Global finance

全球金融

The real revolution on Wall Street

真正的华尔街革命

High tech meets high finance

当高科技遇见华尔街


Events on Wall Street have become so strange that Netflix is said to be planning a show to immortalise them. But what should be the plot? One story is of an anti-establishment movement causing chaos in high finance, just as it has in politics. Another is how volatile shares, strutting online traders and cash-crunches at brokerage firms signal that a toppy market is poised to crash. Both gloss over what is really going on. Information technology is being used to make trading free, shift information flows and catalyse new business models, transforming how markets work (see article). And, despite the clamour of recent weeks, this promises to bring big long-term benefits.

华尔街事件变得如此蹊跷,澳门辉煌娱乐网址游戏:以至于听说Netflix公司打算为此制作一档节目流传后世。但故事情节是什么?一个情节是反建制运动导致华尔街混乱,这与政坛如出一辙。另一个情节是剧烈波动的股价、春风得意的网上交易者、资金短缺的券商是如何预示着市场过热将导致崩盘的。两个情节都掩盖了真实情况。人们正在利用信息技术使交易免费、改变信息流、分析新型商业模式、改变市场的运作方式。尽管最近几周喧嚣不已,但可能带来巨大长远的利益。

Don’t expect screenwriters to dwell on that, obviously. Their focus will be the 8m followers of WallStreetBets, an investment forum on Reddit, who have invented a new financial adventurism: call it swarm trading. Together, they bid up the prices of some obscure firms in late January. This triggered vast losses at hedge funds that had bet on share prices falling (see Buttonwood). And it led to a cash squeeze at online brokers which must post collateral if volatility rises. Since January 28th the most prominent, Robinhood, has raised $3.4bn to shore itself up.

很显然,别指望编剧能思考这些。他们关注的是Reddit网站的投资论坛“华尔街赌场”(WallStreetBets)上的800万名订阅者,他们创造了新式金融冒险主义:称为集体交易。他们在一月底集体哄抬一些不知名企业的股价,导致做空股价的对冲基金巨额亏损。同时也导致线上券商资金短缺,如果股价波动加剧,他们必须提供担保。自1月28日以来,最知名的券商Robinhood筹集了34亿美元支撑自己。


Part of the reason for this is that government bail-outs have put a floor under risky debt. Banks have so much spare cash—JPMorgan Chase’s pile has risen by $580bn in the pandemic—that they are turning depositors away. Instead of using the lockdown to learn Mandarin and discover Tolstoy, some people have used their stimulus cheques to daytrade. Although the whiff of mania is alarming, you can find reasons to support today’s prices. When interest rates are so low, other assets look relatively attractive. Compared with the real yield on five-year Treasuries, shares are cheaper than before the crash of 2000.

部分原因是政府的救助行动减少了高风险债务。银行的闲置资金太多——在疫情期间,摩根大通银行的资金量猛增5800亿美元——以至于将储户拒之门外。有些人没有利用封城的机会学习汉语或探索托尔斯泰,而是将手中的刺激支票用于日内交易。尽管些许的狂热令人恐慌,但你能找出理由支持当今股价。银行利率这么低,其他资产看起来比较有吸引力。相比五年期国库券的实际收益率,股票价格低于2000年经济崩溃前的水平。

Yet the excitement also reflects a fundamental shift in finance. In recent decades trading costs for shares have collapsed to roughly zero. The first to benefit were quantitative funds and big asset managers such as BlackRock. Now retail investors are included, which is why they accounted for a quarter of all trading in January. Meanwhile, information flows, the lifeblood of markets, are being disaggregated. News about firms and the economy used to come from reports and meetings governed by insider-trading and market-manipulation laws. Now a vast pool of instant data from scraping websites, tracking industrial sensors and monitoring social-media chatter is available to those with a screen and the time to spare. Last, new business models are passing Wall Street by. spacs are a Silicon Valley rebellion against the cost and rigidity of ipos. Robinhood, a tech platform from California, executes trades through Citadel, a broker in Chicago. In return for free trading, users’ trades are directed to brokers who, as on Facebook, pay to harvest the data from them.

但是,这种狂热也反映出金融领域的根本性变化。近几十年来,股票交易几乎零成本。最初获利的是量化基金和大型资产管理公司,例如贝莱德集团。如今散户投资者也参与进来,所以他们占一月份交易总量的四分之一。与此同时,信息流作为市场的命脉正在被瓦解。在过去,有关企业和经济的新闻来源是公报和会议,并受到内部交易与市场操纵相关法律的约束。如今人们只要有显示器和闲暇时间,可以通过浏览网站、跟踪行业指标、监视社交媒体聊天来获取海量的即时数据。最后,新型商业模式也在降临华尔街。“特殊目的收购公司”是在反抗首次公开募股(IPO)的成本与死板。Robinhood是一家位于加利福尼亚州的科技平台,通过芝加哥券商Citadel执行交易。作为免费交易的回报,用户的交易数据被提供给券商。正如Facebook那样,券商需要花钱获取用户的交易数据。

Far from being a passing fad, the disruption of markets will intensify. Computers can aggregate baskets of illiquid assets and deploy algorithms to price similar but not identical assets, expanding the universe of assets that can be traded easily. A sharply rising proportion of bonds is being traded through liquid exchange-traded funds, intermediated by a new breed of marketmakers, such as Jane Street. Contenders such as Zillow are trying to make housing sales quick and cheap, and in time commercial-property and private-equity stakes may follow.

这次市场颠覆决非短暂的狂热,未来将会愈演愈烈。计算机能够汇集一篮子非流动资产,利用算法给相似但不完全相同的资产定价,从而不断增加易于交易的资产种类。通过易变现的交易所交易基金进行交易的债券比例急剧上升,由一种新型造市商作为中间商,例如Jane Street公司。Zillow这样的竞争者正在设法使房地产交易变得既快捷又便宜,商业地产和私募股权可能迟早也会效仿。

On paper this digitisation holds huge promise. More people will be able to gain access to markets cheaply, participate directly in the ownership of a broader range of assets and vote over how they are run. The cost of capital for today’s illiquid assets will fall. It will be easier to match your exposure to your appetite for risk.

理论上,这场数字化变革潜力巨大。更多的人将能够低成本进入市场,直接参与种类日益繁多的资产所有权,并有权决定资产的运营方式。当今非流动资产的资本成本将会下降,你面对的风险将更容易符合你的风险偏好。


Although that is thankfully not an option in America, the regulators’ toolkit does need to be upxed. It must be made clear that speculators, amateur and professional, will still bear losses, even if they attract sympathy from politicians. Irrationality thrives in online politics because it imposes no direct cost. By contrast, in markets losses act as a disciplining force. If today’s frothiest assets collapse, the bill could be perhaps $2trn: painful but not catastrophic in a stockmarket worth $44trn.

幸亏美国没有采取这种做法,但监管机构的手段确实有待于提高。很显然,业余和专业投资者仍将遭受损失,即便他们博得了政客的同情。网络政治越来越失去理性,因为无需付出直接成本。相比之下,在市场上遭受损失具有制约作用。如果当今最大的资产泡沫破裂,损失可能高达2万亿美元:令人痛心,但对于市值44万亿美元的股市而言算不上灾难。

Don’t forget season two

莫忘第二季