Data Trends for Investment Professionals

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Change to Quandl API Limits

We have made changes to our API limits as of November 21, 2016 at 8AM EST. Users of the Quandl API may be affected by these changes. Specifically, because of unsustainable usage levels, we are now prohibiting simultaneous API calls from a single user. New API Limits Registered users are now limited to one API request at a time, with additional requests being throttled until the first request has been returned. These changes will not impact subscribers of premium databases on Quandl. Open Database Users Premium Database Subscribers Concurrent calls to the API prohibited Concurrent calls to the API permitted (unchanged) 50,000...

Finally: A Comprehensive, Global Foreign Exchange (FX) Volume Database

There is a paradigm change towards increased transparency in the currency market.  CLS has just published the first true global foreign exchange (FX) volume database.  Commercially available for the first time via Quandl, this database is the most accurate, most comprehensive and timeliest gauge of currency trading volume ever published.  CLS’ new FX volume data has been described by one of our customers as “the missing link”.  This post explains why. The Challenge of FX Trading FX is one of the hardest markets from which to profit.  Currencies are incredibly volatile and masquerade as normally distributed only to pop violently in...

The (Weak) Link Between Alternative Data and Inside Information

The alternative data business is an art and a science—in that order. The science—in the form of statistics—kicks in once our quant team gets its hands on a new dataset. There is of course plenty of creativity and innovation in this process: instincts honed from years as quants on Wall Street play a big role in guiding the research process. But the work is grounded in scientific discipline. Before any data mining can begin at all, the mine itself has to be found. Finding data that can potentially yield alpha is very much an art. It involves a continuous conversation...

The Unbearable Transience of Alpha

In 2004 I enjoyed my 15 minutes of fame for an article I wrote called The Tao of Alpha, in which I explained the concept of alpha as a zero-sum game. Sources of alpha in 2004 were much different than those available in the mid-1990s when I started my career and they are also different from today's. Alpha is highly transient and has been coming and going for as long as capital markets have existed. The term “alpha” entered the vocabulary of Wall Street sometime in the 1980s, gaining widespread use in the 1990s with the proliferation of hedge funds.It...

Alternative Data – The Developing Trend in Financial Data

As quants, we’re all aware that every model has a shelf life. Sooner or later, the ideas and techniques behind every “proprietary” analytical technique diffuse into the broader world, at which point that technique is no longer the source of a competitive edge or alpha. What’s less well appreciated is that a similar pattern applies to the world of data. Rare, unique and proprietary data eventually diffuses and becomes commonplace, easily available, edgeless data. The best analysts constantly reinvent their models and source new data products to avoid their inevitable obsolescence. Today, they're venturing into the world of alternative data as a...

The Tao of Alpha

In 2004 I was running a hedge fund consultancy, where I advised many of the world's leading hedge funds. With this perspective, I wrote an article called The Tao of Alpha. The article offers a unique viewpoint on how alpha was then used and understood. We have transcribed the original article below. The Global Alpha Shortage Even the least sophisticated of investors understand that alpha is something to be pursued. Alpha is good. And more alpha is better. Not surprisingly then, most marketing documents are laced with the word. It slips easily off the tongue of marketers and managers. It appears in conference titles, as in “Portable...

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