Today’s Post

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.


Asset Managers Need to Ride the Tides

Oct 16th, 2014 | Filed under: Best Practices, Today's Post

Guest columnist Diane Harrison looks at the ebb and flow of money and what it means to portfolio construction.


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.


Late September Bombshell from Judge Lamberth

Oct 8th, 2014 | Filed under: Alpha Hunters, Insolvency, Legislation/Court rulings, Today's Post

As the editorial page of the Wall Street Journal reminded us recently, investors sometimes gamble on politics. That is their right, but good capitalist hygiene is served when, once in a while, such a bet goes badly wrong.


Footnote 13: Barclays Did ‘Change the Number’

Oct 7th, 2014 | Filed under: Algorithmic and high-frequency trading, Institutional Investing, Regulatory, Today's Post

The most intriguing revelation in the exchange of briefs between the State of New York and Barclays appears in a humble footnote, where Barclays seems to concede that an employee was pressured to change an internalization number. But it was just the once....


Bitcoin Miners: The Hammer and the Butterfly

Oct 6th, 2014 | Filed under: Currencies, Digital currencies, Editor's Pick, Forex, Today's Post

In the matter of a merchant selling computers that are supposed to mine bitcoin, the FTC alleges that the merchant is a sham, simply using the language of the bitcoin world to find suckers. But the agency might have gotten a bit ahead of itself here.


Not Your Grandfather’s Market: The Evolution of Liquid Alternatives

Oct 5th, 2014 | Filed under: Alpha Hunters, Alternative Mutual Funds, Liquid Alts, Retail Investing, Today's Post

Guest columnist Andrew Smith, CAIA, traces the rise and growth of liquid alternatives.


Signs of a Renaissance in Emerging Manager ‘Alpha’

Oct 2nd, 2014 | Filed under: Alpha Seekers, Alpha Strategies, Hedge Fund Strategies, Institutional Investing, Performance, Analytics & Metrics, Today's Post

Guest columnist Peter Urbani looks at emerging managers and why they may be re-emerging and bringing alpha with them.


Old-Line Oil and Coal are Techno and Exciting These Days

Oct 1st, 2014 | Filed under: Alternative energy, Alternative energy investing, Energy, Today's Post, Venture capital

Revolution is underway in the energy world. For investors, one of the most unexpected facts about this revolution is that it permeates precisely those portions of the energy sector long thought sleepy and conventional: the fossil fuels.


What hath CalPERS Wrought? And Why?

Sep 30th, 2014 | Filed under: Institutional Investing, Investment Management Fees, Today's Post

Should investors, especially institutional investors, push back (or push back harder than they have so far) against the fee structure preferred by those whom they pay to manage their money? And is the recent announcement from CalPERS such a push?


Key Alpha-Oriented Law Firms Merging

Sep 29th, 2014 | Filed under: Alpha Hunters, Private Equity, Today's Post

Yes, law firms that serve alpha hunters are consolidating. But don't take it personally, HF or PE managers. This isn't about you. It's about them. And it isn't necessarily a bad thing.


Self-Employment Tax – Limited Partners Beware!

Sep 28th, 2014 | Filed under: Partner accounting, Today's Post

Guest columnist Maury Cartine looks at a new IRS memorandum on self-employment tax and how it applies to limited partners.


Looking at the Next Generation of Institutional Investing

Sep 25th, 2014 | Filed under: Asset allocation, Hedge Fund Industry Trends, Institutional Investing, Today's Post

Guest columnist Andrew Beer looks at the changes in institutional investing.


Top 5 Ramifications of CalPERS’ Hedge Fund Exodus

Sep 24th, 2014 | Filed under: Alpha Hunters, Hedge Fund Industry Trends, Institutional Investing, Today's Post

Guest columnist Don Steinbrugge, CFA, looks at some of the potential reactions to CalPERS' leaving hedge funds.


Celent Reports on Equity Crowdfunding

Sep 23rd, 2014 | Filed under: Crowdfunding, Retail Investing, Today's Post, Venture capital

A new report from Celent discusses the as-yet unimplemented Title III of the JOBS Act. Celent's Isabella Fonseca offers suggestions for how both wealth managers and tech providers might benefit.


Hong Kong Shariah-Compliant Launch Sells

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

If I should declare that I will never eat duck, and then I simply re-name certain ducks “chickens” and eat them, then people who genuinely as a matter of principle refuse to eat duck may consider me a false friend. And those who have no objection to the eating of duck may think me a silly goose.


The Skorina Report: Another try at herding Gotham’s five-headed fund

Sep 21st, 2014 | Filed under: Featured Post, Guest Posts, Institutional Investing, The Skorina Report, Today's Post

Guest columnist Charles Skorina looks at the five-headed NYC pension system with its new leader, Scott Evans.


Metamorphosis in HFT: Update with Brad Katsuyama of IEX, Central Figure in ‘Flash Boys’

Sep 18th, 2014 | Filed under: Algorithmic and high-frequency trading, Alpha Hunters, Hedge Fund Strategies, Today's Post

Guest columnist and intrepid reporter Doug Friedenberg talks to Brad Katsuyama about HFT, Michael Lewis and more.


Exemptions and Pools: CFTC Harmonizes with the JOBS Act

Sep 17th, 2014 | Filed under: Commodities, Hedge Fund Regulation, Today's Post

Two rules within the CFTC rulebook that offer exemptions for certain CPOs from certain regulatory requirements mirrored the original pre-JOBS Act Reg D on the SEC side. But of course we are now in a post-JOBS Act world, and the CFTC staff has now acted, not through a rule change but by staff letter, to harmonize with its sister agency and with the JOBS Act mandate.


Is Liability Insurance an Estate Asset in Bankruptcy?

Sep 16th, 2014 | Filed under: Derivatives, Insolvency, Legislation/Court rulings, Today's Post

The Manhattan bankruptcy court has now granted individual defendants in the MF Global matter, including Jon Corzine, access to funds from their D&O insurance. But it wasn't easy for them to get here, and therein lies our moral.


Burr XII, Extreme Value, and a Fantasy

Sep 15th, 2014 | Filed under: Academic Research, Asset allocation, Risk management, Today's Post

The eight authors of a new study seek to add to “the existing literature of Bayesian VaR methods by … considering the … general class of Burr XII extreme value distributions “ and by estimating error bounds. After having a little fun we try to puzzle out what that means.


Asset Allocation & the Practical Application of Time-Window Analysis

Sep 14th, 2014 | Filed under: Asset allocation, Performance, Analytics & Metrics, Today's Post

Guest columnist Andrew Smith, CAIA, on performance analysis and its effect on asset allocation.


Custodians Helping Customers with Securities as Collateral

Sep 11th, 2014 | Filed under: Infrastructure, Insolvency, Risk management, Today's Post

How address issues of supply/demand imbalance in the world of collateral requirements? Custodians can do a good deal on behalf of their customers here, and are exploring just how much.


Vindicating Austrians: The New ESMA Warning on Risks

Sep 10th, 2014 | Filed under: Asset pricing, Risk management, Technology, Today's Post

In a new report, ESMA discovers that some investors may be guilty of "over-reliance on continued policy support." I gather that means that investors believe that central bankers and governments will play the role of Santa Claus indefinitely.


Betting on Vice Doesn’t Really Pan Out

Sep 9th, 2014 | Filed under: Alpha Strategies, Behavioral finance, CAPM / Alpha Theory, Social investing, Today's Post

Christopher Faille, inspired by Greg Richey, of California State University, San Bernardino, has a few words about socially irresponsible investing, that is, the creation of a portfolio built around destructive human vices.


Merger Arb: Getting Your Stick to Where the Puck Will Be

Sep 8th, 2014 | Filed under: Alpha Strategies, Legislation/Court rulings, Performance, Analytics & Metrics, Today's Post

Christopher Faille speaks to Matt Porzio, the VP of Strategy and Product Marketing at Intralinks, about the data behind Intralinks' DFI.


Judge Drain: Make That ‘Make Whole” Clause Explicit and Clear

Sep 7th, 2014 | Filed under: Alpha Strategies, Best Practices, Insolvency, Today's Post

Judge Drain didn't actually accept the Momentive plan, but it now seems likely he will accept some very similar plan in due course. What is key is that the objections that he found had unconvincing represented until then the conventional wisdom among much of the bar devoted to the service of event-driven litigators.


Investing in the Investor

Sep 4th, 2014 | Filed under: Alpha Strategies, Hedge Fund Industry Trends, Institutional Investing, Retail Investing, Today's Post

Guest columnist Diane Harrison looks at what advisors think of hedge funds.


SEC Adopts Changes to Regulation AB: More Transparency

Sep 3rd, 2014 | Filed under: Derivatives, Regulatory, Today's Post

The SEC's new rules for asset backed securities require asset level disclosures both at the time of offering and later, on an ongoing basis. The disclosures are required to appear in a standardized XML format.


IEA Says Investment In Clean Energy Will Keep Growing, Slowly

Sep 2nd, 2014 | Filed under: Alpha Hunters, Alpha Strategies, Alternative energy investing, Today's Post

Guest columnist Andy Tully looks at the future of renewable energy investment and finds a future so bright, you might need to wear shades.


Complications in Regards to Accessing Private Equity Funds

Sep 1st, 2014 | Filed under: Alpha Strategies, Private Equity, Today's Post

Guest columnist Andrew Smith, CAIA, looks at the complications involved in accessing private equity funds.


The Delusions a Boom Can Bring and the Perils of Chasing Hedge Fund Winners

Aug 28th, 2014 | Filed under: Alpha Hunters, Alpha Strategies, Institutional Investing, Portable Alpha & Alpha/Beta Separation, Risk management, Today's Post

For an investor allocating slots in its portfolio to hedge funds, the draw of recent outsized performance can be powerful. Thus, the temptation to chase winners. But two members of the Hedge Fund Strategies Group at Commonfund caution against it.


A Back-Handed Look at ‘Too Big to Fail’

Aug 27th, 2014 | Filed under: Alpha Hunters, Alpha Seekers, Currencies, Insolvency, Today's Post

The significance of the size of bank reserves and deposits as channels for the influence of QE upon macro-economic factors varies bank by bank. Monetary levers don't work on the really big rocks. A word on implications for the equity positions in those banks.


Clearing Obligation: ESMA Releases CP Comments

Aug 26th, 2014 | Filed under: Derivatives, Regulatory, Today's Post, UCITS

The clearing-for-everything parade continues. Christopher Faille reviews three representative comments among those just released by ESMA, elicited by its consultation paper on the new clearing obligation for interest-rate swaps.


BIS to US Fed: You’re Messing with the World

Aug 25th, 2014 | Filed under: Currencies, Emerging markets, Forex, Today's Post

There are several channels for spill-over effects, whereby the actions of the Federal Reserve and the ECB can have grave consequences around the world. Psychological consequence, in particular herding, is among them.


A Brief History of the Direct Borrowing Power of the U.S. Treasury

Aug 24th, 2014 | Filed under: Currencies, Insolvency, Today's Post

The Federal Reserve practice of the direct purchase of bonds from the U.S. treasury has a fascinating history. Though there have been no direct purchases since 1981, the idea surely is not forgotten. Is indirect purchasing simply a better way for the sovereign and central bankers to assist their cronies?


Death of the Dollar: Consequences Worldwide

Aug 21st, 2014 | Filed under: Alpha Strategies, Book review, Gold, Hard metals, Today's Post

Rickards' new book expands on some of the themes of his 2011 publication, Currency Wars. The new book is, specifically, about the end of a particular phase in the history of money, the reserve significance of the U.S. dollar.


Eurekahedge: Europe-Focused Managers Took Hits in July

Aug 20th, 2014 | Filed under: Emerging markets, Performance, Analytics & Metrics, Today's Post

Banco Espirito Santo, and its CEO Salgado, had emerged from an earlier round of crisis (way back in 2012) with a roseate smell. Their latest smell ... not so good.


Responding to a Challenging Tweet about Front-Running

Aug 19th, 2014 | Filed under: Algorithmic and high-frequency trading, Regulatory, Technology, Today's Post

What do I mean by "front run," asked a reader. I use the term for a range of situations in which one party trades on the basis of advance [non-public] information of another party's upcoming trade, Faille replies.


Preqin on PE Distributions & Call-Ups in 2013

Aug 18th, 2014 | Filed under: Alpha Hunters, Alpha Strategies, Private Equity, Today's Post, Venture capital

The 2013 performance of the private equity industry, given any of several metrics, was quite strong. Why? In part because the exit environment has been very good.


How Not to Nationalize the Clearinghouses

Aug 17th, 2014 | Filed under: Derivatives, Insolvency, Risk management, Today's Post

Let's not make clearinghouses too big to fail. Or if, through, Dodd-Frank, we already have, let's turn back and reconsider that decision. That's how not to end up bailing them out or nationalizing them in due course.


Hedge Fund Branding Continues to Drive a Majority Of Asset Flows

Aug 14th, 2014 | Filed under: Hedge Fund Industry Trends, Today's Post

Guest columnist Don Steinbrugge looks at why the same hedge fund firms consistently bring in the assets.


Markets Work: The Argument from Robert Bork’s Beard

Aug 13th, 2014 | Filed under: Currencies, Hard metals, Today's Post

Markets work. We are warranted in believing this because it has proven itself in human history and we have studied history. Centralized social planning fails. Now, having said all that, let's talk about the Fed.


SIP and the Law of Unintended Consequences

Aug 12th, 2014 | Filed under: Algorithmic and high-frequency trading, Regulatory, Technology, Today's Post

Christopher Faille reviews the basic facts about SIP, the Securities Information Processor, and cites (with some incredulity) a new contention in some quarters that SIP isn't all that important because nobody really relies upon it.


Advancing the Infrastructure Investment Narrative

Aug 11th, 2014 | Filed under: Alpha Strategies, Infrastructure, Insolvency, Today's Post

Intuitively, the problem with valuing the debt issued by an private SPE in an illiquid infrastructure project is this: the free cash flows of the SPE aren't easily observed. So how does one go about deriving their present value?


GFIA: June is ‘Listless’ for Many Asia Managers

Aug 10th, 2014 | Filed under: Alpha Strategies, Hedge Fund Strategies, Indexes, Today's Post

For many fund managers working in Southeast Asia, and/or China, June 2014 was “listless,” with numbers that suggest a flat tire. The booms on the ASEAN bourses are concentrated where the fund managers aren’t, in “high beta cyclical sectors.”