Q3 to $194.5 billion from $180.3 billion in Q2. Among the other major headlines are these: By wholesale broker, Citadel Securities leads; paying $711.9 million (or, 40.3% of total) for combined stock and option order flow thru Q3 2020;By retail broker, TD Ameritrade (including TD Ameritrade Clearing) leads; receiving $825.2 million (or, 46.7% of total) in combined stock and option order routing revenue thru Q3 2020;By product segment, payments for options order flow led at over $1.0 billion (or, 59,1% of total) [...]

By |2020-11-09T22:23:10-05:00November 9th, 2020|For Subscribers|

Robinhood: Q3 Order Routing Revenue Continues to Break Records

"Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail."Ralph Waldo Emerson The juggernaut that is the Robinhood commission-free trading app has accumulated some dents and bruises over the year, along with a number of truly breathtaking successes. One of the more overexposed stories in a year engorged with superlatives, system outages, a customer suicide and, most recently, the hacking of thousands of accounts has challenged Robinhood's meteoric rise along the way. Together, these headwinds have delayed Alphacution's prediction of the timing of an oncoming IPO. All that said, one aspect of the Robinhood juggernaut - certainly among the more important aspects to its key stakeholders - is persistent growth in order routing revenue; the largest component of total revenue. After two quarters of blockbuster, pandemic-fueled numbers showcasing the inner workings of Robinhood's order flow firehose, the Q3 2020 order routing figures have recently been made public. The headline is that after the second quarter's monstrous $180.3 million in payments for [...]

By |2020-11-02T22:38:42-05:00November 2nd, 2020|For Subscribers|

Citadel Securities Picks Fight With SEC Over Crystal Ball

"If you are not paying for the product, then you are the product."The Social Dilemma In a rare display of miscalculation, Citadel may have overplayed its hand... Here's the setup: According to Bloomberg, "Citadel Securities LLC has sued the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) over the regulator’s approval of an order type introduced by stock-exchange operator IEX Group Inc." Approved by the SEC in August and launched on October 1, IEX's discretionary limit order type - or, "D-Limit" - is essentially a mechanism designed to protect liquidity providers from potential adverse selection by latency arbitrage strategies - otherwise known in less polite company as getting "picked off" on the basis of stale quotes. In a comment letter, dated April 23, 2020, Citadel Securities expresses its objection to IEX's proposal, in part, because it "will broadly and indiscriminately affect myriad liquidity takers, including retail and institutional investors as well as market makers in equities and related asset classes, such as ETFs, options, and futures." (Hold that thought for a minute...) Now, [...]

By |2020-10-28T23:55:05-04:00October 28th, 2020|For Subscribers|

Options Powerhouse IMC Financial Markets: Stung by Pandemic Volatility?

“The best way to differentiate the good from the bad is to look at economic incentives. Companies that sell you a physical product or a subscription are far less likely to abuse your trust than a company with a free product that depends on monopolizing your attention.Robert McNamee, Zucked: Waking Up to the Facebook Catastrophe Amsterdam-based International Marketmakers Combination BV - more commonly known simply as IMC - is one of the most legendary proprietary option trading powerhouses in the world today; one of only three remaining independent prop firms - behind Optiver BV (1986) and Susquehanna International Group, LLP (1987) - founded in the 1980's during an era known for other pioneers like O'Connor & Associates, Hull Trading and Cooper Neff: IMC has a very successful Chicago-based unit representing roughly 40% of global headcount of ~800 known as IMC Chicago, LLC (d/b/a IMC Financial Markets) that was established on April 27, 2000 - originally under the name, Holland Trading House, LLC - to engage in proprietary trading in securities, [...]

By |2020-10-25T23:29:55-04:00October 25th, 2020|For Subscribers|

All About the Flow: Tower Research Capital Launches “SDP Latour”

"If you can't beat them, arrange to have them beaten."George Carlin A silver lining of living in a suspended state of lock down is that there is a lot of good content to fill the daily spaces that need to be filled. And, now that Bluetooth earbuds allow us to basically live with these digital appendages in our ears all the time, I have been devouring an expanding library of podcasts lately. (Participating in some, as well). Of the few market structure-oriented podcasts that are out there, IEX's Boxes and Lines is among my favorites. It's both thought-provoking and the banter of the hosts raises an audible chuckle from time to time... Now, the reason I wanted to take a longer-than-necessary stroll to my point is that today's Boxes and Lines episode just so happened to be entitled, "The State of Displayed Liquidity." It's a topic that's relevant to the story I wanted to tell here because the state of displayed liquidity - which is in decline - provides a [...]

By |2020-10-26T22:38:06-04:00October 23rd, 2020|For Subscribers|