Man vs machine

Like most traders who have operated as both a discretionary trader and a quantitative or algorithmic trader, I have spent a lot of time thinking about the pros and cons of both systems. Currently, I am almost 100% algo driven. This story gives data on both styles and shows the edge that systems traders have.
If I had personally had the discipline to stay as a system trader throughout my career I would have done much better. But following a system day to day can feel very stupid. Because the system will have you entering positions when the market feels very extended one way or the other. Your mind will tell you you know much better. But our minds are programmed to lose money. 

We are easily convinced we know THE truth when actually what we know is A truth. And we catalog the things we think we know rather than the things we surely do not know.  

Fusion in our lifetimes ?

Newly-available superconducting materials like REBCO (a single-crystal material composed of yttrium, barium, copper, oxygen and other elements) allow the creation of unprecedentedly-high-field magnets. They may enable smaller and less-expensive versions of venerable tokamak-type fusion reactors (like the Alcator C-Mod, which was shuttered last year), in part because a doubling of magnetic field strength produces a 16-fold increase in fusion power density. Hartwig says a fast-track high-field magnet development program, followed by the possible building of a compact, net-energy-gain tokamak in the next 5-10 years, would be a watershed in dispelling fusion’s reputation as being always in the future.

Big read. Artificial hearts…

Growing tissues and organs in a bioreactor is a laborious business, but recent improvements in 3D printing offer the tantalising possibility of manufacturing a new heart rapidly and to order. 3D printers work by breaking down a three-dimensional object into a series of thin, two-dimensional “slices”, which are laid down one on top of another. The technology has already been employed to manufacture complex engineering components out of metal or plastic, but it is now being used to generate tissues in the laboratory. To make an aortic valve, researchers at Cornell University took a pig’s valve and X-rayed it in a high-resolution CT scanner. This gave them a precise map of its internal structure which could be used as a template. Using the data from the scan, the printer extruded thin jets of a hydrogel, a water-absorbent polymer that mimics natural tissue, gradually building up a duplicate of the pig valve layer by layer. This scaffold could then be seeded with living cells and incubated in the normal way.


I’m in Havana, Cuba this week. It is a continuing exhibit in alternative ways to organize a society. Like Venezuela, but climbing up rather than sliding down. Reminds me of the great Smithian quote: “It is not from the benevolence of the butcher, the brewer, or the baker that we expect our dinner, but from their regard to their own interest.” QED –capitalism works. 
Capitalism understands what communism did not: A government can steal ALL a person has… once! But a government can steal 1/3 to 1/2 of what a person produces each and every year FOREVER! It is a much better way to organize a society. 

Even without much development, smog hangs over the city. Yes, the result of beautiful old cars. 

But capitalism is coming. And with it –toilet paper I hope. Yes, the revolution comes at the expensive price of stinky butts. But the Occcupy Wall Street cultist would never chant, Liberty! Justice! Toilet Paper! 

Big data vs big ideas…

Big Data will never replace Big Ideas: Why cultural intelligence matters – City A.M. 

Good article, but the thing is big data is necessarily inductive, while big ideas are nearly always deductive (because of the nature our brains). These things will compliment each other, not compete. The best combinations will create a new synergy in insight. It’s already happening. 


As someone who has been attempting to code trading systems for a rather long time, reading this article makes me think that some of these hedge funds are selling a “quant” marketing image so their clients won’t be tempted away… The quants are here. And they are very quiet. The louder these new quants talk the more desperate and behind they sound. Just my take… but it’s a great read.

Big read. Huge consequences. Transportation as a service.


 The impacts of TaaS disruption are far reaching:
Savings on transportation costs will result in a permanent boost in annual disposable income for U.S. households, totaling $1 trillion by 2030. Consumer spending is by far the largest driver of the economy, comprising about 71% of total GDP and driving business and job growth throughout the economy. Productivity gains as a result of reclaimed driving hours will boost GDP by an additional $1 trillion.
ê As fewer cars travel more miles, the number of passenger vehicles on American roads will drop from 247 million to 44 million, opening up vast tracts of land for other, more productive uses. Nearly 100 million existing vehicles will be abandoned as they become economically unviable.
ê Demand for new vehicles will plummet: 70% fewer passenger cars and trucks will be manufactured each year. This could result in total disruption of the car value chain, with car dealers, maintenance and insurance companies suffering almost complete destruction. Car manufacturers will have options to adapt, either as low-margin, high- volume assemblers of A-EVs, or by becoming TaaS providers. Both strategies will be characterized by high levels of competition, with new entrants from other industries. The value in the sector will be mainly
in the vehicle operating systems, computing platforms and the TaaS platforms.
ê The transportation value chain will deliver 6 trillion passenger miles in 2030 (an increase of 50% over 2021) at a quarter of the cost ($393 billion versus $1,481 billion).
ê Oil demand will peak at 100 million barrels per day by 2020, dropping
to 70 million barrels per day by 2030. That represents a drop of 30 million barrels in real terms and 40 million barrels below the Energy Information Administration’s current “business as usual” case. This will have a catastrophic effect on the oil industry through price collapse
(an equilibrium cost of $25.4 per barrel), disproportionately impacting different companies, countries, oil elds and infrastructure depending on their exposure to high-cost oil.
ê The impact of the collapse of oil prices throughout the oil industry value chain will be felt as soon as 2021.
ê In the U.S., an estimated 65% of shale oil and tight oil — which under a “business as usual” scenario could make up over 70% of the U.S. supply in 2030 — would no longer be commercially viable.
ê Approximately 70% of the potential 2030 production of Bakken shale oil would be stranded under a 70 million barrels per day demand assumption.
ê Infrastructure such as the Keystone XL and Dakota Access pipelines would be stranded, as well.
ê Other areas facing volume collapse include offshore sites in the United Kingdom, Norway and Nigeria; Venezuelan heavy-crude elds; and the Canadian tar sands.
ê Conventional energy and transportation industries will suffer substantial job loss. Policies will be needed to mitigate these adverse effects.

Assessing the state of the market 5/20/17

 The main things to see here are that the long-term trend remains up. Also SNP earnings are above their 12 month average. Unemployment continues downward although we are reaching the limit of what to expect. And finally that rates are still effectively stimulative in real terms. Once the fed funds rate gets close to or exceeds the two-year bond you will know that the Fed is announcing the end of the party. 

Here you see that reviewing internals through the summation indexes reveals that /nq or ndx remains the place to be.

Dow theory is really old school and I only follow it out of nostalgia. But notice the 8% difference in performance between the industrials and the transport. Hmmmm…

Finally. Yield spread. Orderly. 

Risk appetite spread…

More to come…

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