According to these critics, additional regulation should be introduced to level the playing field. However, this approach neglects to recognize that problems with market fragmentation, price synchronization, information dissemination, and market technology long predate the advent of HFT. In fact, these problems have persisted for at least 40 years—despite repeated good-faith efforts to find regulatory solutions. What’s more, there is evidence to suggest that HFT has led to increased liquidity, lower spreads and transaction costs, more efficient price discovery, and wider participation in financial markets.
That still leaves legitimate concerns about how to ensure market integrity and avoid flash crashes. Yet, further regulation may be counterproductive, since it risks creating an adversarial environment that gives market participants an incentive to hide errors associated with HFT. Instead, a cooperative solution should be pursued: firms could confidentially report human/automation interface errors to a neutral third party, which would anonymize, aggregate, and analyze such incidents in order to identify patterns that could help prevent a major market-disrupting event.
The Cato Institute
April 8, 2015