Today’s Post

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.


Lies, Damned Lies and Alpha

May 21st, 2015 | Filed under: Alpha Hunters, Alpha Strategies, CAPM / Alpha Theory, Today's Post

Guest columnist Andrew Beer looks at alpha.


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.


Vote for AllAboutAlpha.com for Best Investing Blog

May 20th, 2015 | Filed under: Featured Post, Guest Posts, Today's Post

"Vote early and vote often!"


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.


If I Can’t Call It a Hedge Fund, What AM I Going to Call It?

May 18th, 2015 | Filed under: Alpha Hunters, Hedge Fund Strategies, Today's Post

Intrepid contributor Doug Friedenberg addresses a burning nomenclatural issue for the investment style formerly known as hedge funds and proposes a solution to save the financial system.


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.


A Caddie’s Observations on Money Management

May 14th, 2015 | Filed under: Alpha Hunters, Alpha Strategies, Today's Post

Guest columnist Diane Harrison on investment lessons learned on the golf course.


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 Value Factor Reconsidered

May 10th, 2015 | Filed under: Alpha Strategies, Timely Research, Today's Post

Guest columnist Andrew Beer examines the "value" of value.


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.


The Skorina Report: The Best, The Rest & Our Pick for Public Endowment CIO of Decade

Apr 30th, 2015 | Filed under: Alpha Hunters, Alpha Strategies, Featured Post, Guest Posts, Institutional Investing, The Skorina Report, Today's Post

Charles Skorina looks at the top public endowments and discusses performance with Erik Lundberg.


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.


Some Assets are Hard to Ignore

Apr 23rd, 2015 | Filed under: Alpha Hunters, Alpha Strategies, Currencies, Gold, Hard metals, Infrastructure, Today's Post

Guest columnist Diane Harrison looks at the world of alternatives to alternatives, including stamps, cars, farmland and more...


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.


Reflections on the MS Internet Explorer, R.I.P.

Apr 5th, 2015 | Filed under: Algorithmic and high-frequency trading, Legislation/Court rulings, Technology, Today's Post

The U.S. Department of Justice typically brings high-profile antitrust actions against 'monopolists' by piling its legal theories on top of dubious micro-economics. A recent announcement by Microsoft sends Faille down memory lane, to two 1990s era actions by the D of J against MS in the days when Bill Gates was still a great media ogre.


M&A: a Continuing Trend According To Survey

Apr 1st, 2015 | Filed under: Alpha Hunters, Alpha Strategies, Currencies, Today's Post

Intralinks is confident that the ongoing growth in M&A activity will continue through the 2d quarter, fueled by strong performances in EMEA and North America. In North America in particular the drivers include low interest rates and pressure on corporate honchos to generate growth in that low-rate environment.


The Supreme Court and Securities Fraud: No Barking Tuesday Night

Mar 31st, 2015 | Filed under: Asset pricing, Legislation/Court rulings, Today's Post

The U.S. Supreme Court has just created a new, and confusing, standard for the trial of issuers who have made opinionated statements in offering documents. In certain contexts, to be determined ad hoc, the statement of an opinion, such as "we believe our practices are all lawful and value adding" can be a misleading omission of facts that might tend to the contrary conclusion.


Does the hedge fund industry benefit society?

Mar 30th, 2015 | Filed under: Alpha Hunters, Alpha Strategies, Hedge Fund Industry Trends, Hedge Fund Strategies, Media Coverage of Hedge Funds, Today's Post

Guest columnist Donald Steinbrugge, CFA, looks at the bad rap hedge funds have gotten and talks about why it's not deserved.


Hedge Fund Investors and Managers: Concord and Discord

Mar 29th, 2015 | Filed under: Alpha Hunters, Alpha Strategies, Hedge Fund Strategies, Institutional Investing, Today's Post

Investors in hedge funds want more transparency than they think they're getting, a fact that might not be clear to their managers.


A Taylor-Swift Lawsuit: ‘I’ve Got a Blank Space Baby.’

Mar 26th, 2015 | Filed under: Algorithmic and high-frequency trading, Derivatives, Hedge Fund Strategies, Technology, Today's Post

This is the story of one high-frequency trading firm suing one or more others and giving detailed credence to everything that has been said over the last year or so by those who bemoan the rise of HFT firms.


The Fossil Fuel Divestment Debate for Fiduciaries: It’s the Portfolio….

Mar 25th, 2015 | Filed under: Alpha Strategies, Alternative energy, Alternative energy investing, Today's Post

The typical investment manager is more likely to understand the divestment argument if he is shown that the dynamic effects of climate change on his fossil fuel portfolio holdings will be like a knife to the brain of one of TV's Walking Dead zombies, portfolio splatter included.


Intraday Momentum Confirmed: Day Traders Credited

Mar 24th, 2015 | Filed under: Academic Research, Behavioral finance, CAPM / Alpha Theory, Derivatives, ETFs, Today's Post

The first half-hour return of the S&P 500 ETF predicts the last half-hour return of the same trading day rather well. Why isn't this effect arbitraged away and a random walk restored?


More Global Mandates, Fewer EM Mandates, and Other Changes

Mar 23rd, 2015 | Filed under: CTA, Institutional Investing, Performance, Analytics & Metrics, Risk management, Today's Post

Eurekahedge's latest report gives a number of timelines for grappling with changes in the hedge fund world: since 2007; since January 2013; YTD January 2015. In any frame, you don't have to be a meteorologist....


Most Investors Sanguine About Central Clearing Mandates

Mar 22nd, 2015 | Filed under: Best Practices, Derivatives, Hedge Fund Industry Trends, Regulatory, Today's Post

The international push to mandate central clearing has expanded the clearinghouses "well beyond levels the market has ever seen," Greenwich Associates reminds us in a new report. This is an experiment, and there remains some grounds for uncertainty about the outcome.


KPMG, MFA & AIMA: Institutional Investors & Customization

Mar 19th, 2015 | Filed under: Alternative Mutual Funds, Asset allocation, Hedge Fund Industry Trends, Hedge Fund Strategies, Institutional Investing, Investment Management Fees, Liability Driven Investing, Regulatory, Today's Post

Surveys suggest that certain conspicuous ongoing trends will continue. For example, the classic 20 + 2 fee structure will continue to crumble, replaced by "customized" structures. A full 91% of the small hedge fund managers who filled out a survey agreed with this. A mere 76% of large hedge fund managers did likewise.


ESMA to Member States: You’re Not Doing Enough Re: MiFiD

Mar 18th, 2015 | Filed under: Institutional Investing, Regulatory, Retail Investing, Today's Post

A newly released report tells us that ESMA is unhappy with the national "competent authorities" as to how they've enforced MiFiD. the report implies that the adjective in the phrase "competent authorities" is to be understood as a courtesy rather than a description.


A Defeat, but Not a Rout, for Appraisal Arb

Mar 17th, 2015 | Filed under: Alpha Strategies, Asset pricing, Hedge Fund Strategies, Legislation/Court rulings, Today's Post

The Delaware Chancery Court would apparently have preferred to stay out of the issue of valuation as it played itself out in the 2012 acquisition of Ancestry.com by Permira. But it couldn't: the statute encouraging appraisal fights was too clearly worded for that.