Open

Summary of Robinhood’s Legal Woes

Today - February 26, 2021 - at 12:13pm ET - in what appears to be a well-managed front run of press collaboration, the Wall Street Journal published "Robinhood in Talks to Settle Finra Probes Into Options-Trading Practices, Outages" based on a filing that says the company is also being examined by the SEC, states. Here are the key parts of that filing - and then some...

By |2021-02-27T01:41:49-05:00February 26th, 2021|Open|

GameStop and the New Market Kamikazes

"But how do we know when irrational exuberance has unduly escalated asset values?"Alan Greenspan By now, everyone - and I mean, EVERYONE - knows about how "GameStop (GME), [the] hedge funds’ most-hated stock, was targeted by an army of retail investors who marshaled forces against short sellers in online chat rooms. In the Reddit forum “wallstreetbets” with more than 2 million subscribers, rookie investors encouraged each other to pile into GameStop’s shares and call options, creating massive short squeezes in the stock," according to a synopsis of the saga by CNBC. In short - so we're all on the exact same page - there's been an epic short squeeze off the back of a classic pump-and-dump scheme. Period. But, what makes this particular short squeeze notable in the history of all short squeezes is that it was fueled - and ultimately, turbocharged - by leveraging social media tools, like Reddit and the Robinhood trading app - among other trading platforms like Interactive Brokers (IBKR) and Webull - and has been [...]

By |2021-02-03T12:33:49-05:00January 29th, 2021|Open|

Case Study: The Rise of Hudson River Trading (Executive Summary)

"In playing ball, and in life, a person occasionally gets the opportunity to do something great. When that time comes, only two things matter: being prepared to seize the moment and having the courage to take your best swing."Hank Aaron ** The executive summary for Alphacution case study, "The Rise of Hudson River Trading," is also available for free download (with registration) in our Reports Library ** Introduction As if on cue, and apropos of the times, a tweet by Joe Gawronski, President of Rosenblatt Securities states that December 24, 2020 marked the first time ever that off-exchange trading represented the majority of US equity volume (50.38%): Rewinding from there to a Reuters article dated January 16, 2018 entitled “Hudson River Trading to buy rival HFT firm Sun Trading,” HRT’s co-founder and director, Jason Carroll, said in a statement, “This acquisition combines HRT’s expertise in on-exchange trading with Sun’s expertise in off-exchange trading creating a stronger, more diverse firm.” What happens between these two points in time is no accident. [...]

By |2021-02-11T19:16:45-05:00January 24th, 2021|Open|

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|

#TBM – Yellen and Me: The Catalyst Behind the Rate Decision

In light of current events, we bring this one back from the Alphacution archives. Welcome to - uh - Throwback Monday? < This is a test. This station is conducting a test of the Emergency Broadcast System. This is only a test.> I had been in this room before. It was the early post-Dodd Frank days. Maybe February 2012. I had authored a study on the impacts of new regulations on collateral and initial margin requirements for OTC derivatives (OTCDs). The study had been commissioned and was being promoted by the World Federation of Exchanges (WFE). Largely as a result of my global initial margin estimate of US$ 2 trillion for OTCDs, it had made a big splash. On the back of this, the event invites and media came knocking. My friend, John McPartland – “McP” to those who knew him longer than 15 minutes – invited me to present at a monthly luncheon for Chicago financial muckety-mucks. Now, it was good to be back. For this night’s event - [...]

By |2021-01-04T15:40:48-05:00November 23rd, 2020|Open|

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|

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|

Robinhood’s Trailing Stop Orders: Extreme Profitability, By Design

"They make it so easy." - Richard Dobatse, Robinhood user (via New York Times) "A fool and his money are soon parted." - Thomas Tusser, poet   Imagine if you knew, ahead of time, exactly what bait to use? Not only which bait to attract and influence the behavior of specific customers, but how to package the output of those behaviors - into an additional form of bait - in such a way as to leverage US listed market structure and maximize the probability of financial windfall. If so, chances are, you would share some of the vision that the founders of retail trading app and rising zeitgeist symbol, Robinhood, did circa 2013... Now, the fact that Alphacution has been beating this drum for four weeks in a row (starting here, here and then here) is unintentional and unrehearsed. Certainly, we much prefer that our riffs come with a level of variety - and we will return to that variety shortly. However, as we have been grinding the numbers around order [...]

By |2021-01-04T15:28:30-05:00July 15th, 2020|Open|

Capitalism? Both Automation and Failure Elude Major Banks

"I don't know where I'm going from here, but I promise it won't be boring." - David Bowie For someone who has spent a career scanning the landscape for cataysts - as if in perpetual "sentry mode" - it's damn near impossible to consume the latest news and not become introspective. Perhaps that is merely the occupational disposition of someone who regularly commits thoughts to pixels. It's difficult to conjure up this week's musings on the state of play without a corresponding level of seriousness and mood to risk opening Pandora's Box with a brief flurry of thoughts that are worth writing - and reading. Anyway, here we go: With the scent - and evidence - of economic upheaval in the air, I thought it would be a good time to revisit one of our older themes, the Investment Bank Headcount Index. The last time we touched on this topic was a year ago in, "How Many Heads Does It Take To Run A Bank?" It's never been a wildly [...]

By |2021-02-23T16:44:57-05:00June 4th, 2020|Open|