Simulating market maker behaviour using Deep Reinforcement Learning to understand market microstructure

University essay from KTH/Skolan för elektroteknik och datavetenskap (EECS)

Abstract: Market microstructure studies the process of exchanging assets underexplicit trading rules. With algorithmic trading and high-frequencytrading, modern financial markets have seen profound changes in marketmicrostructure in the last 5 to 10 years. As a result, previously establishedmethods in the field of market microstructure becomes oftenfaulty or insufficient. Machine learning and, in particular, reinforcementlearning has become more ubiquitous in both finance and otherfields today with applications in trading and optimal execution. This thesisuses reinforcement learning to understand market microstructureby simulating a stock market based on NASDAQ Nordics and trainingmarket maker agents on this stock market. Simulations are run on both a dealer market and a limit orderbook marketdifferentiating it from previous studies. Using DQN and PPO algorithmson these simulated environments, where stochastic optimal controltheory has been mainly used before. The market maker agents successfullyreproduce stylized facts in historical trade data from each simulation,such as mean reverting prices and absence of linear autocorrelationsin price changes as well as beating random policies employed on thesemarkets with a positive profit & loss of maximum 200%. Other tradingdynamics in real-world markets have also been exhibited via theagents interactions, mainly: bid-ask spread clustering, optimal inventorymanagement, declining spreads and independence of inventory and spreads, indicating that using reinforcement learning with PPO and DQN arerelevant choices when modelling market microstructure.

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