09 Dec 2017

Bitcoin Valuation Fundamentals

Bitcoin has entered the mainstream, though not in a way that is particularly useful. Many, including myself, are calling a bubble in Bitcoin. As with many bubbles when the “mom and pops” and non-professional investors get into a buying frenzy, historically this has been associated with the last stages of a bubble. Momentum from individual buying may persist for some time, potentially in cycles of buying dips, so would not want to get short, without a strong view on sentiment...

29 Oct 2017

Information In Volatility Structure [2]

In the prior post Information In Volatility Structure [1] applied the SABR model to fit noisy raw option price data of approximatelty 700 million prices across a 10 year history of 2700 stocks. The point was to examine a hypothesis:

  • does supply / demand imbalance in the options market express in terms of abnormal vol skew?
  • can abnormal vol skew point to forward market behavior?

First Application

I started by observing both put/call skew and skew...

02 Oct 2017

Roll Your Own RoboAdvisor [1]

I have two pools of capital, one for active trading and another for long-term investment / lower-risk capital preservation. I go through phases of actively managing investment capital and then phases where become too busy to do so properly. It would be convenient to hand off the management to one or more funds, invest and forget, but given the market uncertainties and what I know about wall street, trust is hard to come by. Indeed since the financial crisis, Hedge...

24 Sep 2017

Information In Volatility Structure [1]

I’ve developed signals based on the “spot” market, but had not really explored the options market as a source of information. In particular want to look at discrepancies in option demand / pricing that may relate to future returns or risk. In scenarios where there is an expected dislocation in price, there may be more demand for calls vs puts or vice-versa. Buying pressure on puts or calls will tend to impact the option price (and therefore implied vol), much...

02 May 2015

Market-Making Portfolio & Hedging

With market making we can try to be neutral by skewing prices in such a way as to maintain a neutral position.   To the extent that the market can become 1-sided (in momentum) or may have large sized requests (if offering at different sizes), one’s portfolio may require explicit hedging.

In a live market-making scenario we can determine how we want to hedge on a case-by-case basis and with a view on where it is cheapest to achieve the...

29 Mar 2015

Bitcoin, In its own Universe?

Investors are often looking for uncorrelated returns so as to better diversify.   If one looks at world indices &  equities, there is much less diversity between assets than there was a decade ago, indeed the cross-market correlations are remarkably high.

On the other hand, from a trading perspective, generally want to be able to reduce the risk by hedging or spreading against related assets.   For example in FX, when market making the G10 currencies, one typically offsets inventory risk with...

14 Mar 2015

Musings on HFT in Bitcoin

I have 4 Bitcoin L3 exchange feeds running smoothly out of a data center in California (which is slightly closer to Asian exchanges and Coinbase than the east coast).  It took a bit of error handling and exponential back-off, to handle the unreliability of connectivity with these exchanges, where connections can intermittently be overwhelmed (returning 502 / 503 errors due to the poor choice of a REST-based API).

I am thinking to add Bitstamp and Kraken to the mix, even though they are...

11 Feb 2015

Bitcoin: Needs Cross-Exchange "Prime Brokerage"

Ok, what I am going to say here is probably Bitcoin heresy, in that I am going to advocate more centralized clearing and management of assets wrt exchange trading.

I want to be able to scale trading in bitcoin and execute across multiple exchanges.  However have the following problems

  • lack of trust in (most) of the bitcoin exchanges
    • security of the exchange against attackers
    • degree of trust in the ownership re: my assets on deposit
  • inability to...
10 Feb 2015

Bitcoin L3 Feeds: Status

I have implemented 4 bitcoin exchange interfaces now that produce a live L3 stream of orderbook updates + trades of the form:


Given the above, can reconstitute the orderbook as it moves through time, and can likewise be used to create BBO quotes and bars of different granularities.   The status of the exchange implementations is:


I am looking to run this on a remote machine (preferably linux) and write to an efficient...

08 Feb 2015

Bitcoin Exchanges: State of the Market

In the previous post outlined intention to put together high quality L2/L3 feeds for the top 4-5 bitcoin exchanges, collect L3 data, and provide a consolidated live orderbook for trading.   So far have implemented OKCoin and been experimenting with the others to determine their API capabilities.

With the exception of OKCoin, what I’ve found so far is not good.  Here is a summary of the top-4 exchanges w/ respect to market data APIs (I also included Coinbase with the notion will...

28 Jan 2015

Consolidated Source of Data for Bitcoin

It seems like every other month there is a new bitcoin exchange.  For the purposes of trading research & backtesting it is important to have historical data across the most liquid exchanges.  My minimal list is:

  1. BTC/USD
    1. bitfinex (15%)
    2. bitstamp (5%)
    3. coinbase (new, but likely to garner market share)
  2. BTC/CNY
    1. okcoin (28%)
    2. btcn (44%)

(percentage volume sourced from http://bitcoincharts.com/charts/volumepie/).   Each of these exchanges not only has a unique protocol but also unique...

13 Dec 2014

Thompson Sampling

I recently attended a talk by David Simchi-Levi of MIT, where he discussed an approach to online price discovery for inventory, to maximize some objective, such as profit.   The scenario was where one could observe whether inventory was sold or not-sold to for each potential buyer in the marketplace, giving an empirical view of demand-behavior as a function of price.   The optimal setting in selling the inventory is one that  maximizes price x liquidation probability.

When we have no knowledge about the...

29 Sep 2012

Money Management

It has been almost a year since my last post.  I have been far too busy getting a new trading desk up and running.   I  thought to discuss money management, since am revisiting right now.


It is easy to think that trading signal is the most important aspect of a trading strategy, but money management (and execution) can be even more important.   Loosely defined, money management is a mechanism for position-level risk management.  The mechanism attempts...