September 19, 2009
Flash trading has to be regulated, or better yet, stopped. I own a small business and manage my own porfolio flash trading creates a two-tiered stock market...and two-tiered opportunities. Make it a level playing field where people can manage their own money based on the values of good companies. Haven't we learned anything from the past 2 years about greed and building a good business over time versus making a quick dollar at everyones expense. I attach quotes from John Mauldin:
How Can Just Four Stocks Be 40% of the NYSE Volume?
Before I hit the send button, a brief comment on a very odd market happening. It appears that recently up to 40% of the volume in the NYSE is in just four low-priced financial stocks. "According to Reuters, four beaten-up financial companies - Bank of America (BAC), Citigroup (C), Fannie Mae (FNM), and Freddie Mac (FRE) - have accounted for upwards of 40 percent of the trading volume on the New York Stock Exchange to begin this week."
The stocks are basically churning in price. Why is this? There are a lot of theories, so let me offer one of my own. I think it has a lot to do with flash trading. As I wrote in a previous letter, with high-frequency program trading hedge funds and sophisticated brokers can make as much as 0.5 cents buying and selling a share of stock at breakeven. Supposedly, the exchanges pay these premiums for adding liquidity. But we are seeing liquidity in stocks where none is needed.
The SEC announced this week that they are going to look into halting these programs. Good. It can't come too soon. Allowing certain funds and brokers to basically front-run the average fund or individual because they have their servers on the actual trading floor is just wrong. This must stop. And if program trading is actually driving the volume in these four names, it needs to be stopped as soon as possible.
Candidly, I have no way of knowing what the true reason for the volume is. Maybe it is something simple and innocent. But I am deeply suspicious. I doubt it's people buying Bank of America, which has seen its volume as high as 238 million shares, or Citi at 973 million shares, in ONE day This for stocks that are severely financially impaired? Someone needs to be on top of this. As in Monday.