According to D. E. Shaw, RenTech and Other Legends: Hindsight is Not 2020

"Quality means doing it right when no one is looking."Henry Ford I couldn't find the exact reference, but sometime between about 2010 and 2015 I wrote (for TABB Group) that when the market regime eventually shifted from the core drivers of the long, low volatility period of the post-GFC era, many quant models would become disoriented and their performance would suffer. This is simply because the behavioral cues of the new chapter would not be embedded in the historical market data of the prior period upon which those models had been trained. Well, that scenario finally played out this year... So, instead of following the well-worn tradition of preparing a lengthy "Year in Review" post on market highlights and lowlights as we bring this historically bizarre and disorienting year to a close, I thought to let a series of illustrations from some of the world's most legendary players show you symbols for how their year appears to have gone (through Q3 2020) and, by implication, how broad groupings of strategies [...]

By |2020-12-23T21:35:10-05:00December 22nd, 2020|For Subscribers|

Tom Brady, Louis Bacon and the Game Changers

“From the point of ignition to the final drive, the point of the journey is not to arrive.” - Neil Peart   New clues are emerging on the nature and pace of change... Here's the setup: Unlikely and unexpected virtuosity often serves as the catalyst for a dynastic run of success. Moreover, legend has it, that it's usually the will over and above the skill that fuels the initiation and duration of that run. While skills eventually decay, it's the will to keep finding a way to win - to distinguish oneself or team relative to the competition - that's the defining factor. Of course, whether it be a football field or a market landscape, like a moving sidewalk, everything happens as the ground is constantly shifting below our feet. What happens to Tom Brady next, I'm not here to predict. He is merely a reliable hook to drag your attention to this point in the story because the debate about whether his game has changed to favor running, mobile [...]

By |2020-08-17T07:14:02-04:00January 23rd, 2020|For Subscribers|

Puzzle: Two Sigma and the Sons of D. E. Shaw

"The voyage of discovery is not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes." - Marcel Proust I had hoped to be able to publish the executive summary to our latest case study on Two Sigma this week, however instead, here is one of the more fascinating findings from that research (that we explore in detail in that case study) in the form of a puzzle: In the chart below, Alphacution presents the average stock position by value for the 67-quarter period beginning Q4 2002 and ending Q2 2019 for the four legendary quant managers, Renaissance Technologies, Millennium Management, D. E. Shaw & Co., and Two Sigma Investments. What's fascinating here is how these four leaders, with their core strategies in equities, assembled their portfolios. Four managers with two methods for implementing position sizing; one method based on market capitalization weighting, the other based on liquidity weighting... Which manager is associated with which method? One more thing: If you think this is too deep in the weeds for where [...]

By |2021-02-24T11:19:42-05:00October 31st, 2019|Open|

Riffs Ep 4 – What Do Hedge Fund Managers Spend on Technology?

Set aside some time to watch Alphacution Riffs Ep 4 wherein we walk through the foundational hypothesis; key highlights; an extraordinary case study involving Citadel, Millennium Management, Point72 and Vanguard (teaser); and, the strategy behind the release of our latest - and, most impactful - study to date, "The Context Machine: Estimating Asset Manager Technology Spending" (April 2018). And, for those of you with a slightly longer attention span, stick around for another "public service announcement" at the end of this one (starting around 11:17) - as we did in the Director's Cut for  Ep 3 - Proprietary Trading, Extreme Automation. The urge to provide value to the human capital component (i.e. - you, me, and everyone in our audience and beyond) - which is actually coming to life as a direct result of our technology focus - seems to be gaining momentum... Enjoy... And, as always, if you value this work: Like it, share it, comment on it - or discuss amongst yourselves -  and then send us [...]

By |2020-10-05T21:19:41-04:00April 17th, 2018|Video|

Top Hedge Funds: AUM per Employee = Trading Strategy?

We have been playing with some new equations; looking to see if anything interesting can be learned from benchmarking assets per employee across various firms. (It turns out that adding this analytic to our suite of other "per employee" metrics yields significant insights.) In the figure below, we took the top 10 hedge funds ranked by assets under management (AUM) and then re-ranked that list by AUM per employee. We also tossed in Virtu Financial and KCG (Getco) for giggles - and to test the extremes. Notice anything interesting? Based on what you might know about these trading companies, how would you label the X-axis? Here's some additional data to consider: The correlation between assets and headcount is not perfect by any stretch, but it is signal-worthy. Also, this trick works best on mature, ongoing firms whose operations and business are relatively consistent. Headcount level doesn't seem to matter. Albeit at the extremes of tradings firms, Virtu Financial generated nearly US$800 million in revenue (2015) with 148 employees - so [...]

By |2020-08-17T07:14:10-04:00December 14th, 2016|For Subscribers|