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jerryking : piling_on   3

Passive investing is storing up trouble
August 2, 2018 | Financial Times | by Megan Greene.

I was recently informed by the owner of an artificial intelligence fund that markets do not listen to economists any more. .....A fundamental shift in market structure towards rules-based, passive investing over the past decade means a lot of trading is no longer based on fundamentals. But just because some markets do not pay attention to economists, it does not mean economists should not pay attention to these markets........AI quant funds are not waiting on tenterhooks for analysis of every non-farm payrolls report, Fed press conference, Donald Trump tweet, or earnings report. Instead, they look for trading strategies that are succeeding and adopt those strategies until a better one comes along, regardless of the underlying fundamentals. But what happens when the strategy suddenly becomes to sell everything? Will the computers find the buyers they need?.......ETFs, often set up to mimic an index, have to buy more of equities rising in price, sending those stock prices even higher. ETFs similarly ignore fundamentals.....This creates a piling-on effect as funds buy more of these increasingly expensive stocks and less of the cheaper ones in their indices...Risks of a bubble arise when there is no regard for underlying fundamentals or price. It is reasonable to assume a sustained market correction would lead to stocks that were disproportionately bought because of ETFs and index funds being disproportionately sold.

But again, in a crisis will the ETF managers find liquid markets? ....Passive investors and quant funds could also threaten the economy by making markets vastly more complex, noisy and opaque. They send mixed signals to active investors about what the fair value of a stock is. That could cause a significant misallocation of capital.

The danger is exacerbated by the speed at which trading is now done. The average holding period for a security on the New York Stock Exchange has fallen from two months in 2008 to just under 20 seconds today.......Systemic failures, misallocation of capital and dried up liquidity could cause a bear market, dragging on growth when the economic backdrop is already lacklustre......So even though passive investors ignore economists, economists should pay attention to risks posed by the shift in market structure they represent....This is not to say that index funds, ETFs and AI quant funds are necessarily bad. But the real test will come when there is a sudden crisis followed by a sustained bear market.
active_investing  artificial_intelligence  bear_markets  economists  ETFs  holding_periods  index_funds  investing  liquidity  misallocations  NYSE  passive_investing  piling_on  risks  systemic_failures  rules-based  bubbles  quantitative  market_fundamentals  crisis  dark_side  pay_attention 
august 2018 by jerryking
Inside FreshDirect’s Big Bet to Win the Home-Delivery Fight - WSJ
By Jennifer Smith
July 18, 2018 5:30 a.m

Designed to keep food fresh longer and move it faster, FreshDirect’s 400,000 square-foot distribution centre is the online grocer’s multimillion-dollar bet on the fastest-growing sector in the grocery business, home-delivery. FreshDirect pioneered the e-commerce home-delivery market, and now with Amazon and big grocery chains like Kroger Co. piling on investments, companies are jockeying for position in a business that some believe is the future of supermarket sales.....FreshDirect's trucks now provide next-day delivery to customers across the New York-New Jersey, Philadelphia and Washington, D.C., metropolitan areas, with plans to expand into Boston next. The private company says it generated between $600 million and $700 million in annual revenue in 2017.

It declined to disclose the cost of the new facility, which was financed with the help of a $189 million investment round in 2016 led by J.P. Morgan Asset Management, direct funding and incentives from state and local governments......Amazon, Target Corp. and other large companies have invested hundreds of millions of dollars to expand food delivery and build out their grocery e-commerce operations. Supermarket chain owner Koninklijke Ahold Delhaize NV’s Peapod unit, the longest-running online grocery service in the U.S., has expanded to 24 markets and is investing in technology to cut its handling and delivery costs.

Walmart Inc. said this month that Jet.com, the online retailer it bought two years ago, will open a fulfillment center in the Bronx this fall to help roll out same- and next-day grocery deliveries in New York City.

The grocers are trying to solve one of the toughest problems in home delivery: Getting food to doorsteps in the same condition consumers would expect if they went to the store themselves. Delivering perishables is trickier than dropping off paper towels or dogfood. Fruit bruises, meat spoils, eggs break. ........FreshDirect’s logistic hurdles start well before delivery. It must get products from its suppliers to the building, process the food, then pick, pack and ship orders before the quality degrades.

That is why the new distribution centre has 15 different temperature zones. Tomatoes do best at about 55 degrees, but “chicken and meat like it to be just at 32 degrees... it gives more of shelf life to it,"....Software determines the most efficient route for each order, and tells workers which items to pick.....A big part of the facility [distribution centre] is ripping out tons and tons of operating costs out of the business.....The stakes in getting the technology right are high. FreshDirect is competing with grocery chains that often fill online orders through their stores, using a mix of staff and third-party services like Instacart Inc. So-called click-and-collect services, where consumers swing by to pick up their own orders, tend to have better margins because the retailer isn’t paying for last-mile delivery.....Online-only operations with centralized warehouses tend to be more efficient than logistics run out of stores, because they use fewer workers and can position goods for faster fulfillment.
algorithms  Amazon  big_bets  cold_storage  distribution_centres  distribution  e-commerce  food  FreshDirect  grocery  home-delivery  infrastructure  Kroger  logistics  perishables  retailers  software  supermarkets  Target  Wal-Mart  warehouses  fulfillment  same-day  piling_on  last_mile 
july 2018 by jerryking

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