The Fiscal Cliff Debacle: American Exceptionalism Under Attack

Posted on January 2, 2013. Filed under: Debt Ceiling, Economy, Financial Crisis, Fiscal Cliff | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

Madeleine Albright, Edgar Perez and Condoleezza Rice at CME Group's Global Financial Leadership Conference 2012

Edgar Perez with Madeleine Albright and Condoleezza Rice, former U.S. Secretaries of State for Presidents Clinton and Bush, respectively

Last night, the U.S. House of Representatives approved a bill undoing tax increases for more than 99% of households, providing a temporary victory to President Obama and Democrats as Republicans vowed to fight them in the upcoming months for spending cuts in exchange for raising the debt ceiling. The 257-167 vote just before midnight topped a drama-filled day as Republicans initially balked at a bipartisan Senate measure. Ultimately 151 of 236 Republicans voted no. Obama said he’d sign the bill into law.

The final days of the tension surrounding the fiscal cliff of scheduled tax increases and spending cuts illustrated once again the partisan struggle that has made U.S. budget policy unpredictable and prone to crises as deadlines loom. Obama wielded the leverage he gained in his November 6 re-election, securing most of the tax increases he sought without sacrificing the spending cuts he had offered to Republicans in hopes of a larger deficit-reduction grand bargain.

Republicans immediately turned to their next battle, a bid to use the need to raise the nation’s $16.4 trillion debt ceiling to force Obama to accept cuts in entitlement programs such as Medicare. Congress must act as early as mid-February to prevent a default and the dispute may reprise a similar August 2011 episode that led to a downgrade of the U.S. credit rating.

Is the U.S. able to continue giving lessons in American exceptionalism to a world that still respects and admire its past and present? How to explain to the world that current representatives of the American people are able to drive the country so close to a fiscal cliff, potentially dragging the rest of the world? No doubt the majority of Americans have stared at this show with disbelief and puzzlement. Until not so long ago, Americans believed politicians wouldn’t make things so difficult and would reach instead a measured and timely deal. Things didn’t have to go this far to technically miss the deadline.

The answer can be found inside our legal system through the constitution and its twenty seven amendments. In this particular case, section 4 of the fourteenth amendment to the United States Constitution gives the President unilateral authority to raise or ignore the national debt ceiling, and that if challenged the Supreme Court would likely rule in favor of expanded executive power or dismiss the case altogether for lack of standing, as argued by Jeffrey Rosen, legal affairs editor of The New Republic. Furthermore, the president’s role as the ultimate guardian of the constitutional order, charged with taking care that the laws be faithfully executed, provides him with the authority to raise the debt ceiling, as argued by Eric Posner, professor of law at the University of Chicago, and Adrian Vermeule, professor of law at Harvard University.

After the Great Recession of the 1920s, as President Franklin Roosevelt was moving ahead with his plans to confront the economic crisis, he hinted darkly that “it is to be hoped that the normal balance of executive and legislative authority may be wholly equal, wholly adequate to meet the unprecedented task before us. But it may be that an unprecedented demand and need for undelayed action may call for temporary departure from that normal balance of public procedure.” After this admonition, Congress gave Roosevelt the authorities he sought and he did have to follow through on his threat.

Last night Obama said he won’t “have another debate with this Congress over whether or not they should pay the bills they’ve already racked up.” Let’s just hope that President Obama, a former constitutional law professor himself, has the insight and courage to execute the agenda he was elected for leveraging all the tools provided within our constitutional framework. If he is successful, God bless him. If he fails, the American people will kick his party out of the White House in 2016. There is no excuse for inaction; there is no need for more drama; there is no time for more posturing; ultimately, there is no reason to hold America from displaying the exceptionalism Alexis de Tocqueville recognized centuries ago and the world expects for centuries to come.

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High-Frequency Strategists and Quants on Red Alert: The Speed Traders Workshop 2012 in Chicago

Posted on October 2, 2012. Filed under: Conference, Event Announcements, Practitioners, Strategies, Technology, Workshop | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The Speed Traders Workshop 2012, How High Frequency Traders Leverage Profitable Strategies to Find Alpha in Equities, Options, Futures and FXIt took some time, but finally it is now a reality. The Speed Traders Workshop 2012 Chicago, October 9, will finally open the door to the secretive world of high-frequency trading, the most controversial form of investing today; in the name of protecting the algorithms traders and quants had spent so much time perfecting, they almost never talked to the press and disclosed as little as possible about how they operate.

The Speed Traders Workshop 2012 Chicago promises to reveal how high-frequency trading players are succeeding in the global markets and driving the development of algorithmic trading at breakneck speeds from the U.S. and Europe to India, Singapore and Brazil. The Flash Crash, the suspended BATS IPO, the botched Facebook IPO and Knight Capital’s trading malfunction  are just a few of the events in the history of high-frequency trading that will be dissected at The Speed Traders Workshop 2012.

Who should attend? Anybody involved with Algorithmic Trading, Automated Trading, Commodities, Commodities Trading, Credit Derivatives, Dark Pools Trading, Data Monitoring / Analysis, DMA Analysts, Derivatives Trading, Electronic Execution, Electronic Trading, Equity Trading, Exchange-Traded Instruments, Family Offices, Financial Engineering, Fixed Income / Currencies Trading, Futures, Hedge Funds Traders and Managers, High-Frequency Trading, Information Technology, Institutional Investors, Investment Banking, Market Makers, Operations, Options, Over-the-counter Derivatives, Portfolio Management, Proprietary Trading, Quantitative Trading, Regulatory Entities, Risk Management, Analysis and Control, Statistical Arbitrage, Structured Products Hedging and Trading Technology.

After Hong Kong, Sao Paulo, Kuala Lumpur, Seoul, Warsaw, Kiev, Beijing and Shanghai, Chicago finally has the opportunity to experience first-hand The Speed Traders Workshop 2012, seminar that will satisfy both insiders and professionals who are new to the world of high-frequency trading.

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For Industry Veteran, High-Frequency Trading is going to get Bigger, Stronger and more Prevalent

Posted on August 3, 2011. Filed under: Event Announcements, Flash Crash, Technology | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

For John Netto, one of the leading high-frequency traders featured in Edgar Perez’s The Speed Traders: An Insider’s Look at the New High-Frequency Trading Phenomenon That is Transforming the Investing World, high-frequency trading is going to get bigger, stronger and more prevalent. “There are potential regulatory changes that might impact the growth of high-frequency trading; that is always a possibility. They have talked about co-location and proximity legislation but who knows how it all shakes and if the desired results from this legislation are accomplished.”

Netto is the Founder and President of M3 Capital. Mr. Netto has worked with buy-side firms, sell-side firms, and technology providers on more efficiently combining structure, strategy, and personnel to increase trading profits. Mr. Netto has presented on behalf of Eurex, CME Group, The ICE, ISE, Interactive Brokers, Thomson Reuters, Profit-Loss Forex Conferences and Golden Networking as well as appearing regularly on Forex TV, Fox Business Channel, The Money Show Video Network, and many other media outlets.

Mr. Netto sees more traditional investment managers expanding into high-frequency trading; more managers are using technology as in means of investing. Similarly, he sees more institutional investors allocating part of their asset base to quantitative trading strategies. He adds: “I think at this moment the future is more than just technology, as it is already very robust; it would be more about the adoption of the technology which will determine how fast things go. Not every exchange has the same technology or robust infrastructure; I think what we will see is that more and more firms, more and more exchanges around the world get caught up and then it will be about the interchangeability of the technology. And not just from a hardware standpoint but also from a software standpoint. Issues such as ‘what exchange trade data can we give up to another exchange trade data’, and ‘how that data gets aggregated’. Considering the current environment, the future will be more about data aggregation and data processing, and getting that data in the hands of the right people than who will build the fastest server.”

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For Renowned Speed Trader, Humans Not Allowed Anywhere Near High-Frequency Execution System

Posted on July 27, 2011. Filed under: Flash Crash, Strategies, Technology | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

It took a while for Adam Afshar, one of the leading high-frequency traders featured in Edgar Perez’s The Speed Traders: An Insider’s Look at the New High-Frequency Trading Phenomenon That is Transforming the Investing World, to believe that the markets were more or less efficient under normal circumstances and to realize that the analysts at most firms provided no value and sometimes a negative value. He says, “My first attempt at using the computer was to build a system to help traders have better information faster to enable them or their portfolio managers to make better decisions, a sort of hybrid system where the computers are helping the humans. But, in less than a year, I realized that discretionary human participation in selection, portfolio management , or trading was so deleterious that no amount of computer power or intellectual algorithms  could mitigate it.”

Adam Afshar

Adam Afshar, Renowned Speed Trader- Hyde Park Global Investments

He adds: “It’s very important to stress this point because if the system allows human discretion at any level (idea generation, portfolio management, or trading) and your machine does not have the human discretionary elements modeled correctly in its learning algorithm (which we claim is not possible at this time), what you are left with is simply a quantitative trader  that uses certain calculations to assist his or her trading. It becomes difficult or even impossible to assess whether the success or failure was due to the calculations, formula, or algorithms . Although we can argue on the pros and cons of humans as traders, we have to agree that this method is not and cannot be scientific. It is not scientific because it is not possible to backtest a model that allows any discretionary human intervention. For example, if you have computers  that are generating trades, but the execution is done by humans, then we would argue that you cannot determine whether the success or failure of the system was due to its robust artificial intelligence  or to a very good trader, and there is no way of testing and duplicating the results. Therefore, we would argue that any backtesting becomes essentially void.”

Hyde Park Global Investments, Afshar’s firm, is an investment and trading firm that has developed an artificial intelligence system built primarily on genetic algorithms and other evolutionary models to identify mispricings, arbitrage, and patterns for many electronic financial markets  and the robotic platform  to monetize the opportunities. The firm, which trades its own capital so far, potentially will accept investments from outside sources.

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