Growth In The Financial Markets Starring the Quants
- Posted by Jeff Carter
- on July 19th, 2012
Was talking to someone yesterday about growth in financial markets. How do we get more growth? The Captain Obvious answer is innovation. But what will innovation look like? Where is that growth going to come from?
Venture capitalists are placing bets on various industries. Nanotechnology, bioengineering, and other high tech stuff like that. This kind of investing though is simply blocking and tackling analysis, then hoping that you are right and the team you picked executes like heck so you can make some money.
The core of big data is variance.
Variance is the spread of the standard distribution. Larger variance means a larger spread. Or, in layman’s terms the larger the variance, the more uncertain we are of an outcome.
If big data is processed and analyzed correctly, that changes. Variance should shrink, and our decision making should be a lot less random. But what does that look like in actual practice?
In financial markets, it should mean that the options market will grow exponentially. Because of the preciseness of data analysis, options are a far less risky way to test a market hypothesis than an outright futures ETF or stock trade.
The advent of quants in the financial business is a relatively new phenomena. It’s only been the past fifteen years that quants have had a big effect on the business. So far, quants have concentrated primarily on the big markets; equities, futures, ETF’s, equity options. It’s where the lion’s share of money is.
But, as more quants enter the business and get more sophisticated at manipulating data, the options markets in the equities ($CBOE) and futures markets will boom. Someday, it wouldn’t surprise me to see the options trading more than the equities.
In equities or straight futures, there are two basic ways to make money. Buy or Sell. In options, the combinations are virtually unlimited. Having so many ways to make money gives you a lot of ways to hurt yourself too! But, there is a lot of untapped potential in the options market.
Secondly, in some cases options positions can insulate traders from the perniciousness of predatory HFT algos. As the futures market, or stock market roils up and down with the noise created by HFT, the options won’t move as much. The other advantage is that once I pay for a call or put, I am done putting money in the position.
On the futures side, trading options is not automated. It’s simply more efficient to trade them in a pit at this point than on a screen. The problem lies in the bandwidth. When pipes get big enough to handle all the data, quote streams, and trades, then options will move to the screen.
If you are a younger trader, start learning options. It’s a lot of math, calculus combined with statistical analysis, but if you want to be in the business for the long haul, it’s worth it to learn. One book that explains it all is Options as A Strategic Investment. Once you get the math down, then you still have to be a real good trader.
Quant or not, there is no replacement for the cunning skill of a good trader. That’s been true since the dawn of markets back in prehistoric times.
The information in this blog post represents my own opinions and does not contain a recommendation for any particular security or investment. I or my affiliates may hold positions or other interests in securities mentioned in the Blog, please see my Disclaimer page for my full disclaimer.
Jeffrey Carter is an angel investor and independent trader. He specializes in turning concepts into profits. He co-founded Hyde Park Angels one of the most active angel groups in the United States in April of 2007. He previously served on the Chicago Mercantile Exchange Board of Directors. He has done market commentary for (More...)
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