Paul

About Paul Rowady

Paul Rowady is the Director of Research for Alphacution Research Conservatory, a research and strategic advisory platform uniquely focused on modeling and benchmarking the impacts of technology on global financial markets and the businesses of trading, asset management and banking. He is a 30-year veteran of the proprietary, quantitative and derivatives trading arenas. Contact: feedback@alphacution.com; Follow: @alphacution.

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|

Simplex Trading: Against the Odds

“When everything seems to be going against you, remember that the airplane takes off against the wind, not with it.”Henry Ford On occasion, we have framed the world's leading proprietary trading firms with the following graphic: And, as many of you know, this is the terrain upon which we have focused a notable component of our attention to date - and likely where we will place a disproportionate share of our attention going forward. This is partly due to the fact that this group bears out-sized responsibility for a quiet cascade of impacts throughout the global markets ecosystem, and partly because there are so few others that have managed to marry such scale with such creativity. This dynamic is made more notable by the idea that winner-take-all market dynamics that tend to reinforce an "incumbency of incumbents" make such an ascension less likely than the previous unlikeliness from all the yesterdays before... That said, based on our ongoing surveillance of the broader landscape, there are always exceptions. If you watch [...]

By |2020-10-16T23:50:57-04:00October 16th, 2020|For Subscribers|

Alphacution Adopts Subscription Model

“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. Because believing that the dots will connect down the road will give you the confidence to follow your heart even when it leads you off the well worn path; and that will make all the difference.”Steve Jobs It's been a long time coming... And now, after a few years of digging for data, modeling that data, creating pictures of that modeling, publishing snippets of insight around those pictures, growing our network to the point where several thousand of you are regular consumers of our output, and ultimately earning enterprise subscriptions and other engagements from many of the top trading firms in the world and other key ecosystem stakeholders, Alphacution is formally moving to a subscription model. In practice, this means that roughly 50 - 75% of the research content [...]

By |2020-10-18T16:03:56-04:00October 16th, 2020|Open|

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 |2020-10-14T21:34:19-04:00October 9th, 2020|For Subscribers|

Alphacution Joins First Episode of DTCC’s “Advancing Financial Markets. Together.” Podcast

"My wife says, 'If you've got time to lean, you've got time to clean.' So, if I'm exhibiting any sloth-like behavior, she puts a rake or a broom in my hand pretty fast..." - Tim Lind, Managing Director, DTCC Data Services For the first episode in its podcast series, "Advancing Financial Markets. Together." Alphacution's Director of Research, Paul Rowady joins the Depository Trust & Clearing Corporation's (DTCC) Managing Director, Data Services, Tim Lind and Executive Director, Marketing and Communications, Bari Trontz for a spirited and illuminating discussion entitled, "Passive vs. Active Strategies: How Data Can Help Keep Your Investments in Shape."

By |2020-10-09T22:36:48-04:00October 7th, 2020|Podcasts|

Alphacution Press: Wall Street Journal on Susquehanna, ByteDance, TikTok

“No matter the outcome of the struggle between China and the U.S. over video-sharing app TikTok, an unlikely winner will be a secretive trading firm based outside of Philadelphia.” – by Wall Street Journal reporters Rolfe Winkler, Jing Yang and Alexander Osipovich. Alphacution contributes analysis to Wall Street Journal story on legendary option-trading powerhouse, Susquehanna International Group’s ownership interest in ByteDance, the Beijing-based owner of video-sharing social media app, TikTok, “Secretive High-Speed Trading Firm Hits Jackpot With TikTok” (October 1, 2020). Additional related analysis on share of option markets in Alphacution’s Feed post, “Runaway Concentration Risks is US Option Markets.”

By |2020-10-02T16:28:29-04:00October 2nd, 2020|Press|

The Fourth Exchange

“Nothing vast enters the life of mortals without a curse.” – Sophocles With a geyser of attention-snatching news as our normal daily backdrop, one could easily be forgiven for missing a signal from a collection of recent market structure clues. Individually, most of these have been on the radar of those that follow capital markets closely. And then there are others that are much deeper down in the weeds. Taken together, however, they paint of picture of increasing levels of market complexity coupled with increasing dependencies on fewer dominant players. Here’s the evidence: By now, most of you know that the launch of Long-Term Stock Exchange (LTSE), the launch of Members Exchange (MEMX), and the launch of MIAX Pearl equities exchange – all of which going live this month – bring the total number of US equities exchanges to 16. Now, considering that 33 alternative trading systems (ATSs) and at least another 12 internalizing broker-dealers (including wholesale market makers, single dealer platforms (SDPs) and central risk books) executed trades in NMS (national market system) stocks in 2019, US equity market fragmentation continues to [...]

By |2020-10-02T16:22:22-04:00September 29th, 2020|For Subscribers|

Runaway Concentration Risks in US Option Markets

“The future is a choice between utopia and oblivion. Whether it is to be utopia or oblivion will be a touch and go relay race right up to the final moment…” – Buckminster Fuller On September 23rd, the Financial Times reported, “Citigroup halts market making in retail options” in an apparent response to the challenges brought about by the era of zero-commission retail trading; an era that is swiftly nearing its one year anniversary. Among the more notable impacts of this Citi news, the fact that Morgan Stanley now remains as the sole major Wall Street bank still standing as an intermediary for retail option flows ranks high. Truth be told, it ranks second only to a backdrop of creeping concentration as bulge players like Citi and Barclays before them and Goldman before them and others before them – including those that have been winding down their cash equities businesses – have punted on their options businesses because it has become so mind-numbingly complicated and expensive to make money in [...]

By |2020-10-02T16:17:22-04:00September 23rd, 2020|For Subscribers|

SoftBank: Nasdaq Whale Files First 13F Report

“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 long deltas of the underlying security. Market [...]

By |2020-10-05T21:37:00-04:00September 17th, 2020|Open|