Robots are killing off Wall Street’s traders
Computers have taken over the majority of trading on Wall Street and are threatening the very nature of the trading profession. Laura French asks whether traditional traders are fighting a losing battle.
Throughout most of the 20th century, robot traders would have been a mere figment of the (sci-fi film-influenced) imagination. But now they’re used by over 80 percent of trade markets, including the majority of investment banks and other big institutions, with retail trading remaining one of the only sectors still reliant on human brains. In short, the conventional trader depicted in clichéd Hollywood movies has almost completely died out, and with it the elements of risk-taking and intuition that defined the industry for hundreds of years.
Attempts at automated trading aren’t new – the Black-Scholes formula, taken up by traders when it was revealed in 1973, is proof enough that traders have long been trying to predict share prices in the most accurate and profit-reaping way possible. But computerised traders have taken it to the next level.
With these robot traders you’d expect the element of corrupt trades and dodgy dealings to disappear, but a lack of transparency continues to plague the high-frequency trading (HFT) industry, and the speed at which computers operate makes tracking individual trades nigh-on impossible without an audit trail.
Rise of the machines
Eric Hunsader from US data firm Nanex believes robot traders fiddle the market, ordering then cancelling trades just before the critical buying moment. “If the regulator fully […]