Chip Shots by Chip Griffin

Computers and the Stock Market

I love what computers can do for our society. I’m a huge fan of using algorithms to predict behavior and save humans time and money. I have loved the stock market since I was a little kid. The fact that I can now use my web browser or cell phone to buy and sell stocks instead of talking to a stock broker personally — and save time and money at the same time — makes me very happy.

But I do have concerns about program trading and especially high frequency trading. There has long been an element of gambling in the stock market. The lessons we learned in school about the stock market being a place to buy and sell ownership in companies is only partly true. Sure, company fundamentals play a role in pricing, but so does market psychology and the influence of things like options contracts, short sellers, and more.

I haven’t done enough research to say we should eliminate high frequency trading or significantly curb computer trading, but it’s an issue that interests me greatly and one that deserves a lot of careful thought.

To that end, I’d encourage you to read this article in the New York Times that looks at high frequency trading and the effort to do something about it. Nobody wants to see another day when computer programs throw the stock market into turmoil, but we need not go back to pen and paper exclusively either.

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