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Matt Levine

Don’t Buy the Bad Data

Also GreenSky, Robinhood: College Edition, Coinbase bonds and NFT insider trading.

Programming note: Money Stuff will be off tomorrow, back on Friday.

Here is a thing that, I suspect, keeps a lot of hedge fund lawyers up at night. Your hedge fund is in the business of getting “edge.” It wants to know things that other people do not know, in order to buy the stocks that will go up. One way to get edge is to bribe the assistant treasurer of a public company to give you the company’s earnings release in advance, but this is strongly disfavored and your hedge fund has effective policies against it. Another way to get edge, quite popular these days, is to buy “alternative data.” Somebody has a satellite and they fly it over mall parking lots and count up the cars in front of each store, and you pay them and they give you those numbers, and then you buy the stocks of the stores with lots of cars in front of them, and then a month later those stores announce good earnings and you make a profit.