What makes HFTs tick? Tick size changes and information advantage in a market with fast and slow traders
49 Pages Posted: 25 Jun 2019 Last revised: 6 Oct 2022
Date Written: June 21, 2019
We study the impact of two changes in the `"tick size," a reduction and a subsequent increase, on the trading behavior of fast and slow traders in the spot foreign exchange market. We find that the most notable impact of the tick size reduction is a substantial increase in the liquidity demand of high-frequency traders (HFTs), not the decrease in their liquidity provision predicted by recent literature. We show that this change in behavior is linked to the richer information environment that arises with the smaller tick size and to the ability of fast traders to profit from it, often at the detriment of slower traders. Following the tick size decrease and the increase in liquidity demand by HFTs in the spot market, the role of the spot market in price discovery drops relative to that of the futures market. We discuss these findings in the context of the impact of HFTs on the information content of financial markets.
Keywords: High Frequency Trading, tick size, minimum price variation, market liquidity, price discovery, foreign exchange
JEL Classification: F3, G12, G14, G15
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation