The Shorts…


Virtu Financial Expects to Have Among Biggest, Most Profitable Days in Its History Amid Market Rout

Virtu Financial Inc., one of the world’s largest high-frequency trading firms, was on track to have one of its biggest and most profitable days in history Monday amid a tumultuous 24 hours for world markets, according to its chief executive.

“Our firm is made for this kind of market,” said the CEO, Douglas Cifu.

Virtu and other such trading firms, along with exchanges, emerged as early beneficiaries of the heightened volatility and volume caused by investor unease over China’s economy and a growing belief that the U.S. Federal Reserve might not raise interest rates at its meeting next month.

The U.S. stock market fell sharply in early trading, but regained most of its losses over the morning. The Dow Jones Industrial Average was down 3.9% to 15,815.49 points as of about 3:30 p.m. EDT.

“These are the kinds of days that everyone here is working for,” said Brian Donnelly, CEO and founder of the options-focused firm Volant Trading. “It’s probably our best day since” the 2010 flash crash, when markets fell sharply before recovering quickly.

Firms that make markets–meaning they simultaneously offer to buy and sell stocks, bonds, currencies or futures with the hope of collecting the difference between those prices–often perform especially well in choppy market conditions.

Such firms have been controversial among some investors and investigated by regulators because of a perception that they have an unfair advantage over other investors. High-frequency trading firms vary in their approach, but they usually rely on high-speed data connections and use algorithms to trade automatically using their own capital. They have grown in the past decade to be a major force in trading exchange-traded securities and derivatives around the world.

Executives from high-frequency trading firms have argued they provide liquidity to investors and have made trading cheaper by reducing the spreads between bids and offers across the markets.

“The very best conditions for [high-frequency trading firms] is when markets are going up and down with high volume,” said Rich Repetto, an analyst at Sandler O’Neill + Partners, L.P.

Exchanges would also benefit from the increased trading, he said. CBOE Holdings Inc. was especially well positioned because it is the only venue where investors can buy and sell the Chicago Board Options Exchange Volatility Index, or VIX, which was up more than 20% to 33.77 midafternoon.

At Virtu, Mr. Cifu started taking calls about big trading in Asia on Sunday afternoon. After going to bed at 1 a.m., he woke at 4:30 a.m. to prepare for what was promising to be a major day in Europe and the U.S. Virtu is purely focused on market making and trades on more than 200 markets around the world, including most recently on China’s commodity market.

As of Monday the firm was on track to trade in the high hundreds of millions of shares and millions of futures contracts around the world, Mr. Cifu said. It bought and sold securities and derivatives from Shanghai to Chicago.

Some high-frequency trading firms fine-tuned their algorithms Monday to handle the flood of trading and stood ready to buy from an onslaught of sellers. The other large high-frequency trading firms include Jump Trading LLC, Hudson River Trading LLC, Quantlab Financial LLC, Tower Research LLC, and Global Trading Systems Inc.

“We were catching those falling knives,” said Ari Rubenstein, co-founder of Global Trading Systems.



“Black Monday” Brings Global Market Rout [24th August 2015]

It started in China…
[SSE-CSI300-Shenzhen — SSE -8.5% CSI300 -8.8%]



Continued in Europe…



And then catastrophied in The US…



The crash in stocks at the open appeared as much driven by a collapse in USDJPY – JPY carry unwinds – which ripped back and lifted stocks…



Cash indices ripped back off the lows and Nasdaq ‘touched’ unchanged on the back of AAPL… before it all fell apart again…



年少时候 When we were young

Pat, Yu, Qing…Hope you guys enjoy national day this weekend, wherever you are.

This year is SG50, celebrating Singapore’s fifty years of independence. Remember when we were involved 25 years ago in the NDP 1990 Silver Jubilee Spectacular celebrations, for Spore’s 25th year of independence? We had to wear those rough and prickly costumes of silvery tops and shorts, and run around the field at National Stadium while waving a silver flag, to the commands of the American lady choreographer (who did that famous British Airways ad showcasing mass coordinated displays). And we had to do that for hours under the hot sun during rehearsals several times a week for 6 months, leading up to National Day itself. The only good thing was, RGS and RJC were involved as well.

Singapore 25th Anniversary (NDP 1990) Silver Jubilee Spectacular:

[our segment starts 45:35]
RI boys and RGS girls in shorts and waving the short flag, RJC girls and boys in long pants with the long-pole flags.

Oh God, that third song at 50:00, I remember it so well. 1, 2,…swirl the flag…3, 4, turn and swirl the flag…

I remember my main position was at the far line of the back border. Spent so much time in that spot under the merciless sun waiting and waiting during rehearsals. Regrettably, far from the RGS girls.

I can’t believe its been 25 years.
细水长流 – 梁文福:




年少时候 谁没有梦 无意之中 你将心愿透露
就在你生日的时候 我将小小口琴送 最难忘记 你的笑容
友情的细水慢慢流 流进了你我的心中
曾在球场边为你欢呼 你跌伤我背伏
夜里流星飞渡 想像着他日的路途 晚风听着我们壮志无数

年少时候 谁没有愁 满腔愤慨 唯有你能听得懂
每当我失意的时候 你将那首歌吹奏 琴声悠悠 解我轻忧

岁月的细水慢慢流 流到了别离的时候
轻拍你的肩 听我说朋友不要太惆怅
霓虹纵然再嚣张 我们的步履有方向 成败不论切莫将昔日遗忘

多年以后 又再相逢 我们都有了疲倦的笑容
问一声我的朋友 何时再为我吹奏 是否依旧 是否依旧

人生的际遇千百种 但有知心长相重
人愿长久 水愿长流 年少时候

And the female version. I liked this version ever since I watched it on TV many years ago, with its old classroom setting; and probably because it featured 蔡礼莲. I adored her voice back then, when she was an aspiring 新謠 Xinyao singer still hoping to become a full-time singer and recording artist, before she became a full-time radio DJ and part-time singer. She came to my school when I was in Sec One for a 校园演唱会 campus concert, and I’ve been a fan ever since. At least, can still hear her sweet voice over the airwaves. (I especially liked one song of hers, a song with 回文叠行字.)
And Joi Chua 蔡淳佳 is not bad too. Soothing voices.

细水长流 Xi Shui Chang Liu (MV) by 蔡礼莲 蔡淳佳 唐玉璇:

小時了了 大未必佳

新謠 – Xinyao – Singapore Folksongs

我們這一班 顏黎明 – Our Class by Yan Li Ming:

我們這一班 – 顔黎明


直到有一天 大家都畢業時

我們這一班 上課不專 望著籃球場
我們這一班 測驗偷看 分數都一樣
我們這一班 崇拜偶像 老師地話我們丟一旁
因為小時了了 大未必佳



RI population less diverse now, say many alumni


A frank speech by the principal of Raffles Institution (RI) has sparked discussion among alumni and students, with many agreeing that the school’s student population has become less diverse.

At RI’s 192nd Founder’s Day ceremony about a week ago, its principal, Mr Chan Poh Meng, warned that RI is at risk of becoming a school that caters only to a certain class of Singaporeans and must do more to counter accusations of becoming increasingly elitist.

Most alumni interviewed said they agreed that RI, widely seen as Singapore’s most reputed school, has become less diverse in its student population.

Mr Ted Chia, who attended RI in the 1960s, said: “Most of us came from unknown primary schools, gaining entry because we did pretty well in the Primary School Leaving Examination of the old days.

“Most students were from humble backgrounds, taking the bus to school and not driven by mum or dad,” said the 64-year-old director of sales in an aerospace business.

Dr Lee Soo Ann, 76, a senior fellow in economics at the National University of Singapore who went to RI in the 1950s, said out of his group of 10 friends, just three went to university.

“In those times, people would leave school to work because they could not afford to study further or they didn’t do well enough,” he said.

Mr Chia added: “Nowadays, kids are groomed from young to do extremely well in the PSLE.

“So inevitably, you will find the present students belong to a smaller and more privileged group.”


RI alumnus Tommy Koh, Ambassador-At-Large at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said RI should aim to be a “microcosm of Singapore”, with students from all socioeconomic classes and races.

“RI is a great school and we don’t want that to change. I am, however, concerned by his statement that RI has become a middle-class school,” he said.

The concern that top schools are becoming closed circles has been raised before, even by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong. In 2013, Singapore Management University law professor Eugene Tan, then a Nominated MP, said in Parliament that he was concerned that RI, his alma mater, was becoming less diverse.

But Mr Eugene Wijeysingha, RI headmaster from 1986 to 1994, defended the school, saying many Rafflesians have served the country despite being “chastised for continuing to live in an ivory tower oblivious of the plight of others around”.

He noted that a “high premium” is possibly placed on one’s linkage with RI today.

However, “these boys slog it out and the best find their way to the school… They deserve to be highly regarded and to regard themselves with pride”.

“I do not believe that all this has gone to the head of the RI boy and destroyed his values as a balanced human being,” he added.


“Most students were from humble backgrounds, taking the bus to school and not driven by mum or dad”

Going to school during Secondary One and Two (and the first semester of Sec Three) when the school campus was still in town at Grange Road, I had to take 3 buses, a feeder bus from my house to the bus interchange, and then a bus to go to town, and finally change to bus 104 at the Far East Plaza (Scotts Road) bus stop for the final short trip to Grange Road. (If I remember correctly, the MRT train system was brand new then, and I do use it, but I’ll had to walk 10 minutes for the final part of the journey.) Or, the feeder bus to the MRT train station, then a train to Orchard station, then walk for about 10mins from Orchard Boulevard and down Paterson Road, to reach Grange Road.

Usually by the time I reached the school gates just in time for school assembly, I’d be breathing a little hard from my brisk walking and as always, perspiring more than a bit. And as I huff and puff and make my way up the sloped driveway towards the quadrangle, I would had to dart in between all the cars of the parents who are sending their precious sons to school in air-conditioned comfort and dropping them and their bags right at the quadrangle where our form teachers are taking attendance.

[Just had a memory flashback…
I remember one of those cars was a red Honda Prelude. I would always be looking out for it when I was climbing up the slope, and most times it would vroom pass from behind me as it made it in the nick of time before the gates were closed, snarling all the way up the driveway, scattering leaves and shocked first-year freshie boys in its wake. Now that I think about it, I wonder what kind of parent with a teen-aged-old child would drive a 2-door boy-racer…
But I liked Preludes back then.]



“RI alumnus Tommy Koh, Ambassador-At-Large at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said RI should aim to be a “microcosm of Singapore”, with students from all socioeconomic classes and races.”

Oh, we were certainly that. Sons of hawkers, fish-mongers and cleaners sat next to scions of cabinet ministers, generals and assorted captains of industries.

Within my own merry band of brothers in Sec One, four of us got close and started hanging out together.

Qing was from a more humble background and belonged to a group within our class called the Ghim Moh Boys, RI boys who stayed in the Ghim Moh area and played soccer and basketball together every weekend at the Ghim Moh/Ulu Pandan community centre. The group gradually enlarged over the 6 years from Sec One/RI to Year Two/RJC and even beyond, to include any Raffles boy who joined in the games the Ghim Moh Boys would hold every weekend without fail. Last I heard some of the Ghim Moh Boys were still having regular gatherings to play soccer and basketball into their thirties.

Pat-man’s father was an engineering consultant who helmed a private-public-academic agency which helped bring together the technical and engineering expertise of the Nanyang Technological University’s faculty with real-world business needs and applications. Sort of like an early startup incubator in the 1980s and 90s, I suppose.

My father was a businessman, and Yu…we knew nothing about at first, cause he was always so quiet and doleful. But he was nice enough and he sat next to me for the whole of Sec One year, though it was sometimes a bit of an effort to get through to him and his negativity (and this coming from me who at 13 wrote lines and lines of poetry and odes to Melancholy). But one day, while some of us were talking about board games on war and gushing about that latest expensive WWII board game, Axis & Allies, with its beautiful figurines of infantry, tanks, ships, submarines, planes, factories etc…Yu casually mentioned that he’s got the game but that it’s quite boring and anyway, he’s too busy playing the latest Sega Rockman series. I remember Qing and I (both history buffs, especially military history, who will stop an Axis & Allies game in midplay just to argue the finer points of whether Nazi Germany could had overran all of Europe if it wasn’t banking on an détente with Britain which never materialized; or if the Russian infantry could had reached farther then Berlin and drawn the Iron Curtain on a partitioned Europe just a little more west at say, Paris; and while Qing and I would be arguing heatedly, banging on the game table, Pat and Yu would get bored and go over to the Sega machine to play Rockman) went all agog, and quickly set about getting Yu to invite us to his house to play the game.



I remember on that certain school day after class, the three of us were quite excited about going to Yu’s house to play Axis & Allies. When we asked him what bus do we need to take to get to his place, he mumbled that he wasn’t sure, his mum was coming to get us anyway, only that she won’t be coming herself… Apparently, Yu had been driven to school everyday by his chauffeur; and that is how we found ourselves going to Yu’s house for the first time, riding in an S-class Mercedes driven by his chauffeur to his house at Goodman road, in the Mountbatten area known for its houses with generous land sizes. When the car pulled into the large driveway of a house on a expansive land plot, I remember thinking Yu’s house actually looked small sitting right in the middle of the large sprawling piece of land, surrounded by a neat but simple green lawn which ran all the way around from the front to the back of the house. The same green lawn where we played many water gun battles on hot June holidays afternoons, with his Super Soakers and even a few air pistols (unlicensed?).

Yu’s mother was a nice lady who seemed to be always a little distracted, pottering about the house in her housecoat/robe and who would poke her head into Yu’s room or the separate games room where we would be playing in, to ask us if we wanted more snacks or drinks. Yu’s father came home later that afternoon, cutting a tall and imposing figure in his business suit and stepping out of his BMW 7-series, driven by another chauffeur. I guess Yu’s parents don’t like to drive.

I later found out Yu’s father had studied chemical engineering at MIT, but had gone on to a career in finance and banking and at that time, was just moving from his MD position at Bank of America to take up an early pioneering role at the newly-founded SIMEX Singapore International Monetary Exchange, to develop the futures and derivatives markets in Singapore. SIMEX is later to become SGX-DT, the derivatives trading arm of the Singapore Exchange.

I remember Yu’s parents took quite a liking to me, and his mother was rather effusive (embarrassingly) with her praise: about my grades, my readings, my sports, even my height, which she would compare with Yu, who was not very tall and rather chubby, who apparently just barely made it into RI, and according to his mother, wasn’t very good at anything. I was always embarrassed and a little mortified when she would say all that in front of us, but Yu always seemed unperturbed and would ignore her and just go on playing his Rockman video game. He was very good at that game though. Yu’s father would come talk to me and tell me to study engineering next time at university because it allows so many career options, give Yu a sharp look and say Yu probably can’t make it into the engineering course at university.

His parents always wanted me over, to play or to help Yu with his studies, or just to stay over for the night. They even asked to meet my parents and our families had dinner together a few times, at that seafood restaurant at the old Big Splash complex by East Coast beach, talking and asking my parents questions about how they raised me, how I grew up, which made Yu and I squirm in our seats. Later, I couldn’t tell if Yu was joking when he looked at me with his sad eyes and told me his parents liked me so much, they probably wished I was their son instead. Poor guy. No wonder he was always brooding and looked so haunted, growing up under the weight of such expectations and pressure.

I should had told him then, that: 小时了了,大未必佳 A brilliant and precocious child, may grow up and become less than ordinary.

Yu didn’t go on to RJC, had a hard time at the JC he went to, and went to polytechnic after that. Subsequently, he finally found his calling, left for Australia to study psychology, graduated with his degree and last I know, was working in a public hospital. Good for him.

And what did I turned out to be?


Raffles Institution now a ‘middle-class’ school




Principal says school now largely caters to the affluent, and pride in its achievements risks making it insular

Raffles Institution (RI) is a “middle-class” school that now largely caters to the affluent segment of the population. It also risks becoming insular, cocooned by the glowing list of academic and sporting achievements its students have racked up year after year.

These harsh words came from the school’s own principal, Mr Chan Poh Meng, in a speech delivered in front of hundreds of current and former RI staff and students.

Speaking at the school’s 192nd Founder’s Day ceremony about a week ago, Mr Chan, who took over as RI principal at the end of 2013, said the school has been accused of being elitist, a charge he did not deny. He is himself an old boy of RI.

Singapore, on the eve of its 50th birthday, has been successful, building up a system that is admired the world over. But fissures have erupted in the process, one of which is the faltering meritocracy that the country has been lauded for in the past.

“Our system of meritocracy is working less well than it used to, two generations in,” he said.


For RI, the school is no longer what many alumni remember it to be in the past, with many students coming from diverse family and socio-economic backgrounds. Today, it “can no longer afford the comfortable illusion that RI is truly representative of Singapore”, Mr Chan told the audience of 1,400 students, alumni, teachers and parents.

RI, widely considered the most prestigious school in Singapore, has long prided itself on its students’ academic prowess.

“For a long time, we have measured our success by how high our PSLE cut-off and how low our L1R5 were. By how many Olympiads and competitions and tournaments we won… By the number of ‘top’ scholarships and places in the Oxbridge and Ivy League universities (students) secure,” said Mr Chan.

But he questioned if pride in such achievements may have had negative side effects, making RI “insular – a school unto ourselves”.

“A long period of conditioning means that we often fail to see elitism even when it is staring at us in the face,” he said. “RI has become a middle-class school – that is the current reality. What matters more now is what we do with this reality and this knowledge.”