Senator Kaufman, who’s perhaps the biggest financial watchdog in the Senate right now, joined Jim Cramer last night on his super-popular show, Mad Money, and the pair spent about eight minutes freaking viewers out about High Frequency Trading.There’s a Wall Street gang that’s been growing high frequency trading like weed in the market! They basically say. There’s even mention of a “snitches get stiches” rule.
“High frequency trading,” as Cramer introduces it, “benefits nobody except a couple of big rich hedge fund managers, [usually] to your detriment.”
Then Kaufman comes on the show. Cramer says Kaufman was the first one to forecast that one day “the machines” would go wild. Meanwhile, says Cramer, he himself “drank the kool-aid.”
So HOW did Kaufman predict such a mass HFT cult gang and drug binge, Cramer wants to know.
“We’ve gone from where 4 years ago, 30% of our trades were HFT,” Kaufman explains. “They went to 70%. No one knows what’s going on inside here … so it grew like a gigantic weed.”
Cramer’s show speaks to, as he says, “the little guy,” “the individual investor,” who of course want HFT gone. So it makes sense that his show would cry out against it and against the “big bad banks” that are making it impossible for floor traders and day traders to compete.
So Cramer gives them a shout out and has Kaufman explain why the individual trader keeps losing against these HFT guys.
“There’s kind of a no snitch rule on Wall Street,” says Kaufman. “which is essentially like the No Snitch rule in the inner city. Nobody wants to tell the truth about what’s going on because nobody wants to make the HFT traders and the big banks upset with them.”
We need people to come forth! Says Kaufman.
But the truth is that regulators still don’t know what happened on May 6. Basically, buyers deserted the market, though there may have also been some wild an algo, which is obviously not the same as high frequency trading but often gets lumped together with it because it involves a computer.
So yeah, of course regulators could use all the help they can get from traders so they can put in place effective regulations. And maybe hyperbolizing the dangers of HFT is a way to get there faster, but everyone freaking out about it is also pitting two sets of traders against one another.
And each time, like on May 6, HFT traders seem to come out on top. So until we know for sure what happened and regulators have been “tagging” and keeping track of how and what HFT trade (Kaufman has already suggested this), the argument is futile.
But also highly entertaining! Watch:
SIDEBAR: If you want to see High Frequency Traders argue their piece, there are a bunch of HFT conferences, including one tomorrow (which I’m going to be at, moderating) in New York City. HFT traders are pretty unwilling to talk to the press since they’re always painted negatively, so conferences like tomorrow’s are a good opportunity to hear the other side of the argument, plus learn more about HFT. Check it out.