Both sides of Ken Griffin's trading empire are operating at the pinnacle of performance. This is not a coincidence...
A master class in risk management was performed during the peak of the GameStop meme stock frenzy. The question is: Who performed it?
"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 [...]
"The world breaks everyone, and afterward, some are strong at the broken places." - Ernest Hemingway Alphacution has always been fascinated by the players. Unlike the world of sport, market players have unique potential to influence the field of play, and thus create a feedback loop that influences other players, and so on causing market ecosystem evolution. In this game, the rulemakers and overseers - the referees - are typically playing catch up... This is not to suggest that markets don't have naturally occurring limits in addition to those that are imposed by referees. They do. There are always capacity constraints, given performance requirements and performance expectations; and so, we are further fascinated by how players navigate - how they survive, thrive and scale (or not) - relative to the inevitability of market limitations, many of which are currently not well understood. Throughout these digital pages, Alphacution has plotted a journey to fill this unmet need for understanding - presenting the output of our fascinations - the stories of [...]
Success in any endeavor requires single-minded attention to detail and total concentration." - Willie Sutton, bank robber Alphacution has been writing untold stories about the most secretive, mythological and successful trading firms, hedge funds and asset managers in the history of the global markets ecosystem for the past couple years. What originated as our "Hiding in Plain Sight" series has come to life based on an accidental cocktail of messy data and an experiential overlay made up of a maniacal curiosity for puzzle solving, the joy of storytelling, and a potent dash of personal circumstance. Dozens of these companies have found themselves in our sights, many of them the subject of these Feed posts - some more than once - and, many of them modeled but yet to be written about. And, since there is so much secrecy around proprietary trading strategies - and rightly so - most folks have responded without responding, except for their ongoing readership, and the network effect. Yes, a small minority of our subjects have [...]
"What is to give light must endure burning." - Viktor Frankl “The backbone of surprise is fusing speed with secrecy.” – Carl von Clausewitz UPDATE 11/21/2019 (bottom of post) Why is it coming out now, apparently months after the talks took place, that Blackstone inquired about buying a stake in Citadel? There are a few reasons we can think of for monetizing coveted equity - or, at least showing enough leg to solicit an updated "mark" on the assets - but, the most likely one has been the same for years: Ken wants to become an investment bank. Ok, so what does Citadel need to become an investment bank that it doesn't already have? Well, given leadership - and, occasional dominance - in listed equity-linked markets by Citadel, the next beachhead for investment banks-in-training is fixed income. And, Citadel-like prowess in fixed income may require lots of technology and smart folk, but the one thing it definitely needs is balance sheet. The next question, then, is: Do you build [...]
"Capitalism has defeated communism. It is now well on its way to defeating democracy." - former HBS professor, David Korten “The most important question facing humanity is this: Can we reach global empathy in time to avoid the collapse of civilization and save the Earth?” - Jeremy Rifkin, principal architect, "The Third Industrial Revolution "...Bizarre..." and "...inscrutable..." is how one notable content aggregation platform has recently described Alphacution's work (after we maxed out their popularity scores with the articles in question - and while being the youngest research and advisory group to be competing for attention with the likes of the Wall Street Journal, Bloomberg News and the Financial Times, among many others). On that score, I'd say we're punching well above our weight class. But, with this - uh - compliment, it seems like as good a time as any to pause for a minute and perform a few extra Mark 'The Bird' Fidrych moves on the mound before making the pitch for today's (1st Mad Lib here) [...]
"What is to give light must endure burning." - Viktor Frankl “The backbone of surprise is fusing speed with secrecy.” – Carl von Clausewitz Why is it coming out now, apparently months after the talks took place, that Blackstone inquired about buying a stake in Citadel? There are a few reasons we can think of for monetizing coveted equity - or, at least showing enough leg to solicit an updated "mark" on the assets - but, the most likely one has been the same for years: Ken wants to become an investment bank. Ok, so what does Citadel need to become an investment bank that it doesn't already have? Well, given leadership - and, occasional dominance - in listed equity-linked markets by Citadel, the next beachhead for investment banks-in-training is fixed income. And, Citadel-like prowess in fixed income may require lots of technology and smart folk, but the one thing it definitely needs is balance sheet. The next question, then, is: Do you build a balance sheet or buy a [...]
As excerpted from the case study, Deconstructing Citadel Securities Alphacution believes that Citadel’s core competitive advantage – its secret sauce – can be found on display every day, out in the open, and is not related to a specific product, asset class, region or even a specific trading strategy or temporal wave of theoretical alpha. No, the thing that makes Citadel so unique is its focus on process. You just need to know what to watch for. Everything this company does has first been disassembled and deconstructed down to its smallest, atomic parts and then reassembled with a maniacal sensitivity to details, best-practices and processing – whether that be a decision-making process or a data management process or a strategy launch process. In all activities front-to-back, this team seeks opportunities for efficiency and to catalog incremental intelligence at every step. And though the company has developed a stellar reputation for the application of technology to its workflows, it is only by virtue of the additional ingredients of culture and excellence [...]
"The real voyage of discovery consists, not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes." - Marcel Proust (1923) “Develop your senses — especially learn how to see. Realize that everything connects to everything else.” — Leonardo Da Vinci (~1500) If you - like the precious thousands of other professionals, mostly notably from the high-performance end of the global trading spectrum, who will venture this way - have come this far in search of Alphacution's unique brand of irreverent spin on Virtu's 3rd quarter earnings announcement, then you are about to miss most of the intelligence that is on offer from the growing portfolio of evidence that we are assembling here. Yes, our modeling and charting and narratives surrounding this latest catalyst from Virtu - along with its and others' exploits in this rare corner of the financial world - can be found here and throughout our Feed. But, for those who choose to stretch their go-to frame of perspective, there is much more going on here than initially meets the eye... What is actually going on [...]