There is an inverse relationship between penis size and hedge fund performance, one study of a nine-month period shows. Read more »
Study Suggests High Frequency Trading Might Cost Small Investors Almost One One-Hundredth Of One Percent Of Their InvestmentsBy Matt Levine
What do you think of the big HFT study? It’s this big HFT study that CFTC chief economist Andrei Kirilenko conducted on S&P 500 e-mini futures at the CME, and it’s already inspired a metaphor from CFTC commissioner and all-purpose spinner of metaphors Bart Chilton:
Mr. Chilton said that the study would make it easier for regulators “to put forth regulations in a streamlined fashion. It’s a key step in the process and it should fuel-inject the regulatory effort going forward.”
Not his best effort, fine. Anyway, the study: I’m not sure I’ve earned the right to have an opinion, both because (1) that, generally, and (2) my model of high frequency traders as micro-mini-market-makers is a bit upended by the fact that the bulk of the HFTs in this study seem to be taking, rather than providing, liquidity.1 It’s possible that the e-mini market is not the best place to measure the overall effects of HFT, either for fundamental reasons (its use for hedging etc.) or more crassly because it lacks the liquidity rebates that drive a lot of HFT in other markets.
That said what I like about this study is that instead of measuring transaction costs in naive ways like “bid/ask spread,” it measures transaction costs in sensible ways like “in a series of zero-sum transactions, how much money do HFTs suck out in profits.” Though the measure of profitability is sort of kooky:
The profits calculated in Table 3 are the implied short-term profits: we calculate the marked-to-market profits of each trader on 1 minute frequencies2 and reset the inventory position of each trader to zero after each of these 1 minute intervals. Then, we sum up all the 1 minute interval profits to get a measure of daily profits. Therefore, we capture the short-term profits of traders and not gains and losses from longer-term holdings.
What this means is that if your model of market-making is “buy at 99.9, wait five minutes, and sell at 100.1,” then your profits might end up showing as 0.2 or -0.2 or zero or something else on that calculation.3 So regular old market making may look bad, while HFT market making – designed to move quickly – looks much better. And so you get this table: Read more »
So let’s say you’re a bank and, redundantly, you are in trouble with the SEC. And you want to hire a new lawyer to get you out of that trouble, because your old lawyers got you into it. You decide, sensibly, to hire a lawyer directly from the SEC, both because those lawyers have valuable experience and contacts and because they lawyers are paid so much less than your other lawyers that they’re a bargain. Who would you rather hire:
(1) An SEC lawyer who has always been nice to you, settled cases easily, not pushed too hard on investigations, and waived collateral consequences of your repeated securities fraud, or
(2) A lawyer who has always been a huge dick to you, litigated everything to the death, made your life difficult, and taken unreasonable positions?
If you chose option (1), you probably don’t work at a bank.
This study of the SEC revolving door is actually pretty neat, though suspect for reasons Yves Smith points out.* The most important conclusion is that the prospect of leaving the SEC to go represent companies doesn’t make SEC lawyers nicer to the companies: in fact, SEC lawyers who later leave to represent clients before the SEC seem to litigate more aggressively than those who don’t. But that’s actually pretty obvious, isn’t it?
For one thing, aggressiveness correlates with ability and intelligence and hard work and the general facepunching ethos required to succeed in private industry. The SEC lawyer who goes home at five o’clock after a relaxing day of ignoring financial fraud probably won’t fit in at a bank with a fast-paced culture of committing financial fraud. Read more »
This paper from David O. Lucca and Emanuel Moench at the New York Fed, concluding that 80% of excess returns to U.S. equities come in the 24 hours before Fed monetary policy announcements, is pretty amazing. Here is the money chart; what does this tell you about the effect of the Fed’s actions on stock prices?
I guess one answer is:
(1) Fed actions push stocks up.
But I submit to you that this answer, by itself, is self-evidently wrong, since the stocks go up before the Fed actions. Two better possibilities are:
(2) The Fed’s actions travel back through time to push stocks up, or
(3) The Fed’s actions are irrelevant to stock prices, but the warm fuzzy feeling people have when they remember that the Fed exists and takes actions pushes stocks up. Read more »
This is a great business model because banks just cannot resist doing bad things and courts just cannot resist taking piles of money from shareholders of those banks and divvying it up among other shareholders of those banks and the lawyers who facilitated the transfer. For those same reasons, though, it’s a highly competitive business model and there’s every reason to branch into other related fields. So they did:
Labaton Sucharow was the first firm in the country to establish a practice exclusively focused on protecting and advocating for SEC Whistleblowers. Led by Jordan A. Thomas, a former Assistant Director and Assistance Chief Litigation Counsel in the Enforcement Division who played a leadership role in the development of the SEC Whistleblower Program, our practice leverages unparalleled securities litigation expertise and significant in-house resources to protect and advocate for courageous individuals who report possible securities violations.
This is clever as that is also a lucrative business model but a safer one: unlike securities class actions, where the decision about which lawyers get paid and how much are left to courts and can seem arbitrary to those lawyers, in whistleblower suits you actually find a client and convince him to pay you your fees out of any money he can get. And that money can also be serious money.
The problem though is that you cannot typically get these cases just by keeping a casual eye on the newspaper: banks cannot resist doing bad things, true, but once those bad things are in the newspaper the expected value of whistleblowing is low. The whole point of a whistleblower is that he voluntarily goes to regulators with information that isn’t yet widely known, so your job, as a whistleblowing broker, is to find people who have not yet come forward with their valuable crime information and make them come forward to you. And that is hard. It’s not like you can just contact a bunch of people in senior roles in the UK and US financial industries and say “hey, would you like to talk to us about possible misconduct in your industry?” Right? Read more »
John Chrin, a former managing director at J.P. Morgan Chase & Co. who left the firm in June 2009 to pursue an executive-in-residence position at Lehigh University, recalls seeing junior staff gain 30 or 40 pounds within a couple years on the job. When he worked at Merrill Lynch & Co., now a unit of Bank of America Corp., he recalls that one managing director ordered a chauffeur to turn on the air conditioning even though it was out of order, causing the car to burst into flames. The managing director then threatened to have the driver fired. Bank of America declined to comment…Alexandra Michel, an assistant management professor at USC’s Marshall School of Business, shadowed the bankers at the office—sitting next to them, following them to meetings, mirroring their hours and even pulling all-nighters—for more than 100 hours a week during the first year, about 80 hours a week during the second year, and then followed up with in-person interviews. One mild-mannered banking associate spoke about exploding in rage at a cab driver after unsuccessfully attempting to open a locked door from the outside: “I became so furious that I kept banging against the windows like crazy, swearing at the poor guy. And then I turned around and saw that a managing director was watching with his mouth open. I was so ashamed.” [WSJ]