“Entrepreneurship, you will only understand it if you experience it for yourself. It’s not something I can explain in words.” - Masayoshi Son On September 4, the Financial Times was first to report that "SoftBank is the 'Nasdaq Whale' that has bought billions of dollars’ worth of US equity derivatives in a series of trades that stoked the fevered rally in big tech stocks..." Since then, a consistent drumbeat of other articles and podcasts have been published; some of them tying SoftBank in with Robinhood and other retail brokers as leading factors that may explain the (concentrated) run-up in US equities from the March lows to the early September highs. For those of you who don't speak options as a first or second language, the logic of SoftBank's potential impact on cash equity markets based on equity derivatives positions goes like this: Derivative markets are zero sum. For every unit long there is a unit short. Customers, like SoftBank, typically buy options - outright or via spreads - to be [...]
"We don't receive wisdom; we must discover it for ourselves after a journey that no one can take for us." - Marcel Proust With pandemic-era factors being historically and paradoxically hospitable for market volumes and volatility, those players that stand in closest proximity to the sources of listed liquidity have experienced an unexpected windfall so far in 2020. Today, with market making revenue for the past two consecutive quarters at all-time highs and seeming to bend a long-term downward trend in a new upward direction, VIRT stock found its own all-time high... For the remainder of this story, we need to refresh your perspective with a little context: Founded in 2008, Virtu is the youngest of a dozen leading proprietary trading and market making firms in the world: What is most unique about Virtu, however, in the context of this group is that it has grown primarily by acquiring other people's trading strategies - typically by outright acquisition of other companies - from the beginning. By comparison, all the others [...]
"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 Market making in individual stocks has become so competitive that most hyperactive strategies - the ones that reside in Alphacution's structural alpha zone - have turned to increasingly rely on some form of ETF arbitrage. This competitive dynamic is exacerbated by factors such as liquidity fragmentation, liquidity internalization, payments for order flow (PFOF), and the winner-take-all impacts of process automation (aka - scaling via technology). For those proprietary trading firms with few, if any, options positions in their portfolio, cash ETF position concentrations (based on total 13F position counts) are represented as follows: When we isolate the leading order flow wholesalers and consider aggregate cash ETF positions as a percentage of 13F gross value, one of the clues that rises to the surface (in concert with the findings in the prior chart) is the prominence G1 Execution Services (G1X), a [...]
"The perfect stock trading app for the videogame generation was supposed to “democratize finance” with zero-commission trades. But the primary plan was to get rich by selling customer trades to the market’s most notorious operators." - by Forbes Staff Writers Jeff Kauflin, Antoine Gara, and Sergei Klebnikov Alphacution contributes to Forbes development of story on Robinhood, "The Inside Story Of Robinhood’s Billionaire Founders, Option Kid Cowboys And The Wall Street Sharks That Feed On Them" (August 19, 2020).
"New investors are riding the stock market's climb during the coronavirus pandemic." - by Matt Krantz, Personal Finance and Management Editor, IBD Alphacution contributes to Investor's Business Daily's development of story on Robinhood, "Beginning Investors Are Charging Into Stocks; What Could Go Wrong?" (August 14, 2020).
"Name of the game? Move the money from your client's pocket into your pocket. Number one rule of Wall Street: Nobody knows if the stock is going up, down, sideways or in ... circles. It's all a fugazi..." - Mr. Hanna, Wolf of Wall Street On Monday, August 10 at exactly 11am EDT (you know, after the opening bell was safely in the rearview mirror), Robinhood Markets, Inc. - the anti-incumbency insurgent trading app platform and self-proclaimed democratizer of all things financial - set out to dominate the week's financial news cycle by enticing media powerhouse, Bloomberg, to drop a news bomb into an ecosystem already negligently over-stimulated on the topic: "Robinhood Blows Past Rivals in Record Retail Trading Year." One piece of data was exclusively revealed to Bloomberg at the center of this story: 4.31 million daily average revenue trades - commonly known as DARTs (and generally defined as customer orders executed divided by trading days) - were recorded in June with the additional explanation that "the firm is [...]
"The rush of armchair traders investing through Robinhood, an easy-to-use app for trading stocks, may be helping inflate a stock bubble and setting up investors for a potential bust." - by TheHill.com Reporter Niv Elis Alphacution contributes to TheHill.com's development of story on Robinhood, "Are trading apps propping up markets?" (August 6, 2020).
Q2 PFOF Craziness: Robinhood Becomes Parody of E*Trade Commercial, Competes with TikTok for Attention…
"There is no means of avoiding the final collapse of a boom brought about by credit expansion. The alternative is only whether the crisis should come sooner as the result of voluntary abandonment of further credit expansion, or later as a final and total catastrophe of the currency system involved." - Ludwig von Mises, economist Someday, sufficiently far into the future, when we have somehow broken free of the illusion, we are going to look back on this chapter in world history and wonder how we had entered into such a collective state of insanity in parallel with such profound technological advancement... The Fed has all but said that it will prevent markets from declining (and plug whatever economic holes it needs to plug and lubricate whatever financial gears it needs to lubricate), no matter how much money it needs to print, debts and deficits be damned. This is not a characteristic of free markets, nor is it a feature of a capitalist system... And so, as if gleefully hurling [...]
Alphacution Director of Research, Paul Rowady, joins eXponential Finance Podcast host and Tokyo FinTech founder, Norbert Gehrke, for a spirited - if not, highly-caffeinated - and entertaining discussion covering a wide range of Alphacution's most illuminating research themes, from the genesis of its trading and asset management ecosystem map to the concept of alpha capacity to the implications of the current commission-free trading landscape and, of course, the riveting Robinhood phenomenon. Enjoy...
“The Initial Mystery that attends any journey is: how did the traveler reach his starting point in the first place?” - Louise Bogan, poet and author After 40 years, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) announced on July 10, 2020 that it had proposed to amend Form 13F to update the reporting threshold for institutional investment managers and make other targeted changes. The proposal would "raise the reporting threshold to $3.5 billion, reflecting proportionally the same market value of U.S. equities that the current threshold - $100 million - represented in 1975, the time of the statutory directive." Furthermore, the new threshold is expected to "retain disclosure of over 90% of the dollar value of the holdings data currently reported while eliminating the Form 13F filing requirement and its attendant costs for the nearly 90% of filers that are smaller managers." Now, those of you who have been following Alphacution's work know that we have leveraged 13F data in ways that no one else has ever replicated, and therefore, has become a [...]