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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on 13 December 2012
It might sound strange saying this about a book on financial markets, but I found the book a real page turner. It was also very thought provoking. I'm glad I read it.

That said, the structure of the book is rather confusing. There is a narrative in there somewhere I'm sure, but it reads just like a series of (admittedly interesting) anecdotes. There are also some sections towards the end that read suspiciously like there were just inserted to get the page count up (the section on 'big data' for example). I also noticed the style of writing was a lot more tabloid than in his previous book (The Quants - which I really enjoyed). This isn't to my personal taste.

That said, it's a fascinating topic, so he gets away with the above flaws in my opinion.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on 4 February 2013
An excellent historical recount how the machines took over from people in the stock (and other) markets. It tells the stories of a handful of people who transformed the complete market despite of the wishes of the big players (i.e. the exchanges).
The title is misleading, as the book does not deal with dark pools.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on 24 July 2012
The machines apparently now have the power to pauperise us all -- or at least most of us. The message in Patterson's book is chilling -- and confirms to those who may have been wavering that stock markets are rigged, in favour of the house, with the punters perennially doomed to see their money whittled away by charges, slow execution and lack of information.

Patterson's book has echoes of Roger Lowenstein's When Genius Failed: The Rise and Fall of Long Term Capital Management and Michael Lewis's Liar's Poker (Hodder Great Reads). Stylistically it is well behind both, with Patterson's irritating business magazine punctuation and syntax doing his exposition no service. But when your mind becomes numb to the stylistic/linguistic quirks, the book is an excellent exposition of the way that the markets have changed beyond all recognition in the past twenty years. If the public were to appreciate the the way that the financial markets are now run the weight of anger might just bring the system tumbling down: here is the reason for under performing pensions and casino banking. This book and others like it have the potential to do great service: if more people read this book then maybe a better-informed public would demand change.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 29 June 2015
Having some previous interest in computer algorithms and having a doing bit of unrelated dabbling in the stock market some years ago, without understanding how it all really worked under the bonnet (or hood, even), I found this book to be an eye-opener. The author simplifies the computational aspects but I could still relate to the programs the high frequency traders were trying to operate which gave me confidence that his description of the "plumbing" of the stock markets and dark pools, of which I was previously ignorant, was also technically accurate.
A bizarre picture of the antics of stock exchanges, traders, market makers etc. either conspiring or competing to skim their slim profits of perhaps 0.01 penny off each share trade emerges. The computer pioneers in the beginning (1990's) had an altruistic aim of bypassing the delays and mild corruption problems in the old human and telephone oriented share trading system. The necessary hardware and infrastructure was gradually installed to allow this to happen, up to 2000 say, initially beneficially reducing the costs and execution time of trading. But they didn't anticipate than once the system was fully automated and the human trader finally eliminated, crafty programmers would devise and release "rogue" algorithms that would excel in all the old human trader tricks, such as front-running, only the computers could do this better and millions of times faster. This action typically operated in the new dark pools that the public could not access. Finally the whole system has now became so complicated that no one really understands exactly what is going on.

The historical narrative of how numerous companies and individuals in the field flowered from the 1990's to circa 2011 is a blizzard of facts, names, meetings and dates which, I suppose, goes with the territory. The author tries to emulate the personal descriptive style of, say, an Ian Fleming or John Grisham novel but it's not clear that this works 100% with his diverse and fleeting range of characters. Nevertheless in spite of, or maybe because of it, the book is thoroughly readable and interesting throughout.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
This book is a quick read and makes a nice companion to Flash Boys which deals with the later period of electronic trading.
It begins with smaller traders spotting a technological edge - trading directly electronically. Levine is the technical genius for one of the firms. It then digresses onto Artificial Intelligence and Genetic algorithms used to develop better trading strategies than humans can develop unaided.

It generally good journalistically and makes for an exciting read but fails to give much of a technical explanation of why The Island system was better than others - why was its availability better? Scott Patterson isn't technical.
The book would benefit from someone that understood both the technology and the markets.

Nevertheless a good history of the origins of High Frequency trading, worth a read.
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on 31 October 2015
Nowhere else was the transformational power of technology illustrated in a better way than in the area of Finance. Paterson extends his elegant review through a very lively historical account of the most recent events in the world of trading from the early 00s till 2012; the theme is that of HFT and how this ultimately transformed in the mostly unpredictable manner, the very markets it was built to serve. Taking the reader through the personal journeys of key figures in HFT, Paterson explains in the clearest way possible how the rules of the game were altered and ultimately delivered a new type and typology of trading in the hands of, not anymore the market experts, but quants and computer scientists. A vivid and compelling story of the irrational and even absurd construction of markets to serve the newly-discovered technological capability to generate value by introducing new previously unthought of parameters of markets' "plumping" as against their fundamental structure.
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on 4 July 2015
I think it covers a lot of themes which are not mentioned by the FLASH BOY from Michael Lewis. It's helpful as a reminder to today's investor and strategist to not forget the quants driver behind. Nevertheless, too many unnecessary narratives seem only aim make story horrible and simply to impress innocent readers about the greedy far as I see, the author has not learnt how to be greedy in this space though morally we stand against that....

Excellent reading includes: The beginning of the book about how the option trader found he's been ripped off; the entrepreneur part about how Levine fighter other vested interests....the second part are not conclusive and just written to scar people, I would say.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
TOP 1000 REVIEWERon 11 October 2014
Written before Micheal Lewis got in on the act to cover this topic.

Dark Pools and the computer dominated trading involved ought to be a matter of some concern.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 8 November 2012
I gave up holding shares some 10 years ago because I clearly did not have the necessary knowledge or information.

I now understand why.
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on 5 February 2015
This book has been very frustrating. The plot is good and the author has developed a good narrative. There is also good material in there as well. The problem, and it is a big problem, is the author's style of writing, limited vocabulary and insistence on writing in the vernacular. The relentless and often primitive embellishment of simple statements in an attempt (misguided) to generate drama becomes irritating and tiresome after only a few pages.
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