December 10, 2015
I am a retail trader writing in support of IEX Group's application to become an exchange.
I first learned about IEX in Michael Lewis’s 2014 book “Flash Boys,” an expose of the predatory practices of high frequency trading (HFT) and of how the big exchanges (NYSE, Nasdaq, BATS) collude with high frequency traders by providing them with faster data and predatory order types that help high frequency traders make money at the expense of ordinary investors; the exchanges are happy to do this because high frequency traders pay the exchanges substantial data fees and exchange fees. Lewis’s book describes how IEX is on a mission to make markets fairer by combatting these predatory practices. Since reading Lewis’s book, I have been following and cheering for IEX.
I have watched as IEX’s application to become an exchange has brought out significant opposition from the established exchanges—NYSE, Nasdaq, BATS—and from high frequency trading firms like Citadel (3 comment letters!). This is telling. These institutions no doubt worry that if IEX's application is approved, it will spell the beginning of the end for the easy money the exchanges and HFT have been making at the expense of ordinary investors.
I believe that IEX's comment letters demolish the arguments of the exchanges and Citadel and show their hypocrisy, as do the almost daily studies and analyses of Eric Scott Hunsader of the market data firm Nanex, whom I (and 70,000 others) follow on Twitter (https://twitter.com/nanexllc). However, many in the trading and investing community are worried that the big money players with their army of lobbyists will lead to the SEC denying the application.
As a small retail trader, I have come to expect that the big firms and exchanges will try to rig markets in their favor. But I still retain a fundamental faith in government as an agent of justice and fairness, whose proper mission is to level the playing field and keep in check the greed of the powerful. A denial of IEX Group's application would deal a serious blow to this faith.
I implore the SEC to take a positive step toward restoring the public's eroding faith in the fairness of markets by approving IEX Group’s application to become an exchange. The SEC must ensure that markets serve the interests of *all* traders and investors, not just the exchanges and high frequency trading firms like Citadel. And please do not believe that Citadel is a proper representative of retail interests; Citadel is a representative of how markets are unfairly rigged against retail traders and investors.