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.

Traders Poll

Are you in favor of a pilot program and examination of the rebate system by the SEC?




Free Site Registration

September 30, 2001

Faith, Hope and Charity

By John A. Byrne Editor

This is the most difficult issue Traders Magazine has ever put to press. It is not easy to compile a record of how the attacks on one of the most visible symbols of Wall Street's strength and American power, the World Trade Center, changed our lives in a sad and deeply distressing manner. On Sept. 11, hijackers committed unspeakable crimes against humanity when their planes struck the twin towers. Two other hijacked planes also followed a deadly course. At the World Trade Center, more than 5,000 people died or are officially missing, about 700 of them from Cantor Fitzgerald. The attacks took the lives of innocent people of all persuasions, Christians, Jews and Muslims as well as many other beliefs. They did not deserve this end. To suggest that this was a justified attack against so-called Western infidels does not make sense.

The U.S., with God's protection, should never have to relive this deadly moment. It is unprecedented. It is shocking. There is nothing welcome or glamorous in war. There is nothing good in war, except in its ending. The prism of time and the long lens of history may help to sanitize the human toll in any war, but it does not bring back the lives cut short.

The American people and our allies around the world were rightly horrified and angered by the attacks of Sept. 11. The enormous loss of life is difficult to comprehend. About 2,400 lives were lost at Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941 but the enemy was not faceless. In America's War of Independence about 7,000 lost their lives in the years 1776 -1781. The attack on Sept. 11 came so unexpectedly that it left many feeling numb. On a purely psychological level, we may not feel the impact for months. The attack was an exogenous' event. That's how economists clinically describe an occurrence that is unpredictable. After the 1998 financial crisis, Federal Reserve Board Chairman Alan Greenspan noted that "when events become too complex and move too rapidly, human beings become demonstrably less able to cope." His words ring true today.

Nonetheless, the people closest to our own community have demonstrated, during these difficult weeks, an amazing resilience and sense of solidarity. The trading community has mourned and grieved for lost members. It will undoubtedly take a long time for many to come to terms with their sad losses. At the same time, there is an uplifting spirit in the air as Wall Street firms, normally rivals, have put aside competitive concerns to assist each other in the physical and psychological rebuilding.

In our own efforts to cover this tragic episode, we want to do our utmost to ensure our coverage is sensitive to the grieving families and friends of the deceased and the missing. Our coverage in this issue will take a look at the events as a human tragedy and as an act that will not break the indomitable spirit of Wall Street trading. In the coming months, we would like to share memories from friends and families of the victims with our readers if that is the appropriate course. Some may, of course, ask simply for our prayers.

We do hope we can help.