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Robots Are Solving Banks’ Very Expensive Research Problem

Banks can’t always afford to put analysts on the ground in developing nations—about the only places where investors can get yield right now.

Social Media Apps And Computer Keyboards

Photographer: Chris Ratcliffe/Bloomberg

As lawmakers in Brasilia debated a controversial pension overhaul for months, a robot more than 5,000 miles away in London kept a close eye on all 513 of them. The algorithm, designed by technology startup Arkera Inc., tracked their comments in Brazilian newspapers and government web pages each day to predict the likelihood the bill would pass.

Weeks before the legislation cleared its biggest obstacle in July, the machine’s data crunching allowed Arkera analysts to predict the result almost to the letter, giving hedge fund clients in New York and London the insight to buy the Brazilian real near eight-month lows in May. It’s since rallied more than 8%.