Alternative Data Weekly Newsletter Archives


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A curated digest of must-read news from around the internet about alternative data. Join the buy-side professionals already reading the Alternative Data Weekly.

April 2019

The data game: How alternative data is reshaping markets

Globe and Mail (subscription)

The G&M’s Report on Business takes a deep look into the alternative data market in this feature. Who’s benefiting, who’s missing out, and how are major investors and data vendors responding to regulatory opacity? Read more

What data is alternative? It may depend on the user and use case

S&P Global Market Intelligence

In this video, S&P Global Market Intelligence Managing Director Warren Breakstone speaks on the growing demand for alternative data beyond investment management and discusses how what constitutes “alternative” is often in the eye of the beholder. Watch Here

Alternative data and fairness in capital markets

Stephen Bain, RBC Capital Markets 

Do exclusive alt-data deals undermine fair and efficient capital markets? In this provocative piece, Stephen Bain, RBC Capital Markets managing director and board member of Aequitas (founder of the NEO Exchange which bans high-frequency trading), argues that it might. Read More

Big data illuminates, but governments left in the dark

Financial Times (subscription)

If policy makers embraced alternative data there could be immense benefits. Unfortunately, public bodies lack the money to buy or clean all this data themselves, meaning the public may miss out while the private sector benefits. Read More

Alternative data comes of age, and investors are noticing


For years, alternative data was the purview of a small fringe of believers who used what were seen as creative, sometimes quirky, strategies. But more recently, alternative data has matured. Read More

How hedge funds use consumer data to get an edge


As well as the above, CNBC this week looked at alt data in several reports and from several perspectives. This video, and accompanying print item, looks at how funds use alt data. Geared largely to a retail audience, anchors raise Flash Boys-type concerns that high costs and the exclusivity of some datasets is putting retail investors at a disadvantage. Read More

Privacy, risk and doubt (subscription)

Advances in data make it possible to profit from the processing of large amounts of personal information. But those who give up the information remain nervous about where it ends up. Increasingly, governments are on their side.  Read More

Exchanges highly profitable, but may be at risk if they don’t innovate

Business Insider (subscription)

Exchanges generated nearly $30 billion in revenue in 2018, but a recent report suggests they need new business lines – including those based on alternative data and digital assets – in order to sustain double-digit growth. Read More

The Conversation

Will Netflix eventually monetize its user data?

Netflix spends much more than it brings in, leading to consistent negative cashflow and huge debt. That’s led some to believe its business model is unsustainable. But what if its primary long-term business model isn’t entertainment, but data aggregation? Read More

Two new anonymization methods to combat alt-data risks (subscription)

Risks of privacy violations are keeping investors from the rich alpha that can be found in alternative data. But new anonymization methods are emerging that can guarantee the data’s safety. Read More

Quant funds train sights on private equity markets

Financial Times (subscription)

Private equity is fast becoming the hottest alternative to traditional hedge funds. Can a data-driven approach work here as well? Cliff Asness opines. Read More

Stock picks from space

The Atlantic 

RS Metrics popularized car counting using satellite imagery, and today possesses one of the most complete datasets of its kind. The Atlantic covers the rise of satellite data, largely from the perspective of how its information advantage affects market pricing. (view RS Metrics data on Quandl). Read More

JPMorgan’s quant mastermind on how he uses data to make market-moving calls

Business Insider (subscription)

Long before Marko Kolanovic became JPMorgan’s quant mastermind, he earned a Ph.D in theoretical physics. He credits that background for giving him the skills to eventually revolutionize the field of quantitative analysis. Read More

Amenity Analytics raises $18 million for earnings-call analysis

Bloomberg (subscription) 

Startup Amenity Analytics is offering software that it says can even pick up on the signs of potential deception that CIA and FBI interrogators look for to gauge the sentiment of what is said on calls and in public filings. Read More

Traditional asset managers are embracing AI and alternative data

Integrity Research

As more asset managers bring AI in-house, the demand for external research products will shift as internal machine learning subsumes external analyst and sales roles, Integrity Research writes summarizing a new white paper from McKinsey. Read More

Businesses build AI, data science teams with nontech talent

WSJ Pro (subscription)

Financial services firms are building AI and data science teams with people from nontech fields as they look to overcome a talent shortage and add professionals with broader skills. These firms have been hiring not only computer scientists, but also people with backgrounds in physics and English.  Read More

Afraid of Google? BlackBerry cofounder says you should be

The Walrus

The cofounder of the firm behind the once-ubiquitous BlackBerry smartphone is cautioning about big tech’s data-collection practices and advising governments on regulation. His proposals could put tech companies on an even shorter leash than Europe’s GDPR. Read More

California privacy law threatens hedge funds

FundFire (subscription)

A new data privacy law that’s coming down the pipeline and could cause headaches for hedge funds and other investment managers using alternative data sets in their investment processes. Read More

UBS Asset Management cools on alternative data (subscription)

UBS AM tested around 700 datasets for tradeable insights, and the results were disappointing. Now, rather than searching for alt data that can be a direct source of alpha, the $795 billion AUM firm is looking at how it can benefit from combining traditional and alternative data. Read More

Google plans foray into asset management with AI data tools

Waters Technology (subscription)

Google is ramping up its analytical capabilities to target asset management firms, with tools it says can simplify data scientists’ work. While many asset managers and technology vendors remain unsure about Google’s end-game, buyside firms have expressed interest. Read More

Banks are asking clients to hit ‘subscribe’ for data access

Outside Insight

Banks like Goldman Sachs are edging closer to business models and hiring profiles previously found only in Silicon Valley as they increasingly adopt a data-as-a-service model to capitalize on their data assets. Read More

Robots scour earnings calls for ‘vague’ signals to sell

Financial Times (subscription) 

A study by BoA Merrill Lynch has found that instructing computer programs to decode often-dry quarterly calls to inform decisions can add an extra 6.3% to annualized returns. In particular, unclear language is identified as a consistent signal to sell a company’s stock. Read More

Silicon Valley has made top data-science talent too expensive for many hedge funds

Business Insider (subscription)

The battle for tech talent between Wall Street and Silicon Valley is reaching a fever pitch as a host of buzzy tech unicorns are expected to go public, promising to turn their employees into millionaires overnight. Read More

US starts using digital price data for official inflation calculations

Bloomberg (subscription)

The US Department of Labor is dipping its toes into big data, bringing it a bit closer to what it sees as the future for economic indicators. More than 1,000 price quotes that were manually gathered through staff surveys are being replaced with digitally collected data. In a separate item, Bloomberg reports that the IMF is using satellite data to gauge of war-torn economies, adding to the growing research on how alternative data can benefit economists and policymakers..  Read More

Top five AI and machine learning jobs on Wall Street


This isn’t another list of hard-to-fill job categories, rather it’s five specific C-suite and senior roles that are currently open at Goldman Sachs, JP Morgan, Morgan Stanley, BoA, and Citi – indicating that the biggest Wall St. (and Charlotte, NC) firms are making major efforts to land top tech talent. Read More

Why a hedge fund started a video game competition


For Two Sigma, which has grown its AUM 600% over six years to over $50 billion, sponsorship of a video game programming competition provides the NYC-based fund with more than just publicity.  Read More 

Who’ll sit on the Iron Throne? Data says it’s [SPOILER]


Who’s going to rule Westeros when the final season of HBO’s Game of Thrones ends later this spring? Data visualization company Visme has employed a detailed methodology to try to calculate individual odds of the show’s major characters capturing the Iron Throne.  Read More

Oil traders watch workers’ phones to spot problems at refineries

Bloomberg (subscription)

In the oil market, a tiny clue– such as the number of people working at a refinery – can be worth millions. Oil companies rarely reveal such information, but traders can gain insight by tracking the number of mobile phones at the plant. Read More

Goldman Sachs investing in ‘unloved’ fintech firms


As an avid investor in financial startups, Goldman Sachs thinks there are bargains among the companies that don’t make the headlines, and that these ‘unloved’ startups solve real problems and are great investing opportunities. Read More

Alternative data budgets rise in 2019… or do they?

A-Team Insight

While more than 90% of data providers expect prices of alternative data to rise or remain the same, nearly 60% of buyers say datasets are overpriced. Read More

Futures aren’t just for juice, they’re for truck routes too


With a new market in truck-delivery futures, investors can speculate on how much it will cost to send goods between US cities, more than a year before a driver climbs into the cab. This first trucking freight futures market is just the latest sign of how trucking is rolling into the digitized 21st century (and provides a new use for Quandl’s LTL Truck Movement dataset). Read More

Goldman Sachs goes open source, kind of

Wall Street Journal (subscription) 

Soon anyone with a GitHub account will be able to see how much Goldman thinks a derivative should cost. This month, Goldman plans to release some of the code that it uses to price securities and manage risk on the popular developer-collaboration site. Read More

Maduro’s land of darkness: monitoring power grid degradation with alternative data

Monash IP Observatory

Monash Business School’s IP Observatory – which monitors the availability and quality of the Internet during events such as elections, disasters, or conflict – has used alternative data to offer granular insights on Venezuela’s month of power outages. Read More

Millions of Facebook records found on Amazon cloud servers

Bloomberg (subscription)

Facebook user data keeps showing up where it shouldn’t. Troves of user data was found to publicly viewable on Amazon’s cloud servers. The problem could be extensive as researchers found around 100,000 open databases, some of which might not have been intended to be public.  Read More

Alternative data, machine learning, chicken biryani, and the future of quant finance

Wilmott Magazine

In a wide-ranging and casual chat reflecting on the 100th issue of his eponymous Quant finance magazine, Paul Wilmott discusses favorite articles, influential papers, alternative data, how quant finance has evolved over three decades and what the future may hold. Read More

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