ETF War Games

"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 [...]

By | 2020-09-04T00:53:23-04:00 September 2nd, 2020|Alphacution Feed|

Alphacution Press: Forbes on Robinhood

"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).

By | 2020-09-02T20:37:38-04:00 August 21st, 2020|Press|

Daily Average Fugazi’s: Robinhood Postures for IPO

"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 [...]

By | 2020-08-13T00:19:35-04:00 August 13th, 2020|Alphacution Feed|

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 [...]

By | 2020-08-07T00:38:44-04:00 August 6th, 2020|Alphacution Feed|

Alphacution Joins the eXponential Finance Podcast – S2E1

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...

By | 2020-08-06T16:02:22-04:00 August 5th, 2020|Alphacution Feed|

TD Ameritrade’s Q2 Update: To Infinity or Oblivion?

"Just when I thought I was out, they pull me back in." - Michael Corleone, The Godfather: Part III   Chicken or egg? For today's story, we know which one came first. However, we may never know for sure which one was the more prominent cause of the recent sustained spike in US stock volumes: A frictionless environment brought on by a zero-commission framework or a high-volatility market brought on by a once-in-a-century global pandemic? Granted, there may be additional factors at play here. Like the gamification of market interfaces as substitution for a sports apocalypse. People need something to do. And, when confined for extended periods, they will naturally choose paths of least resistance, especially those that entertain, are addictive and tickle financial desires... This is what one of those paths looks like; notably since March 2020: Now, I made a point last week, in "Robinhood's Trailing Stop Orders: Extreme Profitability, By Design," to say that we would try to avoid seeming redundant in our topical choices, at least [...]

By | 2020-07-23T20:10:01-04:00 July 23rd, 2020|Alphacution Feed|

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 | 2020-07-16T21:46:20-04:00 July 15th, 2020|Alphacution Feed|

From Citadel Securities to Tastyworks: The New Economics of Liquidity, Part 1

"The real voyage of discovery consists, not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes." - Marcel Proust   The data contained in the revised SEC Rule 606 reporting has landed like a transparency bomb for those few of us who try to make sense of complex - and historically opaque - market structure issues; perhaps even more so for those fewer of us that are able to triangulate on the strategic movements of the various players by weaving additional insight from multiple datasets. Add the moves of the largest retail brokerage platforms, in particular, to a zero-commission paradigm off the back of the controversially-successful Robinhood platform, and we have a potent cocktail made of disruption and intrigue. For those of you that have been following along recently, Alphacution has toggled widely between intense fixation on these themes - with our latest Robinhood-related Feed posts, "Phenomenon: On This Score, Robinhood Now Exceeds E*Trade, Others" and "Trick Shot: Robinhood Underwrites MEMX" and our recent contributions to the July 8 New York Times [...]

By | 2020-07-10T00:16:18-04:00 July 9th, 2020|Alphacution Feed|

Alphacution Press: New York Times and Robinhood

"Its users buy and sell the riskiest financial products and do so more frequently than customers at other retail brokerage firms, but their inexperience can lead to staggering losses." - by Nathaniel Popper Alphacution contributes to The New York Times' development of story on Robinhood, "Robinhood Has Lured Young Traders, Sometimes With Devastating Results" (July 8, 2020).

By | 2020-09-02T20:52:19-04:00 July 9th, 2020|Press|

Phenomenon: On This Score, Robinhood Now Exceeds E*Trade, Others

"It is a mistake to look too far ahead. Only one link of the chain of destiny can be handled at a time." - Winston Churchill   The holidays, with all of its gift-giving elves, came early this year with new data; data that I have been crunching non-stop for the past week - and will likely continue to crunch in the week ahead. The exercise has yielded one "I-shit-you-not" revelation after another after another, almost as if such a trove could not exist in the public domain lying around for free. However, rather than fully unwrap any of these gifts right hear and right now (and go through the instructions in detail), I'm just going to set this one down under the tree for the weekend... Until next time...

By | 2020-06-25T23:57:33-04:00 June 25th, 2020|Alphacution Feed|