Thursday, August 27, 2009

Flash trading, part deux

Chris Hynes and Donald Luskin:
Flash trading is like offering to sell your house to your neighbor before you officially put it into the real estate listings. For that matter, it's just like what upstairs traders did in the pre-computer era: shopping an order before sending it to the exchange floor. We had no problem with this process, so why would we ban flash trading, which simply makes it more formal and produces an audit trail that the upstairs traders didn't?

... Yet according to Mr. Schumer, in flash trading "a privileged group of insiders receives preferential treatment, depriving others of a fair price for their transactions." The truth is that there's no particular privilege involved. Any broker can enter flash orders or respond to them, even when executing on behalf of ordinary individual investors.

... The real issue here is that innovators like Direct Edge are able to use new systems like flash trading to challenge entrenched institutions like the New York Stock Exchange by attracting their own new pools of liquidity. Innovators profit most when trading is internalized within their new pools, drawing market share away from incumbents. The incumbents typically seek self-protective regulation, characterizing the creation of new pools as "fragmentation" of the equity markets.

In fact, trading innovations do not create fragmentation. They expand the market, drawing in entirely new liquidity that wouldn't have otherwise existed.

Since introducing flash trading in 2006, Direct Edge's market share has soared to 12% from 2%. No wonder, then, that Duncan Niederauer, chief executive officer of NYSE Euronext, said in June that "we're spending a lot of time in Washington." And no wonder that Mr. Schumer has suddenly developed an interest in the microstructure of equity markets.

Competition is what makes America's equity trading system the envy of the world. Let's not throttle it by demonizing the innovations that improve it.

Part un, here. And in the comments here, some nice European boy calls me stupid. Well, my wife would agree with that at times.

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