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Why i’m bullish on Zilliqa (long read)

Edit: TL;DR added in the comments
 
Hey all, I've been researching coins since 2017 and have gone through 100s of them in the last 3 years. I got introduced to blockchain via Bitcoin of course, analyzed Ethereum thereafter and from that moment I have a keen interest in smart contact platforms. I’m passionate about Ethereum but I find Zilliqa to have a better risk-reward ratio. Especially because Zilliqa has found an elegant balance between being secure, decentralized and scalable in my opinion.
 
Below I post my analysis of why from all the coins I went through I’m most bullish on Zilliqa (yes I went through Tezos, EOS, NEO, VeChain, Harmony, Algorand, Cardano etc.). Note that this is not investment advice and although it's a thorough analysis there is obviously some bias involved. Looking forward to what you all think!
 
Fun fact: the name Zilliqa is a play on ‘silica’ silicon dioxide which means “Silicon for the high-throughput consensus computer.”
 
This post is divided into (i) Technology, (ii) Business & Partnerships, and (iii) Marketing & Community. I’ve tried to make the technology part readable for a broad audience. If you’ve ever tried understanding the inner workings of Bitcoin and Ethereum you should be able to grasp most parts. Otherwise, just skim through and once you are zoning out head to the next part.
 
Technology and some more:
 
Introduction
 
The technology is one of the main reasons why I’m so bullish on Zilliqa. First thing you see on their website is: “Zilliqa is a high-performance, high-security blockchain platform for enterprises and next-generation applications.” These are some bold statements.
 
Before we deep dive into the technology let’s take a step back in time first as they have quite the history. The initial research paper from which Zilliqa originated dates back to August 2016: Elastico: A Secure Sharding Protocol For Open Blockchains where Loi Luu (Kyber Network) is one of the co-authors. Other ideas that led to the development of what Zilliqa has become today are: Bitcoin-NG, collective signing CoSi, ByzCoin and Omniledger.
 
The technical white paper was made public in August 2017 and since then they have achieved everything stated in the white paper and also created their own open source intermediate level smart contract language called Scilla (functional programming language similar to OCaml) too.
 
Mainnet is live since the end of January 2019 with daily transaction rates growing continuously. About a week ago mainnet reached 5 million transactions, 500.000+ addresses in total along with 2400 nodes keeping the network decentralized and secure. Circulating supply is nearing 11 billion and currently only mining rewards are left. The maximum supply is 21 billion with annual inflation being 7.13% currently and will only decrease with time.
 
Zilliqa realized early on that the usage of public cryptocurrencies and smart contracts were increasing but decentralized, secure, and scalable alternatives were lacking in the crypto space. They proposed to apply sharding onto a public smart contract blockchain where the transaction rate increases almost linear with the increase in the amount of nodes. More nodes = higher transaction throughput and increased decentralization. Sharding comes in many forms and Zilliqa uses network-, transaction- and computational sharding. Network sharding opens up the possibility of using transaction- and computational sharding on top. Zilliqa does not use state sharding for now. We’ll come back to this later.
 
Before we continue dissecting how Zilliqa achieves such from a technological standpoint it’s good to keep in mind that a blockchain being decentralised and secure and scalable is still one of the main hurdles in allowing widespread usage of decentralised networks. In my opinion this needs to be solved first before blockchains can get to the point where they can create and add large scale value. So I invite you to read the next section to grasp the underlying fundamentals. Because after all these premises need to be true otherwise there isn’t a fundamental case to be bullish on Zilliqa, right?
 
Down the rabbit hole
 
How have they achieved this? Let’s define the basics first: key players on Zilliqa are the users and the miners. A user is anybody who uses the blockchain to transfer funds or run smart contracts. Miners are the (shard) nodes in the network who run the consensus protocol and get rewarded for their service in Zillings (ZIL). The mining network is divided into several smaller networks called shards, which is also referred to as ‘network sharding’. Miners subsequently are randomly assigned to a shard by another set of miners called DS (Directory Service) nodes. The regular shards process transactions and the outputs of these shards are eventually combined by the DS shard as they reach consensus on the final state. More on how these DS shards reach consensus (via pBFT) will be explained later on.
 
The Zilliqa network produces two types of blocks: DS blocks and Tx blocks. One DS Block consists of 100 Tx Blocks. And as previously mentioned there are two types of nodes concerned with reaching consensus: shard nodes and DS nodes. Becoming a shard node or DS node is being defined by the result of a PoW cycle (Ethash) at the beginning of the DS Block. All candidate mining nodes compete with each other and run the PoW (Proof-of-Work) cycle for 60 seconds and the submissions achieving the highest difficulty will be allowed on the network. And to put it in perspective: the average difficulty for one DS node is ~ 2 Th/s equaling 2.000.000 Mh/s or 55 thousand+ GeForce GTX 1070 / 8 GB GPUs at 35.4 Mh/s. Each DS Block 10 new DS nodes are allowed. And a shard node needs to provide around 8.53 GH/s currently (around 240 GTX 1070s). Dual mining ETH/ETC and ZIL is possible and can be done via mining software such as Phoenix and Claymore. There are pools and if you have large amounts of hashing power (Ethash) available you could mine solo.
 
The PoW cycle of 60 seconds is a peak performance and acts as an entry ticket to the network. The entry ticket is called a sybil resistance mechanism and makes it incredibly hard for adversaries to spawn lots of identities and manipulate the network with these identities. And after every 100 Tx Blocks which corresponds to roughly 1,5 hour this PoW process repeats. In between these 1,5 hour, no PoW needs to be done meaning Zilliqa’s energy consumption to keep the network secure is low. For more detailed information on how mining works click here.
Okay, hats off to you. You have made it this far. Before we go any deeper down the rabbit hole we first must understand why Zilliqa goes through all of the above technicalities and understand a bit more what a blockchain on a more fundamental level is. Because the core of Zilliqa’s consensus protocol relies on the usage of pBFT (practical Byzantine Fault Tolerance) we need to know more about state machines and their function. Navigate to Viewblock, a Zilliqa block explorer, and just come back to this article. We will use this site to navigate through a few concepts.
 
We have established that Zilliqa is a public and distributed blockchain. Meaning that everyone with an internet connection can send ZILs, trigger smart contracts, etc. and there is no central authority who fully controls the network. Zilliqa and other public and distributed blockchains (like Bitcoin and Ethereum) can also be defined as state machines.
 
Taking the liberty of paraphrasing examples and definitions given by Samuel Brooks’ medium article, he describes the definition of a blockchain (like Zilliqa) as: “A peer-to-peer, append-only datastore that uses consensus to synchronize cryptographically-secure data”.
 
Next, he states that: "blockchains are fundamentally systems for managing valid state transitions”. For some more context, I recommend reading the whole medium article to get a better grasp of the definitions and understanding of state machines. Nevertheless, let’s try to simplify and compile it into a single paragraph. Take traffic lights as an example: all its states (red, amber, and green) are predefined, all possible outcomes are known and it doesn’t matter if you encounter the traffic light today or tomorrow. It will still behave the same. Managing the states of a traffic light can be done by triggering a sensor on the road or pushing a button resulting in one traffic lights’ state going from green to red (via amber) and another light from red to green.
 
With public blockchains like Zilliqa, this isn’t so straightforward and simple. It started with block #1 almost 1,5 years ago and every 45 seconds or so a new block linked to the previous block is being added. Resulting in a chain of blocks with transactions in it that everyone can verify from block #1 to the current #647.000+ block. The state is ever changing and the states it can find itself in are infinite. And while the traffic light might work together in tandem with various other traffic lights, it’s rather insignificant comparing it to a public blockchain. Because Zilliqa consists of 2400 nodes who need to work together to achieve consensus on what the latest valid state is while some of these nodes may have latency or broadcast issues, drop offline or are deliberately trying to attack the network, etc.
 
Now go back to the Viewblock page take a look at the amount of transaction, addresses, block and DS height and then hit refresh. Obviously as expected you see new incremented values on one or all parameters. And how did the Zilliqa blockchain manage to transition from a previous valid state to the latest valid state? By using pBFT to reach consensus on the latest valid state.
 
After having obtained the entry ticket, miners execute pBFT to reach consensus on the ever-changing state of the blockchain. pBFT requires a series of network communication between nodes, and as such there is no GPU involved (but CPU). Resulting in the total energy consumed to keep the blockchain secure, decentralized and scalable being low.
 
pBFT stands for practical Byzantine Fault Tolerance and is an optimization on the Byzantine Fault Tolerant algorithm. To quote Blockonomi: “In the context of distributed systems, Byzantine Fault Tolerance is the ability of a distributed computer network to function as desired and correctly reach a sufficient consensus despite malicious components (nodes) of the system failing or propagating incorrect information to other peers.” Zilliqa is such a distributed computer network and depends on the honesty of the nodes (shard and DS) to reach consensus and to continuously update the state with the latest block. If pBFT is a new term for you I can highly recommend the Blockonomi article.
 
The idea of pBFT was introduced in 1999 - one of the authors even won a Turing award for it - and it is well researched and applied in various blockchains and distributed systems nowadays. If you want more advanced information than the Blockonomi link provides click here. And if you’re in between Blockonomi and the University of Singapore read the Zilliqa Design Story Part 2 dating from October 2017.
Quoting from the Zilliqa tech whitepaper: “pBFT relies upon a correct leader (which is randomly selected) to begin each phase and proceed when the sufficient majority exists. In case the leader is byzantine it can stall the entire consensus protocol. To address this challenge, pBFT offers a view change protocol to replace the byzantine leader with another one.”
 
pBFT can tolerate ⅓ of the nodes being dishonest (offline counts as Byzantine = dishonest) and the consensus protocol will function without stalling or hiccups. Once there are more than ⅓ of dishonest nodes but no more than ⅔ the network will be stalled and a view change will be triggered to elect a new DS leader. Only when more than ⅔ of the nodes are dishonest (66%) double-spend attacks become possible.
 
If the network stalls no transactions can be processed and one has to wait until a new honest leader has been elected. When the mainnet was just launched and in its early phases, view changes happened regularly. As of today the last stalling of the network - and view change being triggered - was at the end of October 2019.
 
Another benefit of using pBFT for consensus besides low energy is the immediate finality it provides. Once your transaction is included in a block and the block is added to the chain it’s done. Lastly, take a look at this article where three types of finality are being defined: probabilistic, absolute and economic finality. Zilliqa falls under the absolute finality (just like Tendermint for example). Although lengthy already we skipped through some of the inner workings from Zilliqa’s consensus: read the Zilliqa Design Story Part 3 and you will be close to having a complete picture on it. Enough about PoW, sybil resistance mechanism, pBFT, etc. Another thing we haven’t looked at yet is the amount of decentralization.
 
Decentralisation
 
Currently, there are four shards, each one of them consisting of 600 nodes. 1 shard with 600 so-called DS nodes (Directory Service - they need to achieve a higher difficulty than shard nodes) and 1800 shard nodes of which 250 are shard guards (centralized nodes controlled by the team). The amount of shard guards has been steadily declining from 1200 in January 2019 to 250 as of May 2020. On the Viewblock statistics, you can see that many of the nodes are being located in the US but those are only the (CPU parts of the) shard nodes who perform pBFT. There is no data from where the PoW sources are coming. And when the Zilliqa blockchain starts reaching its transaction capacity limit, a network upgrade needs to be executed to lift the current cap of maximum 2400 nodes to allow more nodes and formation of more shards which will allow to network to keep on scaling according to demand.
Besides shard nodes there are also seed nodes. The main role of seed nodes is to serve as direct access points (for end-users and clients) to the core Zilliqa network that validates transactions. Seed nodes consolidate transaction requests and forward these to the lookup nodes (another type of nodes) for distribution to the shards in the network. Seed nodes also maintain the entire transaction history and the global state of the blockchain which is needed to provide services such as block explorers. Seed nodes in the Zilliqa network are comparable to Infura on Ethereum.
 
The seed nodes were first only operated by Zilliqa themselves, exchanges and Viewblock. Operators of seed nodes like exchanges had no incentive to open them for the greater public. They were centralised at first. Decentralisation at the seed nodes level has been steadily rolled out since March 2020 ( Zilliqa Improvement Proposal 3 ). Currently the amount of seed nodes is being increased, they are public-facing and at the same time PoS is applied to incentivize seed node operators and make it possible for ZIL holders to stake and earn passive yields. Important distinction: seed nodes are not involved with consensus! That is still PoW as entry ticket and pBFT for the actual consensus.
 
5% of the block rewards are being assigned to seed nodes (from the beginning in 2019) and those are being used to pay out ZIL stakers. The 5% block rewards with an annual yield of 10.03% translate to roughly 610 MM ZILs in total that can be staked. Exchanges use the custodial variant of staking and wallets like Moonlet will use the non-custodial version (starting in Q3 2020). Staking is being done by sending ZILs to a smart contract created by Zilliqa and audited by Quantstamp.
 
With a high amount of DS; shard nodes and seed nodes becoming more decentralized too, Zilliqa qualifies for the label of decentralized in my opinion.
 
Smart contracts
 
Let me start by saying I’m not a developer and my programming skills are quite limited. So I‘m taking the ELI5 route (maybe 12) but if you are familiar with Javascript, Solidity or specifically OCaml please head straight to Scilla - read the docs to get a good initial grasp of how Zilliqa’s smart contract language Scilla works and if you ask yourself “why another programming language?” check this article. And if you want to play around with some sample contracts in an IDE click here. The faucet can be found here. And more information on architecture, dapp development and API can be found on the Developer Portal.
If you are more into listening and watching: check this recent webinar explaining Zilliqa and Scilla. Link is time-stamped so you’ll start right away with a platform introduction, roadmap 2020 and afterwards a proper Scilla introduction.
 
Generalized: programming languages can be divided into being ‘object-oriented’ or ‘functional’. Here is an ELI5 given by software development academy: * “all programs have two basic components, data – what the program knows – and behavior – what the program can do with that data. So object-oriented programming states that combining data and related behaviors in one place, is called “object”, which makes it easier to understand how a particular program works. On the other hand, functional programming argues that data and behavior are different things and should be separated to ensure their clarity.” *
 
Scilla is on the functional side and shares similarities with OCaml: OCaml is a general-purpose programming language with an emphasis on expressiveness and safety. It has an advanced type system that helps catch your mistakes without getting in your way. It's used in environments where a single mistake can cost millions and speed matters, is supported by an active community, and has a rich set of libraries and development tools. For all its power, OCaml is also pretty simple, which is one reason it's often used as a teaching language.
 
Scilla is blockchain agnostic, can be implemented onto other blockchains as well, is recognized by academics and won a so-called Distinguished Artifact Award award at the end of last year.
 
One of the reasons why the Zilliqa team decided to create their own programming language focused on preventing smart contract vulnerabilities is that adding logic on a blockchain, programming, means that you cannot afford to make mistakes. Otherwise, it could cost you. It’s all great and fun blockchains being immutable but updating your code because you found a bug isn’t the same as with a regular web application for example. And with smart contracts, it inherently involves cryptocurrencies in some form thus value.
 
Another difference with programming languages on a blockchain is gas. Every transaction you do on a smart contract platform like Zilliqa or Ethereum costs gas. With gas you basically pay for computational costs. Sending a ZIL from address A to address B costs 0.001 ZIL currently. Smart contracts are more complex, often involve various functions and require more gas (if gas is a new concept click here ).
 
So with Scilla, similar to Solidity, you need to make sure that “every function in your smart contract will run as expected without hitting gas limits. An improper resource analysis may lead to situations where funds may get stuck simply because a part of the smart contract code cannot be executed due to gas limits. Such constraints are not present in traditional software systems”. Scilla design story part 1
 
Some examples of smart contract issues you’d want to avoid are: leaking funds, ‘unexpected changes to critical state variables’ (example: someone other than you setting his or her address as the owner of the smart contract after creation) or simply killing a contract.
 
Scilla also allows for formal verification. Wikipedia to the rescue: In the context of hardware and software systems, formal verification is the act of proving or disproving the correctness of intended algorithms underlying a system with respect to a certain formal specification or property, using formal methods of mathematics.
 
Formal verification can be helpful in proving the correctness of systems such as: cryptographic protocols, combinational circuits, digital circuits with internal memory, and software expressed as source code.
 
Scilla is being developed hand-in-hand with formalization of its semantics and its embedding into the Coq proof assistant — a state-of-the art tool for mechanized proofs about properties of programs.”
 
Simply put, with Scilla and accompanying tooling developers can be mathematically sure and proof that the smart contract they’ve written does what he or she intends it to do.
 
Smart contract on a sharded environment and state sharding
 
There is one more topic I’d like to touch on: smart contract execution in a sharded environment (and what is the effect of state sharding). This is a complex topic. I’m not able to explain it any easier than what is posted here. But I will try to compress the post into something easy to digest.
 
Earlier on we have established that Zilliqa can process transactions in parallel due to network sharding. This is where the linear scalability comes from. We can define simple transactions: a transaction from address A to B (Category 1), a transaction where a user interacts with one smart contract (Category 2) and the most complex ones where triggering a transaction results in multiple smart contracts being involved (Category 3). The shards are able to process transactions on their own without interference of the other shards. With Category 1 transactions that is doable, with Category 2 transactions sometimes if that address is in the same shard as the smart contract but with Category 3 you definitely need communication between the shards. Solving that requires to make a set of communication rules the protocol needs to follow in order to process all transactions in a generalised fashion.
 
And this is where the downsides of state sharding comes in currently. All shards in Zilliqa have access to the complete state. Yes the state size (0.1 GB at the moment) grows and all of the nodes need to store it but it also means that they don’t need to shop around for information available on other shards. Requiring more communication and adding more complexity. Computer science knowledge and/or developer knowledge required links if you want to dig further: Scilla - language grammar Scilla - Foundations for Verifiable Decentralised Computations on a Blockchain Gas Accounting NUS x Zilliqa: Smart contract language workshop
 
Easier to follow links on programming Scilla https://learnscilla.com/home Ivan on Tech
 
Roadmap / Zilliqa 2.0
 
There is no strict defined roadmap but here are topics being worked on. And via the Zilliqa website there is also more information on the projects they are working on.
 
Business & Partnerships
 
It’s not only technology in which Zilliqa seems to be excelling as their ecosystem has been expanding and starting to grow rapidly. The project is on a mission to provide OpenFinance (OpFi) to the world and Singapore is the right place to be due to its progressive regulations and futuristic thinking. Singapore has taken a proactive approach towards cryptocurrencies by introducing the Payment Services Act 2019 (PS Act). Among other things, the PS Act will regulate intermediaries dealing with certain cryptocurrencies, with a particular focus on consumer protection and anti-money laundering. It will also provide a stable regulatory licensing and operating framework for cryptocurrency entities, effectively covering all crypto businesses and exchanges based in Singapore. According to PWC 82% of the surveyed executives in Singapore reported blockchain initiatives underway and 13% of them have already brought the initiatives live to the market. There is also an increasing list of organizations that are starting to provide digital payment services. Moreover, Singaporean blockchain developers Building Cities Beyond has recently created an innovation $15 million grant to encourage development on its ecosystem. This all suggests that Singapore tries to position itself as (one of) the leading blockchain hubs in the world.
 
Zilliqa seems to already take advantage of this and recently helped launch Hg Exchange on their platform, together with financial institutions PhillipCapital, PrimePartners and Fundnel. Hg Exchange, which is now approved by the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS), uses smart contracts to represent digital assets. Through Hg Exchange financial institutions worldwide can use Zilliqa's safe-by-design smart contracts to enable the trading of private equities. For example, think of companies such as Grab, Airbnb, SpaceX that are not available for public trading right now. Hg Exchange will allow investors to buy shares of private companies & unicorns and capture their value before an IPO. Anquan, the main company behind Zilliqa, has also recently announced that they became a partner and shareholder in TEN31 Bank, which is a fully regulated bank allowing for tokenization of assets and is aiming to bridge the gap between conventional banking and the blockchain world. If STOs, the tokenization of assets, and equity trading will continue to increase, then Zilliqa’s public blockchain would be the ideal candidate due to its strategic positioning, partnerships, regulatory compliance and the technology that is being built on top of it.
 
What is also very encouraging is their focus on banking the un(der)banked. They are launching a stablecoin basket starting with XSGD. As many of you know, stablecoins are currently mostly used for trading. However, Zilliqa is actively trying to broaden the use case of stablecoins. I recommend everybody to read this text that Amrit Kumar wrote (one of the co-founders). These stablecoins will be integrated in the traditional markets and bridge the gap between the crypto world and the traditional world. This could potentially revolutionize and legitimise the crypto space if retailers and companies will for example start to use stablecoins for payments or remittances, instead of it solely being used for trading.
 
Zilliqa also released their DeFi strategic roadmap (dating November 2019) which seems to be aligning well with their OpFi strategy. A non-custodial DEX is coming to Zilliqa made by Switcheo which allows cross-chain trading (atomic swaps) between ETH, EOS and ZIL based tokens. They also signed a Memorandum of Understanding for a (soon to be announced) USD stablecoin. And as Zilliqa is all about regulations and being compliant, I’m speculating on it to be a regulated USD stablecoin. Furthermore, XSGD is already created and visible on block explorer and XIDR (Indonesian Stablecoin) is also coming soon via StraitsX. Here also an overview of the Tech Stack for Financial Applications from September 2019. Further quoting Amrit Kumar on this:
 
There are two basic building blocks in DeFi/OpFi though: 1) stablecoins as you need a non-volatile currency to get access to this market and 2) a dex to be able to trade all these financial assets. The rest are built on top of these blocks.
 
So far, together with our partners and community, we have worked on developing these building blocks with XSGD as a stablecoin. We are working on bringing a USD-backed stablecoin as well. We will soon have a decentralised exchange developed by Switcheo. And with HGX going live, we are also venturing into the tokenization space. More to come in the future.”
 
Additionally, they also have this ZILHive initiative that injects capital into projects. There have been already 6 waves of various teams working on infrastructure, innovation and research, and they are not from ASEAN or Singapore only but global: see Grantees breakdown by country. Over 60 project teams from over 20 countries have contributed to Zilliqa's ecosystem. This includes individuals and teams developing wallets, explorers, developer toolkits, smart contract testing frameworks, dapps, etc. As some of you may know, Unstoppable Domains (UD) blew up when they launched on Zilliqa. UD aims to replace cryptocurrency addresses with a human-readable name and allows for uncensorable websites. Zilliqa will probably be the only one able to handle all these transactions onchain due to ability to scale and its resulting low fees which is why the UD team launched this on Zilliqa in the first place. Furthermore, Zilliqa also has a strong emphasis on security, compliance, and privacy, which is why they partnered with companies like Elliptic, ChainSecurity (part of PwC Switzerland), and Incognito. Their sister company Aqilliz (Zilliqa spelled backwards) focuses on revolutionizing the digital advertising space and is doing interesting things like using Zilliqa to track outdoor digital ads with companies like Foodpanda.
 
Zilliqa is listed on nearly all major exchanges, having several different fiat-gateways and recently have been added to Binance’s margin trading and futures trading with really good volume. They also have a very impressive team with good credentials and experience. They don't just have “tech people”. They have a mix of tech people, business people, marketeers, scientists, and more. Naturally, it's good to have a mix of people with different skill sets if you work in the crypto space.
 
Marketing & Community
 
Zilliqa has a very strong community. If you just follow their Twitter their engagement is much higher for a coin that has approximately 80k followers. They also have been ‘coin of the day’ by LunarCrush many times. LunarCrush tracks real-time cryptocurrency value and social data. According to their data, it seems Zilliqa has a more fundamental and deeper understanding of marketing and community engagement than almost all other coins. While almost all coins have been a bit frozen in the last months, Zilliqa seems to be on its own bull run. It was somewhere in the 100s a few months ago and is currently ranked #46 on CoinGecko. Their official Telegram also has over 20k people and is very active, and their community channel which is over 7k now is more active and larger than many other official channels. Their local communities also seem to be growing.
 
Moreover, their community started ‘Zillacracy’ together with the Zilliqa core team ( see www.zillacracy.com ). It’s a community-run initiative where people from all over the world are now helping with marketing and development on Zilliqa. Since its launch in February 2020 they have been doing a lot and will also run their own non-custodial seed node for staking. This seed node will also allow them to start generating revenue for them to become a self sustaining entity that could potentially scale up to become a decentralized company working in parallel with the Zilliqa core team. Comparing it to all the other smart contract platforms (e.g. Cardano, EOS, Tezos etc.) they don't seem to have started a similar initiative (correct me if I’m wrong though). This suggests in my opinion that these other smart contract platforms do not fully understand how to utilize the ‘power of the community’. This is something you cannot ‘buy with money’ and gives many projects in the space a disadvantage.
 
Zilliqa also released two social products called SocialPay and Zeeves. SocialPay allows users to earn ZILs while tweeting with a specific hashtag. They have recently used it in partnership with the Singapore Red Cross for a marketing campaign after their initial pilot program. It seems like a very valuable social product with a good use case. I can see a lot of traditional companies entering the space through this product, which they seem to suggest will happen. Tokenizing hashtags with smart contracts to get network effect is a very smart and innovative idea.
 
Regarding Zeeves, this is a tipping bot for Telegram. They already have 1000s of signups and they plan to keep upgrading it for more and more people to use it (e.g. they recently have added a quiz features). They also use it during AMAs to reward people in real-time. It’s a very smart approach to grow their communities and get familiar with ZIL. I can see this becoming very big on Telegram. This tool suggests, again, that the Zilliqa team has a deeper understanding of what the crypto space and community needs and is good at finding the right innovative tools to grow and scale.
 
To be honest, I haven’t covered everything (i’m also reaching the character limited haha). So many updates happening lately that it's hard to keep up, such as the International Monetary Fund mentioning Zilliqa in their report, custodial and non-custodial Staking, Binance Margin, Futures, Widget, entering the Indian market, and more. The Head of Marketing Colin Miles has also released this as an overview of what is coming next. And last but not least, Vitalik Buterin has been mentioning Zilliqa lately acknowledging Zilliqa and mentioning that both projects have a lot of room to grow. There is much more info of course and a good part of it has been served to you on a silver platter. I invite you to continue researching by yourself :-) And if you have any comments or questions please post here!
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algo trading cryptocurrencies

tldr; I'm an algorithmic cryptocurrency trader with my own cross-exchange trading platform that is performing well(ish) and I'm looking for ideas, partners, investors etc to help me push it forward.
I've been trading cryptocurrencies programmatically since 2016 with some success. For about a year I made a modest living executing arbitrage trades across mostly fiat pairs using a bot hurredly hacked together in my spare time. As time went on the margins got lower and lower and eventually I turned the system off as it just wasn't profitable enough. I wasn't sure what to do, so I went back to my career in finance while I considered my options.
Skip to the present day and I have rebuilt everything from scratch. I now have a cloud hosted (GCP), fully functional trading platform and have some new algos that are running unsupervised 24x7. The platform is far from finished of course, and like all non-trivial solutions to non-trivial problems: it has bugs, both scaling and performance problems and has a number of unfinished features. However, it does work, and cruically: it's stable, performant and reliable. In the past 12 months it has traded over $4m (roughly 40,000 executed orders and 100,000 fill events), and 99.9% of these orders are generated by my algos.
I don't do arbitrage any more, though I may resurrect that algo as my exchange fees come down. My new algos are a little more sophisticated and they seem to reliably make a small profit (between 0.1% and 0.4%). I have a number of ideas cooking away for more algos, I'm just finding it difficult to manage my time. Both the platform and the algos need a lot of work and I only have one pair of hands.
I'm actively trading on 18 exchanges and adding a new one roughly every couple of weeks. The system records and reports every order, trade, balance change, transfer, fee etc in real time using the APIs offered by each exchange. Each new exchange presents a new set of problems. Some are easy to integrate and have fairly sensible APIs, but some definitely do not. Some exchanges have helpful support, some defiantly do not. Some of the APIs change over time, some do not (although sometimes I wish they would). The more exchanges I add the more difficult it is to keep the system behaving in an rational manner. Some exchanges are so bad, though a combination of API and support, that I've had to blacklist them.
With every exchange so far, and for varying reasons, I've had to implement both the streaming (websocket / fix) AND REST APIs in order to get a working solution. Exchanges don't typically do a great job with their APIs - some are astonishingly poor IMO, and have been for years. Some reputable exchanges do completely miss some really quite basic features. Some are internally inconsistent with things like error reporting. They all report fees differently and the way they charge fees varies greatly (some don't report the trade fees at all). Each exchange of course has it's own symbols for currencies and markets, and they also change over time (typically as a result of forked blockchains: BCC -> BCH -> BCHABC...). Some use different symbols between their own REST and websocket APIs. It's not uncommon for exchanges to delist markets, but surprisingly common for them it ignore the impact on users when they do so. It's also not uncommon for exchanges to delete your old orders after they close, but some exchanges will delete your trade data too after a relatively short period of time (good luck doing your tax returns). They all employ different strategies for rate limiting. Some have helpful metadata API calls, but most don't. And of course the API docs are often either missing, misleading or blatantly incorrect. Exchanges will routinely close markets, or suspend deposits and/or withdrawals of a certain currency (which has a huge impact on prices). The good ones with have API calls that reports this data, but there are very few good ones. I could go on but you get the picture.
My application currently trades around 50-100k USD per day, and I'm planning/hoping to scale this up to 1m USD per day in a year from now.
At any one moment it's managing about 100 to 300 concurrent open orders. The order management and trade reporting is the thing I've probably spent most time on. Having an accurate and timely order management system is vital to any trading system. My order sizes are relatively small and I have a pretty solid risk management system that prevents the algos from going crazy and building up large unwanted exposures. Having said that, the number of things that can go wrong is large, and when things do go wrong they tend to go VERY wrong VERY quickly... usually while I'm out walking the dog.
I measure and record pretty much every aspect of the system so that I know when and where the time is being spent. Auditing is key. My system isn't what you'd call lightning fast right now. I don't think you would want to use it for high frequency trading. But I firmly believe that knowing where the time is being spent is over half the battle, so that's what I'm focusing on right now. Reducing latency and increasing throughput are always in the back of my mind, and although I've never intentionally designed the system to be fast, I make sure not to do anything that would needlessly slow it down.
The platform itself is built on asynchronous messaging. It is backed by a cloud hosted SQL database and (apart from the database) all components have redundancy. It's running on a hand made cluster of 12 low cost servers, but much of the workload is distributed to cloud functions. It costs me a few hundred USD per month but as I scale up I expect that to scale up accordingly.
I have a fairly basic front end (I'm not a UI person at all) built in react and firebase that I use to monitor and report the state of the system. It needs A LOT of work, but functionally it does what I need right now. I can see my orders, trades, portfolio, transfers etc in real time and I can browse and chart the market data that the system is collecting. One feature it has that I am very pleased with is the trade entry form for manual trading (its surprisingly nuanced).
I only trade on spot markets right now, so other markets (derivates, lending etc) are not supported. Until I have an idea for a algo that trades in these markets I won't be adding them. And currently I only trade on the old fashioned, centralised exchanges.
I'm writing this because I'm looking for ideas, partners, investors or even customers. I think the system has value, and it's time to move to the next level, whatever that may be. If you have an idea for an algo, adding them to the system is trivial now and if we could work out some sort of profit sharing I'd be keen to discuss it (and happy to sign an NDA of course). Feel free to reach out to me privately if you want to discuss anything.
submitted by iampomo to algotrading [link] [comments]

Hedging for Autists

Hedging for Autists

Listen up autists because you are about to get your ass saved by this knowledge I'm about to drop on you. Because today we're going to learn about hedging strategies. I've noticed that some of us may be confused on how to limit downside risk.
For those of you lazy bananas just waiting for the TLDR, well here it is: 3/27 270c; 3/27 200p; 3/27 230c, 3/27 210p [Edit: better range]. You're going to have to read to figure out why buying both is useful.
First, let's get clear on what a hedge refers to. According to Investopedia:

A hedge is an investment to reduce the risk of adverse price movements in an asset. Normally, a hedge consists of taking an offsetting position in a related security.
In plain-speak, a hedge is placing the opposite or comparable bet to make sure your ass is saved if everything goes tits up.1

Believe it or not, but options are not just for playing the market like casino chips.
In fact, they can be used in combination with regular stock, or along with other assets, to reduce risk and maximize returns.
Options accomplish 2 primary things:

  • They allow us to control for downside risk,
    • similar to buying car insurance for your speed demon of a wife.
    • When you buy puts you are protecting yourself from losses if your long position goes tits up.

  • They allow us to leverage our existing assets for greater returns.
    • Similar to renting out your condo to buy more rental condos, you can "rent out" stocks that you own by selling covered calls or puts, a concept we will discuss further down.
    • This is where Theta gang get their tendies.

Shit happens quickly, as we saw Friday. Unless you fart magic you're not going to predict when it will shift. Luckily, you don't need to with these simple tricks.

Trick #1: The Straddle
It is not just what your wife does to the neighbor while you film. It is also what you can use when you don't know whether witches will appear as promised, or if stone cold warlocks will grab your balls and squeeze them for max pain.

A long straddle is a combination of buying a call and buying a put, both with the same strike price and expiration. Together, they produce a position that should profit if the stock makes a bigly move either up or down.[2]

As you can see, the the above scenario may come in handy for days like Monday where we are all basically 50/50 whether it will be upsies or downsies.
It is the Schrodinger's cat of options plays. Except, either of the two states will result is an alive portfolio.
Literally can't go tits up, unless you suffer from IV crush, or it goes sideways..
Which leads us to:

A short straddle is an options strategy comprised of selling both a call option and a put option with the same strike price and expiration date. It is used when the trader believes the underlying asset will not move significantly higher or lower over the lives of the options contracts.

Use the above scenario when the underlying asset is trading inside a defined range.
Be careful, because any escape up or down will mean certain doom.
You should be aware that selling a call and a put implies that you own shares of the underlying security, otherwise you will be on the hook to purchase if it goes the wrong direction.
When it comes to buying straddles you need a decent amount of cash to buy both a call and put for the same strike price.
Also, what if you are certain that the stonk will go up but still want some downside protection?
That leads us to:

Trick #2: The Strangle
  • A strangle is a more cost-effective way to hedge while still maintaining a position on a direction of a security.
  • It involves purchasing an opposite position with a different strike price.
  • The strike price can be OTM or NTM depending on how much you would like to control for downside risk.
More info:
A strangle is an options strategy where the investor holds a position in both a call and a put option with different strike prices, but with the same expiration date and underlying asset. A strangle is a good strategy if you think the underlying security will experience a large price movement in the near future but are unsure of the direction. However, it is profitable mainly if the asset does swing sharply in price.3
Example:
Say Friday you decided to hedge on witches and bought an SPY 3/20 $280c like a retard.
Had you also purchased an SPY 3/20 210p you may have come out ahead, or at least retained your principal.

Long Strangle
The long strangle, also known as buy strangle or simply \"strangle\", is a neutral strategy in options trading that involve the simultaneous buying of a slightly out-of-the-money put and a slightly out-of-the-money call of the same underlying stock and expiration date. Long Strangle Construction.
Just as with straddles, strangles can go long or short. To retain a position on a security that you expect to trade sideways you can use the short strangle.
Short Strangle

The short strangle, also known as sell strangle, is a neutral strategy in options trading that involve the simultaneous selling of a slightly out-of-the-money put and a slightly out-of-the-money call of the same underlying stock and expiration date.
Maximum profit for the short strangle occurs when the underlying stock price on expiration date is trading between the strike prices of the options sold.
At this price, both options expire worthless and the options trader gets to keep the entire initial credit taken as profit.4

Trick #3: Selling Call Options
  • You may hear a lot of people throw around Theta gang.
  • They are referring to the type of options play where you sell a call option via 'sell to open' on a security that they own.
  • If they do not own the security they are selling a 'naked call' which can be risky if the play goes the wrong way.

A covered call is an options strategy involving trades in both the underlying stock and an option contract. The trader buys (or already owns) the underlying stock. They will then sell call options for the same number (or less) of shares held and then wait for the option contract to be exercised or to expire.
This is the most basic way to profit from your portfolio in a situation where the stock may not move up in price. That way you can keep your shitty JNUG shares and earn money while they slowly move down to $1. Just sell an OTM call, but make sure that you have at least 100 shares of JNUG for each contract sold otherwise you'll have a margin call if it goes up beyond your strike price.

Trick #4: Credit Spread
  • In finance, a credit spread, or net credit spread is an options strategy that involves a purchase of one option and a sale of another option in the same class and expiration but different strike prices.
  • It is designed to make a profit when the spreads between the two options narrows.

The call credit spread is a bearish to neutral options trading strategy that capitalizes on theta decay and downward price moves in the underlying asset. It is comprised of a short call and a long call, and is sometimes also referred to as a “bear call spread.”
The call credit spread option strategy also works in minimally rising markets, as the trade will be entirely profitable if the underlying asset closes below short call strike price at option expiration.5
Example:

Stock XYZ is trading at $50 a share.
Sell 53 call for $0.50
Buy 55 call for $0.20
The net credit received for this trade is $0.30 ($30).
The best case scenario for a call credit spread is for the underlying instrument, stock XYZ in this case, to move down or stay the same. If stock XYZ is anywhere below $53 at expiration (the price of the short strike), this trade would be a full winer.

Take care to review the below resources and watch some YouTube to fully understand these plays before partaking. It is important that you understand how to properly leverage and control for risk to avoid a massive GUH when you fuck up.
Implied Volatility on SPY and Other Assets - Important Info
One of the most practical applications of the above strategies is to hedge against the leverage the decline in VIX to control for IV decay. bigd0g111 does an excellent job of explaining this in their post on how to avoid IV Crush:

Hedge vega (the quantifiable proxy for IV on option pricing). Vega represents the change in an option value for a 1% change in IV.
The hedge is by going long $SPY calls, and hedging the vega by shorting the $VIX with puts. All you need to do is match up the vega of the $SPY call with the delta of the $VIX put.
The Hypothetical Trade:
Long $SPY 4/17 240c - trading at 9.65 a piece with a vega of 0.2404
Long $VIX 4/15 52.5p - trading at 7.90 a piece with a delta of -0.2463

If you autists aren't taking the bare minimum protections to hedge against downside risk, especially for VIX then you have no-one to blame but yourself if you get pinched.
Take a read of the post(s) I mention above and be sure to ask any silly questions below if you get stuck. Remember, there are no silly questions, just silly people. Thanks and goodnight.
Edits:
  • 3/22 - a lot of you autists smart people mentioned that we heed the danger of the IV crush that is happening to all of our calls/puts. Implied Volatility is a fucker that kills and cannot be killed. IV personified is scarier than covid-19 and Umbrella corp tyrant virus all in one. Don't fuck with IV it will come out from behind a counter and bite your ass and then game over, son!
  • IV crush is a risk when using long strangles and long straddles, so be aware that you may lose a ton to IV if you hold a long time.
  • ^ Also, puts on VIX futures may not ameliorate the risk of IV crush.
  • I just hedged to some other sexy subreddits and busted and it was great.

  1. https://www.investopedia.com/terms/h/hedge.asp
  2. https://www.theoptionsguide.com/short-strangle.aspx
  3. https://www.investopedia.com/terms/s/strangle.asp
  4. https://www.theoptionsguide.com/short-strangle.aspx
  5. https://www.optionsbro.com/call-credit-spread-option-strategy-example/
submitted by IsNullOrEmptyTrue to wallstreetbets [link] [comments]

DDDD - Retail Investors, Bankruptcies, Dark Pools and Beauty Contests

DDDD - Retail Investors, Bankruptcies, Dark Pools and Beauty Contests
For this week's edition of DDDD (Data-Driven DD), we're going to look in-depth at some of the interesting things that have been doing on in the market over the past few weeks; I've had a lot more free time this week to write something new up, so you'll want to sit down and grab a cup of coffee for this because it will be a long one. We'll be looking into bankruptcies, how they work, and what some companies currently going through bankruptcies are doing. We'll also be looking at some data on retail and institutional investors, and take a closer look at how retail investors in particular are affecting the markets. Finally, we'll look at some data and magic markers to figure out what the market sentiment, the thing that's currently driving the market, looks like to help figure out if you should be buying calls or puts, as well as my personal strategy.
Disclaimer - This is not financial advice, and a lot of the content below is my personal opinion. In fact, the numbers, facts, or explanations presented below could be wrong and be made up. Don't buy random options because some person on the internet says so; look at what happened to all the SPY 220p 4/17 bag holders. Do your own research and come to your own conclusions on what you should do with your own money, and how levered you want to be based on your personal risk tolerance.

How Bankruptcies Work

First, what is a bankruptcy? In a broad sense, a bankruptcy is a legal process an individual or corporation (debtor) who owes money to some other entity (creditor) can use to seek relief from the debt owed to their creditors if they’re unable to pay back this debt. In the United States, they are defined by Title 11 of the United States Code, with 9 different Chapters that govern different processes of bankruptcies depending on the circumstances, and the entity declaring bankruptcy.
For most publicly traded companies, they have two options - Chapter 11 (Reorganization), and Chapter 7 (Liquidation). Let’s start with Chapter 11 since it’s the most common form of bankruptcy for them.
A Chapter 11 case begins with a petition to the local Bankruptcy court, usually voluntarily by the debtor, although sometimes it can also be initiated by the creditors involuntarily. Once the process has been initiated, the corporation may continue their regular operations, overseen by a trustee, but with certain restrictions on what can be done with their assets during the process without court approval. Once a company has declared bankruptcy, an automatic stay is invoked to all creditors to stop any attempts for them to collect on their debt.
The trustee would then appoint a Creditor’s Committee, consisting of the largest unsecured creditors to the company, which would represent the interests creditors in the bankruptcy case. The debtor will then have a 120 day exclusive right after the petition date to file a Plan of Reorganization, which details how the corporation’s assets will be reorganized after the bankruptcy which they think the creditors may agree to; this is usually some sort of restructuring of the capital structure such that the creditors will forgive the corporation’s debt in exchange for some or all of the re-organized entity’s equity, wiping out the existing stockholders. In general, there’s a capital structure pecking order on who gets first dibs on a company’s assets - secured creditors, unsecured senior bond holders, unsecured general bond holders, priority / preferred equity holders, and then finally common equity holders - these are the classes of claims on the company’s assets. After the exclusive period expires, the Creditor’s Committee or an individual creditor can themselves propose their own, possibly competing, Restructuring Plan, to the court.
A Restructuring Plan will also be accompanied by a Disclosure Statement, which will contain all the financial information about the bankrupt company’s state of affairs needed for creditors and equity holders to make an informed decision about how to proceed. The court will then hold a hearing to approve the Restructuring Plan and Disclosure Statement before the plan can be voted on by creditors and equity holders. In some cases, these are prepared and negotiated with creditors before bankruptcy is even declared to speed things up and have more favorable terms - a prepackaged bankruptcy.
Once the Restructuring Plan and Disclosure Statement receives court approval, the plan is voted on by the classes of impaired (i.e. debt will not be paid back) creditors to be confirmed. The legal requirement for a bankruptcy court to confirm a Restructuring Plan is to have at least one entire class of impaired creditors vote to accept the plan. A class of creditors is deemed to have accepted a Restructuring Plan when creditors that hold at least 2/3 of the dollar amount and at least half of the number of creditors vote to accept the plan. After another hearing, and listening to any potential objections to the proposed Restructuring Plan, such as other impaired classes that don't like the plan, the court may then confirm the plan, putting it to effect.
This is one potential ending to a Chapter 11 case. A case can also end with a conversion to a Chapter 7 (Liquidation) case, if one of the parties involved file a motion to do so for a cause that is deemed by the courts to be in the best interest of the creditors. In Chapter 7, the company ceases operating and a trustee is appointed to begin liquidating (i.e. selling) the company’s assets. The proceeds from the liquidation process are then paid out to creditors, with the most senior levels of the capital structure being paid out first, and the equity holders are usually left with nothing. Finally, a party can file a motion to dismiss the case for some cause deemed to be in the best interest of the creditors.

The Tale of Two Bankruptcies - WLL and HTZ

Hertz (HTZ) has come into news recently, with the stock surging up to $6, or 1500% off its lows, for no apparent fundamental reason, despite the fact that they’re currently in bankruptcy and their stock is likely worthless. We’ll get around to what might have caused this later, for now, we’ll go over what’s going on with Hertz in its bankruptcy proceedings. To get a clearer picture, let’s start with a stock that I’ve been following since April - Whiting Petroleum (WLL).
WLL is a stock I’ve covered pretty extensively, especially with it’s complete price dislocation between the implied value of the restructured company by their old, currently trading, stock being over 10x the implied value of the bonds, which are entitled to 97% of the new equity. Usually, capital structure arbitrage, a strategy to profit off this spread by going long on bonds and shorting the equity, prevents this, but retail investors have started pumping the stock a few days after WLL’s bankruptcy to “buy the dip” and make a quick buck. Institutions, seeing this irrational behavior, are probably avoiding touching at risk of being blown out by some unpredictable and irrational retail investor pump for no apparent reason. We’re now seeing this exact thing play out a few months later, but at a much larger scale with Hertz.
So, how is WLL's bankruptcy process going? For anyone curious, you can follow the court case in Stretto. Luckily for Whiting, they’ve entered into a prepackaged bankruptcy process and filed their case with a Restructuring Plan already in mind to be able to have existing equity holders receive a mere 3% of new equity to be distributed among them, with creditors receiving 97% of new equity. For the past few months, they’ve quickly gone through all the hearings and motions and now have a hearing to receive approval of the Disclosure Statement scheduled for June 22nd. This hearing has been pushed back a few times, so this may not be the actual date. Another pretty significant document was just filed by the Committee of Creditors on Friday - an objection to the Disclosure Statement’s approval. Among other arguments about omissions and errors the creditor’s found in the Disclosure Statement, the most significant thing here is that Litigation and Rejection Damage claims holders were treated in the same class as a bond holders, and hence would be receiving part of their class’ share of the 97% of new equity. The creditors claim that this was misleading as the Restructuring Plan originally led them to believe that the 97% would be distributed exclusively to bond holders, and the claims for Litigation and Rejection Damage would be paid in full and hence be unimpaired. This objection argues that the debtors did this gerrymandering to prevent the Litigation and Rejection Damage claims be represented as their own class and able to reject the Restructuring Plan, requiring either payment in full of the claims or existing equity holders not receiving 3% of new equity, and be completely wiped out to respect the capital structure. I’d recommend people read this document if they have time because whoever wrote this sounds legitimately salty on behalf of the bond holders; here’s some interesting excerpts:
Moreover, despite the holders of Litigation and Rejection Damage Claims being impaired, existing equity holders will still receive 3% of the reorganized company’s new equity, without having to contribute any new value. The only way for the Debtors to achieve this remarkable outcome was to engage in blatant classification gerrymandering. If the Debtors had classified the Litigation and Rejection Damage Claims separately from the Noteholder claims and the go-forward Trade Claims – as they should have – then presumably that class would reject a plan that provides Litigation and Rejection Damage Claims with a pro rata share of minority equity.
The Debtors have placed the Rejection Damage and Litigation Claims in the same class as Noteholder Claims to achieve a particular result, namely the disenfranchisement of the Rejection Damage and Litigation Claimants who, if separately classified, may likely vote to reject the Plan. In that event, the Debtor would be required to comply with the cramdown requirements, including compliance with the absolute priority rule, which in turn would require payment of those claims in full, or else old equity would not be entitled to receive 3% of the new equity. Without their inclusion in a consenting impaired class, the Debtors cannot give 3% of the reorganized equity to existing equity holders without such holders having to contribute any new value or without paying the holders of Litigation and Rejection Damage Claims in full.
The Committee submits that the Plan was not proposed in good faith. As discussed herein, the Debtors have proposed an unconfirmable Plan – flawed in various important respects. Under the circumstances discussed above, in the Committee’s view, the Debtors will not be able to demonstrate that they acted with “honesty and good intentions” and that the Plan’s results will not be consistent with the Bankruptcy Code’s goal of ratable distribution to creditors.
They’re even trying to have the court stop the debtor from paying the lawyers who wrote the restructuring agreement.
However, as discussed herein, the value and benefit of the Consenting Creditors’ agreements with the Debtors –set forth in the RSA– to the Estates is illusory, and authorizing the payment of the Consenting Creditor Professionals would be tantamount to approving the RSA, something this Court has stated that it refuses to do.20 The RSA -- which has not been approved by the Court, and indeed no such approval has been sought -- is the predicate for a defective Plan that was not proposed in good faith, and that gives existing equity holders an equity stake in the reorganized enterprise even though Litigation and Rejection Damage Creditors will (presumably) not be made whole under the Plan and the existing interest holders will not be contributing requisite new value.
As a disclaimer, I have absolutely zero knowledge nor experience in law, let alone bankruptcy law. However, from reading this document, if what the objection indicates to be true, could mean that we end up having the court force the Restructuring agreement to completely wipe out the current equity holders. Even worse, entering a prepackaged bankruptcy in bad faith, which the objection argues, might be grounds to convert the bankruptcy to Chapter 7; again, I’m no lawyer so I’m not sure if this is true, but this is my best understanding from my research.
So what’s going on with Hertz? Most analysts expect that based on Hertz’s current balance sheet, existing equity holders will most likely be completely wiped out in the restructuring. You can keep track of Hertz’s bankruptcy process here, but it looks like this is going to take a few months, with the first meeting of creditors scheduled for July 1. An interesting 8-K got filed today for HTZ, and it looks like they’re trying to throw a hail Mary for their case by taking advantage of dumb retail investors pumping up their stock. They’ve just been approved by the bankruptcy court to issue and sell up to $1B (double their current market cap) of new shares in the stock market. If they somehow pull this off, they might have enough money raised to dismiss the bankruptcy case and remain in business, or at very least pay off their creditors even more at the expense of Robinhood users.

The Rise of Retail Investors - An Update

A few weeks ago, I talked about data that suggested a sudden surge in retail investor money flooding the market, based on Google Trends and broker data. Although this wasn’t a big topic back when I wrote about it, it’s now one of the most popular topics in mainstream finance news, like CNBC, since it’s now the only rational explanation for the stock market to have pumped this far, and for bankrupt stocks like HTZ and WLL to have surges far above their pre-bankruptcy prices. Let’s look at some interesting Google Trends that I found that illustrates what retail investors are doing.

Google Trends - Margin Calls
Google Trends - Robinhood
Google Trends - What stock should I buy
Google Trends - How to day trade
Google Trends - Pattern Day Trader
Google Trends - Penny Stock
The conclusion that can be drawn from this data is that in the past two weeks, we are seeing a second wave of new retail investor interest, similar to the first influx we saw in March. In particular, these new retail investors seem to be particularly interested in day trading penny stocks, including bankrupt stocks. In fact, data from Citadel shows that penny stocks have surged on average 80% in the previous week.
Why Retail Investors Matter
A common question that’s usually brought up when retail investors are brought up is how much they really matter. The portfolio size of retail investors are extremely small compared to institutional investors. Anecdotally and historically, retail investors don’t move the market, outside of some select stocks like TSLA and cannabis stocks in the past few years. However when they do, shit gets crazy; the last time retail investors drove the stock market was in the dot com bubble. There’s a few papers that look into this with similar conclusions, I’ll go briefly into this one, which looks at almost 20 years of data to look for correlations between retail investor behavior and stock market movements. The conclusion was that behaviors of individual retail investors tend to be correlated and are not random and independent of each other. The aggregate effect of retail investors can then drive prices of equities far away from fundamentals (bubbles), which risk-averse smart money will then stay away from rather than try taking advantage of the mispricing (i.e. never short a bubble). The movement in the prices are typically short-term, and usually see some sort of reversal back to fundamentals in the long-term, for small (i.e. < $5000) trades. Apparently, the opposite is true for large trades; here’s an excerpt from the paper to explain.
Stocks recently sold by small traders perform poorly (−64 bps per month, t = −5.16), while stocks recently bought by small traders perform well (73 bps per month, t = 5.22). Note this return predictability represents a short-run continuation rather than reversal of returns; stocks with a high weekly proportion of buys perform well both in the week of strong buying and the subsequent week. This runs counter to the well-documented presence of short-term reversals in weekly returns.14,15 Portfolios based on the proportion of buys using large trades yield precisely the opposite result. Stocks bought by large traders perform poorly in the subsequent week (−36 bps per month, t = −3.96), while those sold perform well (42 bps per month, t = 3.57). We find a positive relationship between the weekly proportion of buyers initiated small trades in a stock and contemporaneous returns. Kaniel, Saar, and Titman (forthcoming) find retail investors to be contrarians over one-week horizons, tending to sell more than buy stocks with strong performance. Like us, they find that stocks bought by individual investors one week outperform the subsequent week. They suggest that individual investors profit in the short run by supplying liquidity to institutional investors whose aggressive trades drive prices away from fundamental value and benefiting when prices bounce back. Barber et al. (2005) document that individual investors can earn short term profits by supplying liquidity. This story is consistent with the one-week reversals we see in stocks bought and sold with large trades. Aggressive large purchases may drive prices temporarily too high while aggressive large sells drive them too low both leading to reversals the subsequent week.
Thus, using a one-week time horizon, following the trend can make you tendies for a few days, as long as you don’t play the game for too long, and end up being the bag holder when the music stops.

The Keynesian Beauty Contest

The economic basis for what’s going on in the stock market recently - retail investors driving up stocks, especially bankrupt stocks, past fundamental levels can be explained by the Keynesian Beauty Contest, a concept developed by Keynes himself to help rationalize price movements in the stock market, especially during the 1920s stock market bubble. A quote by him on the topic of this concept, that “the market can remain irrational longer than you can remain solvent”, is possibly the most famous finance quote of all time.
The idea is to imagine a fictional newspaper beauty contest that asks the reader to pick the six most attractive faces of 100 photos, and you win if you pick the most popular face. The naive strategy would be to pick the faces that you think are the most attractive. A smarter strategy is to figure out what the most common public perception of attractiveness would be, and to select based on that. Or better yet, figure out what most people believe is the most common public perception of what’s attractive. You end up having the winners not actually be the faces people think are the prettiest, but the average opinion of what people think the average opinion would be on the prettiest faces. Now, replace pretty faces with fundamental values, and you have the stock market.
What we have today is the extreme of this. We’re seeing a sudden influx of dumb retail money into the market, who don’t know or care about fundamentals, like trading penny stocks, and are buying beaten down stocks (i.e. “buy the dip”). The stocks that best fit all three of these are in fact companies that have just gone bankrupt, like HTZ and WLL. This slowly becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy, as people start seeing bankrupt stocks go up 100% in one day, they stop caring about what stocks have the best fundamentals and instead buy the stocks that people think will shoot up, which are apparently bankrupt stocks. Now, it gets to the point where even if a trader knows a stock is bankrupt, and understands what bankruptcy means, they’ll buy the stock regardless expecting it to skyrocket and hope that they’ll be able to sell the stock at a 100% profit in a few days to an even greater fool. The phenomenon is well known in finance, and it even has a name - The Greater Fool Theory. I wouldn’t be surprised if the next stock to go bankrupt now has their stock price go up 100% the next day because of this.

What is the smart money doing - DIX & GEX

Alright that’s enough talk about dumb money. What’s all the smart money (institutions) been doing all this time? For that, you’ll want to look at what’s been going on with dark pools. These are private exchanges for institutions to make trades. Why? Because if you’re about to buy a $1B block of SPY, you’re going to cause a sudden spike in prices on a normal, public exchange, and probably end up paying a much higher cost basis because of it. These off-exchange trades account for about one third of all stock volume. You can then use data of market maker activity in these dark pools to figure out what institutions have been doing, the most notable indicators being DIX by SqueezeMetrics.
Another metric they offer is GEX, or gamma exposure. The idea behind this is that market markets who sell option contracts, typically don’t want to (or can’t legally) take an actual position in the market; they can only provide liquidity. Hence, they have to hedge their exposure from the contracts they wrote by going long or short on the stocks they wrote contracts to. This is called delta-hedging, with delta representing exposure to the movement of a stock. With options, there’s gamma, which represents the change in delta as the stock price moves. So as stock prices move, the market maker needs to re-hedge their positions by buying or selling more shares to remain delta-neutral. GEX is a way to show the total exposure these market makers have to gamma from contracts to predict stock price movements based on what market makers must do to re-hedge their positions.
Now, let’s look at what these indicators have been doing the past week or so.
DIX & GEX
In the graph above, an increasing DIX means that institutions are buying stocks in the S&P500, and an increasing GEX means that market makers have increasing gamma exposure. The DIX whitepaper, it has shown that a high DIX is often correlated with increased near-term returns, and in the GEX whitepaper, it shows that a decreased GEX is correlated with increased volatility due to re-hedging. It looks like from last week’s crash, we had institutions buy the dip and add to their current positions. There was also a sudden drop in GEX, but it looks like it’s quickly recovered, and we’ll see volatility decreased next week. Overall, we’re getting bullish signals from institutional activity.

Bubbles and Market Sentiment

I’ve long held that the stock market and the economy has been in a decade-long bubble caused by liquidity pumping from the Fed. Recently, the bubble has been accelerated and it’s becoming clearer to people that we are in a bubble. Nevertheless, you shouldn’t short the bubble, but play along with it until it bursts. Bubbles are driven by pure sentiment, and this can be a great contrarian indicator to what stage of the bubble we are in. You want to be a bear when the market is overly greedy and a bull when the market is overly bearish. One of the best tools to measure this is the equity put / call ratio.
Put / Call Ratio
The put/call ratio dropped below 0.4 last week, something that’s almost never happened and has almost always been immediately followed up by a correction - which it did this time as well. A low put / call ratio is usually indicative of an overly-greedy market, and a contrarian indicator that a drop is imminent. However, right after the crash, the put/call ratio absolutely skyrocketed, closing right above 0.71 on Friday, above the mean put / call ratio for the entire rally since March’s lows. In other words, a ton of money has just been poured into SPY puts expecting to profit off of a downtrend. In fact, it’s possible that the Wednesday correction itself has been exasperated by delta hedging from SPY put writers. However, this sudden spike above the mean for put/call ratio is a contrarian indicator that we will now see a continued rally.

Technicals

Magic Markers on SPY, Daily
With Technical Indicators, there’s a few things to note
  • 1D RSI on SPY was definitely overbought last week, and I should have taken this as a sign to GTFO from all my long positions. The correction has since brought it back down, and now SPY has even more room to go further up before it becomes overbought again
  • 1D MACD crossed over on Wednesday to bearish - a very strong bearish indicator, however 1W MACD is still bullish
  • For the bulls, there’s very little price levels above 300, with a small possible resistance at 313, which is the 79% fib retracement. SPY has never actually hit this price level, and has gapped up and down past this price. Below 300, there’s plenty of levels of support, especially between 274 and 293, which is the range where SPY consolidated and traded at for April and May. This means that a movement up will be met with very little resistance, while a movement down will be met with plenty of support
  • The candles above 313 form an island top pattern, a pretty rare and strong bearish indicator.
The first line of defense of the bulls is 300, which has historically been a key support / resistance level, and is also the 200D SMA. So far, this price level has held up as a solid support last week and is where all downwards price action in SPY stopped. Overall, there’s very mixed signals coming from technical indicators, although there’s more bearish signals than bullish.
My Strategy for Next Week
While technicals are pretty bearish, retail and institutional activity and market sentiment is indicating that the market still continue to rally. My strategy for next week will depend on whether or not the market opens above or below 300. I’m currently mostly holding long volatility positions, that I’ve started existing on Friday.
The Bullish case
If 300 proves to be a strong support level, I’ll start entering bullish positions, following my previous strategy of going long on weak sectors such as airlines, cruises, retail, and financials, once they break above the 24% retracement and exit at the 50% retracement. This is because there’s very little price levels and resistance above 300, so any movements above this level will be very parabolic up to ATHs, as we saw in the beginning of 2020 and again the past two weeks. If SPY moves parabolic, the biggest winners will likely be the weakest stocks since they have the most room to go up, with most of the strongest stocks already near or above their ATHs. During this time, I’ll be rolling over half of my profits to VIX calls of various expiry dates as a hedge, and in anticipation of any sort of rug pull for when this bubble does eventually pop.
The Bearish case
For me to start taking bearish positions, I’ll need to see SPY open below 300, re-test 300 and fail to break above it, proving it to be a resistance level. If this happens, I’ll start entering short positions against SPY to play the price levels. There’s a lot of price levels between 300 and 274, and we’d likely see a lot of consolidation instead of a big crash in this region, similar to the way up through this area. Key levels will be 300, 293, 285, 278, and finally 274, which is the levels I’d be entering and exiting my short positions in.
I’ve also been playing with WLL for the past few months, but that has been a losing trade - I forgot that a market can remain irrational longer than I can remain solvent. I’ll probably keep a small position on WLL puts in anticipation of the court hearing for the disclosure statement, but I’ve sold most of my existing positions.

Live Updates

As always, I'll be posting live thoughts related to my personal strategy here for people asking.
6/15 2AM - /ES looking like SPY is going to gap down tomorrow. Unless there's some overnight pump, we'll probably see a trading range of 293-300.
6/15 10AM - Exited any remaining long positions I've had and entered short positions on SPY @ 299.50, stop loss at 301. Bearish case looking like it's going to play out
6/15 10:15AM - Stopped out of 50% of my short positions @ 301. Will stop out of the rest @ 302. Hoping this wasn't a stop loss raid. Also closed out more VIX longer-dated (Sept / Oct) calls.
6/15 Noon - No longer holding any short positions. Gap down today might be a fake out, and 300 is starting to look like solid support again, and 1H MACD is crossing over, with 15M remaining bullish. Starting to slowly add to long positions throughout the day, starting with CCL, since technicals look nice on it. Also profit-took most of my VIX calls that I bought two weeks ago
6/15 2:30PM - Bounced up pretty hard from the 300 support - bull case looks pretty good, especially if today's 1D candle completely engulphs the Friday candle. Also sold another half of my remaining long-dated VIX calls - still holding on to a substantial amount (~10% of portfolio). Will start looking to re-buy them when VIX falls back below 30. Going long on DAL as well
6/15 11:30PM - /ES looking good hovering right above 310 right now. Not many price levels above 300 so it's hard to predict trading ranges since there's no price levels and SPY will just go parabolic above this level. Massive gap between 313 and 317. If /ES is able to get above 313, which is where the momentum is going to right now, we might see a massive gap up and open at 317 again. If it opens below 313, we might see the stock price fade like last week.
6/15 Noon - SPY filled some of the gap, but then broke below 313. 15M MACD is now bearish. We might see gains from today slowly fade, but hard to predict this since we don't have strong price levels. Will buy more longs near EOD if this happens. Still believe we'll be overall bullish this week. GE is looking good.
6/16 2PM - Getting worried about 313 acting as a solid resistance; we'll either probably gap up past it to 317 tomorrow, or we might go all the way back down to 300. Considering taking profit for some of my calls right now, since you'll usually want to sell into resistance. I might alternatively buy some 0DTE SPY puts as a hedge against my long positions. Will decide by 3:30 depending on what momentum looks like
6/16 3PM - Got some 1DTE SPY puts as a hedge against my long positions. We're either headed to 317 tomorrow or go down as low as 300. Going to not take the risk because I'm unsure which one it'll be. Also profit-took 25% of my long positions. Definitely seeing the 313 + gains fade scenario I mentioned yesterday
6/17 1:30AM - /ES still flat struggling to break through 213. If we don't break through by tomorrow I might sell all my longs. Norwegian announced some bad news AH about cancelling Sept cruises. If we move below $18.20 I'll probably sell all my remaining positions; luckily I took profit on CCL today so if options do go to shit, it'll be a relatively small loss or even small gain.
6/17 9:45AM - SPY not being able to break through 313/314 (79% retracement) is scaring me. Sold all my longs, and now sitting on cash. Not confident enough that we're actually going back down to 300, but no longer confident enough on the bullish story if we can't break 313 to hold positions
6/17 1PM - Holding cash and long-term VIX calls now. Some interesting things I've noticed
  1. 1H MACD will be testing a crossover by EOD
  2. Equity put/call ratio has plummeted. It's back down to 0.45, which is more than 1 S.D. below the mean. We reached all the way down to 0.4 last time. Will be keeping a close eye on this and start buying for VIX again + SPY puts we this continues falling tomorrow
6/17 3PM - Bought back some of my longer-dated VIX calls. Currently slightly bearish, but still uncertain, so most of my portfolio is cash right now.
6/17 3:50PM - SPY 15M MACD is now very bearish, and 1H is about to crossover. I'd give it a 50% chance we'll see it dump tomorrow, possibly towards 300 again. Entered into a very small position on NTM SPY puts, expiring Friday
6/18 10AM - 1H MACD is about to crossover. Unless we see a pump in the next hour or so, medium-term momentum will be bearish and we might see a dump later today or tomorrow.
6/18 12PM - Every MACD from 5M to 1D is now bearish, making me believe we'd even more likely see a drop today or tomorrow to 300. Bought short-dates June VIX calls. Stop loss for this and SPY puts @ 314 and 315
6/18 2PM - Something worth noting: opex is tomorrow and max pain is 310, which is the level we're gravitating towards right now. Also quad witching, so should expect some big market movements tomorrow as well. Might consider rolling my SPY puts forward 1 week since theoretically, this should cause us to gravitate towards 310 until 3PM on Friday.
6/18 3PM - Rolled my SPY puts forward 1W in case theory about max pain + quad witching end up having it's theoretical effect. Also GEX is really high coming towards options expiry tomorrow, meaning any significant price movements will be damped by MM hedging. Might not see significant price movements until quad witching hour tomorrow 3PM
6/18 10PM - DIX is very high right now, at 51%, which is very bullish. put/call ratio is still very low though. Very mixed signals. Will be holding positions until Monday or SPY 317 before reconsidering them.
6/18 2PM - No position changes. Coming into witching hour we're seeing increased volatility towards the downside. Looking good so far
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Ethical/SRI Criteria Series #5 - L&G Future World ESG Developed Index Fund

Ethical/SRI Criteria Series #5 - L&G Future World ESG Developed Index Fund
As each person’s definition of what “Ethical” means differ and there is no black-and-white definition of “ethical”, it is important to understand that some trade-offs have to be made.
In this Ethical/SRI Criteria Series, we take a look at some of the most popular Responsible Investment (e.g. Ethical, ESG, Sustainable, Impact Investing) funds and their "Ethical" investment criteria to help you make better fund selections to align with your own values.
L&G Future World ESG Developed Index Fund
The Future World funds are for investors who want to express a conviction on environmental, social and governance (ESG) themes. The funds extend LGIM’s approach to sustainable investing across a broad array of asset classes and strategies.
Future World is a natural evolution of what Legal & General Investment Management (LGIM) has always done – it reflects its culture and is aligned with its investor clients’ values. It seeks to identify long-term themes and opportunities, while managing the risks of a changing world.
Investors are increasingly recognising that ESG factors play a crucial role in determining asset prices, and helping to identify the companies that will succeed in a rapidly changing world – the winners of the future. As a result, sustainable investing is very much here to stay.
Hence the Future World Fund range helping to bring investments that incorporate ESG principles into the mainstream. The fund range include:
  • Legal & General Future World ESG Developed Index Fund (covered in this post) (Index/Passive)
  • Legal & General Future World ESG UK Index Fund (Index/Passive)
  • Legal & General Future World Multi-Index 4 Fund (Index/Passive)
  • Legal & General Future World Multi-Index 5 Fund (Index/Passive)
  • Legal & General Future World Climate Change Equity Factors Index Fund (Index/Passive)
  • L&G Future World Global Equity Focus Fund (Active)
  • L&G Future World Global Credit Fund (Active)
  • Legal & General Future World Gender in Leadership UK Index Fund (Index/Passive)
  • Legal & General Future World Sustainable Opportunities Fund (Active)
Investment Methodology (ESG + T) & Screening
The objective of the Fund is to provide a combination of growth and income by tracking the performance of the Solactive L&G Enhanced ESG Developed Index (the “Benchmark Index”).
LGIM's approach rests on three pillars: long-term thematic analysis, the integration of ESG considerations and active ownership.
It believes that well-managed companies are more likely to deliver sustainable long-term returns. Assessing companies on their management of environmental, social and governance (ESG) issues is an important element of risk management, and therefore part of investors’ fiduciary duty.
Companies are intrinsically linked to the economies and societies in which they operate. Investors are collective owners of companies and LGIM therefore believes that it has a responsibility to the market as a whole. By incorporating ESG factors into investment decisions, LGIM believes investors can gain an element of protection against future risks and the potential for better long-term financial outcomes.
Future World "Protection List" (Negative Screening)
Through the Future World fund range companies are incentivised to operate more sustainably allowing clients to go further in integrating ESG factors into their investment strategy.
Companies are incorporated into the Protection List if they fail to meet minimum standards of globally accepted business practices. Across the LGIM-designed Future World funds, securities issued by such companies will not be held or exposure to them will be significantly reduced. The Future World Protection List includes companies which meet any of the following criteria:
  • Involvement in the manufacture and production of controversial weapons
Controversial weapons are those that have an indiscriminate and disproportional humanitarian impact on civilian population, the effects of which can be felt long after military conflicts have ended and often result in multi-generational humanitarian suffering. These include antipersonnel landmines, cluster munitions, biological, chemical and nuclear weapons.
There are a number of international conventions and treaties that have been developed with a view to prohibiting or limiting the use and availability of these weapons. The manufacture or production of such weapons is illegal in a number of jurisdictions globally and the involvement of companies in such weapons brings reputational risk and censure.
LGIM uses data for the identification of companies involved in the manufacture or production of controversial weapons provided by a well-known and highly respected ESG data provider.
Companies that are involved in the manufacture or production of cluster munitions, antipersonnel landmines, and biological and chemical weapons will be incorporated into the Future World Protection List. Companies incorporated into the list are involved in the core weapons system or components or services of the core weapons system considered to be tailor-made and essential for the lethal use of the weapon. Additionally, if companies are involved in the production, maintenance/service, sale/trade or research and development in relation to the core weapons system, they will also be incorporated into the list.
  • Perennial violators of the United Nations Global Compact, an initiative to encourage businesses worldwide to adopt sustainable and socially responsible policies.
The United Nations Global Compact (UNGC) is a set of globally agreed standards on human rights, labour, environment and corruption which was created for the purpose of encouraging businesses worldwide to adopt environmentally and socially responsible policies. Companies whose activities breach such principles present increased investment risks due to lax governance and management of their own operations, which can lead to grave reputational damage and potential future liabilities.
LGIM uses data for the identification of companies in breach of the principles provided by a well-known and highly respected ESG data provider.
Companies that are in breach of at least one of the UNGC principles for a continuous period of three years (36 months) or more will be considered to be persistent violators of the UNGC principles and incorporated into the list.
  • Pure coal miners – companies solely involved in the extraction of coal
The use and extraction of coal produces significantly high levels of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, contributing to the accelerated warming of the planet. Pure coal companies present heightened investment risks due to the increasing regulatory pressure to limit GHG emissions globally, combined with technological advances such as renewables, which can reduce demand for coal. Due to the inability to diversify their business LGIM therefore does not see a future for this business model.
LGIM uses data for the identification of pure play coal companies provided by a well-known and highly respected ESG data provider.
Companies which derive a significant proportion of their revenues from the mining of bituminous or lignite coal, development of mining sites for bituminous or lignite coal, or the processing of bituminous or lignite coal are considered to be pure coal companies and will be incorporated into the Future World Protection List.
LGIM ESG Scoring (28 metrics) & Tilted indices
LGIM uses a proprietary ESG scoring methodology based on 28 metrics to score and monitor companies, across Environmental, Social and Governance factors, plus an extra Transparency factor - see below. It uses these scores to design ESG-aware tilted indices which invest more in those companies with higher scores and less in those which score lower, while retaining the investment profile of a mainstream index. The ESG Score is aligned to LGIM's engagement and voting activities.
28 Key Metrics used to calculate ESG Score
Theme: Environment
1. Carbon emissions intensity
LGIM considers the carbon dioxide emissions that a company produces directly (‘Scope 1’) or is indirectly responsible for through its purchased energy (‘Scope 2’). The sum of these emissions is divided by the companies’ revenue. This provides a measure of the carbon emissions intensity of a company’s activities, adjusted by company size and applicable across different sectors. Data on indirect emissions from companies’ supply chain and use of sold products (‘Scope 3’) is not used.
Companies whose carbon emissions intensity is less than the global median will receive a higher score, whereas companies with more carbon-intensive activities will receive a lower score. Carbon emissions data is provided by Trucost.
2. Carbon reserve intensity
Carbon reserves are reserves of fossil fuels (oil, coal and gas). Companies owning such reserves present investors with two long-term risks. First, if all known fossil fuel reserves were burnt, the associated carbon emissions would lead to a dramatic rise in global temperatures and extreme weather events. This would cause unprecedented disruption for companies’ operations and supply chains, in addition to the significant human costs from forced migration, water stress and pressures on global food supply. The second risk, which is partly a reaction to the first, is that the value of fossil fuel assets may significantly reduce, due to the ongoing energy transition accelerated by policy and technological trends.
Companies with very large fossil fuel reserves or with very carbon-intensive reserves (e.g. coal, tar sands) are more at risk from this change.
This metric looks at the embedded carbon in the fossil fuel reserves owned by a company, divided by a company’s market capitalisation, to adjust for company size. This represents a carbon reserves intensity score for a company. Carbon reserves data is provided by Trucost.
3. Green revenues
The transition to a low-carbon economy presents investment opportunities. New technologies are already leading to new revenue streams in sectors from agriculture to infrastructure and energy, with further innovation anticipated as the world develops alternatives to our current approach to energy and natural resources.
Companies who derive revenues from low-carbon services and technologies are assigned a green revenue score, in proportion to the percentage of company revenue derived from ‘green’ activities. This is applied as a positive uplift to the companies’ score.
Companies that may have a lower score due to their exposure to carbon emissions are rewarded if they have revenue exposures to green sources. This is intended to encourage companies to drive innovation and provide solutions to the energy transition.
LGIM follows its data provider’s classification of green revenue streams, but exclude carbon trading, gas- and nuclear-related activities.
Currently, many companies’ disclosures are not sufficiently granular enough to identify green revenue streams. LGIM encourages companies to improve disclosures in this area.
Green revenues data is provided by HSBC.
Themes: Social Diversity and Human Capital
Social Diversity: LGIM believes that companies that are representative of their employees and society, which bring together a diversity of views, backgrounds, values and perspectives, have a better track record of innovation, decision-making and culture.
Having diverse companies also has macroeconomic benefits, as all talent within an economy is effectively utilised.
Gender has been chosen as a proxy for social diversity within a company. Data on gender is globally reported, provides an easily measured way to review total workforce and management levels, and can also serve as an indicator for a company’s overall approach, as companies with strong approaches to gender diversity are also likely to have a commitment to other types of diversity.
LGIM recognises that some companies and sectors face challenges in attracting a diverse group of employees. Therefore, by looking at diversity across the different levels within a company, we seek to capture the development of a pipeline of talent. The social diversity theme tracks four indicators, looking at the percentage of:
4. Women on the board
5. Women at executive level
6. Women in management
7. Women in workforce
Across all four indicators, LGIM considers 30% gender diversity as a minimum standard, with companies below this threshold receiving negative scores. LGIM believes this represents a turning point within organisations, creating a critical mass that can influence change and impact the culture and practices of companies.
Having diversity across the workforce is important for the culture of the organisation and an indicator of the future talent pipeline for management. However, LGIM ESG scores that in most sectors and regions, gender representation is higher in the general workforce than it is at more senior levels.
Social diversity data is provided by Refinitiv.
Human Capital - Policy & Incidents: People are the most important assets for any company. Attracting and retaining the best talent, motivating them to be innovative, efficient and committed to the goal of the company is key for future success. A number of indicators can allow investors to get a sense of how companies manage the risks and opportunities associated with their workforce. LGIM has chosen to use the strength of companies’ social policies, checked against social incident rates, as proxies for how companies value, respect and support their employees and workforce, and how they promote a healthy and engaging work culture.
LGIM utilises four human capital indicators to capture whether companies have sufficient policies in place with regards to below. Across each policy category, companies who are deemed to have no formal policies in place receive a negative score. Companies with a formal policy in place receive a neutral score. Finally, companies with adequate to strong policies receive positive scores.
8. Bribery and corruption policy
Occurrences of bribery and corruption can indicate issues related to culture and employees; LGIM looks for reassurance that companies are managing these risks by implementing appropriate policies.
9. Freedom of association policy
The ability of employees to freely form and join unions is a key component of a healthy work culture.
10. Discrimination policy
Attracting and supporting a diverse and inclusive workplace is critical to creating a working culture with diversity of thought to support decision-making. A strong policy against discrimination is a key element to achieving this objective.
11. Supply chain policy
The strength of the supply chain is critical for most companies and it is a crucial component of applying consistent social standards across the businesses globally. LGIM expects companies to have strong policies for their supplier relationships.

LGIM also incorporate incidents into this theme, as a high level of material incidents may indicate that current policies are either of poor quality or insufficiently enforced. As such, it considers:
12. Employee incidents
13. Business ethics incidents
14. Supply chain incidents
A penalty is applied to companies’ Human Capital policy score depending on the severity of the incident.
All human capital indicators are provided by Sustainalytics.
Themes: Investor rights, board composition and audit quality
Board composition - The board of directors is the primary structure setting corporate strategy and direction, overseeing management’s performance and approving the use of investor capital. Having the right composition at the top of a company is an essential element of its success. Maintaining strong corporate governance through a high quality and independent board dilutes the risk of power being concentrated in one or a few people in an organisation and ensures there are appropriate levels of accountability.
This theme is composed of data on three indicators:
15. Independence of the chair
The chair leads the board, setting agendas for the discussion and ensuring the board has the right people and the right information required to make the best decisions and hold management accountable. As set out in our global voting policy, LGIM therefore expect the chair to be independent upon appointment and throughout their tenure. LGIM assesses whether the chair is currently an executive or has been a former executive of the company. A high score is attributed to an independent chair.
16. Independent directors on the board
An independent board is critical in overseeing the management and capital of a company. LGIM acknowledges that the structure of boards varies between companies and countries. As set out in LGIM's global voting policy, it believes that having a minimum of at least 30% independent directors is an essential safeguard for minority shareholders. Companies that fall below this threshold are penalised, whilst companies with a majority of independent directors are rewarded with top scores.
17. Board tenure
Regular refreshment of the board contributes to a continued independent board with the relevant skillsets. Regular refreshment can also assist in questioning established best practices and avoid ‘group think’. However, LGIM equally recognises the value of retaining corporate knowledge within a board, therefore do not wish to see too frequent change. LGIM's methodology reflects its global voting policy in that a lower score is attributed to boards with very high or very low board tenure.
Audit oversight - Having accurate and reliable financial information is the bedrock of investment decision-making and effective corporate governance.
Investors expect companies to demonstrate and explain the established processes and procedures to ensure the independence and robustness of the internal and external audit functions, and the level of oversight from the board.
18. Audit committee expertise
The audit committee plays a vital role in safeguarding investors’ interests. LGIM expects all companies to have at least three independent members on the audit committee, including a “financial expert” as defined by the US Securities and Exchange Commission’s rules following the Sarbanes-Oxley Act. Companies who fail to meet this minimum standard are penalised.
19. Non-audit fees paid to auditors
The extent to which auditors conduct non-audit work (i.e. consulting, IT support, etc.) for an audit client is an important proxy for independence.
Auditors should not audit their own work, and the higher margins available on the non-audit work may affect their willingness to negatively mark the accounts. LGIM does not expect excessive non-audit work to be conducted by the company’s external auditors, as this will bring into question the independence of their judgment. In line with LGIM's global voting policy, the scoring methodology penalises companies when non-audit fees exceed 50% of the companies’ audit-related fees.
20. Audit opinion of the accounts
An auditor’s opinion provides a view into the extent to which a company’s financial statements represent a "true and fair" view of a company's financial performance and position. From a score perspective, LGIM only assumes that a company is compliant when the opinion is “unqualified” (i.e. a company’s financial statements are fairly and appropriately presented, without any exceptions, and in compliance with accounting standards). All other auditor opinions result in a negative score.
Investor rights - The ability of shareholders to vote is an important mechanism in the public equity markets, to demonstrate dissent and align the interests of the company and management to that of the owners. In contrast, a diminished ability to hold corporates to account weakens fundamental checks and balances.
Investor rights are therefore assessed based on two data points:
21. Free float
The greater the number of shares held by disbursed shareholders (free float), the greater the opportunities for shareholders to use their voice for influence and impact. LGIM encourages companies to have a free-float of at least 50%.
22. Equal voting rights
LGIM subscribes to the principle of ‘one share, one vote’, as control of a company should be proportional to the risk being borne by investors. LGIM believes this is both a fundamental right of shareholders and an essential feature of good corporate governance. Without it, investors lack the ability to influence the companies they own and have a say in how their capital is being used.
Companies are tested against three criteria:
  1. Does the company have dual-class stocks (e.g. class A/B shares)?
  2. Does the company implement a voting cap or ownership restriction?
  3. Do you have to own a minimum number of shares in order to vote?
If companies violate any of these three criteria, they are deemed to have unequal voting rights and receive a lower score.
Theme: Transparency
In addition to the traditional E, S and G metrics, LGIM also assesses companies on their overall transparency. Without access to comprehensive corporate data, investors are unable to properly assess material risks and opportunities related to their investments.
23. ESG reporting standard
Analysing the company's overall reporting on ESG matters and the extent to which it conforms to international standards as well as best practices.
24. Verification of ESG reporting standards
Assessing whether the company’s sustainability report has been externally verified according to a report assurance standard.
25. Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP) disclosure
Responding to relevant CDP questionnaires is an established best practice in carbon emissions reporting
26. Tax disclosure
Assessing whether the company reports taxes paid in each country of operation. The best score requires full country-by-country reporting, a moderate score is given for when some but not all taxes are disclosed, whilst a low score indicates that tax disclosure is happening in only a few or none of the countries of operation.
27. Director disclosure
Assessing the level of disclosure regarding board directors, including directors’ biographies. This information is critical for investors in order to assess the skillsets and relevant experience of director nominees and the overall quality of the board of directors.
28. Remuneration disclosure
Disclosure of executive pay policy and practices is critical to allow proper analysis of the alignment between pay and performance and to ensure that the quantum of pay is both reasonable and within market standards.
Score calculation - Each of the 28 data points are assessed and scored, creating a sub-score at the theme level.
Individual themes are then aggregated to form the environmental, social, governance and transparency scores.
Companies’ final ESG scores are presented between 0 and 100. A high-scoring company will have met most of our criteria for best practice; a company scoring 0 has not met any of LGIM's minimum expectations and represents a very significant concern.
Scores are updated twice a year in March and September.
LGIM's Global ESG Scores of companies - March 2020 can be found here

Responsible Ownership
LGIM's objective is to effect positive change in the companies and assets in which it invests, and for society as a whole. In 2019, LGIM focused on:
Climate change
  • LGIM supported more shareholder resolutions on climate change than any of the world’s 20 largest asset managers
  • LGIM published its second annual ranking of climate leaders and laggards, naming 11 companies that have failed to demonstrate sufficient action, including ExxonMobil
  • Contributed to successful legal efforts to suspend the construction of a risky, polluting coal plant in Poland
Income inequality
  • LGIM opposed 35% of pay packages globally:
  • LGIM has pushed investee companies to adopt a Living Wage for their staff
  • In the US, LGIM opposed 352 “say on pay” votes and supported a further 32 shareholder proposals to encourage stronger compensation practices
Diversity
  • In 2019 LGIM worked to improve gender diversity at 19 Japanese companies
  • 51 of the 72 US companies LGIM targeted for engagement over the past three years have now appointed at least one woman to their board
  • LGIM did not support the election of over 190 directors at companies globally due to concerns over board diversity

Future World Funds: Climate Impact Pledge
As one of the largest asset managers in Europe, LGIM seeks to use its scale to ensure companies are playing their part to accelerate the transition to a low-carbon economy. The investment risks surrounding climate change have become so urgent that, for the first time, LGIM is going beyond solely engaging with companies in order to hold them to account on the issue.
In December 2015, 195 governments agreed in Paris to limit the increase in the average global temperature to well below 2°C above pre-industrial levels. The Climate Impact Pledge represents LGIM's commitment to address climate change by engaging directly with the largest companies in the world, which are crucial to meeting the 2°C Paris target. The companies will be assessed rigorously for the robustness of their strategies, governance and transparency.
Companies that fail to meet its minimum standards (ESG Scoring) will be removed from, or not invested in, our range of Future World funds, subject to the disinvestment process. In all other funds where LGIM cannot divest, it will vote against reappointing the chair of their board of directors, to ensure LGIM are using one voice across all of our holdings.
The companies covered by the pledge include market leaders in sectors ranging from resource mining to finance. LGIM's assessment takes into account whether they have a corporate statement that formally recognises the impact of climate change; whether they are fully transparent on their carbon contribution; how climate considerations are embedded within the corporate strategy; and whether the board composition is diverse and robust enough to drive innovation and change. LGIM will rank companies based on these criteria, and engage directly with them to improve their rankings. LGIM will also make public the names of some of the best and worst performers, alongside examples of best practices that LGIM would like to see adopted more widely.
Disinvestment Process - If companies fail to meet these criteria, and if after a period of engagement, the company has not addressed the areas of concern, LGIM will either not invest or exclude the company from active Future World funds ("Protection List"), and reduce or divest the company from Future World index funds.
In the Future World index funds, LGIM will make sure the impact of divestment is no more than the tracking error disclosed in the fund’s prospectus. That could mean it will have to retain some investment in companies that do not meet its criteria in order to avoid tracking error. LGIM believes this combined approach of ranking, publicising, voting and divestment can send a powerful message to all companies that their investors are serious about tackling climate change.
Summary: LGIM's proprietary ESG Scoring using 28 key metrics of Global Companies is very impressive to see - it ensures that this is done in-house and not reliant on third-parties, hence it is more transparent and can be amended to match evolving views. I've taken the opportunity to use these ESG Scores and match them up with the L&G Future World ESG Developed Index fund's top 10 holdings below.
In addition, the width and depth of the metrics encompasses many important factors, and the fund would effectively penalise those firms with low ESG scores by tilting exposure to those with higher ESG scores. Though there's a lot of detail, I'm surprised that what's missing is the weightings between the environmental, social, governance and transparency factors (i.e. is each factor weighted equally or is E more important than say T?).
In addition to this, there is a Negative Screening overlay ("Protection List") and Active Voting/Engagement to compliment the process. For a low-cost passive/index tracking fund, this is all very good to see (and quite rare as most simply have a negative screen) and would certainly please those cost-conscious responsible investors.
Having said that, the fund size is still relatively small and the fund lacks a long track record - though this may not be a big concern for an index tracking fund.

Fund Stats
Fund Size: £126.8m as at 31/05/2020
Number of Holdings: 1292
OCF: 0.25% as at 30/09/2019
Performance
https://preview.redd.it/dsy4zrlm8q751.png?width=1006&format=png&auto=webp&s=e66505ed59653631d19aaa07f3b416df6636c360
Target benchmark: Solactive L&G Enhanced ESG Developed Index
Asset Allocation
https://preview.redd.it/5pj98lxs8q751.png?width=1436&format=png&auto=webp&s=5b5ae84da10866a9be7b011592265191ac6cb33d
Top 10 Holdings & LGIM ESG Scores
Name of holding % LGIM ESG Score
MICROSOFT CORP 5.50 67
APPLE 4.10 61
AMAZON.COM 2.10 48
VISA A 1.40 72
JPMORGAN CHASE & CO 1.10 62
FACEBOOK A 1.10 47
UNITEDHEALTH GROUP 1.00 58
ROCHE HOLDING GENUSS 1.00 68
MASTERCARD A 1.00 68
HOME DEPOT 0.90 56
Sector Breakdown
https://preview.redd.it/3pnympl09q751.png?width=1454&format=png&auto=webp&s=fb2b1e764904b7a8a043f500389a02ffed820dc4
Concentration Analysis
https://preview.redd.it/t7x41dc49q751.png?width=1600&format=png&auto=webp&s=a0c85ff2cea5ff217159c48b30dacc5e31be38e7
submitted by SirBanterClaus to UKEthicalInvesting [link] [comments]

Yield farming thread

What is yield farming? Most broadly, it means getting some benefit for providing capital, usually in the form of tokens. Currently, there are three major different schemes:
  1. Staked funds aren't utilized in any way and tokens are distributed proportionally to what's staked (may be dai, weth, ycrv, or other tokens). Token price risk: zero. Token accrues, but even if it falls to zero you lose nothing. Smart contract/protocol risk: depends on the staking contract, usually low to zero. Contracts are usually simple modification of the first contract used by yearn (taken from synthetix), making analysis easy by only looking for differences. APR: may start high, but usually collapses fast to relatively low values as funds pour in.
  2. Providing liquidity in trading pools. Tokens are gained in return for providing liquidity for requested tokens on uniswap, balancer, curve, mooniswap. Token price risk: medium to high, depends on pool weights. See these two articles for details on how liquidity providing works: Uniswap - pool weight is always 50%/50% Balancer - arbitrary pool weights, down to 2% for one token. Can be multitoken, not just two. Smart contract security risk: medium to high. In addition to checking the (usually simple) staking contract, requires security analysis of the token contract. If it's possible to mint a very large amount of token, or someone has a hidden enormous stash, the attacker could clean the pool by dumping them at once. I'm aware of one scam called "YYFI" that did this - you can see the attacker successively getting DAI from the balancer pool. Fortunately for the victims, he wasn't very competent and did everything manually, giving time for people to withdraw. A more competent attacker would automate the pool cleaning process in a smart contract. APR: usually very high - upper three digits or four. It's rarely realized APR because it's calculated assuming that token price stays constant. If you think the token being distributed is undervalued definitely the best option to farm.
  3. Depositing and borrowing funds for defi. Currently utilized by compound and cream (a compound clone). Users get rewarded with tokens for lending and borrowing tokens. Token price risk: zero. Security risk: the most complex to analyze option of all, although Compound itself is definitely the safest defi dapp on ethereum.
Warning: gas fees are high. $10k is probably the minimum amount that makes sense for active manual farming, which still only makes sense for a more long-term farms like COMP or CRV, at the cost of not maximizing APR. I have spent over $3k in gas during the last two months by farming very actively. Below $100k, or if you don't want to spend a lot of time on this, it's probably best to deposit your funds into one of yearn vaults that yield farms for users. https://yearn.finance/vaults
A partial list of current yield farms (feel free to comment with more farms! I can edit and add them to this list):
  • COMP farming, the oldest one (I think?). Relatively low returns (58% on DAI), safe, no price risk. Efficient way to farm is to supply and borrow the same asset (can be done via instadapp) up to maximum leverage possible (with some margin for interest payments).
  • BAL farming, provide liquidity to BAL pools. Safe smart contracts (just don't deposit deflationary tokens). Price risk and APR depends on the pair. https://balancer.exchange/
    See returns for both balancer and compound at https://www.predictions.exchange/
  • YFV finance, one of the many clones of YFI. The seed pool is safe IF you withdraw before the staking period ends (see the security part). Current APR on stablecoins: 121%
  • CRV farming, providing liquidity to curve pools. Mostly safe - curve smart contracts tself are safe, but keep in mind if one of tokens in the pool collapses (renBTC is probably the riskiest) other tokens are going to get drained. You can see the current APR on https://dao.curve.fi/mintegauges. As of now, the highest APR is for compound pool - 105.27%. It's varying and there's complicated game with CRV voting that impacts it.
  • CREAM farming. CREAM is a clone of compound. It's definitely less safe than Compound. Initially, it launched with a direct control by one normal address, but recently they moved to a 5-of-9 multisig.
  • YFII, another YFI clone. Current APR 95%. https://yfii.finance/#/staking
  • Mstable, liquidity providing with stablecoins. APR about 50% (MTA + BAL). https://defirate.com/mta-yield-farming/
  • Zombie, meme token. Current APR is abysmal (33.5%) but token may unexpectedly pump, increasing it. There's a smart contract bug that, as long as rewardDistribution and owner aren't set to zero, potentially allows rewardDistribution to lock all staked funds (not steal). Makes zero sense as of today.
Analyzing security.
Yield farms come and go. The key to earning high returns is to be agile and to jump fast into new farms, which requires manual analysis of security. Of course it's possible to yolo in without any analysis, but I don't recommend it. I'm going to show an example on two recent farming contracts (of the first type - funds just sit in contracts).
Original yearn staking contract. GRAP staking contract. Let's load two codes into a text diff tool, like this site. What interests us on the code level are changes relating to the withdrawal capability, which in the original code are limited to the withdraw() function. We can see that the only substantial change is the addition of the checkStart modifier which prevents both deposits and withdrawals if it's too early. As startime is set directly in source code and can't be modified anywhere, that change is safe - if it doesn't throw on deposit it's not going to throw on withdraw.
The next step is switch to the 'read contract' tab on etherscan and look at two variables: owner and rewardDistribution. In Grap's case, they lead to a timelock contract that requires all changes to wait for at least 24.5 hours - which makes any fund lockup extremely unlikely. At worst, we only have to look at the rewardDistribution contract once a day to see if there's any pending change.
GRAP farming is now finished with no security incidents.
Second example: YFV. This one is still active. Contract link. After comparing them we can see that changes are much more extensive. The withdrawal function also has the checkStart modifier, but that part is fine (ctrl-f to check if starttime can be modified somewhere else - it can't). What's the problem is the checkNextEpoch modifier. There's a lot of things there and three external contract calls (mint calls). If anything in there throws, withdrawal would become impossible. Dangerous. However, that only happens after the staking period ends, so withdrawing before block.timestamp >= periodFinish is relatively safe.
Another check is to look at the owner and rewardDistribution variables. Owner is set to zero, but where's rewardDistribution? Unfortunately, contrary to GRAP, it's private. It's possible to read it with the getStorageAt web3 api (although finding the index is more work - it's 3). However, the team has provided a link to the transaction in which they set rewardDistribution to 0 so it's fine.
In conclusion, as long as you don't hold the funds after the locking period ended there's no security risk here. The current period ends on Tue Sep 1 14:02:29 2020, UTC.
submitted by nootropicat to ethtrader [link] [comments]

Earning Plays for Dummies: $UA is Under Water (Basic TA & Obvious Catalysts)

Earning Plays for Dummies: $UA is Under Water (Basic TA & Obvious Catalysts)
TL;DR: $UA is taking on a lot of debt because of historically low retail sales causing near bankruptcy cash flow. Largest athletic apparel retailer or not, when the business isn't making money it's losing it. Taking on LARGE amount of debt, to raise cash, to keep the doors open is not the nail in the coffin, but it is damn near close. ER this Friday 7/31 could be a historic miss and future projections, margins, growth and competition will cause a sell off.
Super BEAR: 7/31 $8.50-$9 Puts
Conservative BEAR: 8/14 $7.50-$8 Puts

To Bearish Autists,

Alright retards, this DD is not done by a professional CFA, CPA or single employee LLC day trading firm. I'm a college grad, with a BS in Chemistry, and i'm 100% self taught on trading for the last 5 years. It's a hobby that pays for other hobbies, not a job and definitely not a thing i do without being informed. That being said heres my hypothesis.

$UA Has Struggled

This is no secret as many of us have brand name recognition of $UA and many of us own it. We know its not Nike and it's a step above Champions and other retail store brands, but it is simply the cost efficient/value brand for people that want quality and but aren't willing to pay Nike prices or get chafed nipples from the $WMT brand. It's become the largest athletic apparel brand in the US, with growth potential in China, signing one of the NBAs biggest star Steph Curry.
Heres the problem, the company is facing increased competition and Covid may of burned down the house when they closed retailers. $UA helped prove there is a middle ground between $NKE and $WMT in quality and price, but they failed to build beyond that, and now $AMZN and other other brands have saturated the market. When i need workout clothes, i look online, a small part of $UA business model. I look for value, and although i'm not buying Nike i'm not buying $UA either. There are tons of other brands that provide the same quality cheaper, and i don't care about brand at they gym, just comfort. $UA failed to build a signature style, they got Steph Curry, but i never hear a 24 year old sneaker head dying over their new pair of shoes. They failed to push online channels of distribution, "have you been to their website?", and some compare their pandemic model to $LULU but they are completely different brands by quality, price and consumer segment.
The companies lack of success could be bad marketing, they have the largest athletic apparel market share, but they can't turn a decent YOY earnings report. So it comes down to poor financial management and high levels of competition driving lower margins. In 2016 $UA was nearly $50/share and its lost billions YOY. Now it's facing an unpredictable pandemic, and record low revenue on a house of debt.

Important Factors for ER


  • Covid
The pandemic closed retailers and one of the largest retailers of $UA is Kohl's ($KSS). Because nearly 80% of the companies worth is in their merchandise revenue, this is a major hit. The other 20% is a licensee program that they get from selling the right to 3rd party manufacturers to make and sell the brand. They get revenue from licenses, but i'm not sure about royalties. This means that wholesale manufacturers could sell to other online retailers at a lower competitive rate than $UA if they are crafty enough, and their is supposedly low oversight on this. You can buy $UA on $AMZN but that doesn't mean you will be buying directly from $UA, and this could be true in open retail stores now. from 2017 to Q1 2020 online sales on $UA website have only grown 4%. $UA has had a tough time to have a direct to consumer channel over the past two quarters. The pandemic has lead to huge losses in retail sales, and the brands themselves. This leads us to our next subject.

  • DEBT DEBT & More DEBT
$UA Market Cap: $4.837 Billion
Liabilities: $3.387 Billion (Q1 2020)
Assets: $1.550 Billion (Q1 2020)
Cash is KING and $UA is in desperate need of it with a recent convertible note offering that raised over $400 million dollars. I'm not a finance expert, but here's a snippet that explains the liquidity crunch.

As of March 31, Under Armour had just $959 million in cash. Now, it recently raised another $460 million or so in a convertible note, so its total liquidity is about $1.41 billion. But if it burns through $400 million over the next two quarters, the balance would fall to $600 million or so.
At that point, the company would likely have to raise permanent equity and/or a mixture of equity and debt. Right now the company’s tangible book value per share (TBVPS) is just $1.02 billion, or $2.26 per share, according to data compiled by Seeking Alpha.>So, here is the problem: By the end of Q3, with another $800 million in FCF loses, the tangible book value will fall to $224 million or so, and the TBVPS will be just 49 cents per share. If that’s the case, there is no way that UA stock would still be trading at $9.28 per share, where it was earlier this week.-InvestorsPlace (Mark Hake)
Simply put they need to be frugal and cut cost to prevent bankruptcy. this is shown further in the last two weeks when $UA announced they will sell their running/social app, MyFitnessPal. They also sought to break a sponsorship deal with UCLA to conserve cash (nearly $20mil/year).
The price tag for MyFitnessPal in 2015 was $425million, i don’t think $UA will have a easy time getting anyone to buy it, much less gain on the investment. Also the sponsorship deal isn’t broken, yet, and if they do it may come with a huge monetary penalty....exactly what they want to avoid.
This weeks earnings report will announce a huge amount of new liabilities along with massive reductions in revenue expectations. This is the most important part of the ER this week.

  • China
Good news this week for $UA is that they won a branding lawsuit in China this week...against a competitor that you nor I have and will never hear of.
China is a very interesting component in the American economic and political world. They are a huge market, but politically they are neither our ally nor our foe. India will give us the same problem in 10-15 years. With increased tensions between DC and Beijing the risk of tariffs and american companies suffering are on the rise, especially retail and manufacturing.
However, China presents a huge growth opportunity to whichever lucky retailers and brands can bribe the right officials and not get caught. $UA is one of those lucky companies, but they are competing in a tough sector. Nike, Adidas, New Balance, a zillion new brands that nobody has heard of and of course knock offs. I lived in Shanghai for a year in college, and theirs “Fake mall” everywhere selling the new Jorban’s and Rolex’s and of course $UA and the Chinese government will never stop it because they don’t practice fair trade practices, at least correctly.
30% of revenue for $UA is international business including several asian and european countries and Australia. China could eventually be more of a cash cow than the US for $UA.
The international opportunity is real, but $UA may never see the light at the end of the tunnel due to this dark period of financial ruins and a competitive marketplace.

  • Upside?
The ER for $UA is going to be devastating as it has been in quarters past. you’d be insane to think any differently as the company has only seen worse and worse circumstances with little navigational correction. The only thing that could prevent a total 15-25% downside is some sort of good news. What possible good news could they have, i personally can’t think of any if they are being honest and don’t give BS projections like $TSLA. IF you think of any, or i’m missing any honest upside to this ER please comment.

  • Expectations
EPS: -0.4$ (Big miss)
Revenue: $536mil (Near miss)
Revenue is key, but the Cash flow and added liabilities will be the dagger.

A LITTLE TA & CHART PRICE ACTION

6 month Daily candle
The price of $UA has been hovering around $6.40 & $10.60 for nearly 5 months. $UA has found a solid support at $8.25 and has an upward channel trend, and this has been a very slow recovery relative to other retail brands.
RSI is inching toward overbought. MACD is unsure of the last two months progression and is looking to swing one way or the other after the ER, my bet is down. i expect that $UA will continue on trend nearing $10.60, if the stock price does not fall below the three day trend line(Lilac) then i will wait until thursday afternoon to buy the Puts for the morning ER Call. IF it falls below the lilac line before thursday afternoon i expect my downward channel to be correct and i purchase puts immediately.
Still pondering my strategy for entry and optimizing the return, between there two option ideas.
Super BEAR: 7/31 $9-$9.50
Conservative BEAR: 8/14 $7.50-$8 Puts
$UA has a great value product. It has not done a good job financially due to massive oversight in fiscal management, not creating a better direct to consumer interface, and not being competitive enough in a market with stagnant margins and retail competition that can undercut and or be more popular than the other with celebrities and fashion. $UA is not $LULU, and its drowning in debt with no end in sight. Their model has failed, and their leadership has failed. I suspect retail traders who know $UA by name recognition are propping this up, not understanding their in trouble. As soon as institutional money abandons so will the pocket investors, not to poke fun at you retards.

But hey, i may just be a fucking retard.
P.S. - IF $UA goes under, or is bought out, which athletic apparel company gains the most? My guess is $NKE (long) or $AMZN.
Edit: 7/27 today the SEC notified $UA that they will enforce action against the company for accounting practices seen as fraudulent in 2016 and 2017. It keeps getting worse.
Edit: 7/30 today will most likely be the best opportunity to get cheap 10-20% OTM puts for Friday’s earning call. The stock is shrugged off SEC notices to top executives and a gloomy prediction for earnings. But the market isn’t rational right now, if it ever is, and the stock is looking to squeeze out of its channel past $10.60, and people will take profit before the crash after ER.
Edit: 7/30 AH. 2500 shares pushed the stock up nearly 4%...still expecting big downward projection come morning. Bought 8/14 $8.50 puts this AM.
Edit: 7/30 AH. 10,000 volume pushed the stock up 10% when it moves 1-2% on 5-7 million volume days. I smell stock manipulation by an insider who want to distract from the ER.
Result: AH high of $12.80 and down to $10.25 pre market, I didn’t expect price action to play such a large role in this ER.
Final: watching for 8/14 $8 put, won’t hold till expire most likely. AH/PM on 7/31 was wild and ruined the lotto for 7/31. I’m convinced it was manipulated, why else would a stock increase 25% AH before earnings and drop 27% thereafter from the AH high...in the first hour of trading...they wanted the stock to have buffer and show a new price action target/action...should of dropped below $9 but $9.49 from $12.80 high at least validates my opinion to some degree. $9.31 new support for monday, may blow past support channel at $8.90 and then drop to $8.20 soon after. OR there could be a retracement to the idiotic $12.81. All in all Lost 1% of my account on a yolo, truly retarded.


Daily Candles

1min candles - Note AH pump...
submitted by Miccodaddy to wallstreetbets [link] [comments]

Why we need to think more carefully about what money is and how it works

Most of us have overlooked a fundamental problem that is currently causing an insurmountable obstacle to building a fairer and more sustainable world. We are very familiar with the thing in question, but its problematic nature has been hidden from us by a powerful illusion. We think the problem is capitalism, but capitalism is just the logical outcome of aggregate human decisions about how to manage money. The fundamental problem is money itself, or more specifically general purpose money and the international free market which allows you to sell a chunk of rainforest and use the money to buy a soft drink factory. (You can use the same sort of money to sell anything and buy anything, anywhere in the world, and until recently there was no alternative at all. Bitcoin is now an alternative, but is not quite what we are looking for.) The illusion is that because market prices are free, and nobody is forced into a transaction, those prices must be fair – that the exchange is equitable. The truth is that the way the general money globalised free market system works means that even though the prices are freely determined, there is still an unequal flow of natural resources from poor parts of the world to rich parts. This means the poor parts will always remain poor, and resources will continue to accumulate in the large, unsustainable cities in rich countries. In other words, unless we re-invent money, we cannot overturn capitalism, and that means we can't build a sustainable civilisation.
Why does this matter? What use is it realising that general purpose money is at the root of our problems when we know that the rich and powerful people who run this world will do everything in their power to prevent the existing world system being reformed? They aren't just going to agree to get rid of general purpose money and economic globalisation. It's like asking them to stop pursuing growth: they can't even imagine how to do it, and don't want to. So how does this offer us a way forwards?
Answer: because the two things in question – our monetary system and globalisation – look like being among the first casualties of collapse. Globalisation is already going into reverse (see brexit, Trump's protectionism) and our fiat money system is heading towards a debt/inflation implosion.
It looks highly likely that the scenario going forwards will be of increasing monetary and economic chaos. Fiat money systems have collapsed many times before, but never a global system of fiat currencies floating against each other. But regardless of how may fiat currencies collapse, or how high the price of gold goes in dollars, it is not clear what the system would be replaced with. Can we just go back to the gold standard? It is possible, but people will be desperately looking for other solutions, and the people in power might also be getting desperate.
So what could replace it? What is needed is a new sort of complementary money system which both
(a) addresses the immediate economic problems of people suffering from symptoms of economic and general collapse and
(b) provides a long-term framework around which a new sort of economy can emerge – an economy which is adapted to deglobalisation and degrowth.
I have been searching for answers to this question for some time, and have now found what I was looking for. It is explained in this recently published academic book, and this paper by the same professor of economic anthropology (Alf Hornborg). The answer is the creation of a new sort of money, but it is critically important exactly how this is done. Local currencies like the Bristol Pound do not challenge globalisation. What we need is a new sort of national currency. This currency would be issued as a UBI, but only usable to buy products and services originating within an adjustable radius. This would enable a new economy to emerge. It actually resists globalisation and promotes the growth of a new sort of economy where sustainability is built on local resources and local economic activity. It would also reverse the trend of population moving from poor rural areas and towns, to cities. It would revitalise the “left behind” parts of the western world, and put the brakes on the relentless flow of natural resources and “embodied cheap labour” from the poor parts of the world to the rich parts. It would set the whole system moving towards a more sustainable and fairer state.
This may sound unrealistic, but please give it a chance. I believe it offers a way forwards that can
(a) unite disparate factions trying to provoke systemic change, including eco-marxists, greens, posthumanists and anti-globalist supporters of “populist nationalism”. The only people who really stand to lose are the supporters of global big business and the 1%.
(b) offers a realistic alternative to a money system heading towards collapse, and to which currently no other realistic alternative is being proposed.
In other words, this offers a realistic way forwards not just right now but through much of the early stages of collapse. It is likely to become both politically and economically viable within the forseeable future. It does, though, require some elements of the left to abandon its globalist ideals. It will have to embrace a new sort of nationalism. And it will require various groups who are doing very well out of the current economic system to realise that it is doomed.
Here is an FAQ (from the paper).
What is a complementary currency? It is a form of money that can be used alongside regular money.
What is the fundamental goal of this proposal? The two most fundamental goals motivating this proposal are to insulate local human subsistence and livelihood from the vicissitudes of national and international economic cycles and financial speculation, and to provide tangible and attractive incentives for people to live and consume more sustainably. It also seeks to provide authorities with a means to employ social security expenditures to channel consumption in sustainable directions and encourage economic diversity and community resilience at the local level.
Why should the state administrate the reform? The nation is currently the most encompassing political entity capable of administrating an economic reform of this nature. Ideally it is also subservient to the democratic decisions of its population. The current proposal is envisaged as an option for European nations, but would seem equally advantageous for countries anywhere. If successfully implemented within a particular nation or set of nations, the system can be expected to be emulated by others. Whereas earlier experiments with alternative currencies have generally been local, bottom-up initiatives, a state-supported program offers advantages for long-term success. Rather than an informal, marginal movement connected to particular identities and transient social networks, persisting only as long as the enthusiasm of its founders, the complementary currency advocated here is formalized, efficacious, and lastingly fundamental to everyone's economy.
How is local use defined and monitored? The complementary currency (CC) can only be used to purchase goods and services that are produced within a given geographical radius of the point of purchase. This radius can be defined in terms of kilometers of transport, and it can vary between different nations and regions depending on circumstances. A fairly simple way of distinguishing local from non-local commodities would be to label them according to transport distance, much as is currently done regarding, for instance, organic production methods or "fair trade." Such transport certification would of course imply different labelling in different locales.
How is the complementary currency distributed? A practical way of organizing distribution would be to provide each citizen with a plastic card which is electronically charged each month with the sum of CC allotted to him or her.
Who are included in the category of citizens? A monthly CC is provided to all inhabitants of a nation who have received official residence permits.
What does basic income mean? Basic income is distributed without any requirements or duties to be fulfilled by the recipients. The sum of CC paid to an individual each month can be determined in relation to the currency's purchasing power and to the individual's age. The guiding principle should be that the sum provided to each adult should be sufficient to enable basic existence, and that the sum provided for each child should correspond to the additional household expenses it represents.
Why would people want to use their CC rather than regular money? As the sum of CC provided each month would correspond to purchases representing a claim on his or her regular budget, the basic income would liberate a part of each person's regular income and thus amount to substantial purchasing power, albeit restricted only to local purchases. The basic income in CC would reduce a person's dependence on wage labor and the risks currently associated with unemployment. It would encourage social cooperation and a vitalization of community.
Why would businesses want to accept payment in CC? Business entrepreneurs can be expected to respond rapidly to the radically expanded demand for local products and services, which would provide opportunities for a diverse range of local niche markets. Whether they receive all or only a part of their income in the form of CC, they can choose to use some of it to purchase tax-free local labor or other inputs, and to request to have some of it converted by the authorities to regular currency (see next point).
How is conversion of CC into regular currency organized? Entrepreneurs would be granted the right to convert some of their CC into regular currency at exchange rates set by the authorities.The exchange rate between the two currencies can be calibrated so as to compensate the authorities for loss of tax revenue and to balance the in- and outflows of CC to the state. The rate would thus amount to a tool for determining the extent to which the CC is recirculated in the local economy, or returned to the state. This is important in order to avoid inflation in the CC sector.
Would there be interest on sums of CC owned or loaned? There would be no interest accruing on a sum of CC, whether a surplus accumulating in an account or a loan extended.
How would saving and loaning of CC be organized? The formal granting of credit in CC would be managed by state authorities and follow the principle of full reserve banking, so that quantities of CC loaned would never exceed the quantities saved by the population as a whole.
Would the circulation of CC be subjected to taxation? No.
Why would authorities want to encourage tax-free local economies? Given the beneficial social and ecological consequences of this reform, it is assumed that nation states will represent the general interests of their electorates and thus promote it. Particularly in a situation with rising fiscal deficits, unemployment, health care, and social security expenditures, the proposed reform would alleviate financial pressure on governments. It would also reduce the rising costs of transport infrastructure, environmental protection, carbon offsetting, and climate change adaptation. In short, the rising costs and diminishing returns on current strategies for economic growth can be expected to encourage politicians to consider proposals such as this, as a means of avoiding escalating debt or even bankruptcy.
How would the state's expenditures in CC be financed? As suggested above, much of these expenditures would be balanced by the reduced costs for social security, health care, transport infrastructure, environmental protection, carbon offsetting, and climate change adaptation. As these savings may take time to materialize, however, states can choose to make a proportion of their social security payments (pensions, unemployment insurance, family allowance, etc.) in the form of CC. As between a third and half of some nations' annual budgets are committed to social security, this represents a significant option for financing the reform, requiring no corresponding tax levies.
What are the differences between this CC and the many experiments with local currencies? This proposal should not be confused with the notion, or with the practical operation, of local currencies, as it does not imply different currencies in different locales but one national,complementary currency for local use. Nor is it locally initiated and promoted in opposition to theregular currency, but centrally endorsed and administrated as an accepted complement to it. Most importantly, the alternative currency can only be used to purchase products and services originating from within a given geographical range, a restriction which is not implemented in experiments with Local Exchange Trading Systems (LETS). Finally, the CC is provided as a basic income to all residents of a nation, rather than only earned in proportion to the extent to which a person has made him- or herself useful in the local economy.
What would the ecological benefits be? The reform would radically reduce the demand for long-distance transport, the production of greenhouse gas emissions, consumption of energy and materials, and losses of foodstuffs through overproduction, storage, and transport. It would increase recycling of nutrients and packaging materials, which means decreasing leakage of nutrients and less garbage. It would reduce agricultural intensification, increase biodiversity, and decrease ecological degradation and vulnerability.
What would the societal benefits be? The reform would increase local cooperation, decrease social marginalization and addiction problems, provide more physical exercise, improve psycho-social and physical health, and increase food security and general community resilience. It would decrease the number of traffic accidents, provide fresher and healthier food with less preservatives, and improved contact between producers and consumers.
What would the long-term consequences be for the economy? The reform would no doubt generate radical transformations of the economy, as is precisely the intention. There would be a significant shift of dominance from transnational corporations founded on financial speculation and trade in industrially produced foodstuffs, fuels, and other internationally transported goods to locally diverse producers and services geared to sustainable livelihoods. This would be a democratic consequence of consumer power, rather than of legislation. Through a relatively simple transformation of the conditions for market rationality, governments can encourage new and more sustainable patterns of consumer behavior. In contrast to much of the drastic and often traumatic economic change of the past two centuries, these changes would be democratic and sustainable and would improve local and national resilience.
Why should society want to encourage people to refrain from formal employment? It is increasingly recognized that full or high employment cannot be a goal in itself, particularly if it implies escalating environmental degradation and energy and material throughput. Well-founded calls are thus currently made for degrowth, i.e. a reduction in the rate of production of goods and services that are conventionally quantified by economists as constitutive of GDP. Whether formal unemployment is the result of financial decline, technological development, or intentional policy for sustainability, no modern nation can be expected to leave its citizens economically unsupported. To subsist on basic income is undoubtedly more edifying than receiving unemployment insurance; the CC system encourages useful community cooperation and creative activities rather than destructive behavior that may damage a person's health.
Why should people receive an income without working? As observed above, modern nations will provide for their citizens whether they are formally employed or not. The incentive to find employment should ideally not be propelled only by economic imperatives, but more by the desire to maintain a given identity and to contribute creatively to society. Personal liberty would be enhanced by a reform which makes it possible for people to choose to spend (some of) their time on creative activities that are not remunerated on the formal market, and to accept the tradeoff implied by a somewhat lower economic standard. People can also be expected to devote a greater proportion of their time to community cooperation, earning additional CC, which means that they will contribute more to society – and experience less marginalization – than the currently unemployed.
Would savings in CC be inheritable? No.
How would transport distances of products and services be controlled? It is reasonable to expect the authorities to establish a special agency for monitoring and controlling transport distances. It seems unlikely that entrepreneurs would attempt to cheat the system by presenting distantly produced goods as locally produced, as we can expect income in regular currency generally to be preferable to income in CC. Such attempts would also entail transport costs which should make the cargo less competitive in relation to genuinely local produce, suggesting that the logic of local market mechanisms would by and large obviate the problem.
How would differences in local conditions (such as climate, soils, and urbanism) be dealt with?It is unavoidable that there would be significant variation between different locales in terms of the conditions for producing different kinds of goods. This means that relative local prices in CC for agiven product can be expected to vary from place to place. This may in turn mean that consumption patterns will vary somewhat between locales, which is predictable and not necessarily a problem. Generally speaking, a localization of resource flows can be expected to result in a more diverse pattern of calibration to local resource endowments, as in premodern contexts. The proposed system allows for considerable flexibility in terms of the geographical definition of what is categorized as local, depending on such conditions. In a fertile agricultural region, the radius for local produce may be defined, for instance, as 20 km, whereas in a less fertile or urban area, it may be 50 km. People living in urban centers are faced with a particular challenge. The reform would encourage an increased production of foodstuffs within and in the vicinity of urban areas, which in the long run may also affect urban planning. People might also choose to move to the countryside, where the range of subsistence goods that can be purchased with CC will tend to be greater. In the long run, the reform can be expected to encourage a better fit between the distribution of resources (such as agricultural land) and demography. This is fully in line with the intention of reducing long-distance transports of necessities.
What would the consequences be if people converted resources from one currency sphere into products or services sold in another? It seems unfeasible to monitor and regulate the use of distant imports (such as machinery and fuels) in producing produce for local markets, but as production for local markets is remunerated in CC, this should constitute a disincentive to invest regular money in such production processes. Production for local consumption can thus be expected to rely mostly – and increasingly – on local labor and other resource inputs.

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The basics of margin trading - YouTube What is Margin? Binance Margin Trading - Quick overview What are Margin Requirements? Quick Definition - YouTube What is Margin Trading?( Hindi ) जानिए क्या है मार्जिन ट्रेडिंग ? (हिंदी में)

Margin trading is the practice of investing/trading using money borrowed from a bank or a stockbroker. Share financing is a particular type of margin trading, in which this money is used to buy stocks or exchange traded funds (ETFs) . DBS is a rare share financing lender that allows you to choose your own broker. There are 3 main reasons why ... Margin trading is the act of borrowing funds from a broker with the aim of investing in financial securities Marketable Securities Marketable securities are unrestricted short-term financial instruments that are issued either for equity securities or for debt securities of a publicly listed company. Margin Trading Definition: Margin Trading is purchasing stocks without investing the full capital. The trades have a systematized strategy for purchasing stocks in future market without having the capital. Margin trading refers to the practice of using borrowed funds from a broker to trade a financial asset, which forms the collateral for the loan from the broker. Margin trading involves buying and selling of securities in one single session. Over time, various brokerages have relaxed the approach on time duration. The process requires an investor to speculate or guess the stock movement in a particular session.

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The basics of margin trading - YouTube

This video contains: definition of the term "margin", calculation of the margin. Basically, the margin is when you buy more than what you can afford. Margin money increases the purchasing power of the investor or trader. Margin trading is the easiest way to make quick money. In... Buying on margin is borrowing money from a broker to purchase stock. You can think of it as a loan from your brokerage. Margin trading allows you to buy more stock than you'd be able to normally. It should not be considered financial or investment advice of any kind. Use these tools at your own risk. ... Margin Trading 101: How It Works - Duration: 7:02. Real World Finance 46,193 views. 7:02. Have you always wondered what it means to trade on margin? In this video, you’ll learn what margin trading is and if it is a strategy that could help you ach...

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