OPINION: Dark Pools Jump to Front of Regulatory Queue

Terry Flanagan

High-frequency trading has seemingly been at the front of regulators’ queue for some time now; Mary Jo White’s June 5 seismic speech at the Sandler O’Neill conference served to reinforce the notion that HFT would get first dibs from regulators.

But a couple things have happened over the summer that leads one to reasonably conclude that dark pools have overtaken HFT in the marathon of regulatory scrutiny: (1) market participants and regulators have digested the newly disseminated Finra data that showed dark pools’ average trade sizes were no better than that of exchanges; and (2) New York State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman moved against a Wall Street dark pool, not a high-frequency trader as seemed more likely given his previous statements.

It’s unlikely any shoe will drop this month, as even regulators like the SEC and CFTC seem to observe the sanctity of summer. But the near-consensus expectation is that there will be regulatory action this fall, and it will probably be announced closer to Labor Day than Christmas. And it seems like dark pools are the most likely target.

Feature image via iStock

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