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The Real Story Behind the Flash Crash at 'The Speed Traders', The Most Comprehensive Book on High-Frequency Trading

May 03, 2011 10:43 PM ET
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The real story behind the flash crash, the sudden decline and ultimate recovery of the U.S. financial markets on May 6, 2010, is described in unprecedented detail in The Speed Traders, An Insider's Look at the New High-Frequency Trading Phenomenon That is Transforming the Investing World (http://www.thespeedtraders.com), book by recognized author Edgar Perez.

High-Frequency Trading Leaders Forum 2011

Building on interviews with influential high-frequency traders that experienced the flash crash first-hand, Mr. Perez has been able to build a narrative that captures the readers’ attention. Referring to Manoj Narang, Chief Executive Officer of Tradeworx, the book says: “As early as May 7, 2010, it was pretty apparent to him what had happened. Investors were on hair-trigger alert because of a huge run-up (around 70 percent in 12 months) in stock prices, because of recent weakness (down around 7 percent for the week before May 6), and because of geopolitical events, particularly the threat that Greece and other European nations would default on their sovereign debt. Into this economic backdrop a mutual fund dumped around $4 billion worth of Standard & Poor’s (S&P) E-Mini futures contracts into the open market, setting off a self-reinforcing wave of selling. Mr. Narang has calculated that the mutual fund’s trade had a likely impact of about 3 percent on the S&P 500 Index’s price over the course of a few minutes. This was a rather large impact, particularly at a time when the market was already spooked. Thus a snowball quickly turned into an avalanche as investors’ stop-loss orders were repeatedly set off at lower and lower levels.”

The book explains that no matter what regulators do as part of liquidity obligations, no matter how much they force people to stay in the market, there will be times when herd like behavior among long-term investors will see them all stampeding for the exits at the same time; there simply won’t be enough high-frequency trading to cover the demand for liquidity. Liquidity crises are not driven by the lack of liquidity but by the demand for liquidity. This is why Mr. Narang thinks that it is a bit misguided on the part of regulators to try to prevent flash crashes from occurring. In order to prevent liquidity crises from occurring, regulators would need to prevent herd like behavior among long-term investors, because that’s what causes bubbles and that’s what causes liquidity crises.

 An Insider’s Look at the New High-Frequency Trading Phenomenon That is Transforming the Investing World

High-frequency traders have been called many things—from masters of the universe and market pioneers to exploiters, computer geeks, and even predators. Everyone in the business of investing has an opinion of speed traders, but how many really understand how they operate? The shadow people of the investing world, today's high-frequency traders have decidedly kept a low profile—until now. In this new title, The Speed Traders, Mr. Perez, founder of the prestigious business networking community Golden Networking, opens the door to the secretive world of high-frequency trading (HFT). Inside, prominent figures of HFT drop their guard and speak with unprecedented candidness about their trade.

The Speed Traders, published by McGraw-Hill Inc., is the most comprehensive, revealing work available on the most important development in trading in generations. High-frequency trading will no doubt play an ever larger role as computer technology advances and the global exchanges embrace fast electronic access. The Speed Traders explains everything there is to know about how today's high-frequency traders make millions—one cent at a time.

Advanced Market Timing Experts Workshop 2011

Mr. Perez is one of the great business networkers and motivators on the lecture circuit; he is available worldwide for the following speaking engagements: Present and Future of High-Frequency Trading, The Real Story behind the "Flash Crash", Networking for Financial Executives, and Business Networking for Success.

Seeking Alpha's Disclosure: Past performance is no guarantee of future results. No recommendation or advice is being given as to whether any investment is suitable for a particular investor. Any views or opinions expressed above may not reflect those of Seeking Alpha as a whole. Seeking Alpha is not a licensed securities dealer, broker or US investment adviser or investment bank. Our analysts are third party authors that include both professional investors and individual investors who may not be licensed or certified by any institute or regulatory body.

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