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Bob Mercer’s Influence on Politics Wanes as New Donors Emerge

| June 5, 2019 | 0 Comments

Two years ago, hedge-fund investor Robert Mercer and his daughter Rebekah had the president’s ear. Now, on the eve of midterm elections, a different group of Wall Street executives enjoys access to the Oval Office.

The Mercers are playing a less-important role backing conservative politicians, according to campaign finance filings and people close to the matter, even as a handful of other finance executives boost their contributions during the latest election cycle.

“They’ve fallen off the grid,” a leading member of the conservative movement said of the Mercers. “We don’t hear much from them.”

It is a marked step back for a pair who two years ago seemed well-positioned to influence the new administration.

At an August 2016 fundraiser on Long Island, Ms. Mercer approached then-candidate Donald Trump and encouraged him to hire Steve Bannon and Kellyanne Conway to stabilize his flailing campaign. Mr. Trump agreed, and the Mercers entered the president’s inner circle. After the election, Mr. Trump attended a costume party at Mr. Mercer’s home and Ms. Mercer advised the president on certain appointments.

The Mercers, though, experienced unexpected blowback from their forays into politics—which friends say prompted them to shift to a lower-key approach, with smaller political contributions and little regular communication with Mr. Trump or members of his administration.

Other financial executives, meanwhile, have gained more clout.

Blackstone Group LP Chief Executive Stephen Schwarzman, for example, has regular phone conversations with Mr. Trump, according to people close to the executive, to discuss economic policy and other matters. Mr. Schwarzman didn’t back Mr. Trump during the presidential election but shortly afterward chaired the since-disbanded White House Strategic and Policy Forum.

In recent months, Mr. Schwarzman has informally advised Mr. Trump on certain topics, the people say.  A spokeswoman for Mr. Schwarzman wouldn’t comment.

Mr. Schwarzman has boosted his political donations, even as the Mercers have pulled back. This year, as of Oct. 26, the Blackstone co-founder made $12.8 million in disclosed political contributions to Republican candidates, political-action committees and outside groups, according to the Center for Responsive Politics, making him the third-largest Republican donor. By contrast, Mr. Mercer made $5.9 million in disclosed political contributions.

In 2014, the last midterm-election year, Mr. Mercer made $9.7 million in political contributions, and he gave $25.6 million during the 2016 election year, making him one of the party’s top donors, the Center says.

Among other Wall Street executives, Kenneth Griffin, founder of hedge fund Citadel Investment Group Inc., and brokerage founder Charles Schwab have given more this year to conservative causes than Mr. Mercer.

Some of Mr. Mercer’s political bets have gone awry. This past June, he gave $500,000 to a political action committee backing Kelli Ward, who lost Arizona’s Republican Senate primary in August. Ms. Ward drew criticism for accusing the family of the late Sen. John McCain for timing the announcement of the end of his cancer treatment to undercut her campaign.

Over the past year, Mr. Mercer has backed a PAC called Black Americans for A Better Future, which encourages the involvement of more black men and women in the Republican Party, and a PAC supporting U.S. national security adviser John Bolton.

“There were high expectations that they would be huge players in the administration, but that’s not what they want,” said Utah Republican Sen. Mike Lee, who has received support from the Mercers.

Mr. Mercer couldn’t be reached for comment. A spokesman for Ms. Mercer wouldn’t comment.

Mr. Mercer for years played a crucial role at his hedge fund Renaissance Technologies, while he and his daughter became more involved in conservative and other causes, aiming to upend a Republican establishment friends say they had become disenchanted with. They backed Cambridge Analytica, the data firm that forged ties with President Trump’s 2016 campaign, the conservative website Breitbart News and right-wing firebrand Milo Yiannopoulos.

After the election, the Mercers fielded intense criticism. Some Renaissance investors and employees grew uncomfortable with Mr. Mercer’s political activities, according to people close to the matter, while Ms. Mercer has spoken of receiving death threats and dealing with protesters in front of her home.

Mr. Mercer and his daughter hadn’t prepared for the negative reaction, friends say.

“They were so much more successful in the political arena than they expected, it took off like a rocket,” said Brent Bozell, a friend who runs the Media Research Center. “There’s bitterness…people have disappointed them.”

Mr. Mercer agreed to step down as co-chief executive officer of his firm, shifted his Breitbart stake to his daughters, and broke ties Mr. Yiannopoulos and Mr. Bannon, who eventually quit the administration.

Today, the Mercers remain close with Ms. Conway but don’t have another conduit to communicate with Mr. Trump or his advisers, according to people close to the matter. The Mercers tell friends they continue to support Mr. Trump and are pleased with his policies.

Lately, Mr. Mercer has focused on his firm, while Ms. Mercer has been involved in issues far from the headlines, such as working to boost free speech on college campuses, the friends say.

A few weeks ago, Ms. Mercer was honored at a Washington, D.C., gala where she said shared concerns about the level of discourse on college campuses, saying schools “churn out a wave of ovine zombies steeped in the anti-American myths of the radical left, ignorant of basic civics, economics and history, and completely unfit for critical thinking.”

“I will not be silenced,” she said.

Rather than attend the event, Mr. Trump sent a letter of appreciation, an attendee says.

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Jeffrey Talpins is the Hedge Fund King You’ve Never Heard Of

| June 5, 2019 | 0 Comments

Jeffrey Talpins may be the hottest investor on Wall Street.

His firm, Element Capital Management, posted a gain of 26.8% through October, investors say, dwarfing the 1.86% loss suffered by the average hedge fund, according to data-tracker HFR. Element has posted average gains of nearly 21% since launching 13 years ago and hasn’t suffered a down year.

Mr. Talpins is a “macro” trader who uses options to try to capture the upside of—and limit potential losses from—strategies aimed at anticipating global economic shifts. Paying for stock and bond options can lead to losses in placid markets, but volatility over the past year has buoyed Element’s bullish wagers on U.S. stocks and the U.S. dollar. Mr. Talpin’s bearish bets on the U.S. interest rates and the euro also have paid off.

“Element is great at using options in a thoughtful way, so they often make more money when they get it right than they lose when they’re wrong,” says Adam Blitz, chief executive officer of Evanston Capital Management, which manages portfolios that invest in Element.

Now, Mr. Talpins has a new challenge: The more successful Element becomes, the harder it will be to beat the market.

While Element focuses on the most liquid markets, trades can still become more challenging or expensive the bigger a fund gets, clients note. And managing large amounts of money can pressure a manager to come up with new strategies for deploying the cash, forcing the fund to turn to second-tier ideas, while also preventing it from entering smaller markets.

Some heavy hitters in the hedge-fund world have seen hot streaks turn into deep slumps after their funds became enormous. John Paulson manages less than $9 billion, down from $38 billion, David Einhorn’s Greenlight Capital Inc. has shrunk to about $5.5 billion from $12 billion and Alan Howard’s London-based Brevan Howard Asset Management LLP manages nearly $7 billion, down from about $40 billion, though this year has been a winner for several of his firm’s funds.

Representatives of the firms wouldn’t comment.

Unlike other hedge-fund investors on a hot streak, the 43-year-old Mr. Talpins has kept a low profile.

Winning RecordJeffrey Talpins’s Element Capital has beenamong the best-performing hedge fundssince it was founded.Total returnsSources: Element investors; FactSet (Vanguard fund)Note: Element return for 2005 is from April 1 and itsreturns for 2005-17 are for Class A shares. For bothfunds, 2018 returns are year-to-date through Oct. 31.
%Element CapitalVanguard Balanced Index Fund InvestorShares2006’08’10’12’14’16’18-250255075

He has never made a television appearance, rarely speaks at industry conferences and isn’t part of the New York social scene. Quietly, his firm has become a heavyweight, managing $18.2 billion, up from $6 billion three years ago.Blackstone Group and the Abu Dhabi Investment Authority each have more than $100 million in the fund, according to people close to the matter. Spokespeople for Blackstone and for Abu Dhabi wouldn’t comment on performance of the investment firms.

Mr. Talpins, a former Yale University math whiz who, people close to the firm say, logs into the fund’s computer system every day on vacation, spends much of his time focused on developing broad investment themes. His focus is on attempting to meld old-school macro bets with a newer, quantitative approach that features structured wagers in stock, bond and currency markets.

An ideal trade might be one that yields gains only with a sharp rally, but keeps possible losses limited, rather than making outright wagers on the future of stocks or bonds. In late winter of 2017, for example, Mr. Talpins anticipated that Congress would pass a corporate-tax deal. Element loaded up on options on the S&P 500, a move that cost the fund for much of the year but led to huge gains when the deal came together and stocks climbed.

As the firm has grown, Mr. Talpins has retained the final call on big-picture trades. But he has slowly allowed colleagues to have more impact on trades after earlier finding it difficult to give up control, according to people close to the firm.

Element recently faced some controversy.

Earlier this year, the hedge fund was sued by a former managing director alleging she was paid less than her male counterparts. She said Mr. Talpins told her to draft thank-you notes and manage his traffic violations—work, she said, he didn’t assign to men with equivalent professional experience.

Element has denied the charges.

For all of Element’s popularity with investors, Mr. Talpins doesn’t make it easy on them. The fund has a minimum investment of $50 million, higher than many funds. Element also charges some of the highest fees in the business, with one share class levying a 2.5% annual management fee along with a 25% performance fee, according to Element marketing documents.

By comparison, the average hedge fund charges a 1.4% annual management fee and a 17% performance fee, HFR says.

Assets at Element are up about $6 billion in just the last year, according to a person familiar with the matter. Last April, Harvard University became a client, an early decision by the endowment’s then-new chief, N.P. “Narv” Narvekar. While quantitative-trading firms like Renaissance Technologies LLC, Two Sigma Investments LP and AQR Capital Management LLC manage much more money, Element’s recent growth has been more dramatic.

“I’d rather he not grow the fund too much from here and am confident he’d give money back if size becomes an impediment to performance,” Mr. Blitz says.

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Herd-like Behavior of Computerized Traders Contributes to Market Swoon

| June 5, 2019 | 0 Comments

Behind the broad, swift market slide of 2018 is an underlying new reality: Roughly 85% of all trading is on autopilot—controlled by machines, models, or passive investing formulas, creating an unprecedented trading herd that moves in unison and is blazingly fast.

That market has grown up during the long bull run, and hasn’t until now been seriously tested by a prolonged downturn.

Since peaking in late September, the S&P 500 index of U.S. stocks has fallen 19.8%. The S&P is down 15% in December alone. It isn’t just stocks. Crude oil stood above $75 a barrel in October. By Christmas Eve it was below $43. Monday was the worst Christmas Eve for the Dow Jones Industrial Average in its history.

To many investors, the sharp declines are symptoms of the modern market’s sensitivities. Just as cheery sentiment about the future of big technology companies drove gains through the first three-quarters of the year, so too have shifting winds brought the market low in the fourth quarter.

Today, quantitative hedge funds, or those that rely on computer models rather than research and intuition, account for 28.7% of trading in the stock market, according to data from Tabb Group–a share that’s more than doubled since 2013. They now trade more than retail investors, and everyone else.

Add to that passive funds, index investors, high-frequency traders, market makers, and others who aren’t buying because they have a fundamental view of a company’s prospects, and you get to around 85% of trading volume, according to Marko Kolanovic of JP Morgan .

“Electronic traders are wreaking havoc in the markets,” says Leon Cooperman, the billionaire stock picker who founded hedge fund Omega Advisors.

Behind the models employed by quants are algorithms, or investment recipes, that automatically buy and sell based on pre-set inputs. Lately, they’re dumping stocks, traders and investors say.

“The speed and magnitude of the move probably are being exacerbated by the machines and model-driven trading,” says Neal Berger, who runs Eagle’s View Asset Management, which invests in hedge funds and other vehicles. “Human beings tend not to react this fast and violently.”

Among the traders today are computers that buy and sell on models, and passive funds that seek only to hold the same securities as everyone else does. Meanwhile, bankers and brokers—once a ready source of buying and selling—have retreated. Today, when the computers start buying, everyone buys; when they sell, everyone sells.

The market of 2018 is a creation years in the making, and would be hard to quickly unwind give how much is now baked into the system.

Troubles in financial markets, rather than in global economies, best explain the recent market losses, argues Michael Hintze, chief executive officer of $18.1 billion London-based CQS LLP, which manages two big hedge funds that were positive for the year through November.

Mr. Hintze says “the market’s new structure,” featuring less trading by investment banks and more by algorithmic-focused funds, has reduced the ease with which investors can get in or out of markets. As a result, normal year-end nervousness has been amplified, and selling that in the past would have resulted in measured losses leads to deep drops.

Markets were remarkably placid in recent years, even as machine trading came to dominate, suggesting that these approaches didn’t cause problems during the bull market, or even contributed to the market’s extended calm.

One reason the dynamic might have changed: Many of the trading models use momentum as an input. When markets turn south, they’re programmed to sell. And if prices drop, many are programmed to sell even more.

The robots didn’t trigger the decline, of course. But they devoured a stew of red signals in the second half of the year:

The bouts of automated selling have landed in a market ill-prepared for it.

One measure of this is liquidity, the ease with which buyers can find assets to buy and sellers can find people to take assets off their hands. When liquidity declines, prospective buyers have to offer more or prospective sellers have to accept less. That makes swings in market prices bigger. It works both on the way up and on the way down.

Signs of diminishing liquidity can be found all across the markets.

The number of contracts available to buy or sell S&P 500 futures at the best available price has dwindled in recent years and dropped 70% over the past year alone, hitting a decade low, according to Goldman Sachs.

Boaz Weinstein, founder of credit hedge fund Saba Capital Management LP, said the market had been underpricing uncertainty. Now it’s taking into account political issues “at the same time as the Fed is hiking, the economy is slowing, and a lot of people are feeling like the best days for markets are over,” he said.

Mr. Weinstein says there are dangers building in the junk-bond market. One worry, he says, is that so many junk bonds—he estimated about 40%—are held by mutual funds or exchange-traded funds that allow their investors to sell any day they like, even though bonds inside the funds are hard to sell.

When enough investors want to cash out, such a fund has to start selling bonds. But without much liquidity, finding buyers could be hard.

A selloff could start simply, he said. “It has its own gravity.”

There are no apparent signs, analysts and portfolio managers say, of the economic imbalances that fueled the 2008 meltdown, which started with a housing bust that went on to infect the banking sector and eventually morphed into a full-fledged financial crisis.

The depth and speed of the market downturn are forcing a re-examination of conditions in the global economy and comparisons to previous market downturns that took place without economic recessions.

Some analysts see similarities to the late 1998 pullback in U.S. stocks that followed a year of turmoil in emerging markets, punctuated by the Asian financial crisis of 1997 and the Russian default of 1998 and culminating in the collapse of the highly leveraged Long Term Capital Management hedge fund.

Others point to the market shakeout in late 2015. Like the current episode, it lacked an obvious trigger and was accompanied by anxiety over the Federal Reserve’s plans to raise interest rates—in that case, the Fed’s first rate increase in nearly a decade. Like this year, the 2015 retreat featured a sharp decline in oil prices and a significant drop in the S&P 500.

In both those cases the market bounced back when investors regained confidence that the U.S. economic expansion was intact.

Most U.S. economic data and surveys of consumers and businesses are still optimistic. This month, the Federal Reserve moderately lowered its median projection of next year’s economic growth from 2.5% to a still-respectable 2.3%. Markets are telegraphing a darker message. Yields on 10-year Treasury bonds have fallen from 3.24% in early November to 2.74% just before Christmas, a sign investors think the economy won’t be solid enough to make steady interest-rate increases possible.

“There is a disconnect between what the financial markets are signaling about the economy and what the data are signaling,” said Catherine Mann, chief global economist at Citigroup.

Those sirens also include large drops in commodities like oil and copper, which hint at slowing global demand, and stress in the corporate-bond market. The spread between riskier high-yield debt and Treasury bonds widened to five percentage points from three percentage points in early October. Spreads moved at similar ranges between July and November 2007, one month before the most recent recession began.

Sentiment among chief financial officers, who help set budgets that will shape investment and hiring decisions, has also soured. Half of CFOs believe a recession will start within a year, and 80% think a recession will hit by the end of 2020, according to a Duke University survey.

“It’s not just about the equity market throwing a temper tantrum, it’s far deeper than that,” said David Rosenberg, chief economist at Gluskin Sheff & Associates in Toronto. “This is a much broader global liquidity story.”

Encouraged by signs of economic strengthening, the Fed has been gradually raising interest rates from rock-bottom levels and selling back the trillions of dollars in bonds it bought in the postcrisis years. The central bank says the roll-back of stimulus is smooth. Others aren’t so sure what comes next. There has never been such a huge stimulus, and one has never before been unraveled.

Some believe there’s a hidden risk in debt that consumers and companies took on when borrowing was inexpensive. The Fed’s campaigns were  “fundamentally designed to encourage corporate America to lever up, which makes them more vulnerable to rising borrowing costs,” said Scott Minerd, chief investment officer at Guggenheim Partners. “The reversing of the process is actually more powerful,” he said.

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Quant Pioneer Helped Jim Simons Transform Trading

| June 5, 2019 | 0 Comments

Elwyn Berlekamp, the son of a pastor in rural Ohio, was a grade-school pupil in the 1940s when it began to dawn on him that math was not a torment inflicted on schoolchildren.

It was a game, he concluded, and also a way to win games.

That discovery shaped his career as a computer scientist whose algorithms helped make possible cellphones, compact discs and transmission of crisp images from spacecraft. He also helped devise mathematical investment strategies for the hugely successful hedge-fund investor Jim Simons and became an authority on the math underlying games ranging from the Asian game of Go to the pencil-and-paper game Dots and Boxes.

Some of his most important work involved ways of dealing with so-called noise in data transmissions—caused by such things as static, radiation or loss of signal strength—that can turn digital messages into nonsense.

Claude Shannon, who taught at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, had developed a theoretical framework for adding extra bits to messages to ensure transmission errors could be found and corrected. Others produced codes to do that, but decoding those messages was complicated and costly. Dr. Berlekamp, who worked with Dr. Shannon at MIT in the 1960s, devised more practical and efficient ways to decode the messages.

His algorithms have been used in the Hubble Space Telescope, the Voyager space mission and cellphone transmissions. Variants of his work also allow devices to read smudged bar codes or scratched compact discs. His 1968 book “Algebraic Coding Theory” is considered a landmark in its field.

Dr. Berlekamp, who died April 9 at age 78 from complications of pulmonary fibrosis, spent most of his career as a professor at the University of California, Berkeley. In his spare time, he juggled and rode unicycles, sometimes at the same time. He and his wife set up a foundation to support math and science education.

In 1973, he co-founded a company, Cyclotomics, to help clients use his error-correcting technology. His sale of that company in 1985 toEastman Kodak Co. left him with several million dollars to invest.

He began exploring investment techniques with a fellow mathematician, Dr. Simons, who had helped start Axcom, a tiny firm that ran the Medallion fund.

When Axcom’s co-founder, James Ax, left the firm after deep losses and a falling out with Dr. Simons, Dr. Berlekamp bought Dr. Ax’s share in the business and began to run it in 1989.

Dr. Berlekamp favored making frequent trades in commodity, currency and bond markets. At the time, most rivals worried commissions and other costs resulting from a higher-frequency approach would offset any profits. With Dr. Simons and other colleagues, he devised a computer-driven quantitative trading style of the sort that now dominates Wall Street.

Their trading system spotted barely perceptible patterns in markets that had no apparent explanation. These trends and oddities sometimes happened so quickly as to be unnoticeable by most investors. They were so faint the team took to calling them “ghosts.” Yet they reappeared often enough to be worthy additions to the team’s mix of trade ideas.

The revitalized Medallion fund scored a gain of about 56% in 1990. At the end of that year, Dr. Berlekamp sold his stake in Axcom to Dr. Simons and returned to academia. In 2008, Dr. Berlekamp became chairman of a hedge fund called Berkeley Quantitative, which at one point had assets of about $250 million. It closed in 2012 after recording middling returns.

Beginning in 1982, he wrote a series of books called “Winning Ways for Your Mathematical Plays,” with John H. Conway and Richard K. Guy, on the math underlying successful strategy in board games. He also helped organize conferences on games and puzzles.

Elwyn Ralph Berlekamp was born Sept. 6, 1940, in Dover, Ohio. His father, Waldo Berlekamp, was a minister in the United Church of Christ. His mother, Loretta Berlekamp, was a church librarian.

When Elwyn was 9, the family moved to Fort Thomas, Ky., a suburb of Cincinnati.

As president of the high school band, he composed several marches and copyrighted one of them. To show school spirit and prove he wasn’t only a nerd, he joined the swimming team, despite a lack of aptitude for the sport. (As the team was short on members, he calculated that his chances of being cut were low.) In a biographical note, he said he graduated second in his high school class rather than first “due to a lone B, in Latin.”

With a National Merit Scholarship, he enrolled in 1958 at MIT, where he earned both his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in electrical engineering in four years. In 1964, he received a doctoral degree at MIT with a thesis called “Block Coding With Noiseless Feedback.”

Early in his career at Berkeley, in the mid-1960s, he was juggling in his apartment when he heard a rapping from the floor below, where two female roommates objected to the noise. His apology led to an introduction to Jennifer Wilson, an Englishwoman studying at Berkeley. They married in 1966. She survives him, along with three children, four grandchildren and a sister.

In his Berkeley academic career, he called on his quick thinking and sense of strategy. During one meeting of computer scientists he chaired in the 1970s, a participant made a motion of no-confidence in Dr. Berlekamp. He promptly seconded the motion, surprising everyone and defusing the challenge to his authority.

He was known for his ability to talk at length about almost anything and said that ideally he liked to do 80% of the talking in a conversation. When he met other intellectual chatterboxes, he was willing to reduce his share to 60% or so.

On one trip, en route to a conference in Australia, Dr. Berlekamp was asked by a border-control agent whether he was traveling for work or pleasure. He replied that he had arranged his life “such that there shall be no distinction between the two.”

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‘You Have to Stop,’ Renaissance Executive Tells Boss About Trump Support

| November 3, 2017 | 0 Comments

At some companies, a divisive presidential campaign has led to disharmony in the workplace

By Gregory Zuckerman for The Wall Street Journal
Feb. 23, 2017

David Magerman says he was in his home office in suburban Philadelphia earlier this month when the phone rang. His boss, hedge-fund billionaire Robert Mercer, was on the line.

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Meet the Mercers: A Quiet Tycoon and His Daughter Become Power Brokers in Trump’s Washington

| November 3, 2017 | 0 Comments

Armed with data on an alienated electorate, a hedge-fund magnate and his family shun the GOP establishment to support the winning campaign; advising on cabinet selections

By Gregory Zuckerman, Keach Hagey, Scott Patterson and Rebecca Ballhaus for The Wall Street Journal
Jan. 8, 2017

In February 2014, a group of conservative political donors gathered at New York’s Pierre Hotel to strategize about the coming presidential contest.

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15 Years After 9/11, a Brother Confronts Grief’s Long Arc

| November 3, 2017 | 0 Comments

Harley Di Nardo had long suppressed his pain over the loss of his sister—until sorrow proved stronger

By Gregory Zuckerman for The Wall Street Journal
Sept. 9, 2016

The night before everything changed, Harley Di Nardo and his sister, Marisa, treated their mother to a birthday dinner at Windows on the World, the restaurant on the World Trade Center’s 107th floor.

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Billionaire George Soros Lost Nearly $1 Billion in Weeks After Trump Election

| November 3, 2017 | 0 Comments

Hedge-fund manager’s ex-deputy, Stanley

By Gregory Zuckerman and Juliet Chung for The Wall Street Journal
Jan. 13, 2017

Billionaire hedge-fund manager George Soros lost nearly $1 billion as a result of the stock-market rally spurred by Donald Trump’s surprise presidential election.

But Stanley Druckenmiller, Mr. Soros’s former deputy who helped Mr. Soros score $1 billion of profits betting against the British pound in 1992, anticipated the market’s recent climb and racked up sizable gains, according to people close to the matter.

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The Quants Run Wall Street Now

| November 3, 2017 | 0 Comments

For decades, investors imagined a time when data-driven traders would dominate financial markets. That day has arrived.

By Gregory Zuckerman and Bradley Hope for The Wall Street Journal
May 21, 2017

Alexey Poyarkov, a former gold-medal winner of the International Mathematical Olympiad for high-school students, spent most of his early career honing algorithms at technology companies such as Microsoft Corp. , where he helped make the Bing search engine smarter at ferreting out pornography.

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Renaissance Feud Spills Over to Hedge Fund Poker Night

| November 3, 2017 | 0 Comments

Executive David Magerman says he had hoped to repair frayed relationship with Mercers

By Gregory Zuckerman for The Wall Street Journal
April 28, 2017

As David Magerman counted down to April 20, a confrontation with Rebekah Mercer wasn’t on his mind.

The Renaissance Technologies Corp. executive was anticipating the annual hedge-fund poker tournament that evening at New York’s St. Regis hotel benefiting Math for America, which supports math and science teachers. The event serves as an annual showdown among investors who rely on computer models and are known as quants, professional poker players and others.

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