Aug 4, 2020

The Blatant Con...

This is not an original research - something forwarded by a friend, but I believe this need to be disseminated

Last Tuesday afternoon, the White House announced that Kodak – a public company with less than $100 million in market cap (which basically means they're essentially a pension fund with a famous brand name attached) – would receive $765 million in “loans” from the US government to create a “pharmaceutical start-up” that over a period of 8 YEARS will start making pharmaceutical “supplies: (Whatever the fuck that means)

This $765 million in non-recourse, non-securitized loans for pharmaceutical supply production, given to this micro-cap company with zero experience / expertise in pharmaceutical supply production, comes from the International Development Finance Corporation (DFC), a $60 billion piggy bank that is one of many White House conduits for crony capitalism, established by the Trump administration in 2018 to replace the Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC).  Emphasis on "international development" & "overseas" 🤔

On the corporate side of the con, we have Kodak Chairman and CEO Jim Continenza, who picked up 3 million shares and cheap options over the past 4-6 months. It’s Kodak board member George Karfunkel of the private equity and banking Zyskind-Karfunkel family, with his 6.4 million shares. It’s Kodak board member Philippe Katz, who owns about 4.3 million shares through at least five shell companies.  Of these shares, they were also each granted tens of thousands of shares in Kodak just over the past 60 days. In addition, Kodak granted Jim options for $1.75MM shares on Monday, the day before the announcement (and stock tripling)!!  BRAZEN & BLATANT!  Then again, when you have AG Barr to do your bidding, you're ensured any SEC investigation will be quashed quietly on the back-end (if it even occurs at all).  Jim also happens to be CEO of Vivial, a digital marketing company, which is Jim’s particular forte.  Yup he's a marketing guy...i.e. he peddles bullshit.  No background in manufacturing.  No background in biopharma. 

Based on Thursday's closing price for Kodak stock, they made about $400 million over the 48 hours post-announcement.  Let's also acknowledge the small-fry Kodak grifters who covered their tracks & tipped their buddies about the deal, sparking 1.65 million Kodak shares trading for $2+ on Monday, about 25 times the average trading volume of the prior weekin advance of the Tuesday announcement.



On the government side of the grift, it’s Donald Trump, who gets a press conference, a talking point and assuredly a kickback when he exits the presidency.  Kodak (or some private LLC of which Jim, George & Phillipe are managing members) will surely pay Trump his 20-30% cut (on the entirety of gains of course - the capital gains as well as the $765MM recourse-free "loan") in the form of a massive "consulting fee", or donate to one of his "charities" or shell corps, from which the money can of course be easily siphoned as needed).  It’s Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who of course "just happen" to sit on the DFC board of directors, each pocketing a favor as well as a kickback as aforementioned.  It’s Larry Kudlow, the nation's top economic adviser, who also "just happens" to be a University of Rochester alum and friend of Kodak (but of course), who pockets a BIG favor & his cut.  And where is Eastman Kodak headquartered you ask?  You guessed it - Rochester!

And it's Adam Boehler, the 41 year-old head of the DFC (he's just a figurehead of course - he does the bidding of the Board of Directors & is there to create the optics of independent governance), who will get a cushy CEO gig somewhere in the private sector once he exits government "service" 😂. So how does the head of what's essentially a government slush fund “learn” (and I quote) that a failed company with ZERO experience in pharmaceuticals “was interested in creating a start-up that could supply ingredients for pharmaceuticals”, and so – within a matter of days – advances a proposal to give that failed company $765MM American dollars...US taxpayer money...YOUR tax $$ (and mine)?  Did someone email him at info@dfc.gov lol?!!  I'm guessing he "learned" about Kodak’s "pharmaceutical start-up plans" (oh the bullshit is strong in this con) from Uncle Wilbur or Uncle Larry after they had a really interesting conversation with their good friends in Rochester.

I wonder - what evidence was proffered to Adam and the DFC board showing Kodak’s pharmaceutical start-up expertise?  Looking at Kodak’s 10-K and 10-Q, they talk about the business lines that Kodak has – Traditional Printing, Digital Printing, Advanced Film Materials & Chemicals, and a fourth category they just call “Brand” – I’m wondering where pharmaceuticals fits into this picture?!  Looking at management discussion of new business & licensing opportunities, which took place at the annual shareholders meeting on May 27th – just 8 weeks ago!! – where they talk about opportunities in “3D printing, smart material applications and printed electronics”, I can’t find a single mention of anything related to "pharmaceuticals".

Financial diabolical genius no doubt.  Surely this is the first time Jim & the Kodak gang tried implementing a scheme like this.  I say Nooooo!  Waaay back in the stone ages that was 2018, Kodak decided to reinvent itself as a crypto play, complete with a failed ICO and a Bitcoin-mining machine to boot (I shit you not - it was called the Kodak KashMiner). What did Kodak stock do?  It tripled in a week before subsequently reverting back in the weeks thereafter.  So of course Jim et. al decided it was time for another pump-and-dump scheme.

Straight theft - it's wealth redistribution from taxpayers directly into the pockets of these cockroaches.  Kodak profits by getting $765MM for free, management makes hundreds of millions in the market off this pump-and-dump scheme, AND they get to generate profits from selling whatever they manufacture (almost surely back to the taxpayers, which will pay a huge markup to ensure Kodak generates tons of profits), which then means the execs get an even larger payout for years to come!

Ladies & gentlemen, you just got jacked.  

Jul 16, 2020

Machine Learning Model Validation

I just came across an excellent and highly relevant piece of research "A comparison of machine learning model validation schemes for non-stationary time series data" by Matthias Schnaubelt. Features like non-stationarity, concept drift, and structural breaks present serious modelling challenges, and properly validating ML time series models requires knowing proper validation strategies.

Dr Schnaubelt writes:
Using  cross-validation  for  time-series  applications  comes  at  a great risk.  While theoretically applicable, we find that random cross-validation often is associated with the largest bias and variance when compared to all other validation schemes.  In most cases,blocked variants of cross-validation have a similar or better performance, and should therefore be preferred if cross-validation is to be used. If global stationarity is perturbed by non-periodic changes in autoregression coefficients, we find that forward-validation may be preferred over cross-validation.Within forward-validation schemes, we find that rolling-origin and growing-window schemes often achieve  the  best  performance.   A  closer  look  on  the  effect  of  the  perturbation  strength  reveals that there exist three performance regimes:  For small perturbations, cross- and forward-validation methods perform similarly.  For intermediate perturbation strengths, forward-validation performs better.  For still higher perturbation strengths, last-block validation performs best.

While some of this I intuited and used in practice, it is great that someone has thoroughly looked and analyzed the topic. If you are using machine learning in finance and want to weigh in with your experience with these or other validation strategies, please leave a comment.

Jun 25, 2020

Deribit Extreme Put Skew

I am watching Deribit, and 8000P expiring in 11 1/2 hours is 0.0005 bid for 100 contracts. This just ticked to be 200% vol. While we've seen these levels back in March, that was then. Either someone is really nervous about almost 1300 point drop, or forgot that they have an active order and went to sleep :)
And ... it did not last too long, I think someone was also watching this strike vol creeping up and as I was writing the post lifted all bids on the line.

Update: 7.5 hours left, and buyer is back with 600 contract bid at 250% vol. What is going on? Does someone knows something others don't?  Is someone forced to hedge margin? There certainly not many sellers left.

Update: And the contracts traded; markets @ 0.0005 x 38
Final update: Expired far far otm. 

Jun 22, 2020

Expiration Dates For VSTOXX, VNKY, RTSVX, VHSI

For anyone tracking all domestic and international volatility futures I put together this guide. Email me if I am missing a contract
  • CBOE: expiration is 30 calendar days before options expiration, Wednesdays, AM special opening quotation. Source.
  • VSTOXX/EUREX: expiration is 30 calendar days before options expiration, most of the time same day as CBOE, Wednesdays, settled to an average index value between 11:30 and 12:00 Central European Time. Source
  • EURO STOXX 50 Variance Futures/EUREX: One business day before the third Friday of the maturity month; settlement based on the average of the EURO STOXX 50® index calculations between 11:50 and 12:00 CET on the third Friday of the maturity month. Source.
  • RTSVX/MOEX: expiration is 7 calendar days before options expiration (which is around 15th of the month). Settled to the average index value of the evening trading session. Source.
  • VHSI/HKEX: 30 calendar days prior to the second last business day of the next month, settled to the average of the last half hour. Source, source.
  • VNKY/OSAKA: last trading day is the day preceding the day that is 30 days prior to the 2nd Friday of each month, Tuesdays. Source, source.
  • INDIA VIX/NSE: weekly contracts, expiring on Tuesdays. Source.
  • V-KOSPI/KRX: day after 30 calendar days prior to the following month's KOSPI200 options last trading day. Source.
  • AVIX/ASX: expiration is 30 days prior to the third Thursday of the following calendar month, generally day before CBOE volatility expiration; settling into the average value of the S&P/ASX 200 VIX between 11.30am and 12.00pm on that day. Source, source.