Over the last two decades, there have been great technological advances made in the world of computerized trading and execution. This has allowed for the commoditization of brokerage services that has brought down the cost of trading, and increased the speed, efficiency and likelihood of quality trade executions. Trading conducted by algorithms have also opened up arbitrage and other investment opportunities that were impractical or cost prohibitive in earlier times.
As with any new technological advances, however, there is a dark side to complex automated systems. When advanced computer systems break down, or were never properly designed in the first place, trades might be executed at non-market prices destabilizing the entire market for a security. Relatively small trades entered and executed improperly can create excessive volatility. These issues affect not only the trader making the trade, but also each participant in that market. Without proper systems and controls, algorithms can take over the market to disastrous consequences, just as they did in the May, 2010 “Flash Crash”.
Likewise, nefarious and sophisticated traders use complex tools and programs to manipulate markets and to take advantage of pricing anomalies. This can take the form of “spoofing”, “quote stuffing”, “trade throughs” or other underhanded manipulative schemes, each designed to destabilize a market to the trader’s profit and others loss.
Who is responsible for losses suffered by retail investors, when computer systems run amok? Who should bear the losses when trades are executed into a manipulated market? At Shepherd, Smith, Edwards and Kantas, we have experience winning these difficult cases and obtaining recoveries for our clients. Our lawyers and staff are well versed in these subjects and have the necessary skills to breakdown complex trading issues so that juries and arbitrators can understand who was victimized and who is at fault.
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