Dennis Gartman Comes Out In Defense Of HFT: "They Do Indeed Have Better Quality Computers Than Do We"

Tyler Durden's picture


Presented with no commentary and with lots of laughter as yet one more "expert" who has no clue what HFT actually is (and every clue about being the market's best contrarian indicator - see here and here and here and here) comes out of the woodwork with a "world-renowned" opinion. Again.... and Again.... and Again. Needless to say, Gartman opining in favor of HFT effectively seals the debate if the vacuum tubes should all be done away with this nanosecond (even if, in a 180 degree about face, that is what Goldman suddenly also wants).

From Dennis Gartman


Having lauded Ms. Barra for her honesty, we are here this morning to take Mr. Lewis to task for his ill-advised attacks upon the American capital markets in his  new book, Flash Boys, which was given an enormous send-off Sunday evening as “Sixty Minutes” gave him a national audience that few authors anywhere have ever been given. Allowing Mr. Lewis… who has made several tens of millions of dollars writing about Wall Street and who should be an apologist for rather than an attacker of it… a place of prominence to tell the American people that the stock market is “rigged” is wholly wrong; has sent an utterly incorrect message to those people and has done damage that shall take years to correct.

We are supporters of HFT and we have no qualms in saying so. HFT creates liquidity, and although we would prefer to restore the old system of “specialists” on the floor of the NYSE who back-in-the-day had their own capital at risk and made markets during times of duress, those days are gone. They shall not return.  The days of the bid-off spread being an 1/8th of a point rather than mere pennies are gone and they are gone forever. In their stead, stand HFTs and short term “scalpers” who create liquidity when and where they can, but they are not bound to do so and they are not guaranteed profits when they do. The “specialists” were effectively guaranteed profits when they were the bid when there were only offers coming at them and when they were the only offer when bids were ubiquitous.

The question here is of speed in execution and the HFTS are all about speed. They do indeed have faster communications with the exchanges in question. They do indeed “pick off” fractions of pennies in near front-running of orders; they do indeed have better quality computers than do we. That is their business, but we see their “need-for-speed” to be nothing more than yet another step in the quest for speed that allowed the Baron Rothschild to profit from news carried to him by carrier pigeon from the battle fronts in Europe before the news became public to the average investor. We see this quest for speed to be just another step in the process of an investor profiting from a news service in his/her office profiting from the news that he/she reads and interprets better and faster than those without that same news service. We see this quest for speed just another step removed from the positioning of clerks on the top steps of futures pits signaling bids/offers and sizes via flashing fingers to their counterparts on telephones linked back to trading desks in New York, with the fastest and best clerks being paid the highest sums and offered the most plum locations.

Let’s all just sit back; take a collective deep breath and know that the progress from carrier pigeons, to telephone lines, to quick-fingered clerks to micro-wave communications lines are all in a great line of communications progress. These are all steps in a history and nothing more. The HFTs have had their proverbial day in the sun; now they are having their day in the glare instead. But to blame them for one’s trading mistakes and to call for their removal is, from our perspective, ill-advised and wrong. We shall make many of our clients around the world angry with our position and we acknowledge that fact, but in the end history will bear us out. Rage against insider-trading; rage against unfair advantages, but do not rage against advances in communications and speed for to do so is to take the capital markets back to the days of Baron Rothschild and that would be sad indeed. ‘nuff said.

* * *

It probably is too late for the HFT lobby to have this particular defense stricken from the record.

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Wed, 04/02/2014 - 15:15 | 4618285 Future Jim
Future Jim's picture

Aren't there any in between positions? Why can't one allow HFTs and simultaneously stay out of the market if HFTs make it unsafe?

Wed, 04/02/2014 - 15:22 | 4618323 NoDebt
NoDebt's picture

Why doesn't somebody create an exchange that introduces a 350 microsecond delay on all orders to negate the advantage HFTs have and see if anybody trades on it?  Let the market work out if they prefer to trade on a level playing field or get skimmed on every trade.  How about that as an in-between solution?


Wed, 04/02/2014 - 15:25 | 4618333 Divided States ...
Divided States of America's picture

If i bump into Gartman on the street, I will show him that I definitely have better quality baseball bats than he does.

This fucker is one reason why I have had many broken TV screens.

Wed, 04/02/2014 - 15:51 | 4618440 asteroids
asteroids's picture

Good grief. Theft is theft. It doesn't matter if it's .001 or .1 or 1. It's the principal of the thing. One is good, the other is evil. The reason things are so fucked up and the most of the world hates the west is because this lack of morals.

Wed, 04/02/2014 - 15:58 | 4618474 El Oregonian
El Oregonian's picture

Morals? oh, I thought you said morels and I was going to say sure we've got tons here in.... ah, never mind.

Wed, 04/02/2014 - 16:08 | 4618533 Say What Again
Say What Again's picture

These assholes keep mixing up two different events;

+ The speed at which someone views a NEWS item

+ Someone seeing my ORDER BEFORE IT HITS THE BOOK!

These are two different things all together!!!


Wed, 04/02/2014 - 17:04 | 4618716 alangreedspank
alangreedspank's picture

How is that possible ? Are they running packet sniffers or something ?

Wed, 04/02/2014 - 22:17 | 4619750 BC6
BC6's picture

Skimming pennies out of the penny tray gets you Federal pound you in the ass prison while skimming digits on BATS and the other exchanges gets you Presidential cufflinks.

Wed, 04/02/2014 - 15:27 | 4618336 Say What Again
Say What Again's picture

Have you even read the news about IEX?  They have a fiber-opt box that looks like a spool of fishing line, which is creates this delay.


Wed, 04/02/2014 - 15:27 | 4618352 NoDebt
NoDebt's picture

Yes, I read it yesterday on here along with everyone else.  That's why my description, above, sounds exactly like IEX.

Wed, 04/02/2014 - 15:31 | 4618361 Dr. Engali
Dr. Engali's picture

You made a sarcastic joke without your sarc tag, and clearly that was bad.

Wed, 04/02/2014 - 15:34 | 4618368 ndotken
ndotken's picture

Rationalize it however you want ... but you're inserting an unnecessary third party into a transaction so that this unrelated third party can leech onto the transaction and skim a profit out of it. It is stealing and you Mr. Gartman are an accessory to theft by publicly advocating and supporting its structure. Obviously thieves stick together.

Wed, 04/02/2014 - 15:36 | 4618374 NoDebt
NoDebt's picture

As I've said many times, I don't use sarc tags.  You get it or your don't.  I'll live with the slings and red-down-arrows of outrageous misunderstanding that may come from that.

Wed, 04/02/2014 - 15:38 | 4618382 Dr. Engali
Dr. Engali's picture

Neither do I. If they are too dumb to get it... fuck em.

Wed, 04/02/2014 - 15:57 | 4618469 Cangaroo.TNT
Cangaroo.TNT's picture

Whatever you do, do not make jokes about ejaculating in the French President's mouth.  People around here do NOT like that.

Wed, 04/02/2014 - 18:27 | 4618952 MillionDollarBoner_
MillionDollarBoner_'s picture

Better to take up arms against a sea of banksters and, by guillotining, end them?

Wed, 04/02/2014 - 15:38 | 4618384 alangreedspank
alangreedspank's picture

That doesn't solve the problem of who gets to the coil first...

Wed, 04/02/2014 - 16:07 | 4618527 sm0k4
sm0k4's picture

Thats the part I'm still confused about. What good is 350 microseconds when there are still going to be people reaching the coil quicker than others? Isn't it a wash? There has to be something I missed or overlooked.

Wed, 04/02/2014 - 16:13 | 4618555 Dr. Engali
Dr. Engali's picture

There you go thinking again. What did I tell you about that? We are being lead to believe by the MSM that the real story is HFTing and not something else.  Now sit back, turn on the teevee, eat your Cheetos, and never ever....evar use logic.

Wed, 04/02/2014 - 16:22 | 4618586 dracos_ghost
dracos_ghost's picture

Yup, this is an arbitraging HFT's wet dream. Constant delays are just so much easier to game than variable delays.

Wed, 04/02/2014 - 16:32 | 4618614 alangreedspank
alangreedspank's picture

Variable delays can be a bitch too. Why, if I manage a spotless infrastructure, get a slower response than a guy with a laptop and a lousy Comcast connection should the random variable delay decide so ?

(Answer: because if you manage a spotless infrastructure you are surely a 1%er, therefore, go choke on a dirty sock)

Wed, 04/02/2014 - 15:59 | 4618481 dtwn
dtwn's picture

Depending on the study and type of stimulus, human reaction times vary from about 220ms to 630ms.

I would propose that every trade has a random (but within a small range) amount of time added to it before execution so that no trade could take place faster than a real human could otherwise perform the trade.  The randomization would remove any incentive to frontrun and skim the pennies and fractions of a cent and perhaps force a return to trading on fun-durrrrrr-mentals.

For example, say the average human reaction time to  the types of stumulus involved in clicking buy/sell orders is 350ms with a standard deviation of 150 ms.  Under this proposal, trades would have between 350-500ms added to them in  a random fashion.

Wed, 04/02/2014 - 18:01 | 4618866 EndOfDayExit
EndOfDayExit's picture

Me thinks that delays and/or minimum hold times for all orders will not help. The game would then simply change from cancelling the active orders outright and re-submitting higher in response to big money buying to something like submitting a series of smaller orders every, say, 100 microseconds, and then stopping that series and adjusting the price higher as earlier orders are getting filled. So, the existing strategies would no longer work, but then new strats could be devised instead. Fundamentally, there is no difference in having a delay of 1 microsecond or a 1 second, somebody will always be trying to submit or cancel a few microseconds faster around that imposed 1 second delay and/or hold time.

Wed, 04/02/2014 - 16:04 | 4618324 Say What Again
Say What Again's picture

You might find this interesting.  When I type "flash boys" into google, the top result is;

This web site is trying to laud the virtues of computerized algo / HFT trading.

This is getting interesting.  How much did they pay google to get top billing on the results page?

Wed, 04/02/2014 - 15:23 | 4618327 The Axe
The Axe's picture

JOKE   or JESTER   CLOWN he is.......

Wed, 04/02/2014 - 15:36 | 4618379 alangreedspank
alangreedspank's picture

I don't see HFTs as a problem, but if people do, have fun creating a new exchange that attemps to throttle all requests/responses.

Wed, 04/02/2014 - 15:38 | 4618383 Deathrips
Deathrips's picture

Anyone have a scarlet letter that we could brand in this shills forehead?



Wed, 04/02/2014 - 15:59 | 4618482 Confused
Confused's picture

He invoked the Rothschild name. So you know he means business. Hahahaha. What a fucking tool. 

Wed, 04/02/2014 - 15:14 | 4618287 i_call_you_my_base
i_call_you_my_base's picture

"Let’s all just sit back;"

Fuck you.

Wed, 04/02/2014 - 15:16 | 4618294 PlusTic
PlusTic's picture

Tie this prikk to the back of a pick-up truck and drag him around for a while...this mouthpiece has never made a dime trading in his's all made from yapping!

Wed, 04/02/2014 - 15:16 | 4618296 Pumpkin
Pumpkin's picture

Common sense tells you anyone defending HFT are the ones guilty of the fraud. 

Wed, 04/02/2014 - 15:18 | 4618301 Relentless101
Relentless101's picture

I haven't read the book, but I have watched a lot of interviews and not once have I heard Michael Lewis say he wanted anything close to a ban on or dismissal of HFT... The money these firms make doesn't come out of thin air! It has to be costing some one money somewhere. MATHEMATICAL FACT.

Wed, 04/02/2014 - 16:29 | 4618511 NuYawkFrankie
NuYawkFrankie's picture

Haven't read the book either... but I can highly recommend the movie.

Spoiler Alert! Sue Herrera is played by a moose


Wed, 04/02/2014 - 15:18 | 4618302 Uncle Remus
Uncle Remus's picture

Suck it Gartman.

Wed, 04/02/2014 - 15:19 | 4618308 Bryan
Bryan's picture

Is this diatribe not evidence enough that the market really IS rigged, and that the riggers are vehemently defending their livlihood??  It sure seems to me that they really enjoyed their time in the dark, skimming boatloads of money undetected while the public was unaware.  Then someone turned the light on, and bam!

Wed, 04/02/2014 - 15:19 | 4618309 Imagery
Imagery's picture

"rage against unfair advantage" is exactly what you are arrogant shill.  Force the HFTs to put any offer up for atleast 3 seconds such that it can be "hit" and they will all disappear for their only real purpose is to front run by putting up offers that are taken down before they can be humanly executed upon such that the algos can read the bids, front run them, and guarantee spread by this obscene and unfair act.

But you already knew this didn't you Dickhead Dennis.

Wed, 04/02/2014 - 15:43 | 4618401 NotApplicable
NotApplicable's picture

I dunno, he doesn't seem that smart.

Wed, 04/02/2014 - 16:13 | 4618559 jcaz
jcaz's picture

Gartman knows exactly as much as he's been told by his "sources"-  the fact is,  Gartman is incapable of grasping the big picture here,  it's simply beyond his capacity...

But hey, he collects yet again another $453 per-diem apppearance check from CNBC, which is all this is really about- the Gartman Cash Flow Fund.....

Wed, 04/02/2014 - 15:20 | 4618310 Schmuck Raker
Schmuck Raker's picture

Ba. Foon.

Wed, 04/02/2014 - 15:20 | 4618312 Kilgore Trout
Kilgore Trout's picture

"they do indeed have better quality computers than do we"

Dude, you're gettin` a Dell!

Wed, 04/02/2014 - 15:21 | 4618316 Midnight Rider
Midnight Rider's picture

I can't even begin to describe how wrong this prick is.

Wed, 04/02/2014 - 15:22 | 4618322 pound the vix
pound the vix's picture

HFT's are not trading on the speed of information.  they are front running and getting in between two willing parties to a stock transaction and thereby driving the cost higher for those two parties.

Wed, 04/02/2014 - 15:56 | 4618459 alangreedspank
alangreedspank's picture

That's impossible, by solely using the definition of front-running itself. Only the broker and its client knows the order will be placed.

What I think they (HFT firms) do is poll the exchange and get a faster response than some others. This is either because their infrastructure is better or...there is preferential treatment at the exchange.

Wed, 04/02/2014 - 15:23 | 4618325 101 years and c...
101 years and counting's picture

CNBC producers on Sunday night: find me as many douchebags as possible to defend HFT.  after 3 days, looks like Mr. Producer's demands were met....

Wed, 04/02/2014 - 15:23 | 4618328 Seasmoke
Seasmoke's picture

So many Baghdad's Bob's In America in 21st Century. 

Wed, 04/02/2014 - 15:25 | 4618340 Philalethian
Philalethian's picture

Na-na-na nah nah...I can cheat and steal faster than you can...

Wed, 04/02/2014 - 15:25 | 4618341 buzzsaw99
buzzsaw99's picture

because front running and quote stuffing are good for the eCONoME?

Wed, 04/02/2014 - 15:25 | 4618343 LibertyBear
LibertyBear's picture

My issue is the Moral Hazard that comes from the Government "regulating" the markets. Not necessarily HFT. Anybody else agree?

Wed, 04/02/2014 - 16:03 | 4618501 RaceToTheBottom
RaceToTheBottom's picture

There is a huge discussion about this that could occur.   Not only with HFT but with all regulation.

One thing that Europe does differently (at least in accounting rules) is they have more general, less precise, rules.  What at first looks like a weakness is in effect an advantage.  US regulations are very specific, essentially begging to be gamed, and big money will ALWAYS have the best brains aiming at gaming. 

US companies stretch every rule and also try to introduce very specific rules with tiny holes that they will later use.  With more general rules, the interpretation is harder, but the companies know they better not game it or they get killed.

Wed, 04/02/2014 - 15:25 | 4618344 sodbuster
sodbuster's picture

Why do you guys hate Fartman so much??? This shit- for- brains is a traders best friend. I don't know why he don't work for GS!! He is absolutely dependable!! be wrong!!!


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