Get HFT Genie Back In the Bottle: Cuban
After a fake AP report on Twitter temporarily destroyed billions in market cap, investor Mark Cuban reiterated his call to eliminate high-frequency trading.
"A hundred and forty characters and – what was it? – $200 billion worth of market cap just disappeared for a few minutes and then it came back. I mean, it was crazy," he said. "What happened is exactly what we should expect to happen anytime we have a market that's dominated by … algorithmic trading."
On CNBC's "Fast Money," Cuban said that the stock market has lost sight of its purpose.
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"We've gone from a market designed to raise capital to support new businesses to a platform designed for algorithmic traders and hackers," he said. "We don't talk about new companies coming public and our excitement there. We talk about what happening at the CBOE and what's going to happen with their software. We talk about, 'Will there even be bids?' because of high-frequency trading when news comes out?'
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"There's so many problems with where the market is in today because the market doesn't know what business it's in. It literally is no longer in the business of providing capital for companies to grow, and that's a huge problem."
Cuban answered supporters of high-frequency trading who argue that the practice adds liquidity and volume to the stock market.
"No, they don't. They just add transactions, and when there's an issue, they don't hold positions," he said. "They don't hold positions for minutes, let alone days. And so we saw all the bids disappear with the Twitter hack. We've seen it happen in other situations, and it's going to happen again, again and again."
Cuban warned about what could occur in the event of an actual news event big enough to move markets.
"What's going to happen when there's a real event? Do you really thing that there's going to be any bids at all?" he said. "All we have are circuit-breakers that we hope will work. And then after the circuit breakers, what happens?"
Twitter, the social media phenomenon, bore no responsibility for the fake message announcing that two blasts had occurred at the White House, injuring President Barack Obama, Cuban said.
"Twitter's just a platform, and they're not out there telling anybody that they're a secure platform for the distribution of financial information," he said. "And what happened was, you've got algorithmic traders, folks who do a lot of natural-language processing and trying to get a millisecond edge processing that information and taking on that responsibility. If you want to find a fall guy, fault the exchanges for letting people place millisecond orders because if that wasn't an opportunity, it would've taken all the three minutes for AP to respond, and we'd have nothing to talk about.
"I don't think there's a vulnerability in Twitter systems at all," he added. "How people are using it is where the vulnerabilities are at, and the enabling that the stock exchanges do to allow these types of situations are where the vulnerabilities are at. It has nothing to do with Twitter."
Trader disclosure: On April 25, 2013, the following stocks and commodities mentioned or intended to be mentioned on CNBC's "Fast Money" were owned by the "Fast Money" traders: Joe Terranova is long VRTS; Joe Terranova is long SJM; Joe Terranova is long IBM; Joe Terranova is long SPLK; Joe Terranova is long SWN; Joe Terranova is long mini S&P June Futures; Joe Terranova is long Crude Oil; Joe Terranova is long June Futures; Stephen Weiss is long QCOM; Jon Najarian is long WDC CALLS; Jon Najarian is long AMZN CALLS; Jon Najarian is long AKAM CALLS; Jon Najarian is long ZNGA; Jon Najarian is long AMZN; Jon Najarian is long CTSH; Jon Najarian is long CTSH CALLS; Stephanie Link is long AAPL; Stephanie Link is long GS; Stephanie Link is long JPM; Stephanie Link is long CSCO; Stephanie Link is long FB; Stephanie Link is long VALE.