"The Market Is Rigged" - Michael Lewis Explains How HFTs "Screw" Investors Every Day

Tyler Durden's picture

It was almost excatly five years ago to the day, on April 10, 2009, that Zero Hedge - widely mocked at the time by "experts" - began its crusade against HFT and the perils of algorithmic trading (which of course were validated a year later with the Flash Crash). In the interim period we wrote hundreds if not thousands of articles discussing and explaining the pernicious, parasitic and destabilizing role HFT plays in modern market topology, and how with every passing day, markets are becoming increasingly more brittle, illiquid and, in one word, broken. Or, as Michael Lewis put it most succinctly, "rigged." With Lewis' appearance last night on 60 Minutes to promote his book Flash Boys, and to finally expose the HFT scourge for all to see, we consider our crusade against HFT finished. At this point it is up to the general population to decide if this season's participants on Dancing with the Stars or the fate of Honet Boo Boo is more important than having fair and unrigged markets (obviously, we know the answer).

For those who missed it, here is the full video again.

And broken down by segment: in the clip below, Lewis explains how an extra millisecond allows high-frequency traders to exploit computerized trading in the U.S. stock market. By "beating" investors to exchanges, Lewis argues that high-frequency traders can buy stocks and quickly sell them back at higher prices.

Billions have been spent by Wall Street firms and stock exchanges to gain the advantage of a millisecond. "Is it a scam?" 60 Minutes correspondent Steve Kroft asks. Bigger, Lewis says.

Lewis further explains, video below, how ordinary investors are affected and argues that high-frequency traders have created instability in the stock market -- for everyone.

 

A reoccurring metaphor Lewis uses in his book "Flash Boys" is one of "prey and predators."According to Lewis, the prey is "anybody who's actually an investor in the stock market."