Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Mifid and Dark Pools
"This trend toward dark pools and crossing networks is providing a lucrative source of revenues for investment banks and it is likely to accelerate, particulaly as the introduction of the Market in Financial Instruments Directive this year in Europe is likely to expand the use of private networks there."

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Repo market for beginners

The FT on Barclays and the 2015 Bund.

The price of the 2015 Bund has moved sharply in the past week, suggesting that the bank could stand to make large profits in the repurchase or repo market, where securities such as bonds are lent in exchange for cash.

A lower interest rate on the cash side of the transaction indicates greater repo demand to borrow a bond. The 2015 Bund has been attracting a cash interest rate of about 1 per cent in the overnight repo market this week, down from about 3.5 per cent last week and well below the 3.5 per cent average overnight repo rate in Europe, set in line with the European Central Bank’s main interest rate.

Such a low repo rate for a Bund is rare. A bank able to lend the bond receives cash at below-market interest rates, which can then be deployed at a profit.

Trading volumes for last Friday and Monday rose to €3.4bn on BrokerTec, the electronic platform on which repo trading is conducted, suggesting that millions of euros could be made this way.

There is more detailed look at the repo market here.

Do Analysts Herd?

Do Analysts Herd? :

One to read.

"This paper develops and implements a new test to investigate whether sell-side analysts herd around the consensus when they make stock recommendations. Our empirical results support the herding hypothesis. Stock price reactions following recommendation revisions are stronger when the new recommendation is away from the consensus than when it is closer to it, indicating that the market recognizes analysts' tendency to herd. We find that analysts from larger brokerages and analysts following stocks with smaller dispersion across recommendations are more likely to herd."

Monday, January 22, 2007

Backwardation for beginners.

"Such was the scale of investment flows that the structure of the commodity markets changed. Traditionally, futures prices were lower than spot, or current, prices; a state known as “backwardation”. This allowed investors to buy the future and wait for its price to rise to the spot level. This gain, known as the “roll yield”, was an important part of commodity returns."

Saturday, January 20, 2007

EMH and noise

Tim Harford uses the queue analogy again to good effect to look at the EMH and noise trading.

In fact real people make systematic mistakes, not just random ones. That might ruin things in the supermarket, but not in the stock market. In the supermarket a group of elite queue “arbitrageurs”, trying to exploit different queue lengths, could not equalise queues when faced with hordes of ignorant shoppers who irrationally favoured aisles three and four.

In the stock market, when smart investors can take advantage of other people’s stupidity (for instance by buying cheap shares in December and offloading them in January) then these smart investors get richer and more influential. The irrational investors may be numerous but they will also be impoverished and inconsequential.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Currency dilemma

Lex - Managing Asian currencies on the dilemma that is facing many of the Asian exporting countries and their commodity cousins. With free capital flow, it is hard to manage exchange rates and domestic liquidity.

"More likely, countries such as Thailand and South Korea are more worried about excessive domestic liquidity, leading to credit growth, inflation and rising asset prices. Economists judge that it is impossible to manage both domestic liquidity and exchange rates, while having an open capital account – one of the three has to give. Thailand’s capital controls, therefore, might offer a workable solution to managing the currency. This makes Tuesday’s rate cut surprising, as it will certainly spur domestic demand"

Friday, January 12, 2007

How Does Management Affect Capabilities? « Organizations and Markets

Professor Postrel

How Does Management Affect Capabilities? « Organizations and Markets: "Our first insight was that it would be almost impossible to track which specific pieces of knowledge were used to accomplish which task. Think of the endless set of commonsense facts we take for granted (e.g. “users prefer fewer keystrokes” or “big pills are harder to swallow”) that bear on successful product development. Think of all the technical principles and intuitions, and the meta-principles and pattern recognition that tell us when to apply each one. If we could codify all that, we would also be able to solve the artificial intelligence problem, which seemed a bit ambitious.
Our second insight was that we could circumvent this difficulty by looking at what happens when trans-specialist understanding is missing. It turns out that the main reason why upstream specialist A needs to know something about downstream specialty B is to avoid taking actions in the A domain that screw up B’s problem solving. Classic examples are a designer releasing a design that can’t be manufactured at a profit, a marketer issuing product requirements that can’t be met, or a programmer releasing software that doesn’t work in the user’s actual environment. When one of these incidents occurs (we called them “glitches” in our 1999 Strategic Management Journal paper), the missing knowledge is a finite and specifiable thing which can often be pinpointed by parties on both sides of the interaction. Glitches are discrete events which are usually memorable and consequential; they can potentially be observed with careful interviewing and/or archival research."

US and Japanese savings

"But retail investors such as the baby-boomers are a largely untapped source of funds for the Tokyo market, mainly because they have been happy to keep so much of their savings in the bank. In this respect, they are practically the mirror image of Americans: while the Japanese kept 51 per cent of household financial assets in bank accounts last year, compared with 17 per cent in stocks and other investments, US investors held 52 per cent in stocks and left just 13 per cent in the bank."

Could this be part of the explanation for the low level of US savings?

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

The long tail in film

From The New Yorker:

Amidst a wonderful look at the film industry and the future of film, there is another glance at the way that business can profit from those towards the end of the tail.

"Ads produce a general awareness of a film, but they don’t necessarily persuade people to go see it. “You don’t need eighty per cent of the entire public to know about your movie,” Rice said. “You need one hundred per cent of those whom the movie is for. If we can reach that audience, we can do this kind of filmmaking profitably.”"

Sunday, January 07, 2007

Dismal Science

Just to keep a record.
The Economist:

"ECONOMICS is “not a ‘gay science’,” wrote Thomas Carlyle in 1849. No, it is “a dreary, desolate, and indeed quite abject and distressing one; what we might call, by way of eminence, the dismal science.”"

Carlyle was arguing against the liberal idea that slaves should be free to sell their labour in the market like everyone else.

Friday, January 05, 2007


The Economist looks at the general myopia that runs through fund mangement, through public and private companies.
"This is good news for stockmarkets in the short term, in that profits may remain high—or at least will not be undermined by the folly of executives. But the bad news is that underinvestment will weaken companies' long-term health. The conglomerates behind the takeover booms of the 1970s and the 1980s resembled today's private-equity groups. They aimed to use their financial expertise to improve returns across a range of industries. But they tended to run subsidiaries to maximise cashflow, and the businesses slowly deteriorated, like a poorly maintained house. Today's skinflints may do the same."