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How HFT Destroys Markets: 50 Pages Of Evidence

Back in 2009, when aside from a few insiders, nobody had heard of HFT, Zero Hedge launched its crusade to expose the algorithmic scourge that has since then caused an equity, treasury and now US Dollar flash crash, and has been the subject of a Michael Lewis bestseller and resulted in countless market halts and failures.

More importantly, there is now roughly 50 pages of just bibliography citing the evidence-based, academic research that has shown just how pervasively, maliciously and premeditatedly HFTs manipulate, destabilize, impair and otherwise destroy every single market in which they participate, and what's worse: result in incremental costs to investors, debunking the biggest lie HFTs spread about themselves - that they, being the gregarious humanist vacuum tubes they are, make trading cheaper and more accessible for the small investor.

And the biggest paradox: despite all this proof - which we urge every readers to sent to their favorite SEC regulator - America's corrupt enforcers of securities laws continue to turn a blind eye to all the crime that takes place every single day. Why? Because they collect a portion of the proceeds, of course, and because they need a scapegoat to blame once the market crashes.

We are grateful to "R. T. Leuchtkafer" who put it all together.

Some of key excerpts and findings:

This is a bibliography of resources on the capital markets, particularly on some of the negative effects of high frequency trading (HFT). Since the December 2013 edition of this document there has been an explosion of fact-based evidence on the damaging effects of HFT. This year's bibliography highlights a wide variety of academic, government, and industry data-driven research from institutions around the world, including MIT, Harvard, Princeton, the Federal Reserve Bank, the Bank of England, the University of Chicago, BlackRock, Cornell, the SEC, the European Central Bank, Yale, Cambridge, the London School of Economics, the United Nations, and many others.

 

Research listed here also explores how the most common business model employed by today’s high frequency traders - unregulated or under-regulated market making, often called “scalping” - can be abusive and disruptive. Several of these studies even predate automation.

 

Along with evidence-based research, separate sections of this bibliography include press editorials, op-eds, other commentary, and a variety of statements from government bodies and government officials from around the world about high frequency trading.

 

The bibliography begins with a brief overview of the evidence-based research. A detailed research bibliography containing over 100 studies begins on page six. Please also note various industry, academic, and government definitions of high frequency trading listed in the final section of this document, and note the special section on Michael Lewis's "Flash Boys."

 

Manipulation

 

Egginton et. al. (2012) found systematic evidence of "quote stuffing," a term coined by the market data and research firm Nanex to describe the many events it found where exchange technology infrastructure was slowed by floods of order and order cancel activity. They wrote that "We find that quote stuffing is pervasive with several hundred events occurring each trading day and that quote stuffing impacts over 74% of US listed equities during our sample period," and found that "stocks experience decreased liquidity, higher trading costs, and increased short term volatility.” Direct Edge (2013) launched a service to help its customers "mitigate the risks" of quote stuffing. Tse et. al. (2012) "present a detailed study of a variety of negative HFT strategies including examples of Quote Stuffing, Layering/Order Book Fade, and Momentum Ignition to demonstrate what bad HFT 'looks like', how often it happens, and how we detect it." Ye et. al. (2013) analyzed U.S. stock market data from 2010 and found "that stocks randomly grouped into the same [technology] channel have an abnormal correlation in message flow, which is consistent with the quote stuffing hypothesis." Industry regulator FINRA (2014) alleged a firm's high frequency trading customers employed "aggressive, potentially destabilizing trading strategies in illiquid securities." The United States Securities and Exchange Commission (2014) sanctioned a high frequency trading firm for manipulating the closing prices of thousands of stocks over a six month period.

 

Market Quality

 

Baron et. al. (2014) studied U.S. futures data and found a "winner-takes-all market structure" where "HFTs have strong incentives to take liquidity and compete over small increases in speed in an industry dominated by a small number of incumbents earning high and persistent returns." Biais and Foucault (2014) "recommend developing trading mechanisms that cate specifically to slow traders" and said "This could require regulatory intervention to overcome exchanges' conflict of interests." Kim and Murphy (2013) examined more than a decade of U.S. stock market data and found that after controlling for changes in market dynamics in that time period, market spreads were much worse than have been reported. Kirilenko and Lo (2013) surveyed the research literature and concluded that "In contrast to a number of public claims, high frequency traders do not as a rule engage in the provision of liquidity like traditional market makers." Lee (2013) analyzed Korean futures data and found that "high frequency trading is detrimental to the price discovery process." Machain and Dufour (2013) investigated U.K. stock market data and found empirical evidence for "a minimum period of time a limit order should be kept on the order book to avoid speculative practices." McInish and Upton (2012) explored U.S. equity data and wrote that "the ability of fast liquidity suppliers to use their speed advantage to the detriment of slow liquidity demanders...unambiguously lowers market quality." Yildiz et. al. (2014) "provide empirical evidence to support the theoretical predictions...that HFTs may play a dysfunctional role in financial markets." Van Kervel (2014) studied U.K. data and found that "trades are followed by excessive cancellations of limit orders, and the magnitude depends on the fraction of traders who can access several venues simultaneously" and "high-frequency traders can observe the first part of the trade and quickly cancel outstanding limit orders on other venues before the second part of the trade arrives." After analyzing U.S. stock market data, Ye et. al. (2013) concluded that speed improvements do not improve spreads but do increase cancellations and volatility. Johnson et. al. (2013) "uncovered an explosion of UEEs [ultrafast extreme events] starting in 2006, just after new legislation came into force that made high frequency trading more attractive."

And much, much more in the entire document below (link).

h/t Themis Trading and Nanex