Bloomberg's Pimm Fox On High Frequency Trading

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Fri, 07/24/2009 - 00:03 | 13681 KidDynamite
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the final few minutes of this were an excellent example of the advancement of technology in the markets... he didn't describe this part, but people write algo's to execute more efficiently - then others write algos to detect what Algo1 was doing and capitalize on it.  Then BrokerX writes Algo3 that's even smarter than the T1000 and capitalizes on its attempt to capitalize on Algo1.


Still, Pipeline develops ways to beat the latest algos and continue to make the markets even MORE efficient.  Bravo.  This is exactly why we shouldn't impose restrictions - capitalism and competition level the playing field for us.

Fri, 07/24/2009 - 00:06 | 13682 Tyler Durden
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I assume you read the Pipeline interview in the Whitney Tilson email.

Fri, 07/24/2009 - 00:08 | 13687 KidDynamite
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of course.  Pipeline is interesting because their business thrives on people trying to escape the HFTs... So they want to draw enough attention to HFT to panic the buy side traders, but NOT enough to panic the regulators and get HFT shut down - as that would negate their value added.

Fri, 07/24/2009 - 09:32 | 13899 Ben_the_Bald
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One thing to consider is that the technology is not going to  go away. HFT technology is here to stay. It's an open question for the regulators to determine whether it can be made more fair by introducing more regulations. There's no easy answer for that, and in fact, I don't hear ZH proposing anything, just stirring the pot.

Fri, 07/24/2009 - 11:29 | 14002 dnarby
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Hell yes, it sure CAN go away!


If the pressure keeps being put on them, they could be forced to remove their servers to a distance that introduces enough lag to prevent this sort of thing from working.



Fri, 07/24/2009 - 12:09 | 14030 Ben_the_Bald
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The core questions are broader than server colocation. For example, should "flash quotes" continue to be legit? But "electronic trading" that allows high speed transactions is here to stay. The clock is not turning back and for those concerned first understand what are the real issues, and then suggest some new regulations.

Fri, 07/24/2009 - 08:39 | 13868 Anonymous
Anonymous's picture

i thought the most interesting thing in the pipeline article was the constant reference to the "citizen-saver" who generates the big buy-side size. Nice political touch, that. Who's on the other side of this transaction, and why should they sell for less than necessary, given what's knowable through analysis of public information? Big size on the sell side comes from somewhere, probably often pensioners cashing in to pay for their cancer treatments. A wholesale market is great, but why would the sell side of such a market bend over for the buy side? Or does the pipeline guy think that both sides of the wholesale market would be equally ignorant, or agree to play nice before trading? Or that size cancels size in the long run and they will split the savings from the HFTs, where one side of the transaction randomly benefits from mispricing in a given transaction, but hopefully it all averages out in the long run with no adverse selection? Instead of paying up a tiny fee to be assured the price is accurate every time? I choose the latter.

Fri, 07/24/2009 - 11:34 | 14007 dnarby
dnarby's picture

You miss the point.


The fact that they are sucking cash out of the market w/o providing quality liquidity is a equivilent to a tax on the market (which goes to the HFT and not the gov't!), and could result in serious problems (LTCM style crash, but potentially much faster).

Fri, 07/24/2009 - 09:58 | 13928 Anonymous
Anonymous's picture

Great if the advance of a country was all about algos for trading and not a real economy. How about allocating and rewarding companies that have strong fundamental? To me what is needed is punitive capital gains taxes on ultra-short trades.

Fri, 07/24/2009 - 13:21 | 14148 Anonymous
Anonymous's picture

Great. You should tell us which fundamentals are important and how we should all value them. While you're at it, you should also define ultra-short term. HFT have a different view of fundamentals and price value. They then make decisions to trade. Any "tax" they earn from their trading is simply a tax on stupid execution from someone else.

Fri, 07/24/2009 - 00:06 | 13683 Anonymous
Anonymous's picture

So mutual funds deserve the profits? Arbitrage only took place when computers came about? Thanks goodness Alfred's technicians have a "solution" to the "problem" of HFT (at approximately 5:50). Sadly, there is nowhere to "flee" to if HFT is 70% of the market. Is there anyone without skin in the game to discuss this topic?

Fri, 07/24/2009 - 00:06 | 13684 PBS
PBS's picture

One wonders if this is getting enough attention that market rules will be redesigned before some (or many?) HFT(s) blow up a la LTCM.

Fri, 07/24/2009 - 00:28 | 13700 AxiosAdv
AxiosAdv's picture

The rules really are different for these guys if they can front run other buyers or sellers.  If the other exchanges take the rebates away and force the HFT servers away from the excahnge servers then I bet we'd see this dry up quite a bit.

Fri, 07/24/2009 - 00:46 | 13713 Anonymous
Anonymous's picture

Why they so scairt to go up against humans without those obscene advantages?

Fri, 07/24/2009 - 00:31 | 13702 Anonymous
Anonymous's picture


The target is now firmly on GS's back....over 100M shares in GS was sold today...the number one most sold stock on strength...


Fri, 07/24/2009 - 00:36 | 13705 Anonymous
Anonymous's picture

Oh yea...#2 qqqq #3 SPY ...(compliments of GS prop desk)

Fri, 07/24/2009 - 00:44 | 13710 Anonymous
Anonymous's picture

70% of trading done by 2% of people.

Fri, 07/24/2009 - 00:44 | 13711 Anonymous
Anonymous's picture

Tyler, TY for putting cock pictures on the ticker-tape.

It's working.

We need homework assignments.

Fri, 07/24/2009 - 00:47 | 13714 Anonymous
Anonymous's picture

HFT guys bursting into tears...

Fri, 07/24/2009 - 00:50 | 13715 agrotera
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70% of the trading by 2% of the trading population?


Someone needs to get this issue to the Federal reserve watchdogs--if anyone knows who the sole 300 shares of the Federal Reserve are owned by, i bet you might find an ownership connection--this is a formidable task to perform since, with all that money that this private company has scalped for almost 100 years, it is said that these owners own 1/2 of the shares of the DOW, so I imagine it is a tangled web to try to unwind to find the flow of money.  I pity the fool who (Mr. T's term) has to audit the Fed. 

Fri, 07/24/2009 - 01:08 | 13720 aldousd
aldousd's picture

saying "Banana Republicish" is certainly not very. Nice work. Two points for civilization!

Fri, 07/24/2009 - 01:14 | 13721 agrotera
agrotera's picture

Yea Andy Dufrense--

... there is so much about the privately held federal reserve and its GOLIATH power that are all wrong and contrary to the interests of the citizens of the United States.

The whole BS about 'keeping the fed independent' is such a red herring.  What that idea really represents is keep the public from understanding how the fed really has all control over our elected officials (except for a few in the house of reps).  If you look at the network of member banks and affiliates it is such a HUGE ALL POWERFUL MONOPOLY--this is the grand puppeteer of all of our presidents and elected officials ( minus a few patriots who coudn't be bought) . Is it any wonder the fed hired an x-enron lobbyist?

The Federal Reserve Act, giving the 300 shareholders of the private federal reserve corp ownership of this mononpoly needs to be called in at long last.  The system and infrastructure and operations can continue, but instead of benefiting the owners of this privatly held corportation, it needs to be owned by we the people.  This will go a long way in stopping the biggest drain of value from our currency.  Amen. 

Fri, 07/24/2009 - 00:58 | 13717 Anonymous
Anonymous's picture

Gosh. I've been blinded by science. Algorithms? Check. Pattern recognition? Check. Alpha predator capabilities? Check. Put your money to work in a game of hide-and-seek here.

Fri, 07/24/2009 - 01:11 | 13724 Anonymous
Anonymous's picture

The idiot masses really have no idea (Tyler included on this one). Anyone who thinks the old manual NYSE specialist made a better market than the HFT community is an idiot. Fills used to take minutes and slip DOLLARS away from the displayed non firm 100 share quote. The idea that the specialist firms used their firm capital to step up and buy stocks going down or "dampen" volatility was uninformed and frankly a scam, great marketing by the NYSE to make CEOs happy to list their company on the NYSE. After all the exchanges make dick on transactions, the real money is in listings. I love how the buy side thinks they should be able to come in and move a block of stock without any market impact all while some magic liquidity provider stands there making them a market, not moving the quote and not allowing anyone else to trade until the buy side trader is done. If everyone on the buyside is so convinced that their orders are being gamed, why not throw a head fake at the HFT shops and come back over the top of them with the real size you want to do. If all they are doing is front running, then all it takes is a little gamesmanship to get a better price and inflict a little pain. Also,to state that HFT is a binomial world that is either rebate driven or predatory shows how little one knows about the space. Not everyone is arbing dark pools or front running internalized orders. Yes Simons can generate higher returns than Buffet, he just doesnt have a strategy thats a scalable as WB. Its like comparing Saks to Wal-Mart and then saying no one can have a higher profit margin than Wal-Mart cause they are the best retailer ever. The populist bandwagoning and complete lack of understanding relating to the scope of strategies and the general effect of HFT on market microstructure is comical. DOES ANYONE HERE REMEMBER THE LIQUIDITY ON THE OLD NYSE DOT OR NASDAQ SELECTNET OR SOES SYSTEMS? Far fewer firms making far higher margins per trade, the scams that were perpetrated on ANY order back then were far more egregious than any HF shop arbing dark pools or rebate trading today.

Fri, 07/24/2009 - 01:19 | 13729 ghostfaceinvestah
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how come just about everyone who comes on this site defending HFT posts as "anonymous"?


just curious.

Fri, 07/24/2009 - 01:23 | 13733 Anonymous
Anonymous's picture

i don't necessarily defend hft but as i posted
below i am not sure that it is an open and shut
case.....i don't log in because i am too lazy to
do so....i am a high frequency visitor who comes and
goes too often for it not to be nuisance :-O

Fri, 07/24/2009 - 03:02 | 13794 Gordon_Gekko
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Love your picture ghostface.

Fri, 07/24/2009 - 13:28 | 14160 Anonymous
Anonymous's picture

Maybe you should ask our unknown friend Tyler Durden. (let me stress that I am not being critical of zero hedge/founding fathers/the economist for not disclosing the author.)

Fri, 07/24/2009 - 14:44 | 14288 Ben_the_Bald
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Anonymous to whom? Does it matter?

Fri, 07/24/2009 - 01:20 | 13730 Anonymous
Anonymous's picture

God damn, is this a cut and paste? Nobody gives a shit about the bad old days, we DEMAND a fair maket NOW. Colocation and front running by HFT are obviously not that. Cheap shit little scammers.

Fri, 07/24/2009 - 01:26 | 13737 Anonymous
Anonymous's picture

You are right! Trades should only be allowed to be placed from ONE fucking location in the entire world. Otherwise the proximity of ones computer to the matching engine might give them an advantage over a person living in a city, state, country farther away. If you are in Iowa, you have a latency advantage over someone trading in California. What an unfair market!!! Iowa traders scaming California traders. ITS SIMPLE PHYSICS. GOD YOU ARE A MORON. Why dont you go figure out how you can not work and collect free health care that I am paying for.

Fri, 07/24/2009 - 01:33 | 13743 Anonymous
Anonymous's picture

That was hilarious! Thank you.

Fri, 07/24/2009 - 13:29 | 14162 Anonymous
Anonymous's picture

Fair? What a pathetic word.

Fri, 07/24/2009 - 04:11 | 13807 Anonymous
Anonymous's picture

Jesse Livermore used to throw head fakes... until the bucket shops refused to trade with him. He had to stop. Small buyside firms are not the ones that will be headfaking anyone.

Fri, 07/24/2009 - 01:14 | 13727 Anonymous
Anonymous's picture

to me the debate is not clear cut.....
1. front running should be illegal and should be controlled by an appropriate trade execution process flow which makes it impossible. however i am not knowledgeable enough to know where in the current flow that change would need to be made.

2. hft trading cannot be illegal per se - only if it results in front running

3. if it can be shown that hft increases market volatility then i would argue 1. is volatility necessarily bad or wrong? 2. should that become the new expectation - high volatility - enter at your own risk? 3. can a change in the order execution process be inserted that would mitigate volatility yet still permit hft?

4. inasmuch as hft represents technological innovation - i.e. automating previously manual steps, then i am not sure that a cogent argument can be brought against hft except in the case of front running.....

5. if hft and front running are necessarily synonyms and inextricably linked then i would agree that hft is a problem....i.e. are there reasons other than front running for practicing hft?

6. hft are slices just as in the case of approximating the area under a curve - i am sure that integral calculus has some interesting things to say about what is happening with hft vs lft......

7. the argument about market based solutions vs regulatory solutions is valid....

8. if co-location of trading servers with exchange servers is bad - and i agree that it is on the basis of preferential treatment - then at what point is geographical proximity a sin? what if the servers are located in the building next door, or next city, or next what point does server proximity stop becoming an unfair advantage?

9. as much as i hate goldmas sachs they cannot be hated just because they have better technology....they must be hated because they are breaking laws or serving mammon over god.......

htf do you create line breaks in this pos editor???

Fri, 07/24/2009 - 01:22 | 13732 Anonymous
Anonymous's picture

"8. if co-location of trading servers with exchange servers is bad - and i agree that it is on the basis of preferential treatment - then at what point is geographical proximity a sin? what if the servers are located in the building next door, or next city, or next what point does server proximity stop becoming an unfair advantage? "

Time. There needs to be a small time lag introduced. Quantifiable.

Fri, 07/24/2009 - 01:32 | 13742 Anonymous
Anonymous's picture

This doesnt work, no mater the internal delay, the speed of light still applies to the dissemination of the prices after a lag. This exists on certain markets already, everyone still co-locates to the matching engine. 100ms of latency affects .000001% of the traders in the world. Its not like you were just about to arb the stock on your ameritrade platform when some damn co-located supercomputer took the trade before you. The penny spread is the best thing that ever happened to retail traders. Its never been cheaper in terms of brokerage or slippage to transact stock.

Fri, 07/24/2009 - 01:40 | 13748 Anonymous
Anonymous's picture

Damn. Thank you for clarifying that, and the post above.

Fri, 07/24/2009 - 01:42 | 13751 Anonymous
Anonymous's picture

ok but there are two issues here....1. the cost
of the trade (i.e. commission) 2. the cost of the
goods (i.e. the stock or underlying security)....

the real issue is what effect does hft have on the
cost of the we have to isolate what is
driving its value....if it is front running that is
one issue which should be dealt with by regulation
and the goosehow....if it is merely hft per se then
it is murkier....

Fri, 07/24/2009 - 01:46 | 13756 Anonymous
Anonymous's picture

There is no true "fair value". A stocks price reflects the short term supply and demand as well as the varying perceptions of "fair value" the volume or velocity of this discovery process is simply a function of the available technology. Unless we let Barney Frank set the price of stocks every day, there is going to be volatility. Volatility creates opportunity. The idea that stocks must always move higher in a controlled manner if a fallacy marketed by the asset managers who generate fees ON ASSETS, not on trading or investing profits. You have to step back and think about everyone's interest.

Fri, 07/24/2009 - 01:57 | 13765 Anonymous
Anonymous's picture

i agree that volatility is not a sin and should
not be regulated....i only insist that front
running be proscribed....i do not consider
inferential models to be true front running....

Fri, 07/24/2009 - 01:57 | 13766 Anonymous
Anonymous's picture

I'm anon #13748, The cost of trades thing occured to me too, I'm fine with a higher cost if everyone else (robots) has to pay it too. I'm paying to trade, rather than paying a tax to HFT operators who don't pay for their trades.

Fri, 07/24/2009 - 02:03 | 13770 Anonymous
Anonymous's picture

Its no different than any other biz. You get a price discount for buying in bulk. You can get a pretty good deal if you shop brokers. Some day trading brokers will charge you .006/share and pass thru rebates, some even less. The only way you can the lowest cost is to start your own BD. No different than anything else in life, you cant buy most things are Wal-Marts cost. You have to pay a little more because you are retail. Just make sure you are getting the best deal you can, I doubt you trade enough to justify your own BD.

Fri, 07/24/2009 - 02:09 | 13772 Anonymous
Anonymous's picture


Fri, 07/24/2009 - 02:14 | 13778 Anonymous
Anonymous's picture

No, I don't. Don't get me wrong, I'm not upset by the costs, but the idea that HFT's are not paying their share. The main thing that bugs me is the affect they have on the markets, the charts get all fucked up. If the markets have no purpose other than making money, they should be in Vegas. Thank you all for your comments!

Fri, 07/24/2009 - 02:23 | 13782 Anonymous
Anonymous's picture

then it's time to charts may be
needed but perhaps new interpretations of existing
onese are needed...
i am not being a smartass defender of hft but on
the other hand i don't think it is going away...

Fri, 07/24/2009 - 02:38 | 13786 Anonymous
Anonymous's picture

I hear you, but I still do fine. I believe that markets have a societal and economic function that has been a great benefit for a couple thousand years, but I don't see HFT as contributing to that.

Fri, 07/24/2009 - 02:53 | 13791 Anonymous
Anonymous's picture

I mean, 70% of the trading done by 2% of the people? Can we call that a market?

Fri, 07/24/2009 - 14:19 | 14250 Anonymous
Anonymous's picture

Not paying their share? do explain. If they execute as much as everyone thinks they do, they pay for the SEC, the exchanges you trade on, and the clearing firms you clear your trades through. Please tell me what you're pay for that evil HFT are avoiding.

Fri, 07/24/2009 - 12:13 | 14037 Wilderman
Wilderman's picture

I think you've hit the nail on the head, whether you realize it or not.  First and foremost, frontrunning is and should remain illegal.  All other aspects (that I am generally insufficiently aware of) of HFT are what they are: just another order, although maybe a bit faster than we're used to.  The issue is not HFT, it is the allegations of frontrunning that rubs everyone the wrong way. 

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