High-Frequency Trading Rebates Under Scrutiny in Senate
Comment of the Day

June 17 2014

Commentary by David Fuller

High-Frequency Trading Rebates Under Scrutiny in Senate

Here is the opening for this informative article from Bloomberg:

U.S. stock exchanges and one of the world’s largest mutual fund companies called for greater public disclosure or elimination of obscure incentives and fees that lawmakers said favor the interests of high-speed traders over other investors.

Executives from Intercontinental Exchange Inc., owner of theNew York Stock Exchange, Bats Global Markets Inc., IEX Group Inc. and Vanguard Group Inc. told the Senate’s Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations that rebate fees and payments to brokers for orders should face greater regulatory scrutiny. High-frequency traders now account for about half of U.S. stock trades.

“We are seeking support for the elimination of maker-taker pricing and the use of rebates,” said Thomas Farley, president of the NYSE Group. “Broad adoption of this policy would reduce the conflicts inherent in such pricing.”

Senator Carl Levin, the Michigan Democrat who leads the panel, called the hearing to examine conflicts of interest embedded deep in the plumbing of equity markets that he said are leading to the erosion of investors’ trust and confidence.

“Conflicts of interest damage investors and markets -- first, by depriving investors of the certainty that brokers are placing the interests of their clients first and foremost, and second, by feeding a growing belief that the markets are simply not fair,” Levin said at the hearing.

Brad Katsuyama, president and chief executive of IEX and Robert Battalio, professor at the University of Notre Dame, told the committee that the government should consider forcing greater transparency of market data and incentives.

“There’s been no attempt by the market to solve this issue,” said Katsuyama, a central character in Michael Lewis’s bestselling book “Flash Boys” for his efforts to limit predatory trading strategies. “Therefore the government would be very helpful in helping the industry to coordinate.”

David Fuller's view

In addition to this article, you will also see a list of Related Videos, including “Katsuyama, Battalio on High-Speed Trading (Q&A)” the second one listed.  It is nearly an hour long, so you may only want to listen to the last three minutes in which Brad Katsuyama talks about the “principal based issue” of fairness and a level playing field to restore confidence in the markets.

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