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Maybe markets are unfair, but are they rigged?

The publication of Michael Lewis’s new book Flash Boys has reignited the whole HFT/dark pool debate (actually, maybe it’s never really gone away). The point people seem to continually miss in this debate is the distinction between “unfair” and “rigged”. To me the term rigged implies some malevolent conspiracy between certain members of an ecosystem aimed at taking advantage of an identified target. In this instance,... Read More

Alpha Innovation Required

My thanks to Bill Stephenson and all at Franklin Templeton for asking me to participate in their inaugural innovation summit in Fort Lauderdale this week. The idea was to bring together a bunch of cool technology vendors and allow them to present and discuss how their particular offering helps the buy-side generate alpha. This is no trivial problem as the buy-side is having to look further and further afield (both geographically and by asset class)... Read More

The Twilight Zone

I came across the term ‘Twilight Pool’ for the first time this week. The basic idea is that it is essentially a dark pool that lights up certain pieces of information, or at certain times, in order to provide users with some idea of what is or isn’t lurking there. The advantage is that it enables participants to see if the type of liquidity they’re seeking (either in terms of name or size) is likely to be in that pool. Obvious... Read More

The Watchman’s Rattle – financial regulation in 2014

In her excellent book, ‘The Watchman’s Rattle’, Rebecca Costa explains the tendency to substitute belief for science when problems become too complicated. The first sign of this is a cognitive threshold, or gridlock, where problems are just passed down from one generation to another with an increasing emphasis on treating short-term symptoms rather than underlying root causes. Whilst the book is not aimed at the global finance industry, it certainly... Read More

Ready, SEF, go

If 2013 was the year we spent forming our responses to the new rules for the derivatives industry, then 2014 will be the year we see if we got it right. Central to this will be how liquidity is dispersed amongst the new SEF platforms that have emerged in response to Dodd-Frank Title VII. The aim of the regulators is, as always, a noble one – to make derivatives safer by forcing bilateral OTC contracts to be cleared centrally and, if possible, traded... Read More

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