Expanding its footprint in US equities, XTX Markets drops its first 605 report for March 2021. Alphacution uses this event to make some comparisons and offer some interpretations about the evolving US equity market structure...
“Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man's character, give him power.”Abraham Lincoln In Part I of our Lessons in Strategy Geometry concept, we performed a comparative analysis between the shapes of 13F position rankings for HRT Financial, LLC (an affiliate of Hudson River Trading, LLC; the subject of our next deep-dive case study which is in the oven and almost fully baked, I promise), Latour Trading, LLC, and TRC Investments, LLC (both of which are affiliates of Tower Research Capital, LLC). In that introductory Feed post, our goal was mainly to point out what amounts to underlying differences in strategy, particularly given how unique the Tower "shapes" appeared to be relative to others we had modeled. We didn't go into to much detail beyond that with the idea that it would be more useful to work through possible insights step by step... So, here's a next step: Founded in 2015, XTX Markets, Ltd is one of a very short list of up-and-coming proprietary [...]
"Nature uses only the longest threads to weave her patterns, so that each small piece of her fabric reveals the organization of the entire tapestry."Richard Feynman As a brief prelude to our upcoming case study on Hudson River Trading (HRT), I wanted to tease with some unusual findings: Alphacution has occasionally toyed with understanding the "shape" made by a simple ranking of 13F positions by value, particularly for a selection of leading market making and other proprietary trading firms; typically those with high 13F position counts. Because of the preponderance of portfolio hedging or just because of high position value concentration in the top positions, the common "L" shape yielded no obvious insight. (As reference, we demonstrated this finding early on (in 2018) in our Feed post, "Goldman Sachs' Book: Hiding in Plain Sight.") However, shifting to a log scale ranking created a more interesting shape even though our analysis remains incomplete and interpretations remain elusive. To date, we know that the slope at the beginning of the curve often [...]
"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 [...]
On November 7, 2019, the U.S. CFTC (Commodity Futures Trading Commission) announced that it was ordering proprietary trading firm, Tower Research Capital, LLC (TRC), to pay $64.7 million in restitution, disgorgement and penalties for what amounts to the "largest total monetary relief ever ordered in a spoofing case." Apparently, this is all due to activity in equity index futures (at least) between March 2012 and December 2013. Now, this is one of those slippery - and potentially toxic - topics where someone ends up getting pissed off by whatever I say next. But, hey, it's Thanksgiving season, the Arctic blast has arrived 3 months early, and someone's likely to get pissed off anyway... Actually, this is a topic I have much to say about, and maybe even more questions than answers. For instance, why is so much of the spoofing / layering litigation on the futures side? (Is there no spoofing in equities? Or, just harder to find?) And, why does it take so long? We're nearly six years past [...]
"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." - Steve Jobs It's truly amazing what we find deep down in the weeds... The solution to any puzzle starts with the pieces that are easiest to fit into place. Translation: Solutions can start most easily where the most granular data is readily available and easiest to interpret. In this case, and though not (yet) flowing smoothly from a firehose, that means regulatory disclosures based on long positions reported by various trading and asset management firms that correspond with the quarterly-updated 13F securities list managed by the Securities and Exchanges Commission (SEC). At Alphacution, the core mission is to solve, and keep re-solving, a very large puzzle made up of many other smaller puzzles which, themselves, may contain even smaller, more detailed puzzles... Think of this like the claim made by the Kirk Lazarus character in the movie, Tropic Thunder - [...]
"Great things are done by a series of small things brought together." - Vincent Van Gogh In late 2001, $1.1 million in member contributed capital is dropped into Northtown Trading, LLC. By 2005, this operation becomes Tradebot Systems, Inc. and the rest has become a notable component of high-frequency trading history - and mythology. In comparison to much of our other modeling, we don't know much about Tradebot. However, given the contextual evidence provided by that other modeling, we can leverage the data we do have on Tradebot much further than we'd otherwise be able to. For the trained eye, the exhibit below - wherein Alphacution presents the total assets and a summation of cash and net receivables found in Form X17A5 for the years beginning 2001 and ending 2018 - shows that this trading operation is mostly holding cash and receivables from brokers. This means that they're position exposure is limited, which further means that they are trading fast enough - and small enough - to be (mostly) flat [...]