All entries by this author

Bitcoin and Kin: The View from Europe

Jul 1st, 2015 | Filed under: Asset pricing, Currencies, Derivatives, Today's Post, Virtual currencies

Bitcoin's price charts nowadays seem to have settled into an equilibrium between $240 and $220 per. But ESMA, and the authorities in Sweden, are both paying attention.


Rogue Trader Adoboli’s Return to Freedom: Down Memory Lane

Jun 30th, 2015 | Filed under: Alpha Strategies, Risk management, Today's Post

Perhaps the fate of Kweku Adoboli, whose roguish trading at UBS' expense came to light in September 2011, can serve now in the summer of 2015 as a caution for some in the European elite contemplating the long stand-off between Syriza and the Troika.


Dead Hand Proxy Puts: A Case Study

Jun 29th, 2015 | Filed under: Best Practices, Insolvency, Legislation/Court rulings, Today's Post

The creation of a so-called Dead Hand Proxy Put in the Healthways matter was especially egregious because it took place immediately after the board had agreed, under considerable shareholder pressure, that it would de-stagger its elections. The appearance then was that after giving up one defensive moat, the incumbents with the help of lenders immediately created for themselves another.


European Investor Satisfaction with Smart Beta ETFs

Jun 28th, 2015 | Filed under: Academic Research, Alpha Strategies, CAPM / Alpha Theory, ETFs, Liquid Alts, Risk management, Smart Beta, Today's Post

Two authors at EDHEC remind us that 15% of the assets in any ETF or ETF-like products for European investors were in smart-beta indexed products as of August 2014, and that this amount is growing. They discuss the extent to which investors are pleased with their results.


Fractional Reserve Banking: From First Premises

Jun 24th, 2015 | Filed under: Currencies, Regulatory, Today's Post

Banks are in the liquidity transformation business, and that is a critical role. But the ossification of the institutions that perform that role, by tradition, assumption, and concomitant regulation, is a threat to its success.


Headline Factors and Hedge Fund Success

Jun 23rd, 2015 | Filed under: Indexes, Macroeconomics, Performance, Analytics & Metrics, Today's Post

European mandated hedge funds, benefitting from improved expectations regarding that region, are up 5.54% year to date, says Eurekahedge. Wait: improved expectations? Yes, notwithstanding continued Greek drama.


Vindication for Pirrong and Irwin: Why Are Trafigura’s Profits Up?

Jun 22nd, 2015 | Filed under: Commodities, Derivatives, Indexes, Media Coverage of Hedge Funds, Today's Post

Trafigura has done quite well from the decline in crude oil prices in recent months. So well, in fact, as to throw a harsh light on a story that appeared in The New York Times in December 2013.


Mladina on Peeling the Onion: Looking for Idiosyncratic Skill

Jun 21st, 2015 | Filed under: Currencies, Emerging markets, Indexes, Performance, Analytics & Metrics, Today's Post

Factor models will evolve as researchers untangle what value is to be attributed to what factor. Model selection, then, has to remain flexible to keep pace with such research, and must of course remain useful for the investment decision makers.


Basel: What Does IRRBB Demand from Supervisors or Bank Boards?

Jun 18th, 2015 | Filed under: Regulatory, Today's Post

Central bankers now believe that they have to fix as supervisors what central bankers have wrought as money creators. The gnomes of Basel say that the interest rate risk management regime needs work because central bankers have given the world a prolonged period of exceptionally low interest rates, which has inevitably raised the stakes in this area.


Spoofing: The ‘It’ Enforcement Action

Jun 17th, 2015 | Filed under: Algorithmic and high-frequency trading, Derivatives, Hedge Fund Strategies, Regulatory, Technology, Today's Post

Spoofing is probably about as ubiquitous as texting-while-driving. And it is possible to make an example of a spoofer caught red-handed. But it isn't clear what purpose that will serve. The real problem is that a broken market contains a broken set of incentives.


Who Will Meet Yahoo at the Altar?

Jun 16th, 2015 | Filed under: Alpha Strategies, Intellectual Property, Real Estate, Technology, Today's Post

There was some excitement as recently as January 2015 over renewed talk of a Yahoo/AOL deal, but after the bloom finally came off that rose, YHOO settled into a trading range has been roughly from $42 to $46. Faille guesses that there is an opportunity here on the upside of that range, because another suitor is bound to appear.


Activism: Why the Short-termers Can Be Right

Jun 15th, 2015 | Filed under: Academic Research, Asset pricing, Hedge Fund Strategies, Media Coverage of Hedge Funds, Today's Post

Much of the ubiquitous talk of the short-sightedness of nasty activist investors or traders is simply confused, analytically sloppy. It is a sort of confusion likely to have negative consequences to the extent that investors/traders themselves come to take it seriously.


House of Saud Retains Plenty of Clout

Jun 11th, 2015 | Filed under: Commodities, Macroeconomics, Today's Post

A measured view of the underlying reality of the world market in crude oil suggests that the price may have gone as low as the Saudis want it to go. For traders there may be little if any further gain on the downside.


A Close Look at the Deutsche Bank Findings

Jun 10th, 2015 | Filed under: Asset pricing, Best Practices, Derivatives, Risk management, Today's Post

Judy Collins might suggest looking at risk from ‘both sides now.’ But it appears that according to DB at a critical moment in global financial history, risk existed only to the extent that it worked to enhance the value of DB positions: it didn’t exist in any sense that might have required a haircut.


Java IP War: The Obama Administration Picks the Wrong Side

Jun 8th, 2015 | Filed under: Intellectual Property, Technology, Today's Post

The Solicitor General, speaking for the United States, has filed the expected amicus brief in the Google/Oracle showdown. The SG's position is that the Supreme Court should refuse to hear the case so that the lower courts can get back to using what the brief calls the "flexible fair use doctrine" to do justice.


One Decision, Two Courts, Three Nations, Four Angles

Jun 3rd, 2015 | Filed under: Alpha Hunters, Alpha Seekers, Insolvency, Media Coverage of Hedge Funds, Today's Post

Faille is struck by a brief passage in the recent Nortel decision (the Delaware side of the Delaware/Ontario concord over allocation) that suggests the degree to which the United States dominates the patent-granting as well as the patent-litigating world. Like what the U.K. is for defamation....


Side Letters and the Caymans: The Latest

Jun 2nd, 2015 | Filed under: Alpha Strategies, Hedge Fund Regulation, Insolvency, Legislation/Court rulings, Today's Post

This Lancelot's adventures came to a bad end: defeated by the dragon of insolvency. But its official liquidator did win a victory over an investor seeking special treatment via a side letter.


A New Index: The Eurekahedge 50

Jun 1st, 2015 | Filed under: Alternative Beta & Hedge Fund Replication, Indexes, Liquid Alts, Portable Alpha & Alpha/Beta Separation, Today's Post

It appears likely that the new index, the Eurekahedge 50, as well as the daily tracker index that has been built around it, will have aspirational significance. It is designed to set a bar that will be very difficult for other alpha seekers to clear, yet easy for replicators to follow.


Top Hedge Fund Managers: They Aren’t Wizards, but They Are Masters

May 28th, 2015 | Filed under: Alpha Hunters, Alpha Seekers, Alpha Strategies, Book review, Hedge Fund Industry Trends, Hedge Fund Strategies, Institutional Investing, Real Estate, Today's Post

For Faille, the stand-out essay in this collection of case studies, from CNBC's Maneet Ahuja, concerns Marc Lasry and Sonia Gardner, of the Avenue Capital Group. As Myron Scholes says in his afterword to this volume, Lasry and Gardner take returns from those whose demand for liquidity makes them willing to give them up.


Eurekahedge on Funds of Hedge Funds: A Downward Spiral

May 27th, 2015 | Filed under: Alpha Strategies, Hedge Fund Industry Trends, Hedge Fund Strategies, Investment Management Fees, Today's Post

A new report by Eurekahedge says that the rise of new products such as hedge fund trackers and related developments since the global financial crisis have set the fund of funds world into a downward spiral whence it has yet to recover.


Copper Prices: Why the Downslope?

May 26th, 2015 | Filed under: Commodities, Hard metals, Risk management, Technology, Today's Post

How long will it take before the world again sees copper at around $10,000 a ton, the going price it touched (though briefly) in early 2011? Perhaps several more years and another full business cycle. There may be a lot of down before an upturn gets us there.


What’s in a Copyright? Java API Case Before U.S. Supreme Court

May 25th, 2015 | Filed under: Institutional Investing, Intellectual Property, Technology, Today's Post

High-stakes litigation between Google and Oracle approaches its resolution at the Supreme Court. For seekers of alpha, this isn't just about what investments to make, but about the way one goes about making them, the very mechanics of trading.


Northern Trust on Hedge Funds, Big Data and Transparency

May 20th, 2015 | Filed under: Alpha Hunters, Best Practices, Institutional Investing, Technology, Today's Post

The integration of data isn't fully on the hedge fund industry radar yet. Yet it may be critical to rebuilding manager-investor relations via whiz-bang 21st century technology.


Corporate Governance: Sunday in the Park With George

May 19th, 2015 | Filed under: Academic Research, Best Practices, Emerging markets, Regulatory, Today's Post

The controversy over corporate governance, and whether the changes favored by reformers show up as superior corporate performance (as measured, for example, by Tobin's q) strikes Faille as dangerously abstract. The only way to get to the pointillist painting is by starting with particular data points.


The STOCK Act Was Just For Show: Looking at the Inside of Insider Trading

May 17th, 2015 | Filed under: Hedge Fund Strategies, Legislation/Court rulings, Today's Post

What about the Congressionally employed leaker in a matter that looks like an insider tip to hedge fund traders? Is the SEC even allowed to ask? Shockingly, Congress wants special treatment for itself and its staff.


Banned in China: High Praise for a Statistics Textbook

May 13th, 2015 | Filed under: Currencies, Forex, Macroeconomics, Today's Post

At this moment, when news from China has turned sober and the monetary/fiscal authorities there seem torn by inconsistent goals, a tweet flutter has reminded us of a boring data-analysis text that was nixed by a publishing house in China for reasons of political sensitivity.


What Happens When You Pick A Fight With Activist Hedge Funds

May 12th, 2015 | Filed under: Alpha Strategies, Hedge Fund Strategies, Media Coverage of Hedge Funds, Today's Post

The tear-jerker ending to a famous Broadway musical comes to Faille's mind as he contemplates the latest twist in the struggle over DuPont's board.


AIMA: Debt Funds Filling a Need in Europe, UK and US

May 11th, 2015 | Filed under: Alpha Strategies, Hedge Fund Strategies, Insolvency, Today's Post

A new survey from AIMA seems designed to dispel the idea that alternative finance is a game played somewhere far away from the 'real economy.' The gist of it is that as banks withdraw from lending to that real economy, alternative asset managers, including hedge funds, have stepped in to fill the void.


The Forrest or the HFTrees? ‘Preferred Data Customers’

May 7th, 2015 | Filed under: Algorithmic and high-frequency trading, Hedge Fund Strategies, Legislation/Court rulings, Today's Post

It is of course possible to “question the wisdom of the SEC’s stance on this issue and its fairness to ordinary investors,” said the Judge in the Lanier/HFT decision. But the court isn’t in the business of second guessing the wisdom of regulation. Lanier's claims are dismissed.


Comparing SPM to Elliott: And Other Thoughts on MBS Funds

May 6th, 2015 | Filed under: Alpha Hunters, Alpha Seekers, Derivatives, Risk management, Today's Post

SPM "sticks out in [his] mind" as a successful manager with a "17 year track record" with returns in the mid 20s. "Where else are you going to get that?" Well, there is at least one other place that then comes to Brian Shapiro's thoughts: SPM's return compares to the return available from Elliott.


Bankruptcy Giant Harvey Miller: Rest in Peace

May 5th, 2015 | Filed under: Alpha Strategies, Insolvency, Legislation/Court rulings, Today's Post

One can argue with Harvey Miller, and with his old-school views about bankruptcy law, but now that he can no longer argue back one should show due deference.


Malaysia and the Sukuk World

May 4th, 2015 | Filed under: Emerging markets, Socially responsible investing, Today's Post

Moody’s Investor Services has assigned a provisional A3 rating to a $750 million multi-currency sukuk issuance program established by Telekom Malaysia Berhad. Meanwhile, also in Malaysia....


Study: Corporate/Government Cronyism Does Create Alpha

May 3rd, 2015 | Filed under: Academic Research, CAPM / Alpha Theory, Indexes, Today's Post

A new report finds that firms where current public officials are destined to become employees outperform other private firms by 7.43% per year during the three years before the officials/employees pass from one post to the other. The outperformance is highest in the year immediately before the switch, Justas a cynic looking for corrupt quid pro quos would suspect.


Tavakoli on Death, an Industry’s Culture, and Decisions

Apr 29th, 2015 | Filed under: Best Practices, Book review, Derivatives, Risk management, Today's Post

Bill Broeksmit, with whom Tavakoli worked closely at the interest-rate swaps desk at Merrill Lynch in the late 1980s, killed himself in January 2014. The manner of this death, and the circumstances surrounding it, give this book even more gravitas than would a global financial crisis or two.


Eurekahedge on Asia in March, and on Asia Over the Years

Apr 28th, 2015 | Filed under: Currencies, Emerging markets, Hedge Fund Strategies, Indexes, Performance, Analytics & Metrics, Today's Post

According to Eurekahedge the hedge fund industry globally returned $54.1 billion in performance gains in the first quarter 2015. This is the greatest first-quarter gain since before the global financial crisis.


Griffin, Bernanke, and the Saud family

Apr 27th, 2015 | Filed under: Alpha Hunters, Alpha Strategies, Currencies, Indexes, Macroeconomics, Today's Post

Why has Ken Griffin, the founder of Citadel, hired former Fed Chair Ben Bernanke as a Senior Advisor? This decision represents a surprise given Griffin's views on "quantitative easing," views he forcefully expressed a couple of years ago.


GOOG to Test Buy-on-Antitrust-Charge Theory

Apr 26th, 2015 | Filed under: Alpha Seekers, Legislation/Court rulings, Technology, Today's Post

Look for the EC sometime in the near future to bring a complaint about the contracts into which Google has entered with manufacturers that require them to construct the handsets in a way that favors Google’s famous search engine [over, for example, Microsoft’s Bing.] But consider that even this preliminary skirmish over comparison shopping might be a bullish sign for GOOG.


Authorities Offer Revisionism About Flash Crash

Apr 22nd, 2015 | Filed under: Algorithmic and high-frequency trading, Derivatives, Indexes, Today's Post

Authorities now claim that the shenanigans that set off the flash crash of May 2010 were the work of Navinder Singh Sarao. Does this mean Waddell & Reed were unjustly maligned? Almost certainly.


Aleynikov’s Trial and My Cousin Vinnie

Apr 21st, 2015 | Filed under: Algorithmic and high-frequency trading, Intellectual Property, Legislation/Court rulings, Today's Post

A party seeking to employ an expert witness is supposed to let the other side know who the expert is in advance of trial. Fans of a classic Joe Pesci movie will remember that it isn't necessary to join the prosecutor in a hunting lodge.


Tax & Election Seasons Create Alternative Altercations in the US

Apr 20th, 2015 | Filed under: Legislation/Court rulings, Partner accounting, Real Estate, Today's Post, Venture capital

As a general rule, politicians [mostly] on the Democratic side benefit by raising the issue of the taxation of carried interest during campaigns and then quietly letting it die, as their donors expect, when the legislature is actually working on tax bills. It's a way of signaling who is a "populist" and who isn't.


Larry Fink Thinks ‘The Market Is Wrong’ on Greece

Apr 19th, 2015 | Filed under: Alpha Strategies, Currencies, Today's Post

It is always dangerous to say (of any deep and liquid market) that the market is simply wrong in its valuations. Likewise, if you're sitting at a poker table and you don't know who the sucker is ....


Eurelectric Speaks Up For Grushenka

Apr 16th, 2015 | Filed under: Derivatives, Regulatory, Risk management, Today's Post

Is it possible or desirable to separate "speculation" from operational hedging, so as to clear the way for industries to do the latter without the regulatory burdens that planners want to impose upon the former? Once Europe has decided that speculation is a bad thing, won't it end up pursuing the demon ways that will collapse the proposed distinction?


The Latest News from Italian Banking and the Dane-geld

Apr 15th, 2015 | Filed under: Alpha Strategies, Insolvency, Risk management, Today's Post

Banca Monte dei Paschi di Siena, BMPS, the oldest bank in the world, has now admitted that its exposure to Nomura Holdings has exceeded the 25% cap set by Italy’s regulators. Faille can't think of a good alpha-winning play on this fact, but it does inspire him to re-work a Kipling poem.


They Do It Right Down Under: Australian Institutional Funds

Apr 14th, 2015 | Filed under: Alpha Hunters, Alpha Seekers, Alpha Strategies, CAPM / Alpha Theory, ETFs, Indexes, Institutional Investing, Today's Post

The hapless U.S. mutual funds Chen and Gallagher sample have a nominally positive pre fee alpha only when measured against CAPM. That disappears into the negatives when the baseline used is the Fama-French model, and deeper into the negatives when the momentum factor is added.


When I Learned Truth About RadioShack

Apr 13th, 2015 | Filed under: Hedge Fund Strategies, Insolvency, Technology, Today's Post

IT guys have been denigrating RadioShack, from their own perch of superiority, for a long time. The trouble is, while those IT guys were the future, RadioShack's customer base was fading into the past.


EDHEC: Geography is Not Just a Listing or Headquarters

Apr 12th, 2015 | Filed under: Academic Research, Alpha Strategies, Asset allocation, Asset pricing, Emerging markets, Risk management, Today's Post

Indexes labeled as representing developed market equity include companies with significant and increasing exposure to macro-economic trends in the emerging markets. A portfolio that tracks such an index may well have much more such exposure than its managers or investors had bargained for


Liquidity, Leverage and Those Nimble Hedge Funds

Apr 9th, 2015 | Filed under: Derivatives, Hedge Fund Strategies, Regulatory, Risk management, Today's Post

Basel III has given us three different statistics with a common goal, to keep banks to a stable funding profile, neither too illiquid nor too highly leveraged. As these requirements come on-line, what will be the consequences for the relationship between prime brokers and hedge fund managers?


John H. Makin, Hedge Fund Economist/Principal, Defender of U.S. Fed

Apr 8th, 2015 | Filed under: Academic Research, Alpha Hunters, Currencies, Forex, Today's Post

The impression one gets from some of the recent work of Dr. Makin is of a man who decided, late in life, that currency is a state invention, and that the states deputize their central banks to make sure the rest of us use it properly.


Zulauf Sees Unprecedented Risks: Zhou Fears Deflation

Apr 7th, 2015 | Filed under: Currencies, Emerging markets, Macroeconomics, Today's Post

Felix Zulauf is the principal of Zulauf Asset Management, and a former global strategist for the UBS Group. He said that central banks have intervened on such a large scale of late that they have left "global financial markets ... more distorted than ever before and accordingly the risks are very high."


EDHEC: Smart Beta Indexes May Be On a Launch Pad

Apr 6th, 2015 | Filed under: Academic Research, CAPM / Alpha Theory, ETFs, Risk management, Today's Post

There have been "a considerable number of product launches in the area of smart beta ETFs," but investors are eager for more, perhaps in the hope the developers will get beyond the "few popular strategies" in that area on which they have so far focused. With more variety may come a real take-off.