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Alternative Market Briefing

High frequency trading under the microscope as US regulatory systems still count time in full seconds

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

From Kirsten Bischoff, Opalesque New York:

Since Goldman Sachs accused a former programmer of stealing computer codes, the $20bln+ high frequency trading (HFT) industry has experienced an uptick in media attention. Firms that use these applications in their strategies may well have noticed that most of the attention has been negative, as has most of the media attention on firms that have made money in distressed financial markets. A recent New York Times article covering HFT systems managed to make them sound more like the lurking evils in a Hollywood blockbuster rather than a trading approach:

"These systems are so fast they can outsmart or outrun other investors, humans and computers alike. And after growing in the shadows for years, they are generating lots of talk." (Source).

The above article was soon followed by a cautionary Op Ed piece by well-known quant Paul Wilmott who informed NYTimes readers:

"...the problem with the sudden popularity of high-frequency trading is that it may increasingly destabilize the market. Hedge funds won't necessarily care whether the increased volatility causes stocks to rise or fall, as long as they can get in and out quickly with a profit. But the rest of the economy will care." (Source).

John J......................

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