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December 14, 2009

Washington Strikes Back

Regulatory Moves by Congress and the SEC Dominated the Year 2009

By Michael Scotti

Whether you were a trader in 2009 or an investor, the highs and lows were enough to give anyone an excuse to reach for the medicine cabinet. The markets crashed big time in the first quarter, and rebounded from early March to early November by about 55 percent. At presstime, the Dow Jones Industrial Average was up roughly 16 percent for the year.

Besides the market's wide mood swings and the conviction of Ponzi-scheme artist Bernard Madoff, who received a 150-year sentence, it was really the year of the regulator-and for the regulator's overseer, Congress. Politicians injected themselves into a number of trading questions relating to order types, trading styles and venues, like dark pools. Many in the trading industry scratched their heads in disbelief when some critics took positions on complex trading issues, wondering if these pundits knew their high-frequency trade from their flash order. The critics included Congress, editorial commentators and the investing public.

Still, it was Securities and Exchange Commission Chairman Mary Schapiro and her staff who had their hands full. All the buzzwords in '09--like high-frequency trading, co-location, flash orders, dark pools and short selling--fell into their lap and needed to be addressed. The SEC is expected to issue a concept release on some of these issues. Against this backdrop, Traders Magazine presents its top stories of 2009.  


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