Flash boys by Micheal Lewis

Flash boys by Micheal LewisMicheal Lewis never fails to deliver. He is this rare mish-mash of content and language which keeps the bibliophile intrigued and involved.

High frequency traders are the new buzz word on Wall Street and everyone who has a brokerage firm there is seeking to get hold of the fastest way possible to get an order across to do what – front running. Front running is a process by which the broker, the one person who has access to all orders coming through him for a specific stock, buys it before the information on wholesale stock buy becomes freely available for example: broker A is given an order (by his client) to buy 10 million shares of coca cola at market. Now that he knows that this enormous order will be put up on market, he buys 5 million shares on his company name and eventually his client ends up buying shares at a higher price as prices have moved up due to more demand of those shares. Today methods of front running have changed but concept remains the same and that is what Micheal explicates in his book. RBC’s rookie Brad Katsuyama sets feet on Wall Street to augment trade for his company where their brokerage/hedge fund business could be increased manifold. While at RBC, he spotted that enlisting a single massive order can only be filled through various stock exchanges. This is exploited by stock scalpers. Scalpers, sighting the order would not get filled by one single exchange, they would instead buy the securities in the other exchanges, so that by the time the rest of the large order arrived to those exchanges the scalpers could sell the securities at a higher price. All these events would happen in milliseconds not spotted by humans but distinguished by computers. Following Katsuyama’s discovery of the HFTs’ unfair trading practices he resolved to profoundly revolutionize the transactions on the stock market. He ditched RBC in 2012 to begin a neoteric stock exchange. Brad Katsuyama is the protagonist of this book who leads a team of best in class computer mavens to begin the new exchange. Interlaced with his story is story of many others who wanted this devious practice to end and conceived ways to get Wall Street get rid of this vice. By conservative estimates, high frequency estimates are making US$ 20 billion annually which would otherwise had not been made if high frequency trading was not pursued. To have the nerve to bring out such a trade practice is laudable and brands Micheal Lewis into the most feted author of our times. Mind you fellas, this is not a FYI book – this takes up an issue – an issue that robs many Wall Street investors of their hard-earned money through these unfair practices. I give it a rating of 4.8/5. Happy reading!

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