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Re: <nettime> The secret financial market only robots can see
Brian Holmes on Wed, 25 Sep 2013 00:07:10 +0200 (CEST)

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Re: <nettime> The secret financial market only robots can see

On 09/23/2013 01:46 AM, nettime's avid reader wrote:

The researchers say there’s much more to learn, especially at the border
where human traders and robotic ones interact. One question is whether
moving at computer speeds is inefficient because there’s less
information available at that time scale—data just can’t move that fast,
even electronically. Laboratory experiments suggest computers are more
efficient on a human time-scale than a sub-second one. And if sub-second
trading does continue, do market participants need to come up with
sub-second hedges and derivatives to protect from this kind volatility?

The question is poorly framed because the authors don't ask: Efficient for what? Or even better: What kind of society do we get when profit is produced - and economic activity is governed - by agents operating outside the perceptual and intellectual grasp of well over 99% of the people? Robomarkets then become an advanced case of what has been happening since the mathematization and computerization of finance began in the 1980s.

I read the scientific text to which the journalistic article refers. It's a confirmation of what's already known. The principle of automated trading strategies is to provoke microvolatilities and cash in on them. Yet those strategies only work well when the markets are already volatile, as they were from 2007 onward. Since 2011 (which is outside the timeframe of the article), volatility has gone down while competition between the high-speed "algo-traders" has gone up. And now the regulators are moving in:


In my view, high-speed trading is not the invisible harbinger of a future apocalypse. It's just one more symptom of the actual apocalypse.

best, Brian

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