Fascinating article on how stock market is getting completely automated in a matter of seconds. Who was saying something about real-time.
Article found on MIT Technology Review. 5 pager can be found here.
The profits go to the company with the fastest hardware and the best algorithms–advantages that enable it to spot and exploit subtle market patterns ahead of everyone else
TheTabb Group, a consultancy based in Westborough, MA, estimates that high-frequency automated trading now accounts for 61 percent of the more than 10 billion shares traded daily across the numerous exchanges that make up the U.S. market.
Trading is now essentially a virtual art, and its practitioners put such a premium on speed that NASDAQ has considered issuing equal 100-foot lengths of cable to the brokers who send orders to its exchange servers.
Hardware used at the facility will operate at a 40-gigabyte-per-second standard, enabling it to handle as many as a million messages a second.
New York City-based Lime Brokerage, wrote the SEC in 2009 to voice concerns over the proliferation of brokers who allow major clients to engage in high-frequency trading without validating their margins–that is to say, without making sure they actually have enough money to back a trade
Jacobs regularly sees algorithms executing more than 1,000 orders a second. At that rate, one algorithm trading the wrong way could execute 120,000 orders in two minutes. At 1,000 shares per order and an average price of, say, $20 a share, that’s $2.4 billion inunintended trades in 2 … SECONDS.
Institutional traders like Fidelity, which buy large blocks of shares for their mutual funds, use algorithmic trading to split their enormous orders into blocks of 100 to 300 shares so that other traders don’t recognize the true demand and take advantage of that knowledge for their own profit.
These are big numbers. And it happens every day. Scary.