Twenty-first century trading is conducted across continents at speeds incomprehensible to humans. Banks and high-frequency traders often brag about executing orders in milliseconds — or thousandths of a second. Just eight of those milliseconds is the time it takes for a trader to send an order or quote the 1,280km between New York and Chicago. Compare that with the average time it takes a human finger to click a mouse: a leisurely 150,000 microseconds (there are a thousand microseconds in a millisecond), and the difference becomes bewildering. But an infinitesimal advantage can mean the difference between getting the trade, or missing out — a little-known fact that became extremely well-known after the publication of Michael Lewis’s best-selling 2014 book, Flash Boys, about the world of high-frequency traders. For regulators, policing this world has become increasingly difficult. Now, sweeping European legislation will tighten the rules around high-speed trading. The changes are lea...

BL Premium

This article is reserved for our subscribers.

A subscription helps you enjoy the best of our business content every day along with benefits such as exclusive Financial Times articles, Morningstar financial data, and digital access to the Sunday Times and Times Select.

Already subscribed? Simply sign in below.



Questions or problems? Email helpdesk@businesslive.co.za or call 0860 52 52 00.