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Thursday, November 13, 2014

Let there be light reading


The temperatures are going back up again and they forecast 34 degrees for tomorrow which makes it a warm enough day to sit in the shade and read a good book.

And what better book than Flash Boys? I picked it up in an op-shop in unread mint condition but I can't imagine anybody NOT reading it as it is absolutely spellbinding! But be warned: it's not good for your blood pressure, because if you have any contact with the stock market, even through your retirement savings, this is exactly what's being done to you every trading-day of the week!

Just GOOGLE "front-running" and "wall street" and "scandal" and "high-frequency trading" to make your blood boil. Of course, it was the stock market crash of 1987 that gave rise to high-frequency trading. During that crash, Wall Street brokers simply stopped answering their phones, and small investors were unable to phone in their orders.

In response, the government regulators mandated the creation of an electronic Small Order Execution System so that the little guy's order could be sent into the market with the press of a key on a computer keyboard. As always, the smart guys quickly used the new system for purposes which had nothing to do with the little guy (read Dark Pools).

At just 265 pages, I'll finish the book in a day which means I need another one to get me through to the weekend, and I've chosen No One Would Listen which is a true financial thriller about Bernie Madoff's 65 billion Ponzi scheme. As Warren Buffet said, "You only find out who is swimming naked when the tide goes out", and it needed the financial crisis of 2008 to reveal just how inappropriately Madoff had been attired.

P.S. As soon as I've finished with "Flash Boys" and the Madoff swindle, I start on "Understanding Women" which just came out in paperback: