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625 of 697 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A true snapshot in a still evolving financial world
I retired from the hedge fund world and I can tell you that this book is mostly on target. For those who deny that HFT (high-frequency trading) is a rigged game, either they are un-informed or disingenuous.

It wasn't always like this. There was a time, when a bid was a bid, and an ask was an ask. If you liked the ask, you could hit the buy button and have a...
Published 9 months ago by S. Yang

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961 of 1,263 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Somewhat entertaining, but it has several big wrong facts and it's heavily biased
Disclaimer: I have a lot of experience trading electronically (although I don't do HFT), and I try to keep up with everything HFT-related, exchange market micro structure, nooks, academic articles, news, SEC/CTFT/FINRA meetings, etc.

Flash Boys presents a story about a trader, Brad, who's not technical, and who's trying to learn about the market. The trader...
Published 9 months ago by Daniel


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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good book, although ending left me hanging, April 25, 2014
By 
John Kinsella (San Francisco, CA USA) - See all my reviews
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Great read - from my accounts inside/outside the HF space, the story's fairly straight although a little dramatized. Only complaint was I felt like I was left hanging at the end - I liked Mr. Lewis' idea to get the reader interactive by leaving the FCC license ID, and I liked that the book was so fresh to press that it covered the later part of 2013, but I was left really wanting an update from the last 6 months. I guess the search engines can help there, though...

Overall, I'd recommend the book to those curious about recent Wall St. shenanigans. It's a good reminder of no matter what laws/regulations you put into place, people will find a way either around them or to use them to their advantage.

(disclosure: I work in the fintech space but not related to any parties involved in the story)
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6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Gaming the System in Microseconds, April 18, 2014
By 
Barry Francis (Toronto, Canada) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Flash Boys (Hardcover)
Reading Michael Lewis books Liar's Poker, The Big Short, and his latest tour-de-force Flash Boys, doesn't exactly engender confidence in financial markets; but it does offer fascinating insight into how the markets work, how loosely they're regulated and how they're gamed by some of the players.

In Flash Boys, Lewis exposes a worrisome market manipulation technique involving high speed trading practiced by a new breed of investment firms. These high frequency traders partner with big banks and stock exchanges to use high-speed computers and complex software algorithms to implement an immoral, but legal, form of computer-aided front running.

Flash Boys exposes a system that gives selected traders a split-second advance view of the trading orders of other investors that allows them "scalp" pennies from billions of transactions by interposing themselves between buyers and sellers. When done by you or me, this sort of front running is strictly illegal and would land us in jail. When done by high-speed computers, as Lewis points out, it's accepted as "financial innovation" and ignored by market regulators.

In addition to enlightening the reader on the concept of "electronic front running," the book is a valuable primer on such exotic concepts as "flash crash," "dark pools," "dark pool arbitrage," "rebate arbitrage," "latency arbitrage," and "slow market arbitrage."

The heroes of Lewis' story are a small group of brilliant and idealistic Wall Street contrarians (The Flash Boys), led by Canadian Brad Katsuyama an employee of Royal Bank of Canada, who conclude that the market is rigged for the benefit of insiders and set out to bring fairness to the system by establishing a new exchange that eliminates the advantage of high speed trading. The main selling point of the new exchange, known as IEX, was that it was fair.

Amid considerable opposition from traditional market forces, the new exchange, opened on October 25, 2013. Success required the new exchange to trade 50 million shares a day. Starting with 568,524 shares traded on day one, trading rose to 40 million shares and beyond by mid-December, thanks to the commitment of Goldman Sachs. With that, the Flash Boys' effort to ensure market fairness was off to a flying start.

Toward the end of the book, Lewis observes: "Once very smart people are paid huge sums of money to exploit the flaws in the financial system, they have the spectacularly destructive incentive to screw up the system further, or to remain silent as they watch it being screwed up by others." By shining a light on these practices, Lewis has given pause to these same "very smart people."

Not coincidentally, since Lewis' book was published, the US Department of Justice, the FBI and the New York attorney general's office have launched investigations into high-frequency trading practices. Can the SEC be far behind?

Barry Francis
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6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars We all need to read Flash Boys and then trade on IEX to protect our investments - and clean up the markets., April 12, 2014
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This review is from: Flash Boys (Hardcover)
I have read every book since Liar's Poker written by Michael Lewis except Money Ball. All have been enlightening and entertaining. Flash Boys is absolutely astonishing. You can read about the contents of the book from the many other reviewers. My review is more of a call to join the uprising to clean up the stock market by intelligent investing. Many Americans are saving for a variety or reasons. Many of us were taught to have a diversified portfolio to better manage risk. None of us were taught how the very institutions we use to invest our money might be colluding to steal a little bit of every stock purchase we make, whether via individual stocks or through a mutual fund or retirement savings account.

Michael Lewis has discovered more than a few dirty little secrets about investment banks and the stock markets themselves, who have joined with High Frequency Traders (HFTs) to rob little investors - and even very big investors like Fidelity, Vanguard, etc. every time they buy or purchase stock on our behalf.

The book would be worth its weight in platinum if it had merely revealed the problem. But it also offers us a solution, by telling the story of Brad Katsuyama and his band of angels who founded the Investors Exchange (IEX), which they created at personal financial sacrifice so we would have an option... an "honest broker" in every sense of the word.

I bought the book in both hard cover and CD so that I could "read" while driving to and from Stanford, and then keep reading after I got to the office and got home from work. I believe even someone who has no interest in investing has a stake in reading Flash Boys, if you have a 401 K or any kind of retirement fund. Even if you don't invest at all, chances are good that someone you love is getting screwed. Your parents, your children, your friends and neighbors. You owe it to them to read the book, warn them, and pass it on for them to read.

Michael Lewis's insight that the illicit gains of the bankers, brokers, markets and traders are a tax on free enterprise, making capital more expensive for entrepreneurs so that there will be less entrepreneurial activity, was both a shock and a call to arms. If enterprising Americans in Silicon Valley, or Seattle, or St. Louis, or Atlanta, or Miami are facing higher costs of capital in addition to higher labor costs compared with many emerging economies, the HFT system is systematically reducing our national competitiveness, and making every startup and small business riskier that they would be if we had honest capital markets.

Thank you Michael, and Brad, and all the other heroes that are identified in the book. My vote for Time Magazine person of the year for 2014 is a team... the band that brought us IEX, and the storyteller who has inspired the rest of us to put our money into markets we trust.

The last few paragraphs leave us with a mystery: Who owns the Microwave network that is faster than the fiber optic cable that runs from Chicago to New Jersey, giving its owner an unfair advantage? Is it Goldman Sachs, in a clandestine bid to outrun the front runners? Or perhaps Morgan Stanley, giving it an advantage that forced Goldman Sachs to support IEX in self defense against a rapacious rival? Or perhaps some other player that will be revealed when Michael Lewis tells his next story?

Someone ought to give Michael Lewis a free body guard service to keep him safe so he can keep on digging, and telling the rest of us what new dirty little secrets he has uncovered in the next episode in a never ending drama about financial markets, and our money.

Tom Kosnik
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Caveat Investor! Markets went awry., April 19, 2014
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Everybody is talking about this book on the Wall Street. Very readable and absorbing. Also thought-provoking. It reminds me of "rational irrationality" and "irrational rationality" of market participants. It's about a run-away market with the light speed trading technology. The HFTs (high frequency traders) are said to be abusing it taking advantage of the ill-fated regulations. My only reservation is whether the protagonists are so innocently well-intended as is depicted in this book. The Michael Lewis world is always black (evil) and white (good). This book has duly become a multi-million seller.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A cliffhanger that starts anew on the last page, April 20, 2014
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My first Michael Lewis book, it won't be the last. I had heard that high frequency trading was complex. Lewis explains the technical and psychological complexities well. No politics, no moralizing. No answers either.
Despite the efforts of intelligent and well-meaning people, we are at the mercy of complexity, secrecy, shortsightedness, ambition, and greed. It's difficult to judge whether capitalism will kill itself first, or us.
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22 of 31 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Front Running, April 3, 2014
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Looks like Amazon read Flash Boys before I did! Bought the Kindle version today as a gift and paid $9.18, they must have seen the "trade" because when I bought it for myself 8 hrs later the price jumped to $11.80! Beware of the Amazon dark pools!!
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Stock Market Gaming, May 5, 2014
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This review is from: Flash Boys (Hardcover)
Excellent story telling of what has been happening in the stock market from 2000-2013 and how we’ve all have been cheated by High Frequency Traders (HFT). But that's not the whole story, while working at Royal Bank of Canada, Brad Katsuyama discovers that the market is not being played fairly, but rather gamed by HFT, an elite group of traders who make several billion dollars a year for the companies they work for. Anyone who is interested in the stock market will enjoy this book by Michael Lewis, who has written many books over the decades about this interesting and fascinating topic.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars new perspective on the modern market, April 8, 2014
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This was an eye-opening read. Lewis draws you in with his usual style, weaving a jaw-dropping story about the modern financial markets--all the while providing real insight for the hobby investor. I feel like I finally understand, at a very high level, what dark pools are, and how they are used (and abused). You will never see the markets the same way again, ever!
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great read, May 5, 2014
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This review is from: Flash Boys (Hardcover)
For those people who heard stories from their business school friends of the insane amounts of money being spent to get microseconds closer to markets, there is finally an explanation. I had many a conversation on this topic about the race to provide "liquidity" to the market as fast as possible and never understood why. HFT may provide benefits to the making of markets, but Michael Lewis finally explains the mechanisms of this pernicious race to the bottom.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars BEFORE YOU PLACE THAT NEXT BUY ORDER..., October 11, 2014
This review is from: Flash Boys (Hardcover)
My wife and I came to Michael Lewis only recently (2013.) I spotted his name as the source for Brad Pitt's movie, Moneyball. I liked the film enormously--surprised that I did, really. I mean, a BUSINESS AND STRATEGY movie about baseball??

So, partly because my wife and I had our own (modestly) outrageous and happy experience throughout the financial crisis of 2008, we read The Big Short together (I read, she listens.) What a wonderful, funny, fascinating book THAT one is. So...on to Flash Boys.

As in the Big Short, Lewis introduces the reader to his subject through the people involved and, at times, the people themselves become the subject. This, of course, is why Lewis' books will endure while many other chronicles of the weird and wonderful financial world will not. Like The Big Short, Flash Boys transcends "timely".

So we get a "Canadian Asian guy," Brad Katsuyama--sent to Wall Street by the Royal Bank of Canada--who then realizes that the "stock exchange" most of us thought we knew is a monumental con game, a game he can't win, doesn't want to play and decides to reveal to the rest of the world...including thousands of guileless investors who are being fleeced by it. Strangely (for a group of execs soooo conservative,) his bosses allow him enormous latitude. Finally, however, he has to leave the bank if he is to follow both his heart and his head.

As before, the saga is told through the people--Brad, and his gang: Rob, Zoran, Ronan, John Schwall (maybe ESPECIALLY Schwall) and others, and one particular Russian-born computer-code genius named Sergey Aleynikov. Their backgrounds are all varied...but there is one thing they have in common: all are sufficiently motivated to leave six and seven-figure annual incomes to work for comparatively little to 'fix' Wall Street.

When the going gets tough for most readers (and it does get tough!) Lewis' summaries, metaphors and similes help us along through the incomprehensible. We get it--sort of--even if we don't understand and will never remember the technological nuances. Ahh, but the people! Wonderful bunch. Not as hilarious, perhaps, as the cast of characters in Big Short, but memorable just the same. They give you hope for humankind.

The structure of the book is fascinating, too. The beginning...and the end. And Lewis' "second jury" in Aleynikov's "second" trial...Pure genius. Finally, the book transcends its own stock market/technology underpinnings, and says something far more universal and basic about humanity. Well done.

And the market? Well, when Bernanke began his post-crisis quantitative easing, my wife and I thought the market was rigged as a result. It had become a mug's game. We didn't know the half of it, as we discover in Flash Boys. The fix was in, years before.
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Flash Boys
Flash Boys by Michael Lewis (Hardcover - March 31, 2014)
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