WHEN WAS THE LAST TIME THE FUNCTIONING OF EQUITY MARKETS MADE THE NEWS?
I don’t mean Markets Media or Traders Magazine news, for which the answer is always the most recent business day.
I mean mainstream news, like the evening news (do people still watch that?), or the New York Times home page, or Time magazine. News that’s consumed by the dentist from Des Moines, or the Main Street florist, or your grandmother.
Some may answer August 24, 2015, when markets had some hiccups amid a spike in trading volume and volatility. But that wasn’t really a big deal, and it didn’t have legs as a headline event.
Was it July 8, 2015, when the iconic New York Stock Exchange halted trading for four hours due to a software glitch? That would have been huge news 20 years earlier, but the main takeaway to this disruption was that other trading venues picked up the slack and net-net it was essentially a non-event.
The infamous Flash Boys report on 60 Minutes was in March 2014. This made news, but it was a book that chronicled the allegedly unfair dynamic of high-frequency trading in equity markets, rather than an event in itself.
In this editor’s humble opinion, the last time equity markets really made news was August 2012, when an ‘algos gone wild’ situation cost Knight Capital $440 million in less than an hour via a string of errant trades.
Of course, the ‘flash crash’ of May 2010 was a big deal, and the global financial crisis of 2008-2009 was cataclysmic, so nobody can go prior to that time as his or her answer.
But I’d go with the Knight fiasco.
Why do I take this stroll down memory lane? Well, I’m just finishing up reporting on 10 feature articles for this magazine, and a common, underlying theme is about improving the safety and soundness, and by extension the level of investor confidence, in the stock market.
For example, the Equity Market Structure Advisory Committee (see page 10) has these exact aims. Reg NMS (page 52) is being rethought with the idea of reducing market complexity and distortions. The Consolidated Audit Trail (page 16) is meant to make a safer market via better-informed regulators. Maker-taker (page 48) is under the microscope for its perceived conflicts of interest. On the political front, Wall Street types are mobilizing behind Democratic Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton (page 42), partly because she represents the status quo, and the status quo isn’t so bad.
Look, not everything is perfect, but I think most equity market folks would agree that if their profession stays out of the headlines for four years, that’s a good run. And while bad stuff can happen to anyone at any time, the enhancements, improvements and upgrades — in the works or in development — chronicled in these pages offer some confidence that the quiet times can continue.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
When was the last time the functioning of equity markets made news?
A note from outgoing Chairman Jon Schneider.
Venue operators face scrutiny into how they conduct business.
Clinton or Trump? In a very unconventional election, the Republican candidate is the one feared by Wall Street.
Market structure advisory group ramps up activity, keeps SEC busy with recommendations.
The industry is on board with the concept but troubled by some details.
Competition, fragmentation, and technology are among primary themes for listed-trading venues.
Assessing the Disclose-and-Review approach to best execution. By Andrew Upward, Weeden
High-frequency trading may not have quite gained acceptance — but at least the pitchforks have been put aside.
But will new technologies complicate the migration?
Has the nearly 20-year-old exchange pricing model outlived its usefulness?
Landmark equity-market ruleset is showing its age; how to update?
Sidelines transactions diminish already-challenged displayed liquidity.
Data fees are ridiculously expensive… at least that’s what the brokers say.