Sunday, 9 October 2016

news flash as flash boys flash crash with flashy excuses

The recent dollar to pound situation causes me to muse further on the rise of robots and control systems. Like when I asked a speech recognition system about service stops on the A1M between London and Newcastle, it gave me a fishing shop in North America.

Alexa (Amazon) still can't provide coffee house music and when I asked it (as a deliberate test) to play "Set the controls for the heart of the sun by Pink Floyd", it responded in all its dust gathering finesse with "I cannot find Set the Controls for the Heart of the Sun (Remastered 2011)", like an echo taunting me.

So it's little surprise that apparently the Flash Boys on the FX desks can't tame the algorithms used by their trading systems to keep the pound/dollar at a sensible level.

What it hides is a kind of economic destruction which is taking place in the microseconds whilst currencies are all over the place. It's years since the 'wars of the wires' when traders used to institutionally rely on shorter path lengths to exploit the microseconds to intercept and fiddle the value of stock trades.

It intrigues me that this recent pound drop was even referred to by our Chancellor as a flash crash, which is the terminology of those rogues from the days of the intercepted stock trades. High Frequency Trading, bought and sold (or sold and bought) in milliseconds.

Nowadays it's the 'algos' which get the blame. Algorithms which reputedly trade on the back of news sites and Twitter. It's all very convenient as a form of excuse. Like saying it doesn't work with Apple, the van's broken down, or it's an effect of Brexit uncertainty.

But behind it I can't help thinking there's someone making a very fast buck. Or billion bucks.

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