Research & Insights

Our investment decisions flow from incisive perspectives.

Q2 2014 Overview

Kai W. Hong, CFA
Managing Director & Chief Investment Strategist

The quarter began with a brief retreat as sellers focused on the turmoil in Ukraine and concerns over market valuations. In the downdrafts, biotech and momentum stocks were particularly shunned. However, by the end of May, M&A sparked a market rally, with mega cap stocks leading the way to record index highs. While macroeconomic data was mixed, volatility was low and ongoing central bank accommodation (highlighted by the ECB’s unprecedented fee on funds deposited at the bank) continued to drive return-seeking behavior.

Active manager performance was mixed as market moves decoupled somewhat from underlying fundamentals. Overall market volatility remained quite low with cross-sectional volatility and sector spreads all on the lower end of their historical ranges. On a factor basis, size (smaller), quality and momentum were fairly negative while value was neutral. In a manager style context, value managers held up reasonably well with core managers neutral, and growth managers quite challenged.

Bivium White Paper | June 2014

High Frequency Trading: Meditations on the Controversy

Zenas Huang, Analyst at Bivium Capital
Joanna Horton, Global Trading Director at CAPIS

Ever since the genesis of algorithmic trading strategies in the late ’90s, advocated have preached the immense efficiency gains from HFT (i.e. reduce trading costs and higher liquidity). Yet, critics have complained that these benefits are illusory; that HFT practices are, on balance, a bane to markets and operate by unfairly disadvantaging other investors. Naturally, these contradicting replied to the HFT phenomenon lead one to wonder: what exactly is the net effect of HFT? Is the market truly rigged? Which side is correct? What could be the source of this confusion?