Too Fast or Too Slow? Determining the Optimal Speed of Financial Markets

42 Pages Posted: 4 Dec 2013 Last revised: 9 Oct 2017

See all articles by Daniel Fricke

Daniel Fricke

Deutsche Bundesbank

Austin Gerig

U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission

Date Written: August 31, 2016


How fast should a security trade? To answer this question, we model the trading of a security via periodic batch auctions and study how market quality depends on the clearing frequency of the auctions. In our model, the optimal clearing frequency is determined by four factors: (1) the volatility of the security’s value; (2) the dispersion of investors’ reservation prices; (3) the intensity of trading in the security; and (4) the correlation of the security’s value with other securities. We find that for most parameter values, market quality is maximized at intermediate auction intervals, when markets are neither too fast nor too slow. Based on simulations, we demonstrate that an analogous intermediate time delay is also optimal for order placements in continuous double auction markets. Finally, using proxies of the model parameters, we estimate that the ideal clearing interval for a typical S&P 500 stock is on the order of a few seconds currently, compared with several minutes in the 1990s.

Keywords: call auctions, batch auctions, clearing frequency, high-frequency trading, latency, liquidity

JEL Classification: G14, G19

Suggested Citation

Fricke, Daniel and Gerig, Austin, Too Fast or Too Slow? Determining the Optimal Speed of Financial Markets (August 31, 2016). Available at SSRN: or

Daniel Fricke

Deutsche Bundesbank ( email )

Wilhelm-Epstein-Str. 14
Frankfurt/Main, 60431

Austin Gerig (Contact Author)

U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission ( email )

United States Securities and Exchange Commission
100 F Street, NE
Washington, DC 20549
United States
202-551-4575 (Phone)


Do you have a job opening that you would like to promote on SSRN?

Paper statistics

Abstract Views
PlumX Metrics