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Thomas Huault

Thomas Huault

2 months ago

A Mean Reversion Trading Indicator Inspired by Classical Mechanics Is The Kinetic Detrender

More on Economics & Investing

Theresa W. Carey

Theresa W. Carey

5 months ago

How Payment for Order Flow (PFOF) Works

What is PFOF?

PFOF is a brokerage firm's compensation for directing orders to different parties for trade execution. The brokerage firm receives fractions of a penny per share for directing the order to a market maker.

Each optionable stock could have thousands of contracts, so market makers dominate options trades. Order flow payments average less than $0.50 per option contract.

Order Flow Payments (PFOF) Explained

The proliferation of exchanges and electronic communication networks has complicated equity and options trading (ECNs) Ironically, Bernard Madoff, the Ponzi schemer, pioneered pay-for-order-flow.

In a December 2000 study on PFOF, the SEC said, "Payment for order flow is a method of transferring trading profits from market making to brokers who route customer orders to specialists for execution."

Given the complexity of trading thousands of stocks on multiple exchanges, market making has grown. Market makers are large firms that specialize in a set of stocks and options, maintaining an inventory of shares and contracts for buyers and sellers. Market makers are paid the bid-ask spread. Spreads have narrowed since 2001, when exchanges switched to decimals. A market maker's ability to play both sides of trades is key to profitability.

Benefits, requirements

A broker receives fees from a third party for order flow, sometimes without a client's knowledge. This invites conflicts of interest and criticism. Regulation NMS from 2005 requires brokers to disclose their policies and financial relationships with market makers.

Your broker must tell you if it's paid to send your orders to specific parties. This must be done at account opening and annually. The firm must disclose whether it participates in payment-for-order-flow and, upon request, every paid order. Brokerage clients can request payment data on specific transactions, but the response takes weeks.

Order flow payments save money. Smaller brokerage firms can benefit from routing orders through market makers and getting paid. This allows brokerage firms to send their orders to another firm to be executed with other orders, reducing costs. The market maker or exchange benefits from additional share volume, so it pays brokerage firms to direct traffic.

Retail investors, who lack bargaining power, may benefit from order-filling competition. Arrangements to steer the business in one direction invite wrongdoing, which can erode investor confidence in financial markets and their players.

Pay-for-order-flow criticism

It has always been controversial. Several firms offering zero-commission trades in the late 1990s routed orders to untrustworthy market makers. During the end of fractional pricing, the smallest stock spread was $0.125. Options spreads widened. Traders found that some of their "free" trades cost them a lot because they weren't getting the best price.

The SEC then studied the issue, focusing on options trades, and nearly decided to ban PFOF. The proliferation of options exchanges narrowed spreads because there was more competition for executing orders. Options market makers said their services provided liquidity. In its conclusion, the report said, "While increased multiple-listing produced immediate economic benefits to investors in the form of narrower quotes and effective spreads, these improvements have been muted with the spread of payment for order flow and internalization." 

The SEC allowed payment for order flow to continue to prevent exchanges from gaining monopoly power. What would happen to trades if the practice was outlawed was also unclear. SEC requires brokers to disclose financial arrangements with market makers. Since then, the SEC has watched closely.

2020 Order Flow Payment

Rule 605 and Rule 606 show execution quality and order flow payment statistics on a broker's website. Despite being required by the SEC, these reports can be hard to find. The SEC mandated these reports in 2005, but the format and reporting requirements have changed over the years, most recently in 2018.

Brokers and market makers formed a working group with the Financial Information Forum (FIF) to standardize order execution quality reporting. Only one retail brokerage (Fidelity) and one market maker remain (Two Sigma Securities). FIF notes that the 605/606 reports "do not provide the level of information that allows a retail investor to gauge how well a broker-dealer fills a retail order compared to the NBBO (national best bid or offer’) at the time the order was received by the executing broker-dealer."

In the first quarter of 2020, Rule 606 reporting changed to require brokers to report net payments from market makers for S&P 500 and non-S&P 500 equity trades and options trades. Brokers must disclose payment rates per 100 shares by order type (market orders, marketable limit orders, non-marketable limit orders, and other orders).

Richard Repetto, Managing Director of New York-based Piper Sandler & Co., publishes a report on Rule 606 broker reports. Repetto focused on Charles Schwab, TD Ameritrade, E-TRADE, and Robinhood in Q2 2020. Repetto reported that payment for order flow was higher in the second quarter than the first due to increased trading activity, and that options paid more than equities.

Repetto says PFOF contributions rose overall. Schwab has the lowest options rates, while TD Ameritrade and Robinhood have the highest. Robinhood had the highest equity rating. Repetto assumes Robinhood's ability to charge higher PFOF reflects their order flow profitability and that they receive a fixed rate per spread (vs. a fixed rate per share by the other brokers).

Robinhood's PFOF in equities and options grew the most quarter-over-quarter of the four brokers Piper Sandler analyzed, as did their implied volumes. All four brokers saw higher PFOF rates.

TD Ameritrade took the biggest income hit when cutting trading commissions in fall 2019, and this report shows they're trying to make up the shortfall by routing orders for additional PFOF. Robinhood refuses to disclose trading statistics using the same metrics as the rest of the industry, offering only a vague explanation on their website.

Summary

Payment for order flow has become a major source of revenue as brokers offer no-commission equity (stock and ETF) orders. For retail investors, payment for order flow poses a problem because the brokerage may route orders to a market maker for its own benefit, not the investor's.

Infrequent or small-volume traders may not notice their broker's PFOF practices. Frequent traders and those who trade larger quantities should learn about their broker's order routing system to ensure they're not losing out on price improvement due to a broker prioritizing payment for order flow.


This post is a summary. Read full article here

Sofien Kaabar, CFA

Sofien Kaabar, CFA

16 days ago

How to Make a Trading Heatmap

Python Heatmap Technical Indicator

Heatmaps provide an instant overview. They can be used with correlations or to predict reactions or confirm the trend in trading. This article covers RSI heatmap creation.

The Market System

Market regime:

  • Bullish trend: The market tends to make higher highs, which indicates that the overall trend is upward.

  • Sideways: The market tends to fluctuate while staying within predetermined zones.

  • Bearish trend: The market has the propensity to make lower lows, indicating that the overall trend is downward.

Most tools detect the trend, but we cannot predict the next state. The best way to solve this problem is to assume the current state will continue and trade any reactions, preferably in the trend.

If the EURUSD is above its moving average and making higher highs, a trend-following strategy would be to wait for dips before buying and assuming the bullish trend will continue.

Indicator of Relative Strength

J. Welles Wilder Jr. introduced the RSI, a popular and versatile technical indicator. Used as a contrarian indicator to exploit extreme reactions. Calculating the default RSI usually involves these steps:

  • Determine the difference between the closing prices from the prior ones.

  • Distinguish between the positive and negative net changes.

  • Create a smoothed moving average for both the absolute values of the positive net changes and the negative net changes.

  • Take the difference between the smoothed positive and negative changes. The Relative Strength RS will be the name we use to describe this calculation.

  • To obtain the RSI, use the normalization formula shown below for each time step.

GBPUSD in the first panel with the 13-period RSI in the second panel.

The 13-period RSI and black GBPUSD hourly values are shown above. RSI bounces near 25 and pauses around 75. Python requires a four-column OHLC array for RSI coding.

import numpy as np
def add_column(data, times):
    
    for i in range(1, times + 1):
    
        new = np.zeros((len(data), 1), dtype = float)
        
        data = np.append(data, new, axis = 1)
    return data
def delete_column(data, index, times):
    
    for i in range(1, times + 1):
    
        data = np.delete(data, index, axis = 1)
    return data
def delete_row(data, number):
    
    data = data[number:, ]
    
    return data
def ma(data, lookback, close, position): 
    
    data = add_column(data, 1)
    
    for i in range(len(data)):
           
            try:
                
                data[i, position] = (data[i - lookback + 1:i + 1, close].mean())
            
            except IndexError:
                
                pass
            
    data = delete_row(data, lookback)
    
    return data
def smoothed_ma(data, alpha, lookback, close, position):
    
    lookback = (2 * lookback) - 1
    
    alpha = alpha / (lookback + 1.0)
    
    beta  = 1 - alpha
    
    data = ma(data, lookback, close, position)
    data[lookback + 1, position] = (data[lookback + 1, close] * alpha) + (data[lookback, position] * beta)
    for i in range(lookback + 2, len(data)):
        
            try:
                
                data[i, position] = (data[i, close] * alpha) + (data[i - 1, position] * beta)
        
            except IndexError:
                
                pass
            
    return data
def rsi(data, lookback, close, position):
    
    data = add_column(data, 5)
    
    for i in range(len(data)):
        
        data[i, position] = data[i, close] - data[i - 1, close]
     
    for i in range(len(data)):
        
        if data[i, position] > 0:
            
            data[i, position + 1] = data[i, position]
            
        elif data[i, position] < 0:
            
            data[i, position + 2] = abs(data[i, position])
            
    data = smoothed_ma(data, 2, lookback, position + 1, position + 3)
    data = smoothed_ma(data, 2, lookback, position + 2, position + 4)
    data[:, position + 5] = data[:, position + 3] / data[:, position + 4]
    
    data[:, position + 6] = (100 - (100 / (1 + data[:, position + 5])))
    data = delete_column(data, position, 6)
    data = delete_row(data, lookback)
    return data

Make sure to focus on the concepts and not the code. You can find the codes of most of my strategies in my books. The most important thing is to comprehend the techniques and strategies.

My weekly market sentiment report uses complex and simple models to understand the current positioning and predict the future direction of several major markets. Check out the report here:

Using the Heatmap to Find the Trend

RSI trend detection is easy but useless. Bullish and bearish regimes are in effect when the RSI is above or below 50, respectively. Tracing a vertical colored line creates the conditions below. How:

  • When the RSI is higher than 50, a green vertical line is drawn.

  • When the RSI is lower than 50, a red vertical line is drawn.

Zooming out yields a basic heatmap, as shown below.

100-period RSI heatmap.

Plot code:

def indicator_plot(data, second_panel, window = 250):
    fig, ax = plt.subplots(2, figsize = (10, 5))
    sample = data[-window:, ]
    for i in range(len(sample)):
        ax[0].vlines(x = i, ymin = sample[i, 2], ymax = sample[i, 1], color = 'black', linewidth = 1)  
        if sample[i, 3] > sample[i, 0]:
            ax[0].vlines(x = i, ymin = sample[i, 0], ymax = sample[i, 3], color = 'black', linewidth = 1.5)  
        if sample[i, 3] < sample[i, 0]:
            ax[0].vlines(x = i, ymin = sample[i, 3], ymax = sample[i, 0], color = 'black', linewidth = 1.5)  
        if sample[i, 3] == sample[i, 0]:
            ax[0].vlines(x = i, ymin = sample[i, 3], ymax = sample[i, 0], color = 'black', linewidth = 1.5)  
    ax[0].grid() 
    for i in range(len(sample)):
        if sample[i, second_panel] > 50:
            ax[1].vlines(x = i, ymin = 0, ymax = 100, color = 'green', linewidth = 1.5)  
        if sample[i, second_panel] < 50:
            ax[1].vlines(x = i, ymin = 0, ymax = 100, color = 'red', linewidth = 1.5)  
    ax[1].grid()
indicator_plot(my_data, 4, window = 500)

100-period RSI heatmap.

Call RSI on your OHLC array's fifth column. 4. Adjusting lookback parameters reduces lag and false signals. Other indicators and conditions are possible.

Another suggestion is to develop an RSI Heatmap for Extreme Conditions.

Contrarian indicator RSI. The following rules apply:

  • Whenever the RSI is approaching the upper values, the color approaches red.

  • The color tends toward green whenever the RSI is getting close to the lower values.

Zooming out yields a basic heatmap, as shown below.

13-period RSI heatmap.

Plot code:

import matplotlib.pyplot as plt
def indicator_plot(data, second_panel, window = 250):
    fig, ax = plt.subplots(2, figsize = (10, 5))
    sample = data[-window:, ]
    for i in range(len(sample)):
        ax[0].vlines(x = i, ymin = sample[i, 2], ymax = sample[i, 1], color = 'black', linewidth = 1)  
        if sample[i, 3] > sample[i, 0]:
            ax[0].vlines(x = i, ymin = sample[i, 0], ymax = sample[i, 3], color = 'black', linewidth = 1.5)  
        if sample[i, 3] < sample[i, 0]:
            ax[0].vlines(x = i, ymin = sample[i, 3], ymax = sample[i, 0], color = 'black', linewidth = 1.5)  
        if sample[i, 3] == sample[i, 0]:
            ax[0].vlines(x = i, ymin = sample[i, 3], ymax = sample[i, 0], color = 'black', linewidth = 1.5)  
    ax[0].grid() 
    for i in range(len(sample)):
        if sample[i, second_panel] > 90:
            ax[1].vlines(x = i, ymin = 0, ymax = 100, color = 'red', linewidth = 1.5)  
        if sample[i, second_panel] > 80 and sample[i, second_panel] < 90:
            ax[1].vlines(x = i, ymin = 0, ymax = 100, color = 'darkred', linewidth = 1.5)  
        if sample[i, second_panel] > 70 and sample[i, second_panel] < 80:
            ax[1].vlines(x = i, ymin = 0, ymax = 100, color = 'maroon', linewidth = 1.5)  
        if sample[i, second_panel] > 60 and sample[i, second_panel] < 70:
            ax[1].vlines(x = i, ymin = 0, ymax = 100, color = 'firebrick', linewidth = 1.5) 
        if sample[i, second_panel] > 50 and sample[i, second_panel] < 60:
            ax[1].vlines(x = i, ymin = 0, ymax = 100, color = 'grey', linewidth = 1.5) 
        if sample[i, second_panel] > 40 and sample[i, second_panel] < 50:
            ax[1].vlines(x = i, ymin = 0, ymax = 100, color = 'grey', linewidth = 1.5) 
        if sample[i, second_panel] > 30 and sample[i, second_panel] < 40:
            ax[1].vlines(x = i, ymin = 0, ymax = 100, color = 'lightgreen', linewidth = 1.5)
        if sample[i, second_panel] > 20 and sample[i, second_panel] < 30:
            ax[1].vlines(x = i, ymin = 0, ymax = 100, color = 'limegreen', linewidth = 1.5) 
        if sample[i, second_panel] > 10 and sample[i, second_panel] < 20:
            ax[1].vlines(x = i, ymin = 0, ymax = 100, color = 'seagreen', linewidth = 1.5)  
        if sample[i, second_panel] > 0 and sample[i, second_panel] < 10:
            ax[1].vlines(x = i, ymin = 0, ymax = 100, color = 'green', linewidth = 1.5)
    ax[1].grid()
indicator_plot(my_data, 4, window = 500)

13-period RSI heatmap.

Dark green and red areas indicate imminent bullish and bearish reactions, respectively. RSI around 50 is grey.

Summary

To conclude, my goal is to contribute to objective technical analysis, which promotes more transparent methods and strategies that must be back-tested before implementation.

Technical analysis will lose its reputation as subjective and unscientific.

When you find a trading strategy or technique, follow these steps:

  • Put emotions aside and adopt a critical mindset.

  • Test it in the past under conditions and simulations taken from real life.

  • Try optimizing it and performing a forward test if you find any potential.

  • Transaction costs and any slippage simulation should always be included in your tests.

  • Risk management and position sizing should always be considered in your tests.

After checking the above, monitor the strategy because market dynamics may change and make it unprofitable.

Liam Vaughan

Liam Vaughan

6 months ago

Investors can bet big on almost anything on a new prediction market.

Kalshi allows five-figure bets on the Grammys, the next Covid wave, and future SEC commissioners. Worst-case scenario

On Election Day 2020, two young entrepreneurs received a call from the CFTC chairman. Luana Lopes Lara and Tarek Mansour spent 18 months trying to start a new type of financial exchange. Instead of betting on stock prices or commodity futures, people could trade instruments tied to real-world events, such as legislation, the weather, or the Oscar winner.

Heath Tarbert, a Trump appointee, shouted "Congratulations." "You're competing with 1840s-era markets. I'm sure you'll become a powerhouse too."

Companies had tried to introduce similar event markets in the US for years, but Tarbert's agency, the CFTC, said no, arguing they were gambling and prone to cheating. Now the agency has reversed course, approving two 24-year-olds who will have first-mover advantage in what could become a huge new asset class. Kalshi Inc. raised $30 million from venture capitalists within weeks of Tarbert's call, his representative says. Mansour, 26, believes this will be bigger than crypto.

Anyone who's read The Wisdom of Crowds knows prediction markets' potential. Well-designed markets can help draw out knowledge from disparate groups, and research shows that when money is at stake, people make better predictions. Lopes Lara calls it a "bullshit tax." That's why Google, Microsoft, and even the US Department of Defense use prediction markets internally to guide decisions, and why university-linked political betting sites like PredictIt sometimes outperform polls.

Regulators feared Wall Street-scale trading would encourage investors to manipulate reality. If the stakes are high enough, traders could pressure congressional staffers to stall a bill or bet on whether Kanye West's new album will drop this week. When Lopes Lara and Mansour pitched the CFTC, senior regulators raised these issues. Politically appointed commissioners overruled their concerns, and one later joined Kalshi's board.

Will Kanye’s new album come out next week? Yes or no?

Kalshi's victory was due more to lobbying and legal wrangling than to Silicon Valley-style innovation. Lopes Lara and Mansour didn't invent anything; they changed a well-established concept's governance. The result could usher in a new era of market-based enlightenment or push Wall Street's destructive tendencies into the real world.

If Kalshi's founders lacked experience to bolster their CFTC application, they had comical youth success. Lopes Lara studied ballet at the Brazilian Bolshoi before coming to the US. Mansour won France's math Olympiad. They bonded over their work ethic in an MIT computer science class.

Lopes Lara had the idea for Kalshi while interning at a New York hedge fund. When the traders around her weren't working, she noticed they were betting on the news: Would Apple hit a trillion dollars? Kylie Jenner? "It was anything," she says.

Are mortgage rates going up? Yes or no?

Mansour saw the business potential when Lopes Lara suggested it. He interned at Goldman Sachs Group Inc., helping investors prepare for the UK leaving the EU. Goldman sold clients complex stock-and-derivative combinations. As he discussed it with Lopes Lara, they agreed that investors should hedge their risk by betting on Brexit itself rather than an imperfect proxy.

Lopes Lara and Mansour hypothesized how a marketplace might work. They settled on a "event contract," a binary-outcome instrument like "Will inflation hit 5% by the end of the month?" The contract would settle at $1 (if the event happened) or zero (if it didn't), but its price would fluctuate based on market sentiment. After a good debate, a politician's election odds may rise from 50 to 55. Kalshi would charge a commission on every trade and sell data to traders, political campaigns, businesses, and others.

In October 2018, five months after graduation, the pair flew to California to compete in a hackathon for wannabe tech founders organized by the Silicon Valley incubator Y Combinator. They built a website in a day and a night and presented it to entrepreneurs the next day. Their prototype barely worked, but they won a three-month mentorship program and $150,000. Michael Seibel, managing director of Y Combinator, said of their idea, "I had to take a chance!"

Will there be another moon landing by 2025?

Seibel's skepticism was rooted in America's historical wariness of gambling. Roulette, poker, and other online casino games are largely illegal, and sports betting was only legal in a few states until May 2018. Kalshi as a risk-hedging platform rather than a bookmaker seemed like a good idea, but convincing the CFTC wouldn't be easy. In 2012, the CFTC said trading on politics had no "economic purpose" and was "contrary to the public interest."

Lopes Lara and Mansour cold-called 60 Googled lawyers during their time at Y Combinator. Everyone advised quitting. Mansour recalls the pain. Jeff Bandman, a former CFTC official, helped them navigate the agency and its characters.

When they weren’t busy trying to recruit lawyers, Lopes Lara and Mansour were meeting early-stage investors. Alfred Lin of Sequoia Capital Operations LLC backed Airbnb, DoorDash, and Uber Technologies. Lin told the founders their idea could capitalize on retail trading and challenge how the financial world manages risk. "Come back with regulatory approval," he said.

In the US, even small bets on most events were once illegal. Under the Commodity Exchange Act, the CFTC can stop exchanges from listing contracts relating to "terrorism, assassination, war" and "gaming" if they are "contrary to the public interest," which was often the case.

Will subway ridership return to normal? Yes or no?

In 1988, as academic interest in the field grew, the agency allowed the University of Iowa to set up a prediction market for research purposes, as long as it didn't make a profit or advertise and limited bets to $500. PredictIt, the biggest and best-known political betting platform in the US, also got an exemption thanks to an association with Victoria University of Wellington in New Zealand. Today, it's a sprawling marketplace with its own subculture and lingo. PredictIt users call it "Rules Cuck Panther" when they lose on a technicality. Major news outlets cite PredictIt's odds on Discord and the Star Spangled Gamblers podcast.

CFTC limits PredictIt bets to $850. To keep traders happy, PredictIt will often run multiple variations of the same question, listing separate contracts for two dozen Democratic primary candidates, for example. A trader could have more than $10,000 riding on a single outcome. Some of the site's traders are current or former campaign staffers who can answer questions like "How many tweets will Donald Trump post from Nov. 20 to 27?" and "When will Anthony Scaramucci's role as White House communications director end?"

According to PredictIt co-founder John Phillips, politicians help explain the site's accuracy. "Prediction markets work well and are accurate because they attract people with superior information," he said in a 2016 podcast. “In the financial stock market, it’s called inside information.”

Will Build Back Better pass? Yes or no?

Trading on nonpublic information is illegal outside of academia, which presented a dilemma for Lopes Lara and Mansour. Kalshi's forecasts needed to be accurate. Kalshi must eliminate insider trading as a regulated entity. Lopes Lara and Mansour wanted to build a high-stakes PredictIt without the anarchy or blurred legal lines—a "New York Stock Exchange for Events." First, they had to convince regulators event trading was safe.

When Lopes Lara and Mansour approached the CFTC in the spring of 2019, some officials in the Division of Market Oversight were skeptical, according to interviews with people involved in the process. For all Kalshi's talk of revolutionizing finance, this was just a turbocharged version of something that had been rejected before.

The DMO couldn't see the big picture. The staff review was supposed to ensure Kalshi could complete a checklist, "23 Core Principles of a Designated Contract Market," which included keeping good records and having enough money. The five commissioners decide. With Trump as president, three of them were ideologically pro-market.

Lopes Lara, Mansour, and their lawyer Bandman, an ex-CFTC official, answered the DMO's questions while lobbying the commissioners on Zoom about the potential of event markets to mitigate risks and make better decisions. Before each meeting, they would write a script and memorize it word for word.

Will student debt be forgiven? Yes or no?

Several prediction markets that hadn't sought regulatory approval bolstered Kalshi's case. Polymarket let customers bet hundreds of thousands of dollars anonymously using cryptocurrencies, making it hard to track. Augur, which facilitates private wagers between parties using blockchain, couldn't regulate bets and hadn't stopped users from betting on assassinations. Kalshi, by comparison, argued it was doing everything right. (The CFTC fined Polymarket $1.4 million for operating an unlicensed exchange in January 2022. Polymarket says it's now compliant and excited to pioneer smart contract-based financial solutions with regulators.

Kalshi was approved unanimously despite some DMO members' concerns about event contracts' riskiness. "Once they check all the boxes, they're in," says a CFTC insider.

Three months after CFTC approval, Kalshi announced funding from Sequoia, Charles Schwab, and Henry Kravis. Sequoia's Lin, who joined the board, said Tarek, Luana, and team created a new way to invest and engage with the world.

The CFTC hadn't asked what markets the exchange planned to run since. After approval, Lopes Lara and Mansour had the momentum. Kalshi's March list of 30 proposed contracts caused chaos at the DMO. The division handles exchanges that create two or three new markets a year. Kalshi’s business model called for new ones practically every day.

Uncontroversial proposals included weather and GDP questions. Others, on the initial list and later, were concerning. DMO officials feared Covid-19 contracts amounted to gambling on human suffering, which is why war and terrorism markets are banned. (Similar logic doomed ex-admiral John Poindexter's Policy Analysis Market, a Bush-era plan to uncover intelligence by having security analysts bet on Middle East events.) Regulators didn't see how predicting the Grammy winners was different from betting on the Patriots to win the Super Bowl. Who, other than John Legend, would need to hedge the best R&B album winner?

Event contracts raised new questions for the DMO's product review team. Regulators could block gaming contracts that weren't in the public interest under the Commodity Exchange Act, but no one had defined gaming. It was unclear whether the CFTC had a right or an obligation to consider whether a contract was in the public interest. How was it to determine public interest? Another person familiar with the CFTC review says, "It was a mess." The agency didn't comment.

CFTC staff feared some event contracts could be cheated. Kalshi wanted to run a bee-endangerment market. The DMO pushed back, saying it saw two problems symptomatic of the asset class: traders could press government officials for information, and officials could delay adding the insects to the list to cash in.

The idea that traders might manipulate prediction markets wasn't paranoid. In 2013, academics David Rothschild and Rajiv Sethi found that an unidentified party lost $7 million buying Mitt Romney contracts on Intrade, a now-defunct, unlicensed Irish platform, in the runup to the 2012 election. The authors speculated that the trader, whom they dubbed the “Romney Whale,” may have been looking to boost morale and keep donations coming in.

Kalshi said manipulation and insider trading are risks for any market. It built a surveillance system and said it would hire a team to monitor it. "People trade on events all the time—they just use options and other instruments. This brings everything into the open, Mansour says. Kalshi didn't include election contracts, a red line for CFTC Democrats.

Lopes Lara and Mansour were ready to launch kalshi.com that summer, but the DMO blocked them. Product reviewers were frustrated by spending half their time on an exchange that represented a tiny portion of the derivatives market. Lopes Lara and Mansour pressed politically appointed commissioners during the impasse.

Tarbert, the chairman, had moved on, but Kalshi found a new supporter in Republican Brian Quintenz, a crypto-loving former hedge fund manager. He was unmoved by the DMO's concerns, arguing that speculation on Kalshi's proposed events was desirable and the agency had no legal standing to prevent it. He supported a failed bid to allow NFL futures earlier this year. Others on the commission were cautious but supportive. Given the law's ambiguity, they worried they'd be on shaky ground if Kalshi sued if they blocked a contract. Without a permanent chairman, the agency lacked leadership.

To block a contract, DMO staff needed a majority of commissioners' support, which they didn't have in all but a few cases. "We didn't have the votes," a reviewer says, paraphrasing Hamilton. By the second half of 2021, new contract requests were arriving almost daily at the DMO, and the demoralized and overrun division eventually accepted defeat and stopped fighting back. By the end of the year, three senior DMO officials had left the agency, making it easier for Kalshi to list its contracts unimpeded.

Today, Kalshi is growing. 32 employees work in a SoHo office with big windows and exposed brick. Quintenz, who left the CFTC 10 months after Kalshi was approved, is on its board. He joined because he was interested in the market's hedging and risk management opportunities.

Mid-May, the company's website had 75 markets, such as "Will Q4 GDP be negative?" Will NASA land on the moon by 2025? The exchange recently reached 2 million weekly contracts, a jump from where it started but still a small number compared to other futures exchanges. Early adopters are PredictIt and Polymarket fans. Bets on the site are currently capped at $25,000, but Kalshi hopes to increase that to $100,000 and beyond.

With the regulatory drawbridge down, Lopes Lara and Mansour must move quickly. Chicago's CME Group Inc. plans to offer index-linked event contracts. Kalshi will release a smartphone app to attract customers. After that, it hopes to partner with a big brokerage. Sequoia is a major investor in Robinhood Markets Inc. Robinhood users could have access to Kalshi so that after buying GameStop Corp. shares, they'd be prompted to bet on the Oscars or the next Fed commissioner.

Some, like Illinois Democrat Sean Casten, accuse Robinhood and its competitors of gamifying trading to encourage addiction, but Kalshi doesn't seem worried. Mansour says Kalshi's customers can't bet more than they've deposited, making debt difficult. Eventually, he may introduce leveraged bets.

Tension over event contracts recalls another CFTC episode. Brooksley Born proposed regulating the financial derivatives market in 1994. Alan Greenspan and others in the government opposed her, saying it would stifle innovation and push capital overseas. Unrestrained, derivatives grew into a trillion-dollar industry until 2008, when they sparked the financial crisis.

Today, with a midterm election looming, it seems reasonable to ask whether Kalshi plans to get involved. Elections have historically been the biggest draw in prediction markets, with 125 million shares traded on PredictIt for 2020. “We can’t discuss specifics,” Mansour says. “All I can say is, you know, we’re always working on expanding the universe of things that people can trade on.”

Any election contracts would need CFTC approval, which may be difficult with three Democratic commissioners. A Republican president would change the equation.

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cdixon

cdixon

5 months ago

2000s Toys, Secrets, and Cycles

During the dot-com bust, I started my internet career. People used the internet intermittently to check email, plan travel, and do research. The average internet user spent 30 minutes online a day, compared to 7 today. To use the internet, you had to "log on" (most people still used dial-up), unlike today's always-on, high-speed mobile internet. In 2001, Amazon's market cap was $2.2B, 1/500th of what it is today. A study asked Americans if they'd adopt broadband, and most said no. They didn't see a need to speed up email, the most popular internet use. The National Academy of Sciences ranked the internet 13th among the 100 greatest inventions, below radio and phones. The internet was a cool invention, but it had limited uses and wasn't a good place to build a business. 

A small but growing movement of developers and founders believed the internet could be more than a read-only medium, allowing anyone to create and publish. This is web 2. The runner up name was read-write web. (These terms were used in prominent publications and conferences.) 

Web 2 concepts included letting users publish whatever they want ("user generated content" was a buzzword), social graphs, APIs and mashups (what we call composability today), and tagging over hierarchical navigation. Technical innovations occurred. A seemingly simple but important one was dynamically updating web pages without reloading. This is now how people expect web apps to work. Mobile devices that could access the web were niche (I was an avid Sidekick user). 

The contrast between what smart founders and engineers discussed over dinner and on weekends and what the mainstream tech world took seriously during the week was striking. Enterprise security appliances, essentially preloaded servers with security software, were a popular trend. Many of the same people would talk about "serious" products at work, then talk about consumer internet products and web 2. It was tech's biggest news. Web 2 products were seen as toys, not real businesses. They were hobbies, not work-related. 

There's a strong correlation between rich product design spaces and what smart people find interesting, which took me some time to learn and led to blog posts like "The next big thing will start out looking like a toy" Web 2's novel product design possibilities sparked dinner and weekend conversations. Imagine combining these features. What if you used this pattern elsewhere? What new product ideas are next? This excited people. "Serious stuff" like security appliances seemed more limited. 

The small and passionate web 2 community also stood out. I attended the first New York Tech meetup in 2004. Everyone fit in Meetup's small conference room. Late at night, people demoed their software and chatted. I have old friends. Sometimes I get asked how I first met old friends like Fred Wilson and Alexis Ohanian. These topics didn't interest many people, especially on the east coast. We were friends. Real community. Alex Rampell, who now works with me at a16z, is someone I met in 2003 when a friend said, "Hey, I met someone else interested in consumer internet." Rare. People were focused and enthusiastic. Revolution seemed imminent. We knew a secret nobody else did. 

My web 2 startup was called SiteAdvisor. When my co-founders and I started developing the idea in 2003, web security was out of control. Phishing and spyware were common on Internet Explorer PCs. SiteAdvisor was designed to warn users about security threats like phishing and spyware, and then, using web 2 concepts like user-generated reviews, add more subjective judgments (similar to what TrustPilot seems to do today). This staged approach was common at the time; I called it "Come for the tool, stay for the network." We built APIs, encouraged mashups, and did SEO marketing. 

Yahoo's 2005 acquisitions of Flickr and Delicious boosted web 2 in 2005. By today's standards, the amounts were small, around $30M each, but it was a signal. Web 2 was assumed to be a fun hobby, a way to build cool stuff, but not a business. Yahoo was a savvy company that said it would make web 2 a priority. 

As I recall, that's when web 2 started becoming mainstream tech. Early web 2 founders transitioned successfully. Other entrepreneurs built on the early enthusiasts' work. Competition shifted from ideation to execution. You had to decide if you wanted to be an idealistic indie bar band or a pragmatic stadium band. 

Web 2 was booming in 2007 Facebook passed 10M users, Twitter grew and got VC funding, and Google bought YouTube. The 2008 financial crisis tested entrepreneurs' resolve. Smart people predicted another great depression as tech funding dried up. 

Many people struggled during the recession. 2008-2011 was a golden age for startups. By 2009, talented founders were flooding Apple's iPhone app store. Mobile apps were booming. Uber, Venmo, Snap, and Instagram were all founded between 2009 and 2011. Social media (which had replaced web 2), cloud computing (which enabled apps to scale server side), and smartphones converged. Even if social, cloud, and mobile improve linearly, the combination could improve exponentially. 

This chart shows how I view product and financial cycles. Product and financial cycles evolve separately. The Nasdaq index is a proxy for the financial sentiment. Financial sentiment wildly fluctuates. 

Next row shows iconic startup or product years. Bottom-row product cycles dictate timing. Product cycles are more predictable than financial cycles because they follow internal logic. In the incubation phase, enthusiasts build products for other enthusiasts on nights and weekends. When the right mix of technology, talent, and community knowledge arrives, products go mainstream. (I show the biggest tech cycles in the chart, but smaller ones happen, like web 2 in the 2000s and fintech and SaaS in the 2010s.) 

Tech has changed since the 2000s. Few tech giants dominate the internet, exerting economic and cultural influence. In the 2000s, web 2 was ignored or dismissed as trivial. Entrenched interests respond aggressively to new movements that could threaten them. Creative patterns from the 2000s continue today, driven by enthusiasts who see possibilities where others don't. Know where to look. Crypto and web 3 are where I'd start. 

Today's negative financial sentiment reminds me of 2008. If we face a prolonged downturn, we can learn from 2008 by preserving capital and focusing on the long term. Keep an eye on the product cycle. Smart people are interested in things with product potential. This becomes true. Toys become necessities. Hobbies become mainstream. Optimists build the future, not cynics.


Full article is available here

Alison Randel

Alison Randel

2 months ago

Raising the Bar on Your 1:1s

Photo by Anotia Wang @anotia

Managers spend much time in 1:1s. Most team members meet with supervisors regularly. 1:1s can help create relationships and tackle tough topics. Few appreciate the 1:1 format's potential. Most of the time, that potential is spent on small talk, surface-level updates, and ranting (Ugh, the marketing team isn’t stepping up the way I want them to).

What if you used that time to have deeper conversations and important insights? What if change was easy?

This post introduces a new 1:1 format to help you dive deeper, faster, and develop genuine relationships without losing impact.

A 1:1 is a chat, you would assume. Why use structure to talk to a coworker? Go! I know how to talk to people. I can write. I've always written. Also, This article was edited by Zoe.

Before you discard something, ask yourself if there's a good reason not to try anything new. Is the 1:1 only a talk, or do you want extra benefits? Try the steps below to discover more.

I. Reflection (5 minutes)

Context-free, broad comments waste time and are useless. Instead, give team members 5 minutes to write these 3 prompts.

  1. What's effective?

  2. What is decent but could be improved?

  3. What is broken or missing?

Why these? They encourage people to be honest about all their experiences. Answering these questions helps people realize something isn't working. These prompts let people consider what's working.

Why take notes? Because you get more in less time. Will you feel awkward sitting quietly while your coworker writes? Probably. Persevere. Multi-task. Take a break from your afternoon meeting marathon. Any awkwardness will pay off.

What happens? After a few minutes of light conversation, create a template like the one given here and have team members fill in their replies. You can pre-share the template (with the caveat that this isn’t meant to take much prep time). Do this with your coworker: Answer the prompts. Everyone can benefit from pondering and obtaining guidance.

This step's output.

Part II: Talk (10-20 minutes)

Most individuals can explain what they see but not what's behind an answer. You don't like a meeting. Why not? Marketing partnership is difficult. What makes working with them difficult? I don't recommend slandering coworkers. Consider how your meetings, decisions, and priorities make work harder. The excellent stuff too. You want to know what's humming so you can reproduce the magic.

First, recognize some facts.

  • Real power dynamics exist. To encourage individuals to be honest, you must provide a safe environment and extend clear invites. Even then, it may take a few 1:1s for someone to feel secure enough to go there in person. It is part of your responsibility to admit that it is normal.

  • Curiosity and self-disclosure are crucial. Most leaders have received training to present themselves as the authorities. However, you will both benefit more from the dialogue if you can be open and honest about your personal experience, ask questions out of real curiosity, and acknowledge the pertinent sacrifices you're making as a leader.

  • Honesty without bias is difficult and important. Due to concern for the feelings of others, people frequently hold back. Or if they do point anything out, they do so in a critical manner. The key is to be open and unapologetic about what you observe while not presuming that your viewpoint is correct and that of the other person is incorrect.

Let's go into some prompts (based on genuine conversations):

  • “What do you notice across your answers?”

  • “What about the way you/we/they do X, Y, or Z is working well?”

  • “ Will you say more about item X in ‘What’s not working?’”

  • “I’m surprised there isn’t anything about Z. Why is that?”

  • “All of us tend to play some role in maintaining certain patterns. How might you/we be playing a role in this pattern persisting?”

  • “How might the way we meet, make decisions, or collaborate play a role in what’s currently happening?”

Consider the preceding example. What about the Monday meeting isn't working? Why? or What about the way we work with marketing makes collaboration harder? Remember to share your honest observations!

Third section: observe patterns (10-15 minutes)

Leaders desire to empower their people but don't know how. We also have many preconceptions about what empowerment means to us and how it works. The next phase in this 1:1 format will assist you and your team member comprehend team power and empowerment. This understanding can help you support and shift your team member's behavior, especially where you disagree.

How to? After discussing the stated responses, ask each team member what they can control, influence, and not control. Mark their replies. You can do the same, adding colors where you disagree.

This step's output.

Next, consider the color constellation. Discuss these questions:

  • Is one color much more prevalent than the other? Why, if so?

  • Are the colors for the "what's working," "what's fine," and "what's not working" categories clearly distinct? Why, if so?

  • Do you have any disagreements? If yes, specifically where does your viewpoint differ? What activities do you object to? (Remember, there is no right or wrong in this. Give explicit details and ask questions with curiosity.)

Example: Based on the colors, you can ask, Is the marketing meeting's quality beyond your control? Were our marketing partners consulted? Are there any parts of team decisions we can control? We can't control people, but have we explored another decision-making method? How can we collaborate and generate governance-related information to reduce work, even if the requirement for prep can't be eliminated?

Consider the top one or two topics for this conversation. No 1:1 can cover everything, and that's OK. Focus on the present.

Part IV: Determine the next step (5 minutes)

Last, examine what this conversation means for you and your team member. It's easy to think we know the next moves when we don't.

Like what? You and your teammate answer these questions.

  1. What does this signify moving ahead for me? What can I do to change this? Make requests, for instance, and see how people respond before thinking they won't be responsive.

  2. What demands do I have on other people or my partners? What should I do first? E.g. Make a suggestion to marketing that we hold a monthly retrospective so we can address problems and exchange input more frequently. Include it on the meeting's agenda for next Monday.

Close the 1:1 by sharing what you noticed about the chat. Observations? Learn anything?

Yourself, you, and the 1:1

As a leader, you either reinforce or disrupt habits. Try this template if you desire greater ownership, empowerment, or creativity. Consider how you affect surrounding dynamics. How can you expect others to try something new in high-stakes scenarios, like meetings with cross-functional partners or senior stakeholders, if you won't? How can you expect deep thought and relationship if you don't encourage it in 1:1s? What pattern could this new format disrupt or reinforce?

Fight reluctance. First attempts won't be ideal, and that's OK. You'll only learn by trying.

Glorin Santhosh

Glorin Santhosh

19 days ago

In his final days, Steve Jobs sent an email to himself. What It Said Was This

An email capturing Steve Jobs's philosophy.

Photo by Konsepta Studio on Unsplash

Steve Jobs may have been the most inspired and driven entrepreneur.

He worked on projects because he wanted to leave a legacy.

Steve Jobs' final email to himself encapsulated his philosophy.

After his death from pancreatic cancer in October 2011, Laurene Powell Jobs released the email. He was 56.

Read: Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson (#BestSeller)

The Email:

September 2010 Steve Jobs email:

“I grow little of the food I eat, and of the little I do grow, I do not breed or perfect the seeds.” “I do not make my own clothing. I speak a language I did not invent or refine,” he continued. “I did not discover the mathematics I use… I am moved by music I did not create myself.”

Jobs ended his email by reflecting on how others created everything he uses.

He wrote:

“When I needed medical attention, I was helpless to help myself survive.”

From the Steve Jobs Archive

The Apple co-founder concluded by praising humanity.

“I did not invent the transistor, the microprocessor, object-oriented programming, or most of the technology I work with. I love and admire my species, living and dead, and am totally dependent on them for my life and well-being,” he concluded.

The email was made public as a part of the Steve Jobs Archive, a website that was launched in tribute to his legacy.

Steve Jobs' widow founded the internet archive. Apple CEO Tim Cook and former design leader Jony Ive were prominent guests.

Steve Jobs has always inspired because he shows how even the best can be improved.

High expectations were always there, and they were consistently met.

We miss him because he was one of the few with lifelong enthusiasm and persona.