Cliff Asness

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Weekend Reading: Breaking Markets - Season II





Fed Chair Janet Yellen will be forced to either acknowledge labor market tightening as reason to continue with the four-hike schedule for 2016 or risk her credibility, belittle job market stability and sound a warning about the risks of lower oil prices and cheap gasoline (sacrilege to regular Americans) by slowing the hiking pace after a single 0.25 percent increase last month. If she gets it wrong, things could get ugly fast."

 
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2015 Year In Review - Scenic Vistas From Mount Stupid





“To the intelligent man or woman, life appears infinitely mysterious, but the stupid have an answer for everything.” ~Edward Abbey

 
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Weekend Reading: Market Forecasting





The mainstream media is increasingly suggesting that we have once again entered into a 'Goldilocks Economy.' The problem is that in the rush to come up with a 'bullish thesis' as to why stocks should continue to elevate in the future, they have forgotten the last time the U.S. entered into such a state of 'economic bliss.' You might remember this: "The Fed's official forecast, an average of forecasts by Fed governors and the Fed's district banks, essentially portrays a 'Goldilocks' economy that is neither too hot, with inflation, nor too cold, with rising unemployment." - WSJ Feb 15, 2007. Of course, it was just 10-months later that the U.S. entered into a recession followed by the worst financial crisis since the 'Great Depression.'

 
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Weekend Reading: Differing Diatribes





Importantly, while the "bias" of the market is to the upside, primarily due to the psychological momentum that "stocks are the only game in town," the mounting risks are clearly evident. From economic to earnings-related weakness, the "bullish underpinnings" are slowly being chipped away.

 
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Biggest US Dark Pool Busted For Rigging Markets, Engaging In Precisely The Manipulation It Warned Against





The WSJ reported that none other than the operator of the biggest dark pool in the US by volume, Credit Suisse and its massive Crossfinder dark pool, "is in talks with regulators to settle allegations of wrongdoing at its “dark pool” with a record fine in the high tens of millions of dollars, according to people familiar with the matter." What is grotesque about this story, is that back in December 2012, it was none other than Credit Suisse which conveniently explained and laid out all those forms of HFT manipulation which we accused virtually every HFT firm of employing since 2009... and which Credit Suisse itself is now accused of engaging in!

 
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Head Trader Of World's 4th Largest Hedge Fund Caught In HFT Frontrunning Scandal





Shortly after we reported the latest market-rigging scandal, in which ITG was busted for frontrunning sellside clients in its dark pool in what has been since dubbed a "trading experiment" (because it sounds better than criminal conspiracy to defraud clients), and which will cost the company a record for a private Wall Street firm $22 million settlement, we had one question for AQR's Cliff Asness yesterday morning: "Hi @Cimmerian999, is Hitesh Mittal the AQR employee who was formerly at ITG and is part of the SEC settlement?"   We got no answer from the AQR head, but luckily Bloomberg noticed, and as it turns out the answer to our question was a resounding yes.

 
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Systemic Risks Surge As Correlation Among Stocks Shoots Higher





Despite everyone saying "it's a stock-picking market" (notably one of Cliff Asness' pet peeves) recent co-movements in global equities suggests once again that there is just one factor driving returns as systemic codependence surges...

 
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2014 Year In Review (Part 2): Will 2015 Be The Year It All Comes Tumbling Down?





Despite the authorities' best efforts to keep everything orderly, we know how this global Game of Geopolitical Tetris ends: "Players lose a typical game of Tetris when they can no longer keep up with the increasing speed, and the Tetriminos stack up to the top of the playing field. This is commonly referred to as topping out."

"I’m tired of being outraged!"

 
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2014 Year In Review (Part 1): The Final Throes Of A Geopolitical Game Of Tetris





Every year, David Collum writes a detailed "Year in Review" synopsis full of keen perspective and plenty of wit. This year's is no exception. "I have not seen a year in which so many risks - some truly existential - piled up so quickly. Each risk has its own, often unknown, probability of morphing into a destructive force. It feels like we’re in the final throes of a geopolitical Game of Tetris as financial and political authorities race to place the pieces correctly. But the acceleration is palpable. The proximate trigger for pain and ultimately a collapse can be small, as anyone who’s ever stepped barefoot on a Lego knows..."

 
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5 Things To Ponder: Variegated Contemplations





Yes, it is that magical week leading up to Christmas and the subsequent low volume push into the new year. It is "magic time" as hopes are high that "Santa Claus" will come to WallStreet. "Ignoring valuation – ignoring risk – is a recipe for disappointment and is the thing that is most likely to lead investors to ruin"

 
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Things That Make You Go Hmmm... Like The Swiss Gold Status Quo Showdown





The Swiss establishment has been reliant upon the public’s ignorance, but now they are up against a formidable opponent in Egon von Greyerz. Not only that, but they can clearly see that, as elsewhere around the world, the public is fast becoming disenchanted with the status quo; and that is potentially very dangerous for these people. What is important to understand here is that if the initiative passes it will be part of the Swiss constitution IMMEDIATELY - as some are suggesting. This means that the government and parliament cannot touch it. Only another referendum can change it. This is proper democracy for you. The closer we get to the vote on November 30, the bigger this story is going to become, and the bigger it becomes, the higher the chance that the yes vote wins. Should that happen, it will undoubtedly set off alarm bells throughout the gold market, as yet more physical gold will need to be repatriated and another sizeable, price-insensitive buyer will enter the marketplace.

 
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Cliff Asness Warns On QE-Blowback "Nothing Is Over Yet", Slams "Mostly Dishonest" Krugman





"...much like when the Germans bombed Pearl Harbor, nothing is over yet. The Fed has not undone its extraordinary loose monetary policy and is just now stopping its direct QE purchases... Paul [Krugman] will continue to be mostly wrong, mostly dishonest about it, incredibly rude, and in a crass class by himself."

 
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