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On the Nature of Trading: Do Speculators Leave Footprints?

Authors: Silber, William L.
Issue Date: Aug-2002
Series/Report no.: SC-AM-02-03
Abstract: The paper describes how two types of traders, marketmakers and speculators, establish their positions and manage their risk exposure. We show that balance sheets are insufficient to determine whether a trader is a marketmaker or a speculator. On the other hand, trading records describing the evolution of a position over time can identify what trading strategy was pursued. Knowing the trading strategy helps to evaluate contract compliance, risk exposure, and capital requirements of trading firms. Understanding and verifying trader behavior is especially important because leveraged trading firms, and individual traders, have traditional incentives to mask their risk-taking activities. Without proper monitoring, traders can substitute risky speculation for less risky marketmaking to reap potential payoffs.
Appears in Collections:Asset Management

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