Banqueros Automáticos:The computers that run the stock market

Citadel Securities has quietly become one of the largest forces in U.S. stock trading.

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From the 35th floor of a downtown Chicago office tower, Citadel executes one out of every eight stock trades in the United States. At roughly 900 million shares a day, more stocks move through Citadel’s systems than the New York Stock Exchange, which trades roughly 700 million shares a day.

If you own a 401(k) or have ever used an online broker, your trades have almost certainly passed through Citadel.

The most notable thing about the firm’s trading floor is how eerily quiet it can be.

About 40 people “run” the trading floor, but they are simply overseeing computers that use algorithms to fill and route stock orders.

Related: High speed traders pay for an edge

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Welcome to the new world of trading: More and more, high speed computer programs are replacing thousands of floor brokers once seen running and yelling across the floor of the NYSE.

Citadel’s “floor” brokers don’t do a lot of running. They sit together behind rows of computer terminals, clicking away on keyboards to ensure the firm’s computers are operating correctly and are connected to all the right exchanges.

In essence, Citadel’s proprietary computer programs have become the new eyes, ears, and brains of the U.S. stock market.

About 20 programmers create the computer algorithms that decide how to execute each order, and what to send to public exchanges or so-called dark pools.

Dark pools may sound like the favorite haunts of Star Wars villains, but they are simply venues where buyers and sellers can submit bids without disclosing them to the public markets. Citadel operates a dark pool called Apogee out of its New York office.

Citadel’s programmers are constantly making adjustments as computers “learn” customer behavior to make the process more efficient.

“All the decisions are made by the computers,” Jamil Nazarali, Citadel’s head of electronic execution, told CNNMoney during an exclusive behind-the-scenes tour. “The people here are not making any decisions with respect to whether an order should be filled or at what price it should be filled. That’s all done in an automated way.”

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Split second decisions: Citadel’s computers execute a buy or sell order nearly instantaneously.

When Citadel’s computers do not to fill an order internally, the trade is pushed along to one of 13 public exchanges or one of more than 20 dark pools.

By law, Citadel must match or give a better price than what’s been quoted on a public exchange, said Nazarali.

But some industry watchers question whether Citadel’s prescient computer programs are always giving customers the best price.

Nazarali says they do: “As a market maker, I have a regulatory obligation to fill all customers orders on my book before I trade.”

He said Citadel’s systems actually create an even playing field between high-speed traders and retail traders who place orders through brokers like TD Ameritrade (AMTD)because they all have access to the same technology.

The industry’s primary regulator, FINRA, recently asked some market makers and dark pool operators to provide information on how they fill trading orders. Regulators are worried about high-speed traders get an edge over other investors in certain trading venues. It’s unclear if Citadel was part of that group, and FINRA declined to comment.

Trading is definitely faster, but whether it’s better and cheaper for the average retail investor remains to be seen.

Principal regulador de la industria, FINRA, recientemente pidió a algunos creadores de mercado y operadores de piscinas oscuras para proporcionar información sobre cómo se llenan las órdenes de operaciones. Los reguladores están preocupados por los operadores de alta velocidad consiguen una ventaja sobre otros inversores en determinados centros de negociación. No está claro si la ciudadela era parte de ese grupo, y FINRA declinó hacer comentarios.

El comercio es definitivamente más rápido, pero si es mejor y más barato para el inversor minorista medio aún está por verse.

El oro y la creencia más allá del petróleo dioses muertos ‘: John D. Rockefeller

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This is a rare example of how principle,business and investing can work. It is the secret behind Warren Buffet and some of the top Hedge Fund Managers. It is not about the money Warren Buffett quoted in speech to his company before others could speak his words. John D. Rockefeller was one of the best examples of this:

John Davison Rockefeller (July 8, 1839 – May 23, 1937) was an American business magnate and philanthropist. He was a co-founder of theStandard Oil Company, which dominated the oil industry and was the first great U.S. business trust. Rockefeller revolutionized the petroleum industry, and along with other key contemporary industrialists such as Andrew Carnegie, defined the structure of modern philanthropy. In 1870, he co-founded Standard Oil Company and aggressively ran it until he officially retired in 1897.

In spite of his father’s absences and frequent family moves, young John was a well-behaved, serious, and studious boy. His contemporaries described him as reserved, earnest, religious, methodical, and discreet. He was an excellent debater and expressed himself precisely. He also had a deep love of music and dreamed of it as a possible career.Early on, he displayed an excellent mind for numbers and detailed accounting.

His father, William Avery Rockefeller, was a “pitch man” — a “doctor” who claimed he could cure cancers and charged up to $25 a treatment. He was gone for months at a time traveling around the West from town to town and would return to wherever the family was living with substantial sums of cash. His mother, Eliza Davison Rockefeller, was very religious and very disciplined. She taught John to work, to save, and to give to charities.

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By the age of 12, he had saved over $50 from working for neighbors and raising some turkeys for his mother. At the urging of his mother, he loaned a local farmer $50 at 7% interest payable in one year. When the farmer paid him back with interest the next year Rockefeller was impressed and said of it in 1904: “The impression was gaining ground with me that it was a good thing to let the money be my servant and not make myself a slave to the money…”

From 1852 Rockefeller attended Owego Academy in Owego, New York, where the family had moved in 1851. Rockefeller excelled at mental arithmetic and was able to solve difficult arithmetic problems in his head — a talent that would be very useful to him throughout his business career. In other subjects Rockefeller was an average student but the quality of the education was very high.

In 1853, the Rockefellers moved to Cleveland, Ohio, and John attended high school from 1853 to 1855. He was very good at math and was on the debating team. The school encouraged public speaking and even though Rockefeller was only average, it was a skill that would prove to useful to him.

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It was the logic of this competitive structure that determined Rockefeller and Flagler’s course of action.

  1. They built high-quality, larger, better-planned refineries. They built permanent facilities using the best materials available.
  2. They owned their own cooperage (barrel making) plant, their own white-oak timber and drying facilities, and bought their own hoop iron. Consequently, they cut the cost of a barrel from about $3.00 to less than $1.50.
  3. They manufactured their own sulfuric acid (which was used in the purification process) and devised technology to recover it for re-use.
  4. They owned their own drayage service, consisting of at least 20 wagons in 1868.
  5. They owned their own warehouses in New York City and their own boats on the Hudson and East Rivers to transport their oil.
  6. They were the first to ship oil via tank cars (albeit big wooden tubs mounted in pairs on flat cars — later to evolve into the modern form of a tank car). And they owned their own fleet of tank cars.
  7. They built huge holding tanks near their refineries for storing crude and refined oil, with the equipment for drawing off the oil from the tank cars into the holding tanks.
  8. Their huge size made it economical to build the necessary physical plant to handle all the “waste” products from the refining of kerosene. They began manufacturing high quality lubricating oil that quickly replaced lard oil as a lubricant for machinery. Gasoline, which many refiners surreptitiously dumped into the Cuyahoga River at night (the river often caught fire), Rockefeller and Flagler used as fuel. They manufactured benzene (used as a cleaning fluid; a solvent for fat, gums, and resin; and to make varnish), paraffin (insoluble in water, used for making candles, waterproofing paper, preservative coatings, etc.), and petrolatum (used as a basis for ointments and as a protective dressing; as a local application in inflammation of mucous membrane; as an intestinal lubricant, etc. — white petrolatum later marketed under the brand name Vaseline). They shipped naphtha (volatile inflammable liquid used as a solvent in dry cleaning and in wax preparations, varnish and paint making, burning fluid for illumination, and as a fuel for motors) to gas plants and other users.

 

 

Dinero del Cielo: Investing in Facebook

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Facebook (FB) just bought WhatsApp, paying $16bn in cash and stock and $3bn in RSUs. WhatsApp has 450m active users, of which 72% are active every day. It has just 32 engineers. And its users share 500m photos a day, which is almost certainly more than Facebook.

This is interesting in all sorts of ways – it illustrates most of the key trends in consumer tech today in one deal. First, it shows the continued determination of Facebook to be the ‘next’ Facebook. It’s striking to compare the aggressive reaction to disruption shown by Google (GOOG), Facebook and other leading web companies today with how some of their predecessors a decade ago stumbled and lost their way.

  • Smartphone apps can access your address book, bypassing the need to rebuild your social graph on a new service
  • They can access your photo library, where uploading photos to different websites is a pain
  • They can use push notifications instead of relying on emails and on people bothering to check multiple websites
  • Crucially, they all get an icon on the home screen.

Facebook is setting its sights on its next five billion users — even if they don’t yet have Internet access.

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Called Internet.org, the social network has joined forces with Nokia, Qualcomm, Samsung, Ericsson and others to bring web access to the five billion people, primarily in developing countries, that don’t own smartphones or have access to affordable connectivity.

“There are huge barriers in developing countries to connecting and joining the knowledge economy,” Zuckerberg said in a statement. “Internet.org brings together a global partnership that will work to overcome these challenges, including making internet access available to those who cannot currently afford it.”

According to the United Nation’s Millennium Development Goals report, 2.7 billion people or 39 percent of the world’s population will be on the Internet before the end of 2013.

In a proposal entitled “Is Connectivity a Human Right?” Zuckerberg lays out his plans for the organization and its solutions to equipping the rest of the world with the tools to connect with each other and gain access to the world’s greatest repository of information. The “rough plan” focuses on spreading connectivity through mobile devices with three main “levers.”

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The Internet.org announcement comes just a few months after Google’s announcement of its Project Loon, which aims to bring connectivity to the rest of the world through Internet-equipped balloons. Announced in June, Google has begun testing the balloons in New Zealand and more recently in Northern California. Just this month Bill Gates criticized the project, saying that fighting malaria was more important.

Is internet access a fundamental human right? Facebook and a coalition of six major telecom companies believe it is.

On Tuesday night, they revealed Internet.org — a global partnership that wants to put the web’s vast trove of knowledge at the fingertips of every man, woman, and child around the world.

Today, just over one-third of Earth’s population has access to the internet, which means 4 billion to 5 billion others are unplugged. Facebook thinks we can do better.

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Joined by major communications providers like Samsung, Nokia, Qualcomm, and Ericsson, the global initiative will focus on three key challenges in developing countries:

1. Make access affordable. The organization believes this can be accomplished by developing lower-cost, higher-quality smartphones.

2. Use data more efficiently. The goal here is to develop better apps and compression tools to handle data more effectively. Facebook, for example, wants to lower its Android app’s data rate from the current 12 megabytes a day down to just one.

3. Have businesses drive local access. Facebook says this “includes testing new models that align incentives for mobile operators, device manufacturers, developers and other businesses to provide more affordable access than has previously been possible.”

“Everything Facebook has done has been about giving all people around the world the power to connect,” Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg says in a statement. “There are huge barriers in developing countries to connecting and joining the knowledge economy. Internet.org brings together a global partnership that will work to overcome these challenges, including making internet access available to those who cannot currently afford it.”

The effort is just the latest example of a major technology firm seeking to shuttle potential growth opportunities under a humanitarian banner. It’s “a reflection of how tech companies are trying to meet Wall Street’s demands for growth by attracting customers beyond saturated markets in the United States and Europe,” says Vindu Goel at the New York Times, “even if they have to help build services and some of the infrastructure in poorer, less digitally sophisticated parts of the world.” (Facebook growth has largely stalled in existing markets at just over 1.1 billion users.)

Sources:

Seeking Alpha

abcnews.go.com

El emperador de Oro: Carlos Slim King of Mexico

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Carlos Slim

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Carlos Slim Helú  is a Mexican business magnate, investor, and philanthropist. From 2010 to 2013, Slim was ranked as the richest person in the world, but that position has been regained by Bill Gates. His extensive holdings in a considerable number of Mexican companies through his conglomerateGrupo Carso, SA de CV, have amassed interests in the fields of communications, technology, retailing, and finance. Presently, Slim is the chairman and chief executive of telecommunications companies Telmexand América Móvil.

Carlos Slim Helú studied Civil Engineering at the National Autonomous University of Mexico (known by its Spanish acronym UNAM) School of Engineering, where he also taught Algebra and Linear Programming while studying for his degree, meaning that he was both a student and professor.

In 1965, when he was only 25 years old, he began to build the foundations of Grupo Carso. Inmobiliaria Carso was incorporated in January 1966, three months before marrying Soumaya Domit Gemayel, hence the name Carso, which is a combination of the first three letters of Carlos and the first two letters of Soumaya.

Since the 1980s he has been a noted businessman in various industrial, real estate and commercial fields. In 1982, which was a critical time in the history of Mexico with the debt crisis, nationalization of the banking system and the country’s finances nearly paralyzed, Carlos Slim and his Grupo Carso decided to invest heavily and actively. They made diverse investments and acquisitions during this period, one of which was Cigatam, which turned out to be the first and most important because of its cash flow, providing the Group with sufficient liquidity to capitalize on available opportunities and thereby increase itsacquisitions of big companies, including: Hulera el Centenario, Bimex, Hoteles Calinda (today, OSTAR Grupo Hotelero) and Reynolds Aluminio. Some time later the purchase of Seguros de México was closed, and Grupo Financiero Inbursa was formed by integrating Casa de Bolsa Inversora Bursátil, Seguros de México and Fianzas La Guardiana. By 1985, Grupo Carso acquired control of Artes Gráficas Unidas, Fábricas de Papel Loreto y Peña Pobre, and also a majority stake in Sanborns and its affiliate Dennys. In 1986 Minera FRISCO and Empresas Nacobre were acquired, as well as their affiliates, and control of the Euzkadi tire company, the market leader at the time, was also acquired, as was a majority stake in General Tire some years later.

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1. He’s the first ‘World’s Richest’ man from a developing nation
2009 was good to the super-rich in poorer nations: Brazil and Russia each doubled their billionaire counts; and China’s new total (64 billionaires) ranks second only to the America. Slim, as an owner of more than 220 companies in telecommunications, banking, railways, and restaurants (to name a few), saw his fortune swell by $18.5 billion last year.

2. In Mexico, Slim is “Mr. Monopoly”
The Wall Street Journal once quipped that “it’s hard to spend a day in Mexico and not put money in [Slim’s] pocket.” You can barely make a call without doing so: Slim’s phone company Telmex — snapped up on the cheap in 1990 — controls 80 percent of the landlines; its subsidiary América Móbil handles 70 percent of the cell service.

3. He bailed out The New York Times
In addition to owning 6.9 percent of The New York Times Company, Slim loaned the struggling publisher $250 million last year, essentially saving it from financial ruin. Recently, rumors that Slim might buy a controlling stock in the company caused its shares to jump. Slim, however, denies the stories.

4. He loves baseball
While soccer remains Mexico’s most popular sport, Slim has an avid affinity for baseball — especially the New York Yankees. In 1998, he penned an article for a Mexico City magazine about obscure historical baseball figures. And he once agreed to a USA Today interview under the condition that the journalist pass along Slim’s suggestion for “improving” the newspaper’s box scores to his editor.

5. In the U.S., he’d be a “trillionaire”
Carlos Slim’s net worth is equivalent to about 7 percent of Mexico’s GDP.  For Bill Gates to have the same grip on the U.S. economy, says Brian Winter in Foreign Policy, he would have to be worth “909 billion” and own “Alcoa, Phillip Morris, Sears, Best Buy, TGIFriday’s, Dunkin’ Donuts, Marriott, Citibank, and JetBlue.”

6. He’s from a Lebanese family
Julian Slim Haddad, Carlos’s father, immigrated to Mexico from Lebanon in 1902 to escape military conscription. He eventually created highly successful import and real estate businesses worth millions. The family of Carlos’ mother, also from Lebanon, settled in Mexico City at the end of the 19th century.

7. He’s famously frugal 
From a young age, Slim has practiced legedary financial restraint. He still lives in the same modest 6-bedroom home where he’s resided for the past three decades. His cramped bedroom is “the size of a Manhattan hotel room.” And, despite the prevalence of kidnappings in Mexico, Carlos Slim still drives himself to work.

Sources:

Forbes

theweek.com

金の王: New Rulers of Wallstreet

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Peter Thiel

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Peter Thiel has gone from successful entrepreneur to super successful venture investor. The PayPal cofounder was Facebook’s first professional investor, giving Mark Zuckerberg and his hoodied cohorts a $500,000 check in 2004 in return for more than 10% of the company. Thiel still sits on Facebook’s board, but sold most of his stake in the Menlo Park, Calif.-based social networking company following its May 2012 IPO. His various venture firms include Founders Fund, whose stated goal is to invest in companies that can affect dramatic technological change. To that end, Founders Fund has backed rocket builder SpaceX and CIA-backed data-mining software company, Palantir, where he is also a cofounder. Ideological to the point of eccentricity, Thiel believes technology rarely repeats itself: “There’s a sense in which technology is, by definition, non-repetitive. And every moment in technological history only happens once.” As Palantir chairman, Thiel has personally invested $40 million in the Palo Alto, Calif. firm. FORBES estimates that he controls more than 12% of the company. Thiel has long maintained that Palantir could be just as valuable as Facebook. “There’s Google, then Facebook-which is search for people-and then there’s Palantir, which can help institutions search through their massive reams of data,” he told FORBES. He is up $400 million this year because of new revelations regarding his Palantir holdings.

 

Ray Dalio

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After completing his education, Dalio worked on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange and invested in commodity futures.[6] He later worked as the Director of Commodities at Dominick & Dominick LLC.[7] In 1974, he became a futures trader and broker at Shearson Hayden Stone.[6] In 1975, he founded the Westport, Connecticut based investment management firm, Bridgewater Associates which in 2012 became the largest hedge fund in the world with nearly $120 billion in assets under management.[6]

In 2007, Ray Dalio predicted the global financial crisis[8] and in 2008 published an essay, “How the Economic Machine Works; A Template for Understanding What is Happening Now”,[9] which explained his model for the economic crisis. He self-published a 123 page volume called Principles, in 2011, which outlined his logic and personal philosophy for investments and corporate management based on a lifetime of observation, analysis and practical application through his hedge fund.[10][11][12] In 2013 Dalio began sharing his “investment secrets” and economic theories onYou Tube via a 30 minute animated video which he narrates, called How The Economic Machine Works.[13]

John Paulson

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While assets under management at Paulson & Co. are down to $18 billion from $36 billion in early 2011, John Paulson’s hedge funds are performing well in 2013 thanks to bets on stocks like MGM Resorts and Aetna. Through the first six months of the year, the firm’s Credit Opportunities fund rose 11.2% net of fees, its Enhanced fund returned 15.6% and its Recovery fund produced a 25.2% return.  However, because a significant portion of his personal investments in Paulson & Co. funds are gold denominated, Paulson’s return on his own capital was more measured, as gold sank through the first half of the year. In an unusual deal for his firm, the outfit won a bid in August to take piano maker Steinway private for $512 million. Paulson, who will always be remembered for making billions shorting subprime mortgage securities in 2007, now appears to like real estate; one of his funds picked up 875 acres in Las Vegas in 2012.

Age: 58
Source Of Wealth: hedge funds, Self Made
Residence: New York, NY
Citizenship: United States
Marital Status: Married
Children

Alten Könige: The old kings of Investing

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Philip Fisher

 

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Philip Fisher is the father of investing in growth stocks. He started his own investment firm, Fisher & Company, in 1931, and managed it until his retirement in 1999 at the age of 91. Fisher achieved excellent returns for himself and his clients during his 70 year career.

Fisher focused on investing for the long term. He famously bought Motorola stock in 1955, and held it until his death in 2004. He created a fifteen point list of characteristics to look for in a common stock and were focused on two categories: management’s characteristics and the characteristics of the business. Important qualities for management included integrity, conservative accounting, accessibility and good long-term outlook, openness to change, excellent financial controls, and good personnel policies. Important business characteristics would include a growth orientation, high profit margins, high return on capital, a commitment to research and development, superior sales organization, leading industry position and proprietary products or services.

Benjamin Graham

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Benjamin Graham is most widely know for being a teacher and mentor to Warren Buffett. It is important to note, however, that he attained this role because of his work “father of value investing”. He made a lot of money for himself and his clients without taking huge risks in the stock market. He was able to do this because he solely used financial analysis to successfully invest in stocks. He was also instrumental in many elements of the Securities Act of 1933, which required public companies to disclose independently audited financial statements. Graham also stressed having a margin of safety in one’s investments – which meant buying well below a conservative valuation of a business.

George Soros

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George Soros is most commonly known as the man who “broke the Bank of England”. In September 1992, he risked $10 billion on a single trade when he shorted the British Pound. He was right, and in a single day made over $1 billion. It is estimated that the total trade netted almost $2 billion. He is also famous for running his Quantum Fund, which generated an average annual return of more than 30% while he was the lead manager.

Soros focuses on identifying broad macro-economic trends into highly leveraged plays in bonds and commodities. Soros is the odd-man out in the Top 10 Greatest Investors, has he doesn’t have a clearly defined strategy, more of a speculative strategy that came from his gut.