Citadel Securities

Outlook 2021: The Drunk-on-Impunity Mania Arrives

"You cannot escape the responsibility of tomorrow by avoiding it today."Abraham Lincoln With protestors storming the U.S. Capital - some of which breaching the outer doors and freely strolling the U.S. Senate floor - as surreal and unprecedented backdrop, I sit down to organize a sketch of Alphacution's outlook for the year ahead, starting with a very wide lens: The U.S. economy - much like the rest of the other "developed world" economies - is naturally weaker than the meticulously curated employment and productivity numbers suggest. Technology adoption (from workflow automation to social media distraction), growing debt burdens, ossified resource allocation practices, cross-region labor arbitrage, deteriorating infrastructure, and other factors all converge to deteriorate "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness" for a growing portion of the population. The COVID pandemic of 2020 - and however long it remains disruptive throughout 2021 as vaccines are being rolled out - acts as an accelerant of many of these factors. Ours is a deteriorating version of capitalism. Symptoms emblematic of the stage [...]

By |2021-01-06T23:36:37-05:00January 6th, 2021|Open|

Alphacution’s Top Stories for 2020

"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 I was going to start out by saying that it's been a pivotal year for Alphacution. Problem is, I said the same things at this time last year. So, I supposed that means it's been a good coupla years. The pandemic, volatility, subsequent lockdown - and some luck in timing - drove a lot of attention towards Alphacution's content in 2020. Clearly, Robinhood and payments for order flow (PFOF) were top themes for the year. Our Feed post on Robinhood and trailing stop orders led the year in page views, and represented like no other before it what it looks like when a story goes viral. Not to be outdone, the timely post on the downfall of Ronin Capital also attracted a ton of attention. In fact, if [...]

By |2021-01-04T15:32:41-05:00December 31st, 2020|Open|

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 |2020-12-11T15:57:24-05:00December 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|

Alphacution Press: Crain’s Chicago Business on the Surge in Option Trading

"Stock options trading has skyrocketed 31 percent this year to an annual record, lifting the fortunes of the firms in Chicago that specialize in them."Crain's Chicago Business reporter, Lynne Marek Alphacution contributes analysis to the Crain's Chicago Business story on how local firms have pocketed profits and expanded operations in a record boom after several tough years in "It's a great time to be an options trader" with mentions of Chicago-based firms, all of which Alphacution has touched upon (or more) here on the Feed, including Citadel Securities, Wolverine Trading, Old Mission Capital, Simplex Investments, Dash Financial Technologies, Chicago Trading Company (CTC) and Akuna Capital. Recent related analysis on option markets in Alphacution Feed posts include: Pennies and Locomotives: Hypothesis for Virtu's Next AcquisitionSummary: 2020 Order Routing Revenue Expected to Exceed $2 BillionOptions Powerhouse IMC Financial Markets: Stung by Pandemic Volatility?Simplex Trading: Against the Odds Runaway Concentration Risks in US Option Markets

By |2020-12-03T21:33:16-05:00November 14th, 2020|Press|

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|

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|

Wholesale Market Makers: Adding Price Improvement to the PFOF Analysis

"The difficulty lies not so much in developing new ideas as in escaping from old ones." John Maynard Keynes Just because the rule requires “market centers that trade National Market System (NMS) securities to make available standardized, monthly reports containing statistical information about covered order executions that are free and readily accessible to the public" does not mean that that information is lounging around under a bank of Klieg lights in an easily consumable format. Like a lot of raw regulatory data, you need to know where to look while simultaneously in possession of a decoder ring... Meanwhile, there is a dramatic falling of US equity market dominoes that began a year ago with an industry-wide move to zero-commission retail brokerage models. This move became exacerbated in March by a convergence of pandemic-related forces that has resulted in a gusher of unprecedented profitability for a short list of leading proprietary trading firms that are otherwise known in the light of day as wholesale market makers. At the intersection where [...]

By |2020-10-27T20:10:25-04:00October 9th, 2020|For Subscribers|