News / Economy

High Frequency Traders Under Scrutiny

High Frequency Traders Under Scrutinyi
X
April 08, 2014 9:41 PM
The U. S. Justice Department is investigating the relationship between high frequency trading firms and major exchanges -- and regulators in Washington and the state of New York are taking aim at them as well. At issue is the integrity of the worldwide marketplace and the appropriate use of advanced technology. VOA’s Bernard Shusman reports from Wall Street in New York City.
Bernard Shusman
The U. S. Justice Department is investigating the relationship between high frequency trading firms and major exchanges -- and regulators in Washington and the state of New York are taking aim at them as well.   At issue is the integrity of the worldwide marketplace and the appropriate use of advanced technology. 

Technology has made stock trading easier, enabling worldwide participation in U.S. financial markets.  Now -- with advanced super computers and agreements with trading exchanges - some companies are able to trade stocks in fractions of a second.  The practice -- known as high-speed trading -- is controversial.  But as St. John’s University professor Michael Perino points out, traders have been trying to speed up the process as long as there have been securities markets.

“There is a great old story, it may not be true or not, but apparently the Rothschilds used carrier pigeons to get word of Napoleon’s defeat at Waterloo before anyone else and made money in the London Stock Exchange that way," he said. "And through telegraphs and fiber-optic cables throughout the years, everybody is trying to get faster and faster to the information because it gives them a competitive advantage.  High frequency traders just take that to the next degree.”

Still, these high frequency trading practices have come under the scrutiny of both the U.S. Justice Department and officials in New York State.  Attorney General Eric Holder confirmed an investigation is underway.

“We at the Justice Department are investigating this practice to determine whether it violates insider trading laws." he said. "The Department is committed to ensuring the integrity of our financial markets -- and we are determined to follow this investigation wherever the facts and law may lead.”

 For a fee, some of the exchanges and financial information services have supplied the high speed traders with extra bandwidth, special high speed switches and ultra-fast connection cables.  With that arrangement, HFT (High Frequency Trading) companies can receive information faster and gain an advantage over others in the market.

A new and controversial  book, “Flash Boys,” has whipped up a storm about such trading practices, and cites BATS Global  as one company it says is rigging the markets.  On a business network program  on CNBC, BATS CEO William O’Brien defended his company’s activities.

“BATS Direct Edge didn’t exist 10 years ago," he said. "And we became the biggest stock market on any given day in the United States by going to our customers, proving we had a value proposition and winning their business.  We didn’t do anything by trying to scare people.  And, I don’t think it’s true and I don’t think it’s right. “

Drexel Hamilton is a typical full-service institutional broker-dealer.  Like many other broker-dealers, it believes high frequency trading could kill the market place and turn away customers.  Ian Burgess, a managing director at Drexel Hamilton, says it makes the market less efficient.

“We see bids all of a sudden disappearing while we try to go in there and sell stock," he said. "We see offers also vaporizing when we’re trying to buy stock.  It makes it much more difficult and much more costly, I think.”

The Wall Street Bull is still one of New York’s major attractions.  But, the question is whether it will continue to be an attraction if the investing public loses confidence in the stock market.

You May Like

Multimedia Social Media Documenting, Not Driving, Hong Kong Protests

Unlike Arab Spring uprisings, pro-democracy protestors in Hong Kong aren't relying on Twitter and Facebook to organize, but social media still plays a role More

Analysis: Occupy Central Not Exactly Hong Kong’s Tiananmen

VOA's former Hong Kong, Beijing correspondent compares and contrasts 1989 Tiananmen Square protest with what is now happening in Hong Kong More

Bambari Hospital a Lone Place of Help in Violence-Plagued CAR

Only establishment still functioning in CAR's second city is main hospital More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
The Legacy of Jimmy Carter: The Preacher from Plainsi
X
October 01, 2014 10:45 AM
It is common in the United States to see tourists flock to sites associated with America's presidents. Some are privately owned and others are run by the National Park Service or the National Archives -- but most have helped draw business and people into the towns and cities where they are located. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there is one particular presidential hometown that is unique in what it has to offer those who make the trip.
Video

Video The Legacy of Jimmy Carter: The Preacher from Plains

It is common in the United States to see tourists flock to sites associated with America's presidents. Some are privately owned and others are run by the National Park Service or the National Archives -- but most have helped draw business and people into the towns and cities where they are located. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there is one particular presidential hometown that is unique in what it has to offer those who make the trip.
Video

Video Hong Kong Protests Draw New Supporters on National Holiday

On the 65th anniversary of the founding of Communist China, Hong Kong protesters are hoping to stage the largest pro-democracy demonstration since the 1989 Tiananmen protests. VOA's Brian Padden visited one of the protest sites mid-day, when the atmosphere was calm and where the supporters were enthusiastic about joining what they are calling the umbrella revolution.
Video

Video India's PM Continues First US Visit

India's prime minister is on his first visit to Washington, to strengthen political and economic ties between the world's oldest and the world biggest democracies. He came to the U.S. capital from New York, the first stop on his five-day visit to the country that denied him an entry visa in the past. From Washington, Zlatica Hoke reports Modi seemed most focused on attracting foreign investment and trade to increase job opportunities for his people.
Video

Video Malaysia Struggles to Stop People Joining Jihad

Malaysian authorities say militant groups like the so-called "Islamic State" have used social media to entice at least three dozen Malaysian Muslims to fight in what they call "jihad" in Syria and Iraq. As Mahi Ramkrishnan reports from Kuala Lumpur, counterterrorism police are deeply worried about what could happen when these militants return home.
Video

Video Could US Have Done More to Stop Rise of Islamic State?

President Obama says airstrikes against Islamic State militants in Syria will likely continue for some time because, in his words, "there is a cancer that has grown for too long." So what if President Obama had acted sooner in Syria to arm more-moderate opponents of both the Islamic State and the Syrian government? VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports from the United Nations.
Video

Video Treasure Hunters Seek 'Hidden Treasure' in Central Kenya

Could a cave in a small village in central Kenya be the site of buried treasure? A rumor of riches, left behind by colonialists, has some residents dreaming of wealth, while others see it as a dangerous hoax. VOA's Gabe Joselow has the story.
Video

Video Ebola Patients Find No Treatment at Sierra Leone Holding Center

At a holding facility in Makeni, central Sierra Leone, dozens of sick people sit on the floor in an empty university building. They wait in filthy conditions. It's a 16-hour drive by ambulance to Kailahun Ebola treatment center. Adam Bailes was there and reports on what he says are some of the worst situations he has seen since the beginning of this Ebola outbreak. And he says it appears case numbers may already be far worse than authorities acknowledge.
Video

Video Identifying Bodies Found in Texas Border Region

Thousands of immigrants have died after crossing the border from Mexico into remote areas of the southwestern United States in recent years. Local officials in south Texas alone have found hundreds of unidentified bodies and buried them in mass graves in local cemeteries. Now an anthropologist and her students at Baylor University have been exhuming bodies and looking for clues to identify them. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from Waco, Texas.
Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.

AppleAndroid

World Currencies

EUR
USD
0.7866
JPY
USD
109.25
GBP
USD
0.6139
CAD
USD
1.1120
INR
USD
61.428

Rates may not be current.