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A news-breaking account of the global stock market's subterranean battles, Dark Pools portrays the rise of the "bots"- artificially intelligent systems that execute trades in milliseconds and use the cover of darkness to out-maneuver the humans who've created them. In the beginning was Josh Levine, an idealistic programming genius who dreamed of wresting control of the mark A news-breaking account of the global stock market's subterranean battles, Dark Pools portrays the rise of the "bots"- artificially intelligent systems that execute trades in milliseconds and use the cover of darkness to out-maneuver the humans who've created them. In the beginning was Josh Levine, an idealistic programming genius who dreamed of wresting control of the market from the big exchanges that, again and again, gave the giant institutions an advantage over the little guy. Levine created a computerized trading hub named Island where small traders swapped stocks, and over time his invention morphed into a global electronic stock market that sent trillions in capital through a vast jungle of fiber-optic cables.   By then, the market that Levine had sought to fix had turned upside down, birthing secretive exchanges called dark pools and a new species of trading machines that could think, and that seemed, ominously, to be slipping the control of their human masters. Dark Pools is the fascinating story of how global markets have been hijacked by trading robots--many so self-directed that humans can't predict what they'll do next.


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A news-breaking account of the global stock market's subterranean battles, Dark Pools portrays the rise of the "bots"- artificially intelligent systems that execute trades in milliseconds and use the cover of darkness to out-maneuver the humans who've created them. In the beginning was Josh Levine, an idealistic programming genius who dreamed of wresting control of the mark A news-breaking account of the global stock market's subterranean battles, Dark Pools portrays the rise of the "bots"- artificially intelligent systems that execute trades in milliseconds and use the cover of darkness to out-maneuver the humans who've created them. In the beginning was Josh Levine, an idealistic programming genius who dreamed of wresting control of the market from the big exchanges that, again and again, gave the giant institutions an advantage over the little guy. Levine created a computerized trading hub named Island where small traders swapped stocks, and over time his invention morphed into a global electronic stock market that sent trillions in capital through a vast jungle of fiber-optic cables.   By then, the market that Levine had sought to fix had turned upside down, birthing secretive exchanges called dark pools and a new species of trading machines that could think, and that seemed, ominously, to be slipping the control of their human masters. Dark Pools is the fascinating story of how global markets have been hijacked by trading robots--many so self-directed that humans can't predict what they'll do next.

30 review for Dark Pools: High-Speed Traders, A.I. Bandits, and the Threat to the Global Financial System

  1. 5 out of 5

    Kasey

    Upfront disclaimer. I work in the industry critiqued by this book. Lets start with the good of this book. Patterson does a good job creating an entertaining narrative, telling the early days of electronic trading. While he isn't Michael Lewis, he does a passable run at the genre. The characters he introduces are interesting and he makes what could be a very boring subject easy to read about. The parts of this book where he talks about the early days of Datek and the Island electronic trading netw Upfront disclaimer. I work in the industry critiqued by this book. Lets start with the good of this book. Patterson does a good job creating an entertaining narrative, telling the early days of electronic trading. While he isn't Michael Lewis, he does a passable run at the genre. The characters he introduces are interesting and he makes what could be a very boring subject easy to read about. The parts of this book where he talks about the early days of Datek and the Island electronic trading network are excellent. The story of how some very smart guys, with some very disruptive technology took on and beat one of the biggest good old boys networks in the world, is compelling and interesting. Now for the bad. The first and most glaring problem with this book is that it is often factually incorrect. Not just with esoteric complicated details, but with basic easy to understand concepts. For instance he incorrectly describes how limit orders work. These are the most basic type of order in trading and have been around for decades. The book is clearly biased against modern electronic trading, and really that isn't a big deal. It makes for a clear narrative, and because the bias is so obvious it doesn't feel underhanded even when the author uses sensational names for, what at the end of the day, are just computer programs. The real problem is that it appears that the main source for the authors "insider" information are people who were in electronic trading, but weren't very good at it. The story of the "abusive" order types is simply unbelievable. Here is an algo trader, whose strategy is highly sensitive to order execution, trading on complicated specialist electronic venues, who doesn't know about the order types they offer? Either that person is nearly criminally idiotic, or more likely, they are using those order types as an excuse to hide the more serious problem that their strategy is no good. The author also gets lazy, bringing out the old straw men about the "average investor" being hurt, or whale orders being picked off. If he is talking about the middle income family with money in their 401k, there has never been a better time for them to invest in the stock market. Between large portfolio ETFs and broad index mutual funds (the only things the "average investor" should be in) the risk and cost have both gone down, at the same time as the world has become more volatile. The big fund managers are getting squeezed by the fact that they don't add much value, much more than by HFT. And big orderers can't have their cake and eat it too. The act of buying or selling a whole bunch of anything will change it's price. Those big orderers get to prepare ahead of time before they do it, and make a profit on this insider information. To also get to have perfect execution defies the laws of the market and would be worse for the "average" person. In the end, the most disappointing thing about this book is that it hardly addresses the true problem with the markets these days. That is, why have we as a society set up a system where the best and brightest are rewarded most for what is essentially high speed poker? It's not a problem that some HFT firm is getting to make some money for providing liquidity to the market, its a problem that they hired half of MIT & Stanford to do it. A book exploring if and how we change the incentives for those really bright guys would be a welcome addition to the discussion. This is just a good if not terribly accurate yarn.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Alex Givant

    Are you planning to buy/sell stocks on market? Read this book, so you just understand what you're facing!

  3. 4 out of 5

    Chris

    hard to cut through the fluff to get to the facts, and the author's repeated breathless use of impressive-sounding facts ("7 *trillion* bytes") without context and meaningless but emotionally charged terms (just what is a "hunter-killer bot" is never explained) harms his credibility

  4. 5 out of 5

    Ptwest25

    Please applaud Scott Patterson, a daily newspaper journalist, for making the leap into book publishing. He stands above his colleagues for completing the marathon. “Dark Pools” is an accomplishment that must be praised for shedding light on a difficult topic to visualize. But the book is a flawed product. Patterson’s book struggles to clearly express the harm deep within the plumbing of stock trading. First the title is misleading. Dark pools are a just venue for financiers who make money on the b Please applaud Scott Patterson, a daily newspaper journalist, for making the leap into book publishing. He stands above his colleagues for completing the marathon. “Dark Pools” is an accomplishment that must be praised for shedding light on a difficult topic to visualize. But the book is a flawed product. Patterson’s book struggles to clearly express the harm deep within the plumbing of stock trading. First the title is misleading. Dark pools are a just venue for financiers who make money on the buying and selling of stocks regardless of the underlying companies. People like Warren Buffett make money by buying and selling stocks they bet will be worth more in the future. When Buffett and the rest of us trade stocks, there are financiers who use superfast trading algorithms to profit from the transaction. Dark pools are a venue for this. Patterson writes broadly about the plumbing of stock trading, its financiers and the regulators who have tried to tame them. So the reader is confused before she flips open the cover. Part of Patterson’s problem is his subject matter. The plumbing of stock trading is not visual. There’s no material for Patterson to launch into vivid descriptions and give the reader something to see. Patterson’s analogies help and he is good a breaking apart the pipes and codes to explain how systems work. But another problem is that Patterson’s characters are pretty boring human beings. There is no way to tell if the guys Patterson writes about (and they are almost all men) were any different from bankers cooking up mortgage-backed securities. Also, he focuses on too many characters. He jumps quickly from character to character leaving the reader unsure which ones to invest effort in understanding. Patterson does not help himself by delivering the reader a familiar story structure. What’s the angle here? Overcoming the monster? Quest? Rags to riches? If Patterson framed his book as a story instead of a chronological notebook dump, there would be greater reading pleasure. I’m certain the book would have sold better too. Patterson also struggles to tell the readers how any of this stuff hurts them. Dark pools sound spooky and the financiers he writes about are hyenas who will eat each other, the American taxpayers or a wounded orphaned puppy indifferently. But who lost money as a result of dark pools and high frequency trading? Who is hurt by the speed traders and dark pools? Patterson finally addresses the problem on page 276. “Mom-and-pop investors innocently believed the stocks they owned were their stocks – not fizzing electronic bits of information to be toyed with by whiz kids running supercomputers. They had already seen Wall Street destroy trillions during the credit crisis in the previous few years. Now the math geniuses were tampering with the holdings in their 401(k)s.” This paragraph says why dark pools and speed trading can be nefarious. This message gets lost in Patterson’s book. While “Dark Pools” does an admirable job shedding light on the issue, it fails to shed light on the problem. Further, the book lacks a narrative structure that would have made the reading more enjoyable.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Hugh Ashton

    I'm giving this five stars - an honour I bestow on very few books. This is one of the scariest books I have read, as it explains the sham that is the financial industry today in some detail, in a way that can be understood by anyone prepared to exercise a little thought. You can probably criticise this book on matters of small detail (misunderstanding of technical terms, over-focus on personalities, the fictitious "fly on the wall" style, etc.). Such criticisms miss the main thrust of the book, I'm giving this five stars - an honour I bestow on very few books. This is one of the scariest books I have read, as it explains the sham that is the financial industry today in some detail, in a way that can be understood by anyone prepared to exercise a little thought. You can probably criticise this book on matters of small detail (misunderstanding of technical terms, over-focus on personalities, the fictitious "fly on the wall" style, etc.). Such criticisms miss the main thrust of the book, which explains principles, rather than attempting to be a "how-to" handbook for the HFT wannabe. High-frequency trading (HFT) and the growth of private exchanges, and "dark pools" (where the details of transactions are not made public, except to a select few), along with the co-location of servers close to exchange matching engines, have all cost the average pension fund billions of dollars. And where's the money going? To the "traders", who sit behind the screens designed by (often Russian) techno-geniuses, who constantly find ways to game the system, without even knowing exactly why they are gaming the system. I read this back-to-back with Michael Lewis' Flash Boys: A Wall Street Revolt, which takes a slightly different look at the same phenomenon. However, both look at the same basic idea - an attempt to make the business of equity trading (though it also applies to other securities) more transparent. In this story, though, it was clear that the first HFT system was doomed to be exploited by unscrupulous firms who used the technology in ways that were never intended, and instead of an open system, the US financial services industry descended into a morass of incomprehensible technology and double-speak. Highly recommended if you want to see one reason why the global economy is where it is today.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Melinda

    There was so much information in this book I had to back and reread parts of it...and even so I still don't think I understood all of it. What a crazy, complex, sneaky, speedy life those traders and their algorithms and computers lead. I found this book equal parts fascinating and horrifying. I'm all for computers and machine learning, but some of this stuff is scary. So much research must have gone into this book. Most of the info and concepts were explained well so that I - the dumb layman cou There was so much information in this book I had to back and reread parts of it...and even so I still don't think I understood all of it. What a crazy, complex, sneaky, speedy life those traders and their algorithms and computers lead. I found this book equal parts fascinating and horrifying. I'm all for computers and machine learning, but some of this stuff is scary. So much research must have gone into this book. Most of the info and concepts were explained well so that I - the dumb layman could mostly understand...but given I am not in the business, nor am I a mathematician, so there was a lot that I just don't think I would ever fully understand (but that's on me, not the author!) All that aside - this was a grand read, I followed it pretty well and felt like I learned a fair bit about this topic along the way.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Gary Beauregard Bottomley

    The author covers the material so well that even for those who aren't interested in the development of electronic trading will find the story an exciting read. He puts the context around the development and has written the definitive history on the subject. I'm a big fan of "The Singularity is Near" by Ray Kurzweil and I thought a lot of his telling of the story was influenced by Ray Kurzweil's thinking on AI and such. Near the very end of the book the author brings up Kurzweil and his thinking. The author covers the material so well that even for those who aren't interested in the development of electronic trading will find the story an exciting read. He puts the context around the development and has written the definitive history on the subject. I'm a big fan of "The Singularity is Near" by Ray Kurzweil and I thought a lot of his telling of the story was influenced by Ray Kurzweil's thinking on AI and such. Near the very end of the book the author brings up Kurzweil and his thinking. He really didn't fit into the story's arc, but I took it as an ode to Kurzweil. I warn you. The book will give you a queasy feeling in your stomach because he documents so thoroughly how the HST (high speed traders) are systematically taking money away from us because there is not a level playing field for small players like us who invest through our mutual funds or individual stocks and ETFs.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Matan

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. The SOES bandits with Josh Levine at the helm take on the antiquated insider blue blooded good ol boys exchanges at the Nasdaq and NYSE. only to triumph and become the evil they sought to destroy. Instead of an insider market maker system they created a brain stealing industry that spends billions on optimising milliseconds. A technorati elite that competes in Gflops. Josh Levine started an arms race. That culminated today in the creation of a market so disconnected from its roots that it bears l The SOES bandits with Josh Levine at the helm take on the antiquated insider blue blooded good ol boys exchanges at the Nasdaq and NYSE. only to triumph and become the evil they sought to destroy. Instead of an insider market maker system they created a brain stealing industry that spends billions on optimising milliseconds. A technorati elite that competes in Gflops. Josh Levine started an arms race. That culminated today in the creation of a market so disconnected from its roots that it bears little resemblance. As Scott likes to say. Mom and pop players have no game in this business anymore (day trading. Not value investing mind you). I enjoyed the technical bits even though they were often simplified. The fact everything was named correctly enabled me to follow up rather easily. We came a long way from the days of the Monster key.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Jeremy Stock

    We live in an era of fraud in America. - Michael Lewis This excellent detailed account of the rise of high frequency trading reminds us yet again that human nature hasn't changed. Selfish ambition still holds sway. The only question I have is what am I to do about it when thinking of my own investment for the future?

  10. 4 out of 5

    Brian Egger

    Much of the ground covered by Flash Boys, its better-known high-frequency trading counterpart, was first addressed in this book.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Mike

    It started off well, wandered around a bit, found its theme again toward the end, and ultimately left no impact whatsoever.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Kang Ren

    This book helped to shine the light on how HFT operates: 1) spoofing - placing fake orders that will be retracted before they ever get hit, to trick other algos into thinking there's a whale. Such algos are called predatory / hunter seekers, as they try to fake out other algos. 2) 0+ scalping - if there's enough "market depth" (liquidity) and the trader is the fastest and thus able to get his buy or sell order filled over other players, it's possible to do a riskless trade that never loses money ( This book helped to shine the light on how HFT operates: 1) spoofing - placing fake orders that will be retracted before they ever get hit, to trick other algos into thinking there's a whale. Such algos are called predatory / hunter seekers, as they try to fake out other algos. 2) 0+ scalping - if there's enough "market depth" (liquidity) and the trader is the fastest and thus able to get his buy or sell order filled over other players, it's possible to do a riskless trade that never loses money (hence the name). Since if the market is moving against the trader who has a buy position, he can always shed his position with no loss by selling to the next order since he would be the fastest. And the money making part comes in when there is a real buyer, then being the fastest the trader can push the price up and force the buyer to pay a higher price. 3) Typically HFT algos never hold a position for more than a few seconds. If they detect that the price is moving upwards, their buy and sell orders will move up to ride the wave, but the buy orders will move up slower than the sell orders or they might be left hanging when the tide suddenly changes. 4) With the maker taker fee structure, HFT do not necessarily need to make money on their trade, as they can profit from simply providing liquidity. 5) Much of the information of where the market is moving up or down comes from the exchanges who provide order flow information to the HFT firms, as they want their business and the liquidity they provide. The book also includes some history on how exchanges evolved to where they are today like maker-taker fee structure, direct execution of trades between users. It's quite mind boggling to realize that not as long as 40 years back we still had human market makers on an electronic system! There's a segment on new hedge funds that make use of machine learning to derive signals to buy and hold stocks, which is much more interesting than the predatory way that HFT firms makes their money. Bonus: a few anecdotes on James Simon of Renaissance Technology fame.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Pat Murphy

    For a fair amount of time I was reading books about investing and money for obvious reasons. Anyway, I have slowed down on that. However, I still have some books I picked to read still on my Goodreads "want to read" list. Thus, this Dark Pools book. Goodread's blurb about what the book is about is a good intro. Basically it is the story of computers introduction to trading or investing in stocks etc. The characters are interesting. I think the book is well written. By that I mean it is not diffi For a fair amount of time I was reading books about investing and money for obvious reasons. Anyway, I have slowed down on that. However, I still have some books I picked to read still on my Goodreads "want to read" list. Thus, this Dark Pools book. Goodread's blurb about what the book is about is a good intro. Basically it is the story of computers introduction to trading or investing in stocks etc. The characters are interesting. I think the book is well written. By that I mean it is not difficult to read. The writing doesn't use a lot of terminology that is unknown to the average reader who may not know stock investment words. Also it is written in an interesting fashion. The characters are well described and in an interesting fashion, a little color describing personality. The story itself held interest for me because the investment world is interesting to me. I think it is an interesting read, but someone who has no interest in the investing world would probably not enjoy it in my opinion.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Robert Martin

    Probably should be read by anyone interested in quant finance. Dark Pools is like a detailed follow up to Flash Boys, but with more of an emphasis on the fascinating concept of evolution in the markets, as algorithms fight against one another to scalp pennies off trades. Interesting how some or the chief architects of the current system, motivated by the desire to make markets more transparent, ultimately ended up regretting their contributions to the HFT world of today.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Lucas

    There are a number of problems with this book that could have been solved by an author with greater technical understanding but the subject matter was interesting and novel to me enough to warrant a higher rating. Half the major issues with high frequency trading seem like they would be solved by eliminating (through law) the maker taker fees. Both parties to a trade would pay the same fee to the exchange and the incentive to spend a lot of resources making money from being the 'maker' would go There are a number of problems with this book that could have been solved by an author with greater technical understanding but the subject matter was interesting and novel to me enough to warrant a higher rating. Half the major issues with high frequency trading seem like they would be solved by eliminating (through law) the maker taker fees. Both parties to a trade would pay the same fee to the exchange and the incentive to spend a lot of resources making money from being the 'maker' would go away. We'd still have HFT but at least the point of it would be to make money from stocks actually increasing or decreasing in value (or disparities between exchanges/markets). The writing is too sensational. Colorful analogies abound that don't really explain much. Use of 'algo' for algorithm is annoying, this is more acceptable if the people interviewed for the book use the term but not if it is just the author. Overuse of 'artificial intelligence' for what appear to be relatively simple heuristical systems, though it is likely proprietary info and details the author didn't understand or didn't think reader will understand were left out. Another likelihood is the people in the book having been misusing that term themselves to market their software and trading companies. Depending on answer to above it seems like a lot of money and brain power is being spent on not very smart systems, though the latter part of that may be changing now. I don't think Wall Street is that attractive to the best engineers, so maybe it isn't all that much lost brain power either. Even if money is a huge concern then developing stock trading systems might make someone a millionaire, but this can't compete with the possibility of becoming a billionaire via startups and venture capital in Silicon Valley. AI applied to the stock market is interesting, but not very fruitful compared to AI to solve tractable problems. It will happen but is also a never ending arms race that reaches a sort of steady state when all profits are consumed by computing and software development costs. Raid array of hard drives in a single computer is described as distributed computing. The big data chapter is most interesting and efforts seem mostly unsuccessful, though I think it would take a very large investment to bear fruit. One company in the field which is actually making money is described as doing software driven Buffet-like value investing, which is intriguing. The roi wasn't that high however. A lot of money tied up in value investing with software that is less expensive than paying hedge fund managers who want big bonuses might bring more stability to the market. What looked to be failing was the attempt to feed the entirety of the internet into a giant machine learning black box that would then make stock choices. There ought to be a way do this successfully but it might take billions to only make millions. Is there a day-trading equivalent for HFT and software driven investing? Allow the little guy to do anything from writing simple spreadsheet rules to buy or sell at certain points, or interface directly with dark pool APIs on Amazon EC2 instances that are running on server clusters located near exchanges?

  16. 5 out of 5

    Vagabond of Letters, DLitt

    Some interesting information not present elsewhere mixed with outright error by an author with a talent for writing the form of narrative history. References and citations, even a bibliography or list of sources, is nonexistent. Many parts read more as rehashed newspaper headlines (and articles?) than well-written history. When the author speaks of subjects I have knowledge of, he often demonstrates a deep misunderstanding bordering on incompetence: too many stories are, I think, repeated by the Some interesting information not present elsewhere mixed with outright error by an author with a talent for writing the form of narrative history. References and citations, even a bibliography or list of sources, is nonexistent. Many parts read more as rehashed newspaper headlines (and articles?) than well-written history. When the author speaks of subjects I have knowledge of, he often demonstrates a deep misunderstanding bordering on incompetence: too many stories are, I think, repeated by the author verbatim, without being subject to even a rudimentary application of that critical thought which is essential to writing and sifting history: in a word, he tows the party line - of several parties. Technical details and information are often incorrect in a way that damages the coherence, credibility, and conclusions of the narrative, and are rarely contextualized by an author who demonstrates similar inability to understand basic computing as those whose testimonies he incorporates. One should not attempt to write on a subject demanding expert treatment of some details without consulting experts: doubly so if the author is so out of his depth he can not tell a real expert from a fake, as the 'experts' relied on below. An especially damning example is that of the retelling of the Aleynikov affair on pp 246-251 (Kindle), which is bordering on the libellous, and reads, again, as if torn from the headlines instead of carefully researched and constructed. 'He had intended to take so-called open source code, the kind freely available to anyone on the Internet and used by firms for basic computing functions....he swiped clear his computer's "bash" history, a record of activity on its hard drive [!] [sic]'. The entire telling of the story is confused, with good narrative drive but no historical spirit - no criticism, discernment, contextualization, or engagement. The demonstrable misunderstandings of the author where he can be verified lend no confidence to those places where I can not: thus I can not recommend this book as history. I am no fan of high-speed trading, and for those who wish to learn more of the subject from a critical perspective are instead advised to read Michael Lewis' 'Flash Boys' (popular history which is however competently researched and written) and Arnuk and Saluzzi's 'Broken Markets' (technical for a layman). Lewis is a competent writer of contemporary narrative history across a range of fields, as Tom Holland is competent in popular narrative history of the ancient world. If I were to judge the author on the sloppiness of this one work, I would conclude that, contrariwise, he is not.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Ed Terrell

    On May 6, 2010 at 2:32 pm, the stock market dropped 800 points in a minute, ultimately losing 9% in 15 minutes before finally recovering. I’ve just completed two books by Patterson: The Quants and Dark Pools. They both deal with the new stock traders and technologies that have taken Wall Street by storm. Patterson does a great job with interweaving the personalities behind the formulas, acronyms, and money with the events that have taken place and that are reshaping our future. The Quants is a p On May 6, 2010 at 2:32 pm, the stock market dropped 800 points in a minute, ultimately losing 9% in 15 minutes before finally recovering. I’ve just completed two books by Patterson: The Quants and Dark Pools. They both deal with the new stock traders and technologies that have taken Wall Street by storm. Patterson does a great job with interweaving the personalities behind the formulas, acronyms, and money with the events that have taken place and that are reshaping our future. The Quants is a primer on credit default swaps, gaussian copula functions, and credit default obligations which formed the triumvarite that brought us to the brink of the second Great Depression in 2008. As such, it is a must for anyone wanting to know more about the underlying causes (okay, greed played no small part!) and tools that made it all possible. Dark Pools, takes off where The Quants stop and brings us up to date on the new high speed trading that is taking place today, where speed to buy and sell stocks in microseconds, earns the big bucks. From humble mathematical beginnings, such as genetic algorithms, machine learning, and expert systems we suddenly find ourselves sucked into "toxic dark pools swarming with predator algorithms". These “algos" leap in front of large institutional orders, driving up the price and pocketing the difference. Originally, high frequency trading (HFT) was seen to bring liquidity and stability to the markets, however, when the going gets tough, these “tough guys” get going and liquidity disappears as they all head for the exit. Due to the speed at which they can execute orders, a lot can happen in a hurry as on March 6 and its trillion dollar drop. Dark Pools leaves us hanging and imagining and worrying.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Paul

    Patterson has written a fascinating and detailed history of the rise of computers and bots in the American, and now global stock markets. He has got potted histories of the major players in this business and shows how they wrestled power and control and most importantly money from the old guard who controlled the market before. He shows how the raise of computer generated trading has massively increased the churn of stocks, where the fastest to buy or sell is the one who makes the most money. The Patterson has written a fascinating and detailed history of the rise of computers and bots in the American, and now global stock markets. He has got potted histories of the major players in this business and shows how they wrestled power and control and most importantly money from the old guard who controlled the market before. He shows how the raise of computer generated trading has massively increased the churn of stocks, where the fastest to buy or sell is the one who makes the most money. There is a chapter on the flash crash, that took place on the 6th May 2010, where the computer started to sell and sell, causing the US stock market to drop 9% in minutes. Most frighteningly he looks at the new computerised way that is coming AI. These machines take data from all over the web, from financial web sites to social media and make scarily accurate guesses as to the financial performance of a particular share from this feed aggregation. Not only are they demonstrating that they can outthink humans, but they can react almost instantly. You don't expect a business book to read like a thriller, but this does. It does get technical at some points, but it is written well and is very readable. The implication behind out of control stock bots on the global economy does not bear thinking about.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Ethan

    For the most part, this is an excellent historical account of how the current form of the markets and high-frequency trading came to be. It covers many of the people and the history of the digital revolution in trading between 1990 and when the book was published. However, I felt that some of the technical descriptions were a bit lacking in detail and sometimes conveyed a potentially inaccurate representation of technical culture and knowledge common among programmers and other technical people. For the most part, this is an excellent historical account of how the current form of the markets and high-frequency trading came to be. It covers many of the people and the history of the digital revolution in trading between 1990 and when the book was published. However, I felt that some of the technical descriptions were a bit lacking in detail and sometimes conveyed a potentially inaccurate representation of technical culture and knowledge common among programmers and other technical people. As someone with that background, it was fairly simple to sift some of those cases, but I worry that more complex situations had similar problems that I was not able to immediately recognize. Dispite this concern, the book is still a very worth-while read. It is an interesting story with a large amount of facts and background that allow the reader to come to some of their own decisions (though others are more broadly stated).

  20. 5 out of 5

    John Kowalczyk

    "Dark Pools" started out well, with a fast pace and some very interesting information tied to a story of money and the underbelly of trading. However as the book progressed it seemed to transition from a great piece of expository writing with character, to a soap opera-like descriptive narrative lacking the educational value of the first chapters. Some passages repeated beyond "reinforcement" to the point of boring redundancy, while some passages seemed to contradict earlier points or facts. Aft "Dark Pools" started out well, with a fast pace and some very interesting information tied to a story of money and the underbelly of trading. However as the book progressed it seemed to transition from a great piece of expository writing with character, to a soap opera-like descriptive narrative lacking the educational value of the first chapters. Some passages repeated beyond "reinforcement" to the point of boring redundancy, while some passages seemed to contradict earlier points or facts. After reading some very lacking explanations of a few technology-related terms, I started questioning the accuracy of his description of the mechanics of the markets. And throughout the text I was very suspicious of quotes from decades ago that were probably not nearly as accurate as they were presented to be. However, besides all that, the book was interesting overall and introduced me to some market structures I was unaware of and whet my appetite for more technical writings.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Marceleen Mosher

    Having enjoyed Flash Boys, this book was suggested by a friend. I enjoyed this book for a number of reasons. First, it is well written, it's a smooth read, nothing clunky to it. Second I throughly enjoyed the context and brief overview of the history of modern trading and the switch to electronic. I also liked the characters, they were likable. My main beef with this book was the structure and the order of the individual parts of the book that make up the overall story. I found the abrupt endings Having enjoyed Flash Boys, this book was suggested by a friend. I enjoyed this book for a number of reasons. First, it is well written, it's a smooth read, nothing clunky to it. Second I throughly enjoyed the context and brief overview of the history of modern trading and the switch to electronic. I also liked the characters, they were likable. My main beef with this book was the structure and the order of the individual parts of the book that make up the overall story. I found the abrupt endings to each separate protagonist's mini and interconnected story to leave me wanting to know so much more! Other reviews note that not enough time was spent delving into the underlying problems with the market, it's shift to high-speed poker. I agree, but was glad to hear it mentioned at least enough to prompt an interested reader to learn more and form their own opinions.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Tim O'Hearn

    An accessible book with a misleading title that provides a compelling account of the history and somewhat-current (2012) state of the stock market. My issues are that it reads more like an essay collection and doesn't get into enough technical detail (Algos, algos, algos ad infinitum). The author's attempt at piecing together a Lewis-esque narrative fell incredibly short, mostly in the way of character development. As was the case in The Quants, the book unravels in the last few chapters before An accessible book with a misleading title that provides a compelling account of the history and somewhat-current (2012) state of the stock market. My issues are that it reads more like an essay collection and doesn't get into enough technical detail (Algos, algos, algos ad infinitum). The author's attempt at piecing together a Lewis-esque narrative fell incredibly short, mostly in the way of character development. As was the case in The Quants, the book unravels in the last few chapters before an abrupt "huh?" ending. I think that Dark Pools is more valuable than Flash Boys in its educational value- I would go as far as pegging it a must-read. Granted, the people who I would recommend it to as a must-read to have probably already read it.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Kfred

    "Dark Pools" is an awesome book that provides a story line of how "wall street" was automated over the past 20 years. It is a stunning story. From the clubby market specialists beforehand to the electronic market makers of today (which was replacing one set of "street insiders" with another), including the more recent machine learning high speed algos. The story lines are sometimes hard to follow in the book, but it is a difficult story to tell. A highly recommended read if you really want to un "Dark Pools" is an awesome book that provides a story line of how "wall street" was automated over the past 20 years. It is a stunning story. From the clubby market specialists beforehand to the electronic market makers of today (which was replacing one set of "street insiders" with another), including the more recent machine learning high speed algos. The story lines are sometimes hard to follow in the book, but it is a difficult story to tell. A highly recommended read if you really want to understand wall street today and how automation has turned "wall street" upside-down and into a never ending roller coaster ride.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Matias Singers

    I had previously read Michael Lewis' "Flash Boys", and quite enjoyed the story - a lot of reviews also recommended this book. I would say Dark Pools have a bit more of the background story for a lot of the high frequency trading compared to "Flash Boys". I wished the author would have delved a little more into the technical understandings of high frequency trading and the algorithms used. I thoroughly enjoyed the whole part about Josh Levine, but found the description of Sergey Aleynikov completely I had previously read Michael Lewis' "Flash Boys", and quite enjoyed the story - a lot of reviews also recommended this book. I would say Dark Pools have a bit more of the background story for a lot of the high frequency trading compared to "Flash Boys". I wished the author would have delved a little more into the technical understandings of high frequency trading and the algorithms used. I thoroughly enjoyed the whole part about Josh Levine, but found the description of Sergey Aleynikov completely appalling and too one-sided - clearly showing the authors lack of technical understanding of this subject.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Jane Walker

    This is a remarkable illustration of the insanity into which capitalism has descended. Brilliant brains have constructed systems which have no other purpose than to make obscene fortunes as parasites on the constructive activities of others. And, it appears, no one can or will stop them. Reading this book (much of the detail of which will be incomprehensible to most) we should consider how much benefit to the world could have been achieved if these men (and it is all men) had turned their brain This is a remarkable illustration of the insanity into which capitalism has descended. Brilliant brains have constructed systems which have no other purpose than to make obscene fortunes as parasites on the constructive activities of others. And, it appears, no one can or will stop them. Reading this book (much of the detail of which will be incomprehensible to most) we should consider how much benefit to the world could have been achieved if these men (and it is all men) had turned their brain power onto something useful.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Vikram X

    Patterson sums up the contemporary state of affairs of humanity's descendent to the abysmal lows by revealing how the stock market , considered by many the guiding "Polaris" ; is in-fact rigged and infiltrated by financial behemoths and their high speed trading algorithms and downright removing all human element e.g. Traders. Basically generating "wealth" from nothing , while the average investor (the mom n pop's) have absolutely no clue and pretty much at the mercy of the "AI box" which spits b Patterson sums up the contemporary state of affairs of humanity's descendent to the abysmal lows by revealing how the stock market , considered by many the guiding "Polaris" ; is in-fact rigged and infiltrated by financial behemoths and their high speed trading algorithms and downright removing all human element e.g. Traders. Basically generating "wealth" from nothing , while the average investor (the mom n pop's) have absolutely no clue and pretty much at the mercy of the "AI box" which spits buy-sell orders at one billioneth of second !

  27. 4 out of 5

    Stevewilliams27

    Easy, superficial read. Says things like "[some college] was a breeding ground for tech heads" and everyone is awesome and making money hand over fist and defying industry trends because they are just super smart. Who doesn't like to read that? Sign me up. Makes me feel all like I could've invented high speed trading had I just been born 15 years earlier. Everyone in this book seems to just start a trading company and sell it for half a billion dollars unless you're one of the idiots. Also liquidi Easy, superficial read. Says things like "[some college] was a breeding ground for tech heads" and everyone is awesome and making money hand over fist and defying industry trends because they are just super smart. Who doesn't like to read that? Sign me up. Makes me feel all like I could've invented high speed trading had I just been born 15 years earlier. Everyone in this book seems to just start a trading company and sell it for half a billion dollars unless you're one of the idiots. Also liquidity.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Marc

    I suppose if you knew virtually nothing about modern financial markets and these things that are apparently called . . . com-pu-ters(?) . . . this book might be worth your time. But while there is some useful information buried amid the overwrought prose, this is mostly an exercise in source-stroking and adjective abuse.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Seth Cohen

    Clear history of the creation of electronic equity trading exchanges, good view into HFT shops. Too much hyperbole and repetition of certain statements about the effects of HFT. Highly recommend reading this first before Flash Boys as it provides a great framework for better understanding that book (and the timing of the creation of the IEX); get them as a pair.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Daniel Compton

    Much better context on HFT than Flash Boys I read Flash Boys and really enjoyed it, but came away not fully understanding what was going on. This book starts at the beginning of electronic trading and helps the reader understand the wider context that the shift to electronic trading and HFT occurred in.

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