All entries by this author

Prize to Sannikov: Scholar of Friction and Moral Hazard

Jan 26th, 2015 | Filed under: Academic Research, Alpha Hunters, Alpha Strategies, Today's Post

In a fascinating review article, Sannikov and his co-authors distinguished among the sorts of liquidity, and thus identified the precise sort of liquidity mismatch likely to lead to market shocks. In a working paper last year, Sannikov took on the issue of executive pay, incentives, and claw-backs.


Competing Bankruptcy Filings for Caesar’s: Third-Party Releases

Jan 25th, 2015 | Filed under: Insolvency, Legislation/Court rulings, Private Equity, Today's Post

A legal donnybrook has begun for control of Caesar's assets. An important side issue involves bankruptcy court treatment of non-debtors seeking release from alleged liabilities of their own, and a split amongst the appeals court circuits over such treatment.


Low Energy Prices: Crude and Refined Consequences

Jan 21st, 2015 | Filed under: Currencies, Hedge Fund Industry Trends, Hedge Fund Strategies, Indexes, Today's Post

Eurekahedge tells us that hedge funds were in the black 4.57% in 2014. That's hardly cause for celebration, since the MSCI World Index returned 6.79% over the same year. But all eyes now turn to the still-sliding price of oil.


Explaining Why the Portfolio-Barbell Works

Jan 20th, 2015 | Filed under: Academic Research, Emerging markets, Liability Driven Investing, Risk management, Today's Post

Most efforts to introduce "entropy" into finance have seen it as a quantity to be minimized. A new paper, which begins as an effort to explain barbell portfolios, uses entropy in a different manner. Unfortunately, it doesn't really end up clarifying those barbells.


ECB Beats SNB in race for the Bottom

Jan 19th, 2015 | Filed under: Algorithmic and high-frequency trading, Commodities, Currencies, Today's Post

An SNB announcement caused wild market moves Jan. 15th, not only in Forex but in commodity and equity prices as well. In the wake of the commotion, one key question has to be: why the announcement? Why this sudden change in the policy of Switzerland's central bankers?


If You’re So Smart, Why Aren’t You Rich?

Jan 14th, 2015 | Filed under: Academic Research, Algorithmic and high-frequency trading, CAPM / Alpha Theory, Today's Post

A new paper by a senior market economist at BNP Paribas celebrates the invention of Learning Vector Quantization (LVQ), a machine-learning algorithm that could enable some smart economists to get very rich indeed.


Let’s Hope Nothing Comes of Sprecher’s Grand Bargain

Jan 13th, 2015 | Filed under: Algorithmic and high-frequency trading, Regulatory, Technology, Today's Post

Sprecher proposes that the exchanges and the investment banks enter into a deal, and that regulators confirm it by various tweaks in the NMS. The whole dynamic that the "grand bargain" represents is a disturing one, old-fashioned smoke-filled-room cronyism.


The State of Alternative Currencies: Tokyo Police and Future Retailers

Jan 12th, 2015 | Filed under: Currencies, Digital currencies, Today's Post

The publisher of Laissez-Faire Books has made some news in the alternative-currency world, declaring that there is a “silver lining” to the various scams associated with such currencies, because cons tend to develop around industries with a bright future. That sounds like a bit of a stretch.


Low-Vol Anomaly Provokes Reflections on an Old Adage

Jan 11th, 2015 | Filed under: CAPM / Alpha Theory, Indexes, Risk management, Today's Post

A new paper by Eric Falkenstein discusses an old question: the reason for the high risk-adjusted return in low-risk equities, and the adjustments it requires in CAPM. This is no fleeting oddity, but a lasting characteristic of markets. In econo-speak, not only the existence but the persistence of the anomaly requires explanation.


New Greek Political Crisis Looks Like the Old Greek Crises

Jan 7th, 2015 | Filed under: Alpha Strategies, Currencies, Indexes, Today's Post

The newly called snap elections in Greece will serve as a contest between pro-austerity and anti-austerity forces. Anti-austerity means abandoning the bail-out deal, and that position now seems the likely victor.


Thoughts on Futurology and its Perils

Jan 6th, 2015 | Filed under: Algorithmic and high-frequency trading, Hedge Fund Strategies, Technology, Today's Post

The Permal Group takes a refreshingly modest view of the eventual impact of Big Data on the business model of hedge fund managers. The better the data about a corporation, the more accurate the stress testing. Yes, that seems reasonable.


Top 5 Alpha Stories of 2014

Dec 30th, 2014 | Filed under: Alpha Hunters, Commodities, Emerging markets, Today's Post

In the middle of the year now ending, the U.S. Supreme Court delivered as complete a victory as it could manage to the hold-out bondholders in the Argentine-default dispute. Enforcement efforts plod on, and it seems likely a related story could make our top five list next year, too.


The SEC Takes a Limited View of Janus’ Limited View

Dec 29th, 2014 | Filed under: Derivatives, Legislation/Court rulings, Regulatory, Today's Post

A December 15 opinion by the SEC limits the significance of a Supreme Court decision of three years ago, and so at least pending appeal it broadens the applicability of the basic anti-fraud rule 10b-5 to the employees of an investment adviser.


The Magnetism of Insider Trading: Part Two

Dec 28th, 2014 | Filed under: Alpha Hunters, Hedge Fund Strategies, Legislation/Court rulings, Today's Post

In Part One Faille discussed the Newman/Chiasson decision of a three-judge panel of the appeals court. In this follow-up, he discussed consequences, starting (but not ending) with the good news this offers Michael Steinberg.


Yes, Speech is Free for Short Sellers, Too

Dec 23rd, 2014 | Filed under: Hedge Fund Strategies, Legislation/Court rulings, Media Coverage of Hedge Funds, Today's Post

The success of Wynn's lawsuit would have chilled free speech by short sellers. So let us take a moment to celebrate its quick demise at the hands of Judge Orrick. As a general rule, though, when a plaintiff quotes an expression from a transcript that, in fact, is immediately preceded by the word "not," and the plaintiff leaves the "not" out of the quote ... things are knotty.


Money Markets: The Cure to What Ails the Sukuk Space

Dec 22nd, 2014 | Filed under: Behavioral finance, Best Practices, Emerging markets, Today's Post

Two World Bank economists review the impediments that face the growth of the sukuk market, impediments often inherent in the theological precepts that gave rise to it. Part of the solution: well-functioning money markets as a context for sukuk issuance.


Longevity Risk: Wary of Your 2015, and of Somebody Else’s Life Span?

Dec 21st, 2014 | Filed under: Institutional Investing, Liability Driven Investing, Risk management, Socially responsible investing, Today's Post

The new survey from Natixis tells us that a lot of asset-managing institutions think their industry as a whole has been quite slow about moving in the direction of liability-driven investment strategies. Also, more than half believe traditional assets are too correlated to provide them with the diversification they need.


The Magnetism of Insider Trading: Part One

Dec 16th, 2014 | Filed under: Alpha Hunters, Hedge Fund Strategies, Legislation/Court rulings, Today's Post

A three-judge panel of the appeals court instructed the district court to "dismiss the indictment with prejudice as it pertains to Newman and Chiasson." Here we discuss why. in the second part, we'll discuss the likely consequences.


Plans for a Nickel-Tick Pilot: Trouble in the Details

Dec 15th, 2014 | Filed under: Algorithmic and high-frequency trading, Regulatory, Technology, Today's Post

Observers of the slow slog toward an empirical test of larger tick sizes have raised concerns about the details of the three-track plan under consideration. In particular, there's an order-protection feature for one of the three "tracks" that has raised the hackles of Larry Tabb and the STA


Qatar and the QIA: When the SWF Is Also a Family Office

Dec 10th, 2014 | Filed under: Commodities, Institutional Investing, Technology, Today's Post

The royal family in Qatar, the House of Thani, just took direct control of the emirate's sovereign wealth fund. Also, that fund just invested big in Uber, confirming its reputation as perhaps the worlds most aggressive deal-hunting institution.


Aligning Interests: Side Pockets, Side Letters, and Central Issues

Dec 9th, 2014 | Filed under: Asset pricing, Best Practices, Hedge Fund Industry Trends, Investment Management Fees, Today's Post

A proposed new set of principles, designed to encourage investors in the alt-investment industry in their discussions with their managements, encourages skepticism both about side-pocketed assets and about other investors' sweetheart deals (i.e. "side letters.")


Don’t Blame the Swiss: Results Discounted Days Before Vote

Dec 8th, 2014 | Filed under: Commodities, Currencies, Forex, Gold, Hard metals, Today's Post

The price of gold took a swan dive as November ended, just as Swiss voters formally nixed an initiative that would have required the central bank to buy a lot of the stuff. Faille argues that this is not a matter of cause and effect. It is, on the other hand, a fascinating case study in the discounting machinery that is a market.


The Best Offense is a Good Defense: Profiting from Hedging

Dec 3rd, 2014 | Filed under: Asset allocation, CAPM / Alpha Theory, Performance, Analytics & Metrics, Risk management, Today's Post

A regime switching model may treat a high-volatility environment as one “regime,” and a low-vol environment as its successor regime. The idea, as it applies to risk management, then, is simply to be ready in either setting for the switch to the other. This is both playing defense and playing offense. It is both managing risk and pursuing alpha.


Wars and Failed Mergers Make for a Tricky October

Dec 1st, 2014 | Filed under: Emerging markets, Performance, Analytics & Metrics, Risk management, Today's Post

Only two hedge fund strategies performed in the positive numbers in October, the rest were all in the red. Managed futures did best, according to the Eurekahedge numbers, benefitting from their short positions on oil prices.


The Top 0.004%: The Wealth-X Report

Nov 24th, 2014 | Filed under: High-net-worth investors, Indexes, Timely Research, Today's Post

A report focuses on the life and spending habits of the 211,275 wealthiest individuals on the planet, and their network of family and friends.


Capital Markets, Derivatives and the Law

Nov 23rd, 2014 | Filed under: Book review, Derivatives, Legislation/Court rulings, Today's Post

Alan Rechtschaffen quotes two definitions of "moral hazard" in this book. The first, from Ben Bernanke, seems to get the book off to a rather awkward start. The second, from Zachary Gubler much later on, represents something of a recovery.


Mergers in Theory and Practice: Synchronicity and Synergy

Nov 19th, 2014 | Filed under: Alpha Hunters, Alpha Strategies, Today's Post

According to a new report from Intralinks and Cass Business School, M&A activity is a critical component in how successful companies innovate and enhance shareholder value. Actavis' latest coup, rescuing Allergan from the clutches of Valeant and Pershing Square, may make the report's authors' point more vividly than their dry numbers can.


Big Data and Other Trends to Influence Hedge Funds in 2015

Nov 17th, 2014 | Filed under: Conference report, Hedge Fund Industry Trends, Technology, Today's Post

Big Data makes possible new ranges of inferences, and gives value to new skill sets. There will continue to be plenty of roles for human beings in recognizing the shadows cast by the intense light emitted by new technologies.


Extra! Extra! Central Banking the Disease It Affects to Cure

Nov 16th, 2014 | Filed under: Currencies, Forex, Today's Post

The release of Lord Grabiner's report provides evidence going well beyond the conclusions that Grabiner himself is willing to draw, and shows a central bank acting as a wink-and-nod clearing house.


Bitcoin: Three Bits of News on a Microcosm

Nov 13th, 2014 | Filed under: AAA Newsreels, Currencies, Technology, Today's Post, Virtual currencies

A bitcoin-mining fire, a survey of small and medium businesses and their levels of preparedness for bitcoin customers, and a new criminal accusation against an alleged ponzi scheme: all conribute to the sense that bitcoin is a microcosm of the whole financial world, good and bad.


Judge David Carter’s Valeant Decision: A Close Reading

Nov 11th, 2014 | Filed under: Alpha Strategies, Hedge Fund Strategies, Legislation/Court rulings, Today's Post

Carter's decision allows Pershing Square to vote its equity in Allergan in ways favorable to Valeant's planned purchase thereof. More is going on here than just another incident in the consolidation of the biopharm world.


Stop Draghi[ng] My Heart Around

Nov 9th, 2014 | Filed under: Behavioral finance, Currencies, Today's Post

Draghi and Yellen seem to be headed in opposite directions. One is revving up the money-creation engine, the other is 'tapering.' So why is Yellen so publicly supportive of Draghi? And what happened to the rebellion within the ECB?


The Building of an Infrastructure for Renewables: A Report

Nov 5th, 2014 | Filed under: Alternative energy, Alternative energy investing, Commodities, Infrastructure, Private Equity, Socially responsible investing, Today's Post

In 2012, [as the crude oil price was settling in to $110 and low vol,] the renewables’ infrastructure space for private funds reached an aggregate estimated deal value of $132 billion. In 2013, that fell to $95 billion. It now seems unlikely that 2014 will match last year.


GFIA Hedge Fund Manager Review: The End of an Era

Nov 3rd, 2014 | Filed under: Alpha Strategies, Emerging markets, Performance, Analytics & Metrics, Timely Research, Today's Post

In what will be its last regular monthly report on such matters, GFIA tells us that a sharp correction hit markets in Asia ex Japan in September, and tells us of some of the funds that defied the outgoing tide.


The Undead Enron Model Returns to the World above Ground

Nov 2nd, 2014 | Filed under: Commodities, Energy, Legislation/Court rulings, Regulatory, Today's Post

Enron was once the leader in a category of merchant traders that mediated in the world of energy commodities. Enron died, and banks largely took it over. Yet in spirit, at least, Enron is back.


Thoughts about Latest Insider-Trading Scandal

Oct 30th, 2014 | Filed under: Media Coverage of Hedge Funds, Today's Post

The story on the front page of The Wall Street Journal, about the Dendreon/Provenge investigations, focuses on trading in Dendreon stock over a three week period, beginning with the date of an e-mail sent out on June 7th, 2010.


Central Clearing and the Bank of England

Oct 29th, 2014 | Filed under: Commodities, Risk management, Today's Post

A Bank of England paper discuses the "cover 2" standard for the adequacy of the default funds of central clearing houses, an issue of increasing importance as the push to centrally-clear everything picks up steam. One question it raises somewhat incidentally is the proper pronunciation of the acronym SLOIM, for "stressed losses over initial margins."


Hedge vs. Mutual Funds and the ‘Timing of Information Acquisition’

Oct 28th, 2014 | Filed under: Academic Research, Behavioral finance, CAPM / Alpha Theory, Today's Post

A new paper by a scholar at the McCombs School of Business looks at what causes what on Wall Street, starting with how (if at all) analyst downgrades cause price declines.


Microfinance and Its Critics: An Update

Oct 27th, 2014 | Filed under: Alpha Hunters, Microfinance, Socially responsible investing, Today's Post

The convergence of a central banker and micro financiers at a recent ceremony in Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea inspires a look at where the MFI industry stands, and where it is headed.


Two Types of Secrecy: Proprietary Trading Data and the Doomsday Book

Oct 26th, 2014 | Filed under: Legislation/Court rulings, Today's Post

Christopher Faille offers some personal thoughts about the Starr International/AIG litigation, and about the hush-hush Federal Reserve Doomsday Book. This leads to the deeper question of the openness of the U.S. as a society.


Hedge Funds and Position Crowding

Oct 23rd, 2014 | Filed under: Hedge Fund Strategies, Performance, Analytics & Metrics, Today's Post

Move over! It's crowded in here. What happens when hedge funds crowd a trade? Guest columnist Andrew Beer looks at hedge fund performance and the crowded trade.


November Vote: Do the Swiss Believe in Gold?

Oct 22nd, 2014 | Filed under: Currencies, Gold, Hard metals, Today's Post

The Swiss National Bank and the government oppose a pending referendum that would drastically change the country's policy on gold. But of course the anti-establishment nature of the petition is the whole point.


Hedge Funds: Good Run for India, but Troubles in Brazil

Oct 21st, 2014 | Filed under: Emerging markets, Indexes, Performance, Analytics & Metrics, Today's Post

India accounts for much of the positive showing of Asia ex-Japan in the hedge fund world YTD. That positive showing, in turn, may be attracting asset flow.


Detroit Bankruptcy: Foes Become Allies

Oct 20th, 2014 | Filed under: Insolvency, Today's Post

The legal environment in The United States remains averse to the sort of bold-faced repudiation of debt that Detroit attempted in the matter of its so-called Certificates of Participation (COP). Fortunately on several fronts, Detroit has decided to repudiate the repudiation.


Liquidity Makers and Takers: A Nobel Prize

Oct 19th, 2014 | Filed under: Academic Research, Retail Investing, Today's Post

The latest Economics Award has drawn the attention of the world briefly to a body of work that has a number of points of interest for the alt-investment community.


The Bubble This Time: Oil & Gas Energy Stocks?

Oct 15th, 2014 | Filed under: Commodities, Energy, Indexes, Today's Post

If we look for the recent peak in Dow Jones U.S. oil & gas stocks we’ll look to the start of the summer. In June of this year the energy sector got above $850. The fall from that height puts the size of our correction in the neighborhood of 16%. It is possible these stocks are leading the rest of the market down.


A Merchant/Academic’s Thoughts about Customizing Risk Models

Oct 14th, 2014 | Filed under: Risk management, Timely Research, Today's Post

When should customized risk models win out over the standard sort? According to two authors of a new report, there are seven factors, starting with the time horizon.


Untangling the web of HFT

Oct 13th, 2014 | Filed under: Algorithmic and high-frequency trading, Regulatory, Technology, Today's Post

What is the real issue behind intermarket sweep orders, and the recent dust-up over an NYSE rules change? Faille answers: Privilege.


GFIA Ruminates on Academia and Practice

Oct 9th, 2014 | Filed under: Alpha Strategies, Emerging markets, Hedge Fund Strategies, Today's Post

GFIA shares some ruminations about the relationship between the abundant academic work on alternative investment and the insights of practitioners. Meanwhile, the Bank of Japan seems to be engaged in some ruminations of its own, and practitioners have to await the results.