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Flash Boys: A Wall Street Revolt [Kindle Edition]

Michael Lewis
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2,359 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Four years after his #1 bestseller The Big Short, Michael Lewis returns to Wall Street to report on a high-tech predator stalking the equity markets.

Flash Boys is about a small group of Wall Street guys who figure out that the U.S. stock market has been rigged for the benefit of insiders and that, post–financial crisis, the markets have become not more free but less, and more controlled by the big Wall Street banks. Working at different firms, they come to this realization separately; but after they discover one another, the flash boys band together and set out to reform the financial markets. This they do by creating an exchange in which high-frequency trading—source of the most intractable problems—will have no advantage whatsoever.

The characters in Flash Boys are fabulous, each completely different from what you think of when you think “Wall Street guy.” Several have walked away from jobs in the financial sector that paid them millions of dollars a year. From their new vantage point they investigate the big banks, the world’s stock exchanges, and high-frequency trading firms as they have never been investigated, and expose the many strange new ways that Wall Street generates profits.

The light that Lewis shines into the darkest corners of the financial world may not be good for your blood pressure, because if you have any contact with the market, even a retirement account, this story is happening to you. But in the end, Flash Boys is an uplifting read. Here are people who have somehow preserved a moral sense in an environment where you don’t get paid for that; they have perceived an institutionalized injustice and are willing to go to war to fix it.

Editorial Reviews


A beautiful narrative, so well-written. You've got to get this -- Jon Stewart The Daily Show Dazzling... guaranteed to make blood boil... riveting -- Janet Maslin The New York Times Enthralling -- John Naughton Observer Michael Lewis knows how to tell a story Vanity Fair This book has the potential to spark a cultural uprising ... More than five years on from the Lehman collapse, Lewis has lit the touch paper on the mother of all debates about Wall Street and global finance -- Liam Halligan Spectator Compelling, a great yarn from beginning to end -- Daniel Finkelstein The Times When the stories of our times are told, there will be no more seminal documents than the books of Michael Lewis Guardian Who knew high-frequency trading was such a sexy subject? Bloomberg Business Week Michael Lewis is one of the premier chroniclers of our age Huffington Post Michael Lewis is a genius, and his book will give high-frequency trading a much-needed turn under the microscope -- Kevin Roose New York Magazine Flash Boys is remarkable for its moral outrage as it reveals how high-frequency traders have hoodwinked both investors and the public ... He is that rare beast: an insider who writes lucid, jargon-free prose and who never loses track of his ultimate responsibility to the story Daily Telegraph Remarkable ... Michael Lewis has a spellbinding talent for finding emotional dramas in complex, highly technical subjects Financial Times He tracks down the men who worked out what was going wrong and exposed it -- John Arlidge Sunday Times Score one for the humans! Critics of high speed, computer-driven trading have a new champion CNN Money If you own stock, you need to read Flash Boys ... and then call your broker Entertainment Weekly Important to public debate about Wall Street ... in exposing what one of his central characters calls the 'Pandora's box of ridiculousness' that financial exchanges have become -- Philip Delves Broughton The Wall Street Journal I read Michael Lewis for the same reasons I watch Tiger Woods. I'll never play like that. But it's good to be reminded every now and again what genius looks like -- Malcolm Gladwell Probably the best current writer in America -- Tom Wolfe

Product Details

  • File Size: 712 KB
  • Print Length: 289 pages
  • Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company; 1 edition (March 31, 2014)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #129 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
601 of 671 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A true snapshot in a still evolving financial world April 2, 2014
By S. Yang
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
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 buy order confirmed instantly. Likewise, if you liked the bid, you could hit it and have a sale order confirmed instantly. That instant used to be measured in seconds or less. Then came along the HFT algo. All of a sudden, a bid is no longer a firm bid, and an ask is no longer a firm ask. You can hit the bid, but instead of selling instantly, you now become the ask price, and the bid just got lowered by a penny or more, and the market is moving away from you. Most of the time, the price move is a head fake - an illusion, trying to get you to trade at a price with "scalping" built-in against you. If you are willing to stick around, the precise price you want will return and you can have your trade. But other times when execution really matters, it was all real, the price you were willing to trade at just got shifted permanently right before your eyes and somebody "front-run" you.

I decided to retire, partly out of disgust, partly out of my lack of financial ambition. I learned a while ago, if the first million can't make you happy, that you have to accumulate more, you will never be content. If you have to play the rigged game to add more riches to your money pile that most human beings will never see in their lifetime, I feel sorry for you. Life is too short for me to play that game.

Addendum: This book was written for the lay person, so was my review.
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929 of 1,228 people found the following review helpful
By Daniel
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
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 find out about a new kind of investors, the high frequency trades, and Brad "figures out" that speed is very important and that his trades are being gamed. Enraged by this, Brad decides to create an alternative trading system, ATS, that would be more "fair" to the long term investors. The book tries to accomplish 2 things:
1. tell a story in an entertaining way
2. raise flags about how to stock market is "rigged"

On (1), Michael Lewis does an ok job, although the story is forced. Some chapters have very little relation to each other. (the Sergey Aleynikov chapters for example) However, Michael Lewis is not the first to this story of HFT, and in particular Scott Patterson has a more entertaining story in his book "Dark Pools". Also, the book's entertainment value is much lower than some of Michael Lewis' other books, in particular Liar's Poker, Moneyball and The Big Short. The second part of the book is dry and it reads like a commercial for IEX. (the new ATS started by Brad)

On (2), Michael Lewis has too many wrong facts, and basically he loses credibility because of this. Moreover, the whole book is only focusing on the speed aspect of HFTs, and latency arbitrage, that's only a small part of HFTs and market making. In addition, he only presents facts that support his point and many facts where they are blatantly false.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Insight into hight frequency trading April 14, 2014
By Dr Dave
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Finally someone has written a book explaining exactly what high frequency trading is, how it is practiced, what factors enable its practice, what factors limit its practice, and its relationship to other factors in the market (for instance the claim that it provides liquidity is clearly and logically debunked). It also provides sufficient insight to enable the reader to determine whether or not the effect of high frequency traders is material in his particular situation (not so much for investors and traders with small order sizes, but significant for large investors such as mutual funds, but clearly a major contributor to high market volatility).

The book is written for a general audience, but some familiarity with investing and the stock market is helpful. Some familiarity with computers, telecommunications and basic physics is also helpful in understanding the transmission of information and the importance of very small increments of time.

While the subject can be technical, the book is written in an engaging style using examples to keep the reader interested and engaged, so that background in investment and technology, while helpful, is not necessary. Even Congress has been able to grasp the need to understand this aspect of the investment community, and perhaps to change regulation or even pursue further legal action -- largely due to the recent press surrounding this book.

While the book has been the subject of quite a bit of discussion in the financial press, I find the reports on the book and its contents to misleading and sensationalized. His message is deeper and much more nuanced than simply "The market is rigged !", that has been reported.

A must read for anyone with investments or interest in the stock market.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
Great stuff
Published 5 hours ago by Joel arc
3.0 out of 5 stars Living life ultra fast ... in slow motion
A world where one second has a million components. Where each nano second counts. Where ultra high speed traders take retain traders like me to the cleaners. Read more
Published 22 hours ago by
3.0 out of 5 stars Very technical in nature. It scares an investor into ...
Very technical in nature. It scares an investor into being very afraid about what the big guys on Wall Street are doing with our money and how they use the average and not-so... Read more
Published 1 day ago by THOMAS C MOYER
5.0 out of 5 stars Like a wreck you can't help rubbernecking
Well written, illuminating, horrifying, surprising. A thorough education on the pointlessness of so much of human endeavor. Highly, highly recommend.
Published 1 day ago by Shazlehu
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
Great revelations!
Published 1 day ago by Fred Winkerbean
5.0 out of 5 stars An Important Thriller
I liked the writing style of the author. It is concise but doe not leave out important details. It kept me wanting to learn more details. Read more
Published 1 day ago by Richard F. Bates
5.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating
Michael Lewis has taken a topic I knew nothing about and explained, with a writing style that drew me in and gave depth to the financial twists and turns of the US banking and... Read more
Published 2 days ago by Martha Conkling
5.0 out of 5 stars great book
Another example of how the big banks are taking advantage of small investors A a a a a a a
Published 2 days ago by kelly
4.0 out of 5 stars Speed Kills
After reading this book I am reminded of the tortoise and the hare. I am reminded of the mobsters of old "front-running" race results. Read more
Published 2 days ago by Harold Gillespie
4.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful read
Wonderful book, with the expected humour that blends into the writing. Also the ease is evident in the explanation of processes that might otherwise take a while to grasp.
Published 3 days ago by crgunny
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More About the Author

Michael Lewis, the author of Boomerang, Liar's Poker, The New New Thing, Moneyball, The Blind Side, Panic, Home Game and The Big Short, among other works, lives in Berkeley, California, with his wife, Tabitha Soren, and their three children.

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