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Submission Summary: 0 pending, 3 declined, 1 accepted (4 total, 25.00% accepted)

Businesses

+ - Explained Clearly: High Frequency Trading->

Submitted by
Brad Eleven
Brad Eleven writes "Themis Trading has published a PDF entitled "Why Institutional Investors Should Be Concerned About High Frequency Traders," which features (1) a clear explanation of High Frequency Trading, and (2) how HFT has pushed market volatility beyond any previously observed levels. There's also a little fear-mongering which IMHO serves to diffract the message.

It is now generally understood that high frequency traders (HFTs) are dominating the equity market, generating as much as 70% of the volume.

... HFTs collectively execute billions of shares a day, making it an extremely profitable business.

  1. HFTs provide low quality liquidity.
  2. HFT volume can generate false trading signals.
  3. HFT computer servers are faster than other trading systems.

Because most HFT servers are co-located at exchanges, they can beat out institutional or retail orders, causing them to pay more or sell for less than they should have for a stock.

Then there are the "what if" problems that could be created by HFTs:

  1. What if a regulation like the uptick rule were enacted?
  2. What if a "rogue" algorithm entered the market?

I'm left wondering, though, if the whitepaper's authors (Themis' co-founders Joe Saluzzi and Sal Arnuk) really are "equity trading experts who appear regularly on Bloomberg TV and CNBC," why haven't we heard about this before?"
Link to Original Source

The Internet

+ - Q&A: The formula behind FiveThirtyEight.com

Submitted by
Brad Eleven
Brad Eleven writes "FiveThirtyEight.com must be seen to be believed. Scenario projections range from "Electoral College TIE (0.18%)" to "Identical Map to 2000/2004 (0.09%, 0.00%)". Nate Silver earned his cred by predicting the performance of baseball teams with uncannily accurate results.

According to the CNET interview/article, Silver's modeling goes way beyond simple polling aggregation, or even polling that takes mobile phone users and other normally ignored population segments into account.

Political commentary on the Internet is nothing new these days. So how did Nate Silver go from blogging under the guise of a chili pepper to hosting Election Night coverage with Dan Rather in a matter of months? By focusing on one number: 538.

While a number of sites and other media outlets offer aggregated polling information that can give a snapshot of the state of the presidential race, Silver's site takes things up a notch.

FiveThirtyEight.com--named after the number of votes in the electoral college--uses a predictive algorithm to determine the most likely electoral outcome based on polling data and other variables, such as pollster reliability and demographics.

Silver's methods are based on Pecota (short for Player Empirical Comparison and Optimization Test Algorithm), an algorithm he wrote to predict the performance of baseball teams. As an analyst at the sports media company Baseball Prospectus, he made a name for himself as a numbers guy with startlingly accurate results.

Even though Silver launched the site as recently as March, its straightforward approach, daring predictions, and short but impressive track record has put it on the map of political sites to follow. The Washington Post featured Silver in its 14th annual election prediction contest this year, and he'll be reporting on Tuesday night's results with Dan Rather on HDNet.

Of course, the real test for FiveThirtyEight comes Tuesday. Silver discussed with CNET News what makes his site unique and what he plans to do with it in the future.

Has Silver introduced a new paradigm? Even if his predictions are way off in this case, will others build complex models of their own, or just go back to polling?"

Government

+ - EPA Asserts Executive Privilege

Submitted by
Brad Eleven
Brad Eleven writes "The Associated Press reports that the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has invoked executive privilege to justify withholding information in its response to a lawsuit. In responding to the state of California's challenge to the agency's decision to block that state's attempt to curb the emissions from new cars and trucks, the EPA has delivered the documents requested by the Freedom of Information Act for the discovery phase of the lawsuit — but the documents are heavily redacted. That is, the agency has revealed that it did spend many hours meeting to discuss the issue, but refuses to divulge the details or the outcomes of the meetings. Among the examples cited, 16 pages of a 43-page Powerpoint presentation is completely blank except for the page titles. An EPA spokesperson used language similar to other recent claims of executive privilege, citing "the chilling effect that would occur if agency employees believed their frank and honest opinions and analysis expressed as part of assessing California's waiver request were to be disclosed in a broad setting.""
Communications

+ - In Case You Were Unsure: E-Mail is Not Private.

Submitted by
Brad Eleven
Brad Eleven writes "Wal-Mart, the largest corporation on the planet, has indicated that it is so powerful that it believes that it can do whatever it wants in the name of its own bottom line, reputation, and other concerns exclusive to its own enterprise. It is alleged here that The Company That Sam Built found and paid for potentially incriminating email messages in order to discredit a fired executive. Apparently Wal-Mart doesn't want to lose the suit which Julie Roehm filed for compensation to which she believes she is entitled.

Corporate malfeasance is old news. Even discounting the cultural problem of Big Money paying goons to bend/break the law to get what it wants, this underscores the fallacy of the widely-held belief that one's personal email is private. At least not when powerful entities want to see it. You and I probably can't afford to dig this deeply into the electronic effluvium, but we also tend towards encrypting our private communications. The larger concern is that our privacy means nothing to the elite. Though somewhat protected in many parts of the world by law, this is another example of how corporate leaders presume that the world really is their oyster. If your email isn't protected from prying eyes, you might want to take an hour or so to get it that way. Or just don't discuss anything which could ever possibly be used against you in a court of law of any kind. And don't presume that deleting email makes any difference at all in this context. That is, it's not that Wal-Mart's pinkertons broke into Ms. Roehm's email store. They got it from her alleged lover's wife. By reminding her that they knew which church she attended, and that he hadn't yet received his $200K bonus.

What if it wasn't just the world's largest corporation that wanted the email? Ramifications of the US Patriot Act are left as an exercise of the reader. The perception of FUD on your part is optional."

Gee, Toto, I don't think we're in Kansas anymore.

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