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Is Orderflow An Outdated Concept?


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Is Orderflow An Outdated Concept?

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  #1 (permalink)
Lutherstadt Wittenberg
 
 
Posts: 7 since Mar 2020
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Hello guys, I am an aspiring trader and just recently learned about order flow and all these concepts. I was thinking about getting into NoBsDaytrading and learning about DOM scalping then I came across a reddit comment from someone who claims to be a STIR trader and claims that orderflow is the modern day technical analysis.

I will copy paste the comment here:

"I'd put it this way:

The way orderflow is used by retail is completely different than it is used by professionals.

All those concepts like delta, footprints, absorbtion are part of a snake oil sales armada just like the technical analysis hype fuelled the retail software industry 10-20 years ago.

"Orderflow" was more or less taught in prop shops (especially bond and STIR desks) and it worked because markets were much more isolated back then.

When you were able to spot a refreshing bid you could really identify what was going on since it most likely was one guy or one firm executing. Now it's old prop traders who ran out of edge who teach the concepts to the public.

Today all markets are correlated, so a refreshing bid could mean an algo that trades a weighted portfolio of 12 different assets, which is pricing your bid off of 11 other markets. He's refreshing at 20 now until one of his markets ticks down, then he's refreshing at 19.

There is so much cross flow between markets that it is nearly impossible to identify a trading opportunity aka. a price to lean on. Also, the big volume has moved from the lit market back to OTC since they are sick of getting robbed.

No as far as the professional users of flow goes, they are just screening the markets for stale orders to lean on, they have access to OTC venues to get an indication which direction the paper is trading and they monitor changes in correlations.

They also look into microstructure but opposed to the flimsy stuff Jigsaw, ATAS or Bookmap provides, they are modeling the FIFO queue in order to find out weither an order should stay for the 0+ trade or cancel/replaced.

Do they use delta or bids vs offers hit? Yes, some do, but it is just a miniscule part of the trading. More important, they monitor the trading of hundreds or thousands of instruments to get an idea which asset is out of whack. As others already mentioned, the data and creditlines necessary to trade on that level is so expensive that it is just not worth exploring for retail.

If you do not have a specific edge to exploit with your "orderflow" concepts, just don't bother programming an algo around it. Most of it is BS to be honest.


Good Luck
"



I would like to hear your opinions about what he said. I dont want to waste my time if what NoBsDaytrading used to work and now doesn't anymore.
I know I sound like a newbie because I am. I am trying to learn about the nature of the markets and how they work but after reading this I became skeptical of everything for some reason

Thanks

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  #3 (permalink)
Bay Area California
 
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Being skeptical of everything in trading is a good instinct.

IMO the author is 100% right. Things that used to play out in the orderbook over the course of 1-2 seconds now happen in microseconds. There's nothing really there for click traders to lean on any more. Like anything, I'm sure there are exceptions, but they are very few and far between.

.
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  #4 (permalink)
Lutherstadt Wittenberg
 
 
Posts: 7 since Mar 2020
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addchild View Post
Being skeptical of everything in trading is a good instinct.

IMO the author is 100% right. Things that used to play out in the orderbook over the course of 1-2 seconds now happen in microseconds. There's nothing really there for click traders to lean on any more. Like anything, I'm sure there are exceptions, but they are very few and far between.

Thanks for your reply

Care to elaborate?

I understand the markets now move faster than before, but the concepts of order flow should be universal since this is how the markets move. Aggressive buyers and sellers, imbalances..etc

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  #5 (permalink)
Antwerp
 
 
Posts: 454 since Jun 2016


TradeTheTrade View Post
Thanks for your reply

Care to elaborate?

I understand the markets now move faster than before, but the concepts of order flow should be universal since this is how the markets move. Aggressive buyers and sellers, imbalances..etc

Order flower is much harder to spot these days, large orders are executed in smaller lots with algos, HFT's are way faster than any discretionary trader ever can be and automatically take advantage of any market inefficiency it spots.

Order flow trading from the DOM might still be possible but got much harder the last decade. If you where very successful doing it in the past you might have been able to adapt but if you have to start learning now i think you are in for a very tough ride.

Just my opinion though, i have no experience trading that way.

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  #6 (permalink)
Market Wizard
Reading UK
 
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Hi, do you mind sharing that link?


TradeTheTrade View Post
I came across a reddit comment from someone who claims to be a STIR trader and claims that orderflow is the modern day technical analysis.


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  #7 (permalink)
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Grantx View Post
Hi, do you mind sharing that link?

https://www.reddit.com/r/algotrading/comments/cfwtpe/order_flow_and_algorithmic_trading/


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  #8 (permalink)
Lutherstadt Wittenberg
 
 
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Grantx View Post
Hi, do you mind sharing that link?

Someone shared it.

I couldn't because I am a new member so I cant post links

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  #9 (permalink)
Lutherstadt Wittenberg
 
 
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RDK91 View Post
Order flower is much harder to spot these days, large orders are executed in smaller lots with algos, HFT's are way faster than any discretionary trader ever can be and automatically take advantage of any market inefficiency it spots.

Order flow trading from the DOM might still be possible but got much harder the last decade. If you where very successful doing it in the past you might have been able to adapt but if you have to start learning now i think you are in for a very tough ride.

Just my opinion though, i have no experience trading that way.

I understand.

I am really not into DOM very much. After I have done some research I realized it is like playing poker where you have to guess the hand of the other players.

I like the footprint chart and see what has already happened and base my decisions on that. So HFT wouldn't bother me.

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  #10 (permalink)
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TradeTheTrade View Post

I would like to hear your opinions about what he said. I dont want to waste my time if what NoBsDaytrading used to work and now doesn't anymore.
I know I sound like a newbie because I am. I am trying to learn about the nature of the markets and how they work but after reading this I became skeptical of everything for some reason

Thanks

I will take a stab at this. A lot of what was said on that post at reddit is correct.

I am a professional trader. One of my strategies is based 100% on "order flow" but its nothing anyone has ever seen or based on what is available for sale via courses or tools these days. It can never be. But I am faced with the same challenges this person is talking about so I can tell, he knows what he is talking about.


TradeTheTrade View Post

The way orderflow is used by retail is completely different than it is used by professionals.

All those concepts like delta, footprints, absorbtion are part of a snake oil sales armada just like the technical analysis hype fuelled the retail software industry 10-20 years ago.

Agree. Retail folks look at various structures like cumulative delta, market/order profile, LVN/HVN in various ways and try to find reasons to establish their bias. I dont use any of these. I have not been able to generate a backtest that consistently performs based on any of these theories.


TradeTheTrade View Post

"Orderflow" was more or less taught in prop shops (especially bond and STIR desks) and it worked because markets were much more isolated back then.

When you were able to spot a refreshing bid you could really identify what was going on since it most likely was one guy or one firm executing. Now it's old prop traders who ran out of edge who teach the concepts to the public.

Agree. I learnt many of these theories - NoBS, L2ST, JigSaw... etc. cannot even remember the rest but he is right. These theories came from traders that scalped thick markets were you could see the order book. There was only one type of refreshing order - an iceberg which was a clear indication that someone had a large order and he did not want the world to see that. He kept it hidden in order to get filled. Apparently, this observation would help people establish a short term bias for scalping purposes.


TradeTheTrade View Post

Today all markets are correlated, so a refreshing bid could mean an algo that trades a weighted portfolio of 12 different assets, which is pricing your bid off of 11 other markets. He's refreshing at 20 now until one of his markets ticks down, then he's refreshing at 19.

There is so much cross flow between markets that it is nearly impossible to identify a trading opportunity aka. a price to lean on. Also, the big volume has moved from the lit market back to OTC since they are sick of getting robbed.

This is the meat of what happens today on the screen. What this means is that now orders are not limited to one particular market. An order could span multiple contracts and instruments. Normal people can never tell which trade is getting filled. For instance, in the commodities markets (I cannot speak for anything else), if someone is bullish WTI outright and wants to establish a long position, he will probably never buy just the front month. Instead, he will employ an "aggregator" type of order that will start filling the front 3-4 months, the front few spreads, cracks, WTI to Brent etc. Basically, he would express his bias in WTI relative to forward months and other markets. If you are monitoring just the front months using some of these retail tools, you are looking at a flea on the tail of a dog - completely missing the dog itself.

There is rarely an outright bias for a commodity being expressed in the markets these days. The bias is expressed mostly relative to either time or correlated markets or both.

OTC markets are where block trades are executed by communicating your order to a broker. Most retail price feeds do not disseminate these trades. And even if you had a feed that did, these are reported to the exchange (I am talking mostly CME/NYMEX Clearport here) with up to a 7 to 8 minute delay so you cannot make sense of it anyway. If you want to know the % volume of these trades, just look at the volumes page for that contract on cmegroup.com.


TradeTheTrade View Post

No as far as the professional users of flow goes, they are just screening the markets for stale orders to lean on, they have access to OTC venues to get an indication which direction the paper is trading and they monitor changes in correlations.

A stale order is one that has been on the book for a long time. You can see this if you subscribe to a data feed that disseminates MBO. I dont know what he means by professionals screening stale orders to lean on. I dont fully agree with this statement. OTC venues do not dictate the bias. They are just like the screen - no one really knows where the market is headed. But having access to OTC data definitely helps in different ways. I havent found an electronic way to get this data. I dont know if there is one but if I had the OTC order book electronically, I would be very very happy.


TradeTheTrade View Post

They also look into microstructure but opposed to the flimsy stuff Jigsaw, ATAS or Bookmap provides, they are modeling the FIFO queue in order to find out weither an order should stay for the 0+ trade or cancel/replaced.

Scalpers do this. I mean, this is a different class of traders that have a very short term trade duration. But it has nothing to do with what he has been talking about earlier. 2 very different types of algorithms.


TradeTheTrade View Post

Do they use delta or bids vs offers hit? Yes, some do, but it is just a miniscule part of the trading. More important, they monitor the trading of hundreds or thousands of instruments to get an idea which asset is out of whack. As others already mentioned, the data and creditlines necessary to trade on that level is so expensive that it is just not worth exploring for retail.

Yep, this I agree with. If you are trading NatGas, you are monitoring electricity and weather for sure. If you are trading Crude oil, you are monitoring Brent, Gasoil, gasoline, diesel both forward in time and across. This ties into what he says earlier and like I explained. If an outright bias isnt being expressed, you wouldnt look for it. Instead, you would focus on monitoring relative bias. Simply put, if WTI is bullish, then its bullish relative to what? Look at the WTI and the RBOB gasoline charts since Feb 21. Look at the front month and then look at the Apr/Dec or May/Dec spreads. Also look at the front RBOB crack and the front RBOB vs HO spread during this time. You will go nuts trying to figure out what you should have traded and when.


TradeTheTrade View Post

If you do not have a specific edge to exploit with your "orderflow" concepts, just don't bother programming an algo around it. Most of it is BS to be honest.

This is the statement I agree with the most. I wish everyone that reads this statement above, believes it and acts on it. But I know, no one will.

So... still aspiring?

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