Friday, 1 August 2014

FLASH BOYS - a book by Michael Lewis.

Light can travel 186 miles in a thousandth of a second ( 1 millisecond). A 'Stockmarket' is no longer a market in the sense most of us understand 'market' . Current stoock exchanges are now 'server farms' airconditioned warehouses stuffed with computers. John Naughton, writing in the Observer of 6th April 2014 reviews 'Flash Boys' indepth. It turns out that one group of investors thought it was worth spending $300million to lay a fibreoptic cable through mountains and under cities such that it would be absolutely straight so that the time for a message to travel along it from Chicago to New York could be cut from 17milliseconds to 13. Traders pay $14milion plus an upfront fee to get to use it. Why? Because software algorithms can buy & sell shares in milliseconds, & this high frequency trading is incredibkly active, accounting for maybe 99% of US stock market trades, for those armed with the right kit, software and networking skills an advantage of 4milliseconds turns $14m a year into annual profits of maybe $20bn. The book goes on to discuss how easily the technology can get out of control and the serious political consequences arising from the frightening ignorance of the civil service and others to even get to first base when getting to grips with it and the huge disparity of resources between the big commercial money and what Governments will provide to finance regulation.

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