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Flash Boys Hardcover – March 31, 2014
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“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
“If you read one business book this year, make it Flash Boys.”
- David Sirota, Salon
“Dazzling… guaranteed to make blood boil… riveting.”
- Janet Maslin, The New York Times
“A beautiful narrative, so well-written. You’ve got to get this.”
- Jon Stewart, The Daily Show
“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
“Michael Lewis knows how to tell a story.”
- Vanity Fair
“Remarkable… Michael Lewis has a spellbinding talent for finding emotional dramas in complex, highly technical subjects.”
- Financial Times
“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
“Score one for the humans! Critics of high speed, computer-driven trading have a new champion.”
- CNN Money
About the Author
Michael Lewis, is the best-selling author of Liar’s Poker, Moneyball, The Blind Side, and Flash Boys. He lives in Berkeley, California, with his wife and three children.
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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. Sorry for not bandying about the jargons as some would expect, my bad. As much as I tried, I seem to have failed to write in plain English and draw the analogy to a functioning market. That's where Michael Lewis' book excelled, hence my recommendation. Granted, true free market doesn't exist in the financial world (no matter where you look, New York/London/Chicago/Tokyo). Only the naive will expect any market to give all participants the same level of positioning to engage in any transaction. My favorite analogy is my local farmers' market. When I show up to buy strawberries, some farmers/dealers have way more information on the supply and demand, and have inventory to reflect their view. They will rightfully make a profit when I buy the basket of strawberries from any of them. What I don't want to see is some jerk get in the way and buy up all the strawberries just before I hand my money to the seller, then turn around and sell the strawberries to me as if he had been the seller all along. The price quoted at my farmer's stand should be the price I can buy strawberries at, not a new price some jerk just jacked up to after seeing my intention to transact. I hope the description above clears any doubt about what this book is really about. It's not about someone having some legitimate edge after doing extensive research, or illegitimate edge resulting from inside information. It is about the financial market must be well functioning and free of unnecessary intermediation. That said, still two thumbs up on the book! For those who deny the unfairness of HFT front-running, either you haven't seen it (which should disqualify you from commenting on this topic) or you are so jaded that you can't see its harm (which begs questions about your integrity). As for myself, still happily retired after a short stint in the world of finance, thank you very much! I never learned much and never enjoyed rattling off the jargons.
Amazing at what lengths financial institutions will go to make profits. Wonder what values some of these firms have other than Greed. The small investor like myself doesn't have a chance.
Having read the book, I've been mindful of the processing of my market purchase orders and have found that 9 times out of 10 they are processed at the top or above the spread.
In my opinion setting up a "black pool" in order to skim profit off of open market transactions is immoral if not illegal.Certainly profitable though! ($Billions)
Fascinating that Brad Katayama and associates have established a fairer process for individual orders to receive best possible prices at a new exchange "Investors Exchange", and that some of the big banks and financial institutions are not fully embracing the idea. Some HFT organizations are criticizing the new exchange and legally defending their processes as might be expected.
Stay tuned, I think Michael Lewis has opened the lid on some very marginal behaviors that are worthy of SEC and Government investigation. It's a very brave publication on his part.
The naysayer will tell you that high frequency trading doesn't hurt the individual investor because it's just a few pennies to them. But multiply that by all the trades done by all the individual investors over a year and now you're talking billions of dollars that have been taken out of the hands of the investors and put into the pockets of the HFTs who basically contribute nothing to the market.
It's a compelling story and well written, although I found the organization of the book to be a little disjointed at times.
I've worked in the IT industry for four decades and am intimately familiar with the networking technology discussed in the book. While Michael does an admirable job explaining the technical issues clearly and concisely, those not familiar with the technology may find those parts of the book a bit overwhelming.
It's an interesting cast of characters that come together to try and make things right in the market.