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.

Alpha versus privacy: A lunch order hypothetical

Data Driven Investor

A hypothetical scenario of buying lunch order data addresses the all-too-real concern of privacy versus alpha in Data Driven Investor’s recent post. Read More »

How does UBS’s Quantitative Evidence & Data Science team function?

WatersTechnology

Led by Bryan Cross, the asset manager’s QED team aims to blend quant and fundamental techniques to find unique solutions to new problems. Read More »

The world’s top quant to Wall Street: “You’re (mostly) doing it wrong”

Bloomberg (subscription)

Marcos Lopez de Prado literally wrote the book on applying tech to finance. Now, he’s delivering a reality check to Wall Street’s active managers. Read More »

The SEC is hiring a Chief Data Officer

Business Insider (subscription)

Wall Street’s top rule maker is bringing on someone to help oversee a wide berth of data-related responsibilities. Read More »

An update on the Volfefe index’s performance

US News & World Report

Following JP Morgan’s “Volfefe” index, several financial institutions have asked: How do Trump’s tweets affect market performance? Read More »

Man GLG bumps up alt data use with newest teammate

Citywire Selector

Man GLG has hired Paul Chambers as Head of Quantitative Investment & Research as the UK group seeks to step up its use of alternative data. Read More »

Removing human bias from predictive modeling

Wharton (UPenn)

Wharton’s James Johndrow discusses his research on removing human bias from predictive modeling. Read and Listen Here »

Beware ESG greenwashing amongst institutions

Institutional Investor

New data from SquareWell Partners indicates that firms’ ESG agreements may not have their intended impact on investing. Read More »

Satellites used to track oil’s unpredictability

MarketWatch

In the wake of recent attacks on crude processing facilities, alternative data provided by satellites lends essential insights into inventories. Read More »

How much is your privacy really worth?

Medium

Putting a price on privacy involves pulling from several hard-to-quantify sources, not to mention antiquated laws. Should we stop trying? Read More »

Two battlefronts that define quant’s future leaders

Citywire Selector

The fight for superior information processes and the battle for innovation in security modelling and portfolio construction will underpin future leaders’ success. Read More »

What runs the stock market? Computers, algorithms, and passive managers

The Economist (subscription)

Far gone are the days on Wall Street of gaining information advantages from newspaper, television, and ticker tape. Read More »

Vanguard pushes into FX using blockchain

Bloomberg (subscription)

Vanguard is testing a new way for asset managers to trade currencies and avoid big investment banks, using blockchain technology developed for application in capital markets. Read More »

How alternative data is changing investing

Payments Innovation (podcast)

The Payments Innovation Podcast sits down with Quandl’s Bill Dague to discuss how the changing data science field is generating unexpected benefits. Listen to the Podcast »

The future of data privacy starts in California

Axios

What happens when Californians can sue for data breaches? In the race to compliance, the golden state’s new policy could have national ramifications. Read More »

AI disruption stands to outpace Wall Street’s adoption

Business Insider (subscription)

Many Wall Street firms plan to integrate AI down the road, however the accelerating adoption curve may leave some in the dust. Read More »

Quant hedge funds crimp pay as data costs rise

eFinancial Careers

Funds’ growth necessitates further investment in data and infrastructure, ultimately dialing back the firm’s bottom line. Read More »

More drones, more data: unmanned deliveries set to increase

Bloomberg (subscription)

UPS has won a certification to fly drones under regulations similar to airlines, marking a likely increase in drone activity moving forward. Read More »

How to respond to climate change if you are an algorithm

The Economist

Produced entirely by a natural-language processing algorithm, these essays are literally an AI’s response to questions surrounding climate change. Read More »

BlueMountain Capital’s alternative data veteran joins the Quandl team

Various Sources

Evan Reich will lead Quandl’s data strategy and sourcing team to find new alternative data sources relevant to clients. Business Insider » The Trade » Yahoo Finance »

Thasos faces staff consolidation moving forward

Business Insider (subscription)

Recent shifts at Thasos have consolidated their staff as the company continues to evolve with the alt data landscape. Read More »

Why quant jobs in finance no longer need finance knowledge

eFinancialCareers

Cornell machine learning professor, Marcos Lopez de Prado, points out quants’ lessening need for financial knowledge due to data obfuscation. Read More »

FactSet’s Rich Newman on open data

WatersTechnology (podcast)

FactSet’s Rich Newman joins Waters Technology’s weekly podcast to talk about the challenges facing the alternative data space and why open data is becoming increasingly important. Full Episode »

Wall Street used to crunch numbers. They’ve moved on to stories

Bloomberg (subscription)

Using algorithms and earnings calls, Carlyle researchers are looking into how the stories on Wall Street impact bottom lines. Read More »

Goldman Sachs’ quant business now rivals AQR and Two Sigma

Business Insider (subscription)

Goldman’s Quantitative Investing Strategies group, one of Wall Street’s biggest and fastest growing units, has doubled its AUM in 2.5 years. Read More »

It’s possible to monetize data while respecting consumer privacy – here’s how

TNW

Rising consumer demands for more privacy are driving safer, more ethical, and more efficient data-based business models. Read More »

Alt data: The next-gen payments trend increasing loyalty

insideBIGDATA

Retailers can generate more business-critical insights than ever before by gathering and analyzing consumer purchasing web data. Read More »

The machines are coming for your pricing models

Risk.net

JP Morgan quants found that ‘deep hedging’ strategies developed by a machine outperformed existing strategies based on classical models. Is this the beginning of the end of the Black-Scholes era? Read More »

“Cultivated data” is the next gold rush

TechCrunch

Tech companies are finally understanding what it means for data to be an asset; corpuses are giving rise to a new class of data aggregators.  Read More »

India accused of overstating its growth statistics

Bloomberg BusinessWeek

India’s reports of 7% GDP growth have been overstated, according to a former adviser to the country’s prime minister. Arvind Subramanian used alternative data from vehicle sales and electricity consumption and found the growth rate hovers more realistically around 4.5%. Read More » Full Paper » 

Zillow makes nearly half its money from flipping homes

BuzzFeed

The company has bought thousands of homes in 15 markets, invested in minor repairs, and sold them to the tune of $250M in total revenue. We see a new dataset coming! Read More »

Visualizing 10 years of the stock market

reddit/chartr

An “eye-opening” chart that shows the stock market is actually pretty consistent. View the graphic »

Refinitiv invests in Battlefin

Refinitiv

As part of the deal, Refinitiv will enable its customers to leverage BattleFin’s datasets across its data platforms. Read More »

1010data expands to IR market

Business Wire

1010data launches 1010Reveal(tm)IR, leveraging its credit and debit data to serve Investor Relations departments for the purposes of business intelligence.  Read More »

The nuts and bolts of Data-As-A-Service

Medium

A thoughtful treatise on what it means to run a data business from the CEO of Safegraph. Read More »

Alt data sheds light on meal delivery service

Thinknum Media

Job listings, employee counts, and facebook posts help to explain Blue Apron’s disappointing IPO and HelloFresh’s success. Read More »

Is the bond market ripe for an alt data revolution?

Business Insider

Some point to the opacity and irregularity of transactions as a major factor in limiting alt data’s use in the corporate bond market. Others say it’s this very lack of transparency that makes it such a prime candidate. Read More »

A robot named Gekko would like to think so

Financial Times

Quant funds are attempting to copy the best parts of human traders but without their frailties, whilst turning their attention to the bond market. Read More »

Quant someone else do it?

Business Insider

Hedge-fund managers are overwhelmed by data, and they’re turning to an unlikely source: random people on the internet. Read More »

We won some awards! 

Various

We’re proud to announce that Quandl recently won two awards at the WatersTechnology Inside Market Data & Inside Reference Data Awards. One for Best Alternative Data Provider and another for Acquisition of the Year.  This in addition to the TradingTech Insight award for Best Alternative Data Provider.

“If it feels like we’re all drinking from a data firehose, it’s because we are”

Bondcap

Mary Meeker presented tech’s favourite deck at Vox/Recode’s Code Conference in Scottsdale, Ariz. on Tuesday. Read More »

Top trends in alt-data (2019 edition)

Quandl blog

We are in the fortunate position here at Quandl to bear firsthand witness to the evolution of alternative data; here we catalog current trends we are seeing. Read More »

Alt data reduces opportunistic trading

Oxford Academic

Wharton professor Christina Zhu published a study on transaction and satellite data and concluded that it increases price informativeness, reduces opportunistic trading, and improves investment efficiency. Read the Paper »

Liquidnet acquires alt data firm Prattle

BusinessWire

Liquidnet furthers alt-data industry consolidation with its acquisition of NLP provider Prattle. Terms of the deal were not disclosed. Read More »

Alternative data quantifies how Trump moves markets

Yahoo Finance

Indexa argues its quantitative sentiment data proves that Trump’s tweets cause market volatility, drive equities higher, polarize the market, and but do not persist. Read More »

The empty promise of data moats

a16z (Andreessen Horowitz blog)

A fascinating exploration of why more data is not always better, especially for startups who think their data assets represent a durable moat. Read More »

Alternative data provides measurable and sustainable investing edge

Greenwich Associates

Alternative data has been around for at least a decade, but increased adoption has made it less “alternative” and a more essential part of portfolio construction. The latest Greenwich Associates survey reviews alt-data trends. Read More

Long-only investors increasingly look to alternative data

Profit & Loss

Among the findings of the above-mentioned Greenwich Associates survey, traditional long-only investors say they are joining quantitative early-adopters in using alternative data to achieve alpha. Read More


Human factor is crucial to the alt-data gold rush

Waters Technology (subscription)

While technology advancements are being made, buy-side firms still rely on humans to make sense of alt data. Read More

Computer models won’t beat stock market any time soon

Bloomberg Businessweek

We expect a lot from machines: Spotify picks your songs, your phone recognizes your face and self-driving cars may be just around the corner. Yet, there’s something you’ll likely never have access to: a computerized stockpicker that outsmarts the market. Read More

Stick to core skills or risk data overload, says Goldman quant

Risk.net (subscription)

Explosive growth in alt data, machine learning, and cheaper computing promise to help generate alpha. But asset managers must get picky about how they handle new types of data or they risk being overwhelmed, says a quant tasked with selling Goldman’s internal data. Read More

Buyside, FISD, begin industry push for alt data standards

Waters Technology

In response to firms struggling with the data science aspects of integrating alternative data, some industry participants and the Financial Services Information Association (FISD) are pursuing new initiatives to make it more accessible. Read More

Show me the data: investors demand better ESG disclosure

Opalesque (subscription)

The value of environmental, social and governance (ESG) data is well understood, but for it to be useful, it must be specific, reliable and consistently provided. For the most part, disclosure has been limited and voluntary. Read More

Nextgov

Lawmakers propose $2.2 billion to advance AI

A bipartisan trio of senators want to pour billions of dollars into expanding the use of artificial intelligence across government and industry, and preparing the country’s workforce to use the tech. Read More

Bloomberg (subscription)

Analysts make research cooler, wonkier and bespoke to lure cash

As the industry wrestles with MiFID II, asset managers are trying to win clients through podcasts, novella-length thematic analyses, and proprietary data. Three topics are particularly hot: ESG, renewable energy, and alternative data. Read More

Quants must think like amateurs in world’s wildest market

Bloomberg (subscription)

Mom-and-pop investors drive more than 80% of mainland China equity trades, so it’s important to understand what drives such ‘amateur’ investors. In this article, quants share how they use social sentiment and other alternative data to gauge the market’s direction. Read More

How has machine learning changed the game for Goldman?

Quantminds

ML has changed Goldman Sachs’ advertising material, but not much else, says Michael Steliaros, Global Head of Quantitative Execution Services (though eFinancialCareers thinks he may be trying to talk down job applicant expectations). Nevertheless, in this video the firm’s top quant remains measuredly optimistic, noting that his team can carry out calculations that were impossible “even two or three years ago.” Watch Here

Alternative data firms attract M&A, private equity, interest

Forbes

Companies that specialize in making and distributing unique datasets have attracted strong equity investment and M&A interest from strategic and private-equity investors. Mergermarket looks at potential deals and tie-ups. Read More

The AI sharecroppers

Axios

Without humans, AI can’t tell between a skyscraper from a spider. To give algorithms power, an invisible underclass of low-wage workers are painstakingly making inventories of millions of pieces of data. Read More

Alternative data in fixed income, real estate, FX, and crypto

Various

When looking at investors’ use of alt data and technology we often focus on equities, but several articles this week looked at applications in other areas: Institutional Investor asks if ML will replace active bond managersEstates Gazette notes useful alternative datasets for commercial real estate, Cuemarco looks at alternative datasets for forex, and Bloomberg takes an alt-data dive into Bitcoin.

Learning to love the AI bubble

Sloan MIT Management Review

Are we in an AI bubble? How bad would it be if it were to burst? Boston Consulting Group says if there is a bubble it has more in common with the dot.com bubble, which helped finance the internet backbone, rather than the housing bubble behind the 2008 meltdown. Read More

Peering into peer selection: quantifying company similarity

MSCI

Is it possible to identify and measure relationships between companies from a systematic analysis of various types of data, including fundamentals and company filings? This MSCI paper looks at whether alternative data can be used to get a better understanding of inter-company relationships and risks. Read More

Quartz

Data show Game of Thrones is taking a historic critical nosedive

Examining IMDb data on 82 television shows that lasted at least five seasons, Quartz found that the show’s nosedive is nearly unmatched, with only one other former critical darling having a sharper drop. Read More

BlackRock ramps up research on AI, automated trading, alternative data

Pulse 2.0

BlackRock founded AI Labs last year to accelerate tech innovation. It’s since expanded to a staff of 30, about a third of whom are PhDs, working on projects such as an automated bidding engine for securities and further alternative data use. Read More

UK starts using alternative data for official CPI

Press release

The UK’s Office for National Statistics will start using alternative data to calculate inflation. The ONS said it will include point-of-sale scanner data as well as scraped prices from retailers’ websites to produce more timely and granular inflation statistics. Read More

Economists create own benchmarks to counter India’s dubious data

Reuters

Economists covering India are starting to use alternative data sources due to their low confidence in official numbers. Among the datasets they prefer are indicators like car sales, air and rail cargo levels, and proprietary indices to track the economy. Read More

Is the $2B reference data market set for a shake-up?

Forbes

With data being said to be akin to the “new oil” and one of the world’s most valuable resources, could a challenger and disruptive data provider be poised to disrupt the $2 billion reference data industry? Read More

AQR publishes framework for an ESG strategy

Institutional Investor

Though hedge funds lag their asset management counterparts in developing ESG investments, AQR leads the pack by releasing a framework on responsible investing in partnership with the United Nations Principles for Responsible Investment. Read More

Hedge funds excited about machine learning, but do clients understand it?

Business Insider (subscription)

Now that machine learning has become a buzzword, investors are putting their money into funds and businesses claiming machine-learning expertise. Unfortunately, amid a frothy market there is often no way to confirm such expertise.  Read More

The answer to Uber’s profit challenge may lie in its trove of data

Reuters

Uber has never made a profit and burns through cash at a prodigious rate. Yet it has high-value data on who uses it, how they use it, and where they go. All of this data, a source says, can become a source of revenue.  Read More

Better data increases appeal of emerging markets

Institutional Investor

Pension funds, endowments, and other large institutional investors are turning to emerging markets in search of returns, as the increasing availability of alternative data and ESG research are compensating for a historical lack of quality information. Read More

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