All entries by this author

Pragmatic Foundations for an Austrian Home

Apr 20th, 2014 | Filed under: Academic Research, Today's Post

Christopher Faille makes it clear that he has no Keynesian sympathies. In his humble opinion, the Austrians are in general right on the economics, though they could use some empirical/pragmatic assistance on the matter of epistemology.


A Finalized Basel Rule: News and Views

Apr 16th, 2014 | Filed under: Behavioral finance, Derivatives, Risk management, Today's Post

But Basel is still part of the multinational push to fit the peg of credit derivatives into the square hole of standardized contracts and central clearing. Is the peg going to fit?


The Illusion of Conscious Investing Decisions

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

Consciousness did evolve. Why? I submit that there is no good answer to this question unless consciousness makes a difference to behavior. Trading and investing must be included as "behaviors" in that generalization.


Beware the Hedge Fund Indices of March, Caesar

Apr 14th, 2014 | Filed under: Hedge Fund Industry Trends, Hedge Fund Strategies, Performance, Analytics & Metrics, Today's Post

Japan-focused funds had three consecutive months of negative returns this quarter. These numbers look particularly jarring in contrast to the 2013 returns, from back in the days when Abenomics was being hailed as a success.


Science, Scientism and Economics: Some Timely Thoughts

Apr 9th, 2014 | Filed under: Academic Research, Today's Post

If you wish, you can take the idea that humans are purposive as a very broad empirical generalization. Or you can take it in various other ways. What matters is that it certainly isn’t as specific or historical as the kind of fact-gathering that the historicists of yore had in mind. And that continues to serve as a sore point in discussions within and about Austrian economics.


Thoughts on Lewis and Flash Boys

Apr 8th, 2014 | Filed under: Algorithmic and high-frequency trading, Media Coverage of Hedge Funds, Today's Post

Michael Lewis portrays Aleynikov, the Russian born coder convicted of two counts of theft in 2010 and imprisoned, then released by decision of an appeals court two years later, as a central figure in this dramatic tale about high-frequency trading. Aleynikov is not one of the bad guys, as such: but he is a self-blinkered tool of the bad guys. Some sympathy is extended: not much.


IP Rights in Software: From Settlement Risk to Data Compression

Apr 7th, 2014 | Filed under: Algorithmic and high-frequency trading, Alpha Hunters, Legislation/Court rulings, Risk management, Technology, Today's Post

The patent dispute at issue before the Supreme Court March 31st involved a computerized escrow system that serves as a third party to a deal, eliminating settlement risk. A business-method patent, in short: nothing at all to do with speed of execution, or data compression, or other such trading-infrastructure-related feats.


Bitcoin: Regulation, Taxation, and Optimism

Apr 3rd, 2014 | Filed under: Currencies, Technology, Today's Post

One informed observer suggests that bitcoin could become a permanent, mainstream, and regulated fixture in the world precisely by maturing past the dreams of its founders and enthusiasts.


The Yin and Yang of Executive Compensation

Apr 1st, 2014 | Filed under: Alpha Strategies, Best Practices, Regulatory, Today's Post

The lesson for investors in the new Wachtell Lipton document may simply be that a corporation that is careless about compensation at the highest level, that cannot carefully document the reasons for payouts, is asking for trouble and that one must consider whether the market has fully discounted the trouble.


Quantifying Alpha for Private Equity: Four Approaches

Mar 30th, 2014 | Filed under: Alpha Strategies, CAPM / Alpha Theory, Private Equity, Today's Post, Venture capital

I admire a new "direct alpha" approach to measuring the success of PE portfolios. So will anyone who has had to tell a friend or loved one, "just come out and ask me please!"


European ETFs: Innovations the Key to Growth

Mar 27th, 2014 | Filed under: Academic Research, Alpha Strategies, Alternative Beta & Hedge Fund Replication, ETFs, Infrastructure, Today's Post

The way to keep growing is to keep changing. For the European ETF market, that means product innovation, from infrastructure funds to smart beta.


The New Republic Attempts Revisionism: Misses the Point

Mar 26th, 2014 | Filed under: Currencies, Hard metals, Today's Post

Yes, an article in a recent issue of The New Republic, by Dean Starkman, is right to dismiss certain simplistic views of the crisis of 2007-08 as offensive. But what is Starkman's alternative? In providing that, he gets simplistic himself, even complacent.


Investment Views on Emerging Markets Exposure Brighten

Mar 24th, 2014 | Filed under: Emerging markets, Hedge Fund Industry Trends, Hedge Fund Strategies, Performance, Analytics & Metrics, Today's Post

Have the emerging market assets and the funds focused thereon warranted this return of confidence by their recent returns? The answer to this question can't be any more emphatic than, "yes, somewhat."


The Market’s Early Experience with SEFs

Mar 23rd, 2014 | Filed under: Derivatives, Regulatory, Today's Post

After a lengthy CFTC deliberation and some controversy, the SEF system, with a "made available to trade" component, has gotten itself up and running. Some early observations from Celent.


Who left the wrench in the markets engine? Maybe the SEC…

Mar 20th, 2014 | Filed under: Algorithmic and high-frequency trading, Regulatory, Technology, Today's Post

There is an arm's race aspect to the trend toward ever-higher speeds in trading, and this has created a "latency risk" in the markets that has an adverse impact on liquidity, a new study shows. This feeds into some ongoing arguments.


The Luxury Industry by Continent and Product

Mar 18th, 2014 | Filed under: High-net-worth investors, Indexes, Timely Research, Today's Post

Big Items" luxury is the subsector of the luxury industry that involves the marketing and sale of yachts and private jets. A full 87% of the respondents from that subsector expect growth in revenue this quarter.


Global Warming and Human Ingenuity

Mar 17th, 2014 | Filed under: Book review, Infrastructure, Risk management, Today's Post

Early on in this book the author mentions that Deutsche Bank has made a small play in Royal Boskalis, a Dutch dredging and infrastructure company, one which may be in a position to capitalize on rising sea levels by building the sea walls this will require.


Can We Agree to Stop Calling It the ‘Tobin tax’?

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

Arjuna Sittampalam, editor of Investment Management Review and a Research Associate with EDHEC-Risk Institute, cautions the asset management industry in Europe that even if the idea of a continent-wide FTT is defeated, it may encounter a "worse development."


Newsweek: Is This Nakamoto the Nakamoto?

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

The dust-up over Newsweek's recent article on bitcoin's real or alleged founder is great fun, and will do bitcoin itself no harm.


The Cheat Sheet from Years of Wizardly Advice

Mar 11th, 2014 | Filed under: Book review, Hedge Fund Industry Trends, Risk management, Today's Post

The story told here of Bruce Kovner and a botched soybeans trade conveys a lesson about the value of persistence, and a lesson about risk management.


Europe: Hadrian’s Wall and the Big Picture Today

Mar 10th, 2014 | Filed under: AAA Newsreels, Alpha Hunters, Currencies, Today's Post

My own quite speculative view is that Europe as a project is coming apart, and that some of the constituent nations may split into underlying parts in the process, but that this is happening slowly and messily so the world is as yet far from seeing any new equilibrium.


Mutual Fund Whistle Blower Case Will Proceed

Mar 9th, 2014 | Filed under: Best Practices, Regulatory, Today's Post

Lawson, the whistle blowing employee of an investment advisor, is protected by SOX. Six Justices agreed on that, although they disagreed on exactly why, or on how far the implications might take future courts.


Stock Crashes and the Damming of Bad News

Mar 6th, 2014 | Filed under: Academic Research, Risk management, Socially responsible investing, Today's Post

Hoarding bad news bears this meaning: at some point a lot of bad news is going to break through the informational dam all at once, producing a flood, that is, a firm-specific crash.


The ‘Knowledgeable Employee’ No-Action Letter

Mar 5th, 2014 | Filed under: Hedge Fund Regulation, Today's Post

The SEC says that it does not believe that “merely” providing analysis or information to the active members of a policy-making committee within a fund management firm is the same thing as making policy for the firm. That seems likely to provoke some wonderful hair-splitting disputes going forward.


Converting to the ’40 Act and a Checklist

Mar 4th, 2014 | Filed under: Alternative Mutual Funds, Hedge Fund Industry Trends, Investment Management Fees, Retail Investing, Today's Post

Why convert a hedge fund to a mutual fund instead of establishing a stand-alone vehicle available to retail investors that could invest alongside the existing hedge fund?


Those Action Levers in the Back Office

Mar 2nd, 2014 | Filed under: Derivatives, Regulatory, Risk management, Today's Post

Financial firms still have people manually implementing Excel spreadsheets in connection with various mandated stress tests, a fact that suggests to a Celent research director that Fred Flintstone runs the back office.


The Struggle Against Latency: Four Layers

Feb 27th, 2014 | Filed under: Algorithmic and high-frequency trading, Hedge Fund Industry Trends, Technology, Today's Post

Cutting latency in any one layer is a task distinct from that of cutting it in any of the others. For the physical or interface layer (the ground floor of our ziggurat), optimization involves fiber optics and efficient queue management.


Insolvent Cross-Border Debtors and the Choice of Forum

Feb 25th, 2014 | Filed under: Insolvency, Investment Management Fees, Today's Post

In June 2010, pursuant to an order of that BVI court, the court-appointed liquidators of a Madoff feeder fund in liquidation in BVI petitioned the bankruptcy court in the Southern District of New York to recognize those proceedings as the foreign main proceeding under Chapter 15.


Liquidity? Perhaps It Is What it Does

Feb 23rd, 2014 | Filed under: Academic Research, Asset pricing, Forex, Today's Post

Four researchers have developed an "event-based" understanding of Liquidity, measuring it as a characterization (from 0 to 1) of the predictability of asset price trajectories. Illiquidity is surprise.


Tell Me I’m Reading this Wrong: ‘Mobilize more personal pension savings for…’ Financing?

Feb 19th, 2014 | Filed under: Insolvency, Institutional Investing, Regulatory, Today's Post

Unless Reuters has been utterly misled, a recent report there suggests that Europe's greybeards are considering an astonishingly bad approach to the insolvency of their banking system: soak the pensioners.


Would-be Error Detectors: Suit Up

Feb 18th, 2014 | Filed under: Book review, CAPM / Alpha Theory, Risk management, Today's Post

That gadfly of financial modelers and quants is back. This time, Taleb writes in such a way as to establish that he isn't a mere popularize/diluter of familiar academic arguments -- which is how the critics of many of his earlier books have painted him. And them.


Prediction: The Word ‘Alternatives’ Will Go Out of Use

Feb 13th, 2014 | Filed under: Alpha Strategies, ETFs, Portable Alpha & Alpha/Beta Separation, Today's Post

The separation of alpha and beta is becoming a matter of routine, and the result will (PwC suggests) eliminate the division between "alternatives" investing on the one hand and "traditional" investing on the other.


Who’s Allowed to Chase Alpha: Detail Work Continues

Feb 12th, 2014 | Filed under: Derivatives, Regulatory, Risk management, Today's Post

The multi-state, multi-national law firm Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman has offered its clients, especially the banking entities among them, a guide to the principal elements of the newly finalized Volcker Rule, and it touches upon several significant concerns that industry participants have expressed.


Deloitte to Hedge Funds: Emulate the Agility of a Skier

Feb 10th, 2014 | Filed under: Alpha Strategies, Alternative Mutual Funds, Hedge Fund Industry Trends, Hedge Fund Strategies, Institutional Investing, Performance, Analytics & Metrics, Risk management, Today's Post

Deloitte's pie graphs emphasize the degree to which both hedge funds and PE vehicles have become dependent upon institutions in general, and detached from the retail market. But Deloitte says that 2014 "will likely see additional efforts by alternative fund managers to engage the retail investor base by taking their alternative investment strategies mainstream."


Two Troubled Strategies by the Numbers

Feb 9th, 2014 | Filed under: Alpha Strategies, Commodities, CTA, Hedge Fund Industry Trends, Hedge Fund Strategies, Today's Post

Managed futures are performing quite poorly. They also have a higher standard deviation than the HF industry aggregate, so it seems that if you're invested there your losses are at least buying you greater risk. [Wait. That can't be right.]


North American Distressed Debt: Review and Prospect

Feb 5th, 2014 | Filed under: Alpha Strategies, Hedge Fund Industry Trends, Hedge Fund Strategies, Today's Post

A new white paper from Debtwire and Bingham McCutchen finds some reason to be bullish about the distressed debt market in 2014. The long-awaited tapering of the Federal Reserve's easy-money policy may set off a wave of defaults, creating opportunities for the wary.


M&A World: Stacks of Corporate Cash Looking for Deals

Feb 4th, 2014 | Filed under: Alpha Strategies, Seeding/early-stage, Today's Post

Corporations have cash in the till; and it is sitting up, begging to be put to work. Thus, M&A deals are on the way.


What Will Drive ETF Growth? Not Active Management

Feb 3rd, 2014 | Filed under: Alpha Strategies, ETFs, Today's Post

Pimco is expanding its active ETF offerings significantly. By serendipity, The Cerulli Edge contains some fascinating data on the growth of the ETF industry. both active and passive.


Managers and Skill: Japan, India, and the Arab World

Feb 2nd, 2014 | Filed under: Alpha Hunters, Alpha Seekers, Alpha Strategies, Emerging markets, Today's Post

A new report from GFIA highlights some asset manager successes: in the Japanese markets riding the wave of Abenomics; in India benefitting from the weakness of the rupee; and in the Arab world thriving against the backdrop of political turmoil.


NCSE Data: Endowments Sticking with the Endowment Model

Jan 29th, 2014 | Filed under: Alpha Strategies, Endowments & Foundations, Institutional Investing, Today's Post

Higher-education endowments are sticking with the “endowment model,” that is, their asset allocations remain stable. For example, in 2012, the surveyed institutions had 15% of their total AUM in domestic equities, 16% in international equities. In 2013, those figures were only slightly higher, 16% and 18% respectively.


Celent on a Turning Point in China: Three Trends

Jan 28th, 2014 | Filed under: Currencies, Emerging markets, Risk management, Today's Post

The need for risk management in general and, more specifically, the inability of HNW Chinese otherwise to hedge against RMB exchange risk, is driving them to invest overseas.


Really Fast Information Processors or Tippees?

Jan 27th, 2014 | Filed under: Academic Research, Algorithmic and high-frequency trading, Alpha Strategies, Regulatory, Today's Post

A forthcoming paper by Goldstein et al opens a window onto the convergence of two market-structure issues that, until quite recently, had not even been thought very similar.


Women Running a Marathon Toward Alternatives

Jan 26th, 2014 | Filed under: Alpha Hunters, Alpha Seekers, Alpha Strategies, Hedge Fund Industry Trends, Institutional Investing, Today's Post

The latest in a series of annual reports from Rothstein Kass on women in the alternatives world adopts a somewhat less cheery tone than did that of last year. No longer is the dominant metaphor a "tipping point." Now it's a marathon.


Amici in Halliburton: Coming To the Aid of Defendants

Jan 21st, 2014 | Filed under: Asset pricing, Legislation/Court rulings, Today's Post

The Supreme Court has received several amici briefs in the Halliburton case. They generally take the side of the defendant/petitioner, the corporation accused of securities fraud, in its opposition to the use of a 1980s vintage fraud-on-the-market theory to certify a class.


Commonfund: Looking in a Rear View Mirror for Driving Lessons

Jan 20th, 2014 | Filed under: Alpha Strategies, Private Equity, Today's Post, Venture capital

The crucial generalization to be drawn from the last three decades of alternatives investing by institutions is that generalization is tricky. Even within one type of structure, such as VCs, broad statements have to take account of the wide dispersion in returns, "making manager access and selection key determinants of success."


Burton Lifland, Judge Presiding Over Multiple Alternative Investment Cases, Dies

Jan 19th, 2014 | Filed under: Insolvency, Legislation/Court rulings, Today's Post

Burton Lifland's death leaves us recalling the late summer of 2007, when a decision of his re-shaped the dispute over two Bear Stearns affiliated hedge funds, while the liquidators over-relied upon the funds' mail drop in the Caymans.


Sovereign Immunity and Global Discovery Demands

Jan 15th, 2014 | Filed under: Emerging markets, Insolvency, Today's Post

The U.S. Supreme Court has agreed to hear an appeal from a 2d Circuit decision in the long-running litigation between hedge fund NML Capital and the Republic of Argentina. Specifically, it is set to address whether a judgment against Argentina opens the door to discovery of Argentina's assets around the world, commercial and non-commercial alike.


Alternatives and Thailand’s Infrastructure

Jan 14th, 2014 | Filed under: Alternative Mutual Funds, Emerging markets, Infrastructure, Today's Post

Despite the uncertainties generated by contemporary politics, Cerulli is convinced that "investing in alternatives such as property and infrastructure funds should remain a major theme in the Thai mutual fund space in 2014."


Chancellor Leo Strine is ‘Moving on Up’

Jan 13th, 2014 | Filed under: Legislation/Court rulings, Media Coverage of Hedge Funds, Today's Post

Delaware's governor has nominated Leo Strine for the state supreme court. With that in mind, we review some of the highlights of Strine's career at the Court of Chancery especially as they concern clashes between corporate managers one the one hand and activist investors on the other.


EU Tax Guru: FTT Rethink Underway

Jan 8th, 2014 | Filed under: Currencies, Derivatives, Hedge Fund Regulation, Today's Post

In January 2013 the Council of the European Union agreed to allow 11 member states to institute a sweeping financial transaction tax as a matter of "enhanced cooperation." Now, a year later, the EU's tax commissioner, a one-time enthusiast of the idea, is signaling compromise.