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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October 1, 2012

It's About Traders

By Tom Steinert-Threlkeld

Since 1990, the number of shares traded on national exchanges has gone from 300 million a day, to 4 billion a day, in August.

That's a big drop. Last August, 7.6 billion shares got traded every day. [IMGACAP(1)]

Which is to say: Rapid change now defines this industry. As Gregory Bresiger notes in his cover story on Gus Sauter ("Mr. Limit Order," page 24), the retiring chief investment officer of Vanguard, the number of exchanges in that time has expanded from a handful to 12. And the cost of trading has fallen 70 percent.

Tom Steinhert-Threlkeld

But this magazine and its Web site is not about trading. Roughly two-thirds of all trading now is handled by automated instructions. Algorithmic trading is at the heart of what the business of buying and selling shares is now about.

The algorithms are the embodiment of the brains of the people who write them. They are the distilled wisdom of ... traders. And it is still traders and trading professional that will make or break this industry. Indeed, we've seen all too often this year what happens when code by itself runs amok, as Peter Chapman so clearly explicated in last month's cover, "Glitch!"

When it comes to change and explaining how this industry works and why it matters, Michael Scotti has been at the forefront of this, to be sure.

Since he became editor of this magazine first in the 90's and again May 2005, Michael has displayed the smarts of a trader and the soul of a journalist.

He has both, having worked at newspapers early on and later working as director of client relations at NYSE member firm KV Execution Services. This issue of Traders Magazine is Michael's last. All of us at the magazine, and at SourceMedia, are grateful for the countless ways he helped build this brand and community around it into what they are today.

As in trading itself, however, change is a constant. And the task of aiming this ship toward its future falls on my shoulders, and those of my colleagues, whose names you can find on the masthead nearby.

We all share in this task. But this is not about trading or Traders Magazine. It's about bringing the best minds and the greatest talent in this industry together.

It's about traders. It's about you. It's about bringing insight and ideas from each of you to each of you. So all ships run at full sail, not just Gus Sauter's and Vanguard's.

I'm at tom.steinert@sourcemedia.com. The inbox is always open. Just press "send."

 

TST

Tom Steinert-Threlkeld

Editorial Director