Case Study: History of Jane Street

"I don't stop when I'm tired, I stop when I'm done." - James Bond Alphacution publishes its 125-page, 149-exhibit, 26,000-word case study, "History of Jane Street," with notable expansions into regional, US option strategy and revenue estimation details. The following is the Opening to that report with Table of Contents, including download of the full Executive Summary. Access to this report is available to Premium Subscribers. Subscription and individual report purchase inquiries can be directed to NOTE: No representative of Alphacution has been in contact with any representative of Jane Street Group, LLC or affiliated entities for the preparation of this report. This report is solely based on the author’s interpretation of Alphacution’s ongoing assembly of raw, open-access data; library of contextualized modeling; and, internally-developed content. This report does not benefit from, nor include, any material non-public information (MNPI). Introduction Volatility... It’s like the highest-octane fuel in the engine of every proprietary trading and market making firm – and it is very difficult to capture, harvest or [...]

By |2020-12-03T21:08:05-05:00May 28th, 2020|Open|

This Fed Put is Out of the Money

Don Dale, Chief Risk Strategist for Equity Risk Control Group, is a guest contributor to the Alphacution Feed.   I am not a funny guy. (Ask my wife...) And yet, occasionally - when I say the quiet part out loud - I manage to get a laugh. My latest bit is an idea about how to "fight the Fed." So, while you may enjoy a chuckle at the thought, here's why I think things might be different this time: The “Fed Put” is a common reference in capital market circles – particularly since the GFC – given their increasingly likely position to backstop some asset classes. Of late, the Fed’s actions were the driving force behind the stabilization of the bond market since the March gyrations; by extension, the equity markets. However, the primary driver for equity market performance within US indices has been the mega cap FAANGM names, given the thematic benefit of social distancing on factors like home delivery, video bingeing and all manner of online interactions. This [...]

By |2020-10-05T15:53:50-04:00May 16th, 2020|Open|

Cheap Volatility: A Lesson In Market Structure Mechanics

"The world breaks everyone, and afterward, some are strong at the broken places." - Ernest Hemingway   Alphacution has always been fascinated by the players. Unlike the world of sport, market players have unique potential to influence the field of play, and thus create a feedback loop that influences other players, and so on causing market ecosystem evolution. In this game, the rulemakers and overseers - the referees - are typically playing catch up... This is not to suggest that markets don't have naturally occurring limits in addition to those that are imposed by referees. They do. There are always capacity constraints, given performance requirements and performance expectations; and so, we are further fascinated by how players navigate - how they survive, thrive and scale (or not) - relative to the inevitability of market limitations, many of which are currently not well understood. Throughout these digital pages, Alphacution has plotted a journey to fill this unmet need for understanding -  presenting the output of our fascinations - the stories of [...]

By |2020-10-05T16:03:25-04:00May 1st, 2020|Open|

Going Hyperbolic: Fed Battles Volatility, Everything Else…

"The struggle itself towards the heights is enough to fill a man's heart. One must imagine Sisyphus happy." - Albert Camus "Captain Jack will get you high tonight And take you to your special island Captain Jack will get you by tonight Just a little push, and you'll be smilin'." - Billy Joel   This one has a long fuse, but you might enjoy the customary overallocation of pictures as we get into it: In a March 22nd note entitled "The Great Leverage Unwind" published by Guggenheim Investments, Global CIO Scott Minerd estimates the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic like this:  "...we would need to see about $4.5 trillion of quantitative easing (QE) before everything was resolved. This is in addition to emergency lending through the discount window, dealer repo operations, central bank liquidity swaps, and the Commercial Paper Funding Facility, Primary Dealer Credit Facility, and Money Market Mutual Fund Liquidity Facility. That would take the Fed’s balance sheet to at least $9 trillion, or about 40 percent of last [...]

By |2020-10-05T21:35:19-04:00April 16th, 2020|Open|

Hacking the Matrix: A New Era in Risk Perception

"Our comforting conviction that the world makes sense rests on a secure foundation: our almost unlimited ability to ignore our ignorance." - Daniel Kahneman Chances are, "global pandemic" wasn't in your bag of quantamental factors; at least not by any name other than slippage.  But now that that cat is out of that bag - and, rightly or wrongly, the wheels of a response strategy have largely been set in motion - the least we should do against a backdrop of historically significant uncertainty (aka - risk) is widen our lens as to the new spectrum of future market contagions that have suddenly become more probable... Of particular note, keep your eye on a little thing that isn't widely discussed in polite society: the Fed's balance sheet. As of April 1, the chart below illustrates over a century of total assets for the US Federal Reserve system - ironically, since around the time of the last global pandemic (in 1918). What you are seeing there at the recent end of [...]

By |2020-10-14T22:20:45-04:00April 8th, 2020|Open|

Marketquake 2020 – Volatility Update

“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 [...]

By |2020-10-14T22:22:00-04:00March 25th, 2020|Open|

Marketquake: The Volatility of Volatility

“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 as [...]

By |2020-10-14T22:24:36-04:00March 19th, 2020|Open|

AQR: The Shape of Strategy (Teaser)

For 12 straight years beginning Q4 2001, AQR Capital Management, LLC (AQR) - one of the great and legendary hedge funds of the current era - grew equity positions until peaking at 2,346 (long equity) positions by Q4 2013. Since that time, AQR's long US equity book has found an ominously consistent plateau of about 2,050 positions. And, in what would normally seem to be a benign factoid, lie the seeds of the story for why AQR has been suffering performance challenges of late - and apparently, for the foreseeable future (according to co-founder, Cliff Asness). Hold that thought. More (very) soon...

By |2020-10-05T21:33:25-04:00February 6th, 2020|Open|

2020 Musings: In For A Penny, In For A Pound

Somebody may beat me, but they are going to have to bleed to do it." - Steve Prefontaine "Study the art of science. Develop your senses - especially learn how to see. Realize that everything connects to everything else.” - Leonardo da Vinci   Renowned columnist and author, Thomas Friedman often talks about unintended and unpredictable outcomes when tinkering with big systems. I am reminded of this thought as I drag myself, kicking and screaming, to write this next post. The source of my reluctance is this: I don't want to be in the prediction business mainly because the timing of the catalyst that dramatically alters the trajectory of prevailing themes is a fools errand. And, because we may be standing at such a consequential point in history that the events that await us along the journey in the months and years ahead are unimaginable. However, I do think it's important to start the year by reflecting out loud about the year ahead while leveraging what we have learned about those themes from [...]

By |2020-10-05T21:32:18-04:00January 8th, 2020|Open|