Commentary

Tim Quast
Traders Magazine Online News

We're All HFTs Now

In this guest commentary, author Tim Quast looks back at the history of HFT and how the market has evolved to where many firms now fit the definition of high-frequency trader.

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March 1, 2001

Survivor in South America

By Bridget McCoy

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  • Survivor in South America

After two years of trading OTC Bulletin Board stocks for GVR Company in Chicago I made a decision: It was time to leave. Not just leave trading but to leave life as I knew it.

It had been two whirlwind years. I had watched the business explode, learned a great discipline and had been part of a great team. I knew I had been very lucky but, for me, the thrill I had experienced in trading had died.

So, in the middle of December, with the support of my firm, I left on a three-month adventure vacation to South America.

I was afraid I wouldn't be able to leave the market behind on my three month trek through Peru, Bolivia, Argentina and Brazil. I compulsively read Investors Business Daily and The Wall Street Journal every day. Even during the two weeks I spent in Los Angeles before I left the country, I checked the market, read my papers, kept track of my favorite stocks and called my broker daily. I didn't know what was ahead of me and my head was still in the market.

Group Travel

My trip started off well enough. I arrived in Lima, Peru, got to my hotel safely and met the other twelve people with whom I would be traveling. We were an international group: Canadians, Australians, English, Swiss and German. We were also young and bonded quickly as we spent many late nights and early mornings together.

The first couple of weeks of the trip were spent in small towns: Pisco, Nazca, Arequipa, Chivay. We worked our way from the west to the east. We hiked, visited Incan ruins and burial grounds, enjoyed surfing sand dunes, white water rafting, horseback riding, eating, drinking and laughing the whole way.

The landscape was beautiful. Desert from the west to lush, tropical mountains as we headed east. By the second week I considered every member of our group a good friend, only at this time I didn't realize how important this would be.

One of the highlights of the trip was a four-day hiking trip to Machu Picchu, a lost Incan city. No problem, I thought. I'm in good shape and loved camping when I was younger. We would have a guide and porters and I was sure the scenery would be beautiful and the hike relaxing. I was dead wrong. The hike to Machu Picchu turned out to be one of the most challenging and rewarding things I had ever done. I thought I was disciplined as a trader. I didnt know what discipline was.

Day one of the hike was 16 kilometers (about 10 miles). The mountains were beautiful.

Waterfalls were everywhere and, at least in the morning, the weather was fine. We stopped for lunch at around noon. The porters who carried all our tents, equipment and food on their backs had lunch ready for us by the time we reached the patch of grass by the river that was our rest stop. We had soup, pasta and, for dessert, pudding. It was delicious and even a bit luxurious.