Wednesday, June 18, 2014

HFT hearings

I'm watching the high frequency trading hearings on C-Span that likely arose from information published in Michael Lewis's "Flashboys" book that should arouse serious concerns from anyone who reads it.  I'm a fan of Brad Katsuyama who's talked about in the book who built a new exchange IEX to try to create more fair markets.

During the hearings, it is amazing to me how Sen Ron Johnson is willfully unconcerned during these hearings, and it's so frustrating to watch him try to get the panelists to say something other than what they're saying, and he seems to suggest that to even bring attention to these issues hurts investor confidence in the markets.  The panelists give an answer in conflict with his preferred answer, and he repeatedly tries to ask it a different way to get a different answer.  Much effort to create a case of: "there's nothing to see here, lets move along."

This is very much a case of diffuse harms (investors) vs. concentrated interests (hft firms, exchanges, brokers).

EDIT:  Thomas Farley, president of NYSE Group, actually just testified that part of the existing market structure (maker-taker pricing where brokers get paid for their orderflow) creates conflicts of interest in the market and he would be in favor of reducing/removing them.

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