How Rigged Are Stock Markets? Evidence from Microsecond Timestamps
63 Pages Posted: 21 Jul 2016 Last revised: 20 Mar 2020
Date Written: May 1, 2019
Using new data from the two U.S. securities information processors (SIPs) between August 6, 2015 and June 30, 2016, we examine claims that high-frequency trading (HFT) firms use direct feeds to exploit traders who rely on SIP prices. Across $3.7 trillion of trades, the SIPs report quote updates from exchanges 1,128 microseconds after they occur. However, the SIP-reported National Best Bid and Offer (NBBO) matches the NBBO calculated without reporting latencies in 97% of all SIP-priced trades. Liquidity-taking orders gain on average $0.0002/share when priced at the SIP-reported NBBO rather than the instantaneous NBBO, but aggregate gross profits are just $14.4 million. These findings indicate that direct feed arbitrage is not a meaningful source of HFT profits, nor can it explain the arms race for trading speed.
Statement of Financial Disclosure and Conflict of Interest: Neither author has any financial interest or affiliation (including research funding) with any commercial organization that has a financial interest in the findings of this paper. The authors are grateful to the University of California, Berkeley School of Law, for providing general faculty research support.
Keywords: latency arbitrage, high-frequency trading, SIP, market structure
JEL Classification: G10, G15, G18, G23, G28, K22
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation