Monday, April 7, 2014

Wall Street Rigged, or Is It?

If you ask the average American if the stock market is corrupt, or even "rigged" to favor the wealthy, the answer would most likely be an unequivocal "yes." However, that represents a more general attitude toward the system, rather than true knowledge that the system is designed in a biased fashion. Now, it seems, there might be legitimate evidence of such corruption. Best-selling author Michael Lewis has uncovered in his latest book Flash Boys: A Wall Street Revolt evidence that high speed traders can literally "rig" the stock market. He recently shared the basic facts with 60 Minutes.

Following the airing of the segment, Lewis also hit the talk shows to discuss his ideas and concerns.

Of course, not everyone believes there is such systemic bias and corruption. Immediately after the CBS segment aired, many Wall Street insiders and advocates quickly denounced Lewis' claims as "muckraking." Jack Bogle said "Michael Lewis Is Wrong."  Business Week said as much about the realities of high frequency trading. Now, Felix Salmon of Slate Magazine offers a detailed criticism of Lewis' book, basically arguing that Wall Street always has and always will be geared toward the wealthy.

While Lewis may be overstating the obvious - it is easier for the wealthy with access to greater resources to make money in stocks - I don't doubt or discount his concerns about what he exposed as some people legally gaming the system. It's just not right, and I am glad to hear that the government has opened investigations into the suspicions.

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