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Dark Pools: High-Speed Traders, A.I. Bandits, and the Threat to the Global Financial System | [Scott Patterson]

Dark Pools: High-Speed Traders, A.I. Bandits, and the Threat to the Global Financial System

In the beginning was Josh Levine, an idealistic programming genius who dreamed of wresting control of the market from the big exchanges that, again and again, gave the giant institutions an advantage over the little guy. Levine created a computerized trading hub named "Island" where small traders swapped stocks, and over time his invention morphed into a global electronic stock market that sent trillions in capital through a vast jungle of fiber-optic cables.
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Publisher's Summary

A news-breaking account of the global stock market's subterranean battles, Dark Pools portrays the rise of the "bots" - artificially intelligent systems that execute trades in milliseconds and use the cover of darkness to out-maneuver the humans who've created them.

In the beginning was Josh Levine, an idealistic programming genius who dreamed of wresting control of the market from the big exchanges that, again and again, gave the giant institutions an advantage over the little guy. Levine created a computerized trading hub named Island where small traders swapped stocks, and over time his invention morphed into a global electronic stock market that sent trillions in capital through a vast jungle of fiber-optic cables.

By then, the market that Levine had sought to fix had turned upside down, birthing secretive exchanges called dark pools and a new species of trading machines that could think and that seemed, ominously, to be slipping the control of their human masters.

Dark Pools is the fascinating story of how global markets have been hijacked by trading robots - many so self-directed that humans can't predict what they'll do next.

©2012 Scott Patterson (P)2012 Random House Audio

What Members Say

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  •  
    Gary Las Cruces, NM, United States 08-17-12
    Gary Las Cruces, NM, United States 08-17-12 Member Since 2001

    Letting the rest of the world go by

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Definitive history on Electronic Trading"

    The author covers the material so well that even for those who aren't interested in the development of electronic trading will find the story an exciting read. He puts the context around the development and has written the definitive history on the subject.

    I'm a big fan of "The Singularity is Near" by Ray Kurzweil and I thought a lot of his telling of the story was influenced by Ray Kurzweil's thinking on AI and such. Near the very end of the book the author brings up Kurzweil and his thinking. He really didn't fit into the story's arc, but I took it as an ode to Kurzweil.

    I warn you. The book will give you a queasy feeling in your stomach because he documents so thoroughly how the HST (high speed traders) are systematically taking money away from us because there is not a level playing field for small players like us who invest through our mutual funds or individual stocks and ETFs.

    4 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jesse 04-11-14
    Jesse 04-11-14 Member Since 2014
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    "A bit superficial, and possibly misleading"
    What did you like best about Dark Pools? What did you like least?

    I enjoyed listening to the a history of some of the electronic exchanges & learning about the personalities involved.


    Would you recommend Dark Pools to your friends? Why or why not?

    Maybe. I don't have a background in finance or trading, so it's hard for me to verify some of the author's claims. However, I do know software - and in those sections at least it became clear the author does not have the level of understanding he thinks he does.


    What does Byron Wagner bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

    His Hungarian accent stood out, and not in a bad way. I think the reader did a perfectly fine job.


    Could you see Dark Pools being made into a movie or a TV series? Who should the stars be?

    Not really, no.


    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Tony Royal Palm Beach, FL, United States 09-29-12
    Tony Royal Palm Beach, FL, United States 09-29-12 Member Since 2012
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    "Thrilling insight into the world of HFT's!!"
    Would you listen to Dark Pools again? Why?

    I will absolutely listen again!! Loved the audio book.. Informative, descriptive, thrilling, and just an all around great read/listen!


    What was one of the most memorable moments of Dark Pools?

    Loved hearing about the creation of Island, ARCA, and the passion of the programmers that created them!


    What about Byron Wagner’s performance did you like?

    Byron was absolutely one of the best narrators that I have ever heard.. I wish the book I'm listening to now was done by him!


    Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

    After listening to this book I want to go and create my own computer program.. I love trading and I am extremely passionate about the financial markets.. This book really got my wheels spinning!


    Any additional comments?

    Must read!

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    PHIL San Diego, CA, United States 08-27-12
    PHIL San Diego, CA, United States 08-27-12 Member Since 2011
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    "An alright review of history, lacking some details"

    I like Patterson's authoring style for its energy. It was a nice entry point to begin to look at this area, and fine when my mood is "entertain me and don't make me work too hard to understand this." Sometimes the "bandits" type rhetoric and the stretching to be dramatic or entertaining or lurid seems juvenile. Sometimes this kind of tone takes the place of good patiently-written educating: this book would benefit from the greater depth and thoroughness in basic explanation one finds in any few pages of a book such as "All About High Frequency Trading" by Michael Durbin. Nevertheless, there is value here, but anyone advanced in this field would find this shallow. Moreover, I think the "Threat to the Global Financial System" angle is pretty shallowly covered.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Nelson Alexander New York, NY, United States 07-14-12
    Nelson Alexander New York, NY, United States 07-14-12 Member Since 2006
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    "Global Capitalism on the XBox"

    I remember reading in the New York Times not long ago about a Russian charged with stealing computer code from Goldman Sachs. To dramatize the crime, the U.S. authorities charged that the code could be used ???to manipulate world financial markets.??? My immediate thought: So, what the hell was Goldman Sachs doing with it in the first place! I was gratified to hear this mysterious little incident described again in this eye-opening work. This audiobook isn???t perfect. The writing is standard-issue, people-centered journalism, there is little critical analysis or theory, and the otherwise fine reading can hit a slightly silly note here and there. But overall I found it excellent, extremely informative, easy to listen to. The author develops a detailed history of the rise of unregulated, computerized market trading, from its earliest, nerd-driven origins to the flash crash. He focuses on key individuals (often unheralded innovators), at times to the detriment of clear chronology and critical judgment. There isn???t a lot of technical depth, but enough for me. I knew practically nothing, and had all my darkest suspicions amply confirmed. I only hope the author, or perhaps someone slightly more analytical, is working on the sequel. This is really a brave new world that no one seems able to fully grasp, let alone manage or regulate. I agree with the author???s sense that, yes, the other shoe will definitely drop. You might want to keep a few dollars under the mattress.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Vik Carlsbad, CA, United States 07-11-12
    Vik Carlsbad, CA, United States 07-11-12 Member Since 2011
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    "Great book. Very informative and keeps you engaged"
    Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

    I would recommend this book to any intermediate stock or options trader curious about the influences of computer and technology development throughout the past two decades. This book is very informative and keeps the reader engaged through a detailed description of the various people who ultimately changed modern day trading. I would not recommend this book to anyone not interested in the stock and options market.

    All in all, the information in this book will astound you as to the truth of the modern day stock market and how individual players are at a significant disadvantage to the institutional and automated players.


    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Zach 07-25-14
    Zach 07-25-14 Member Since 2014
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    "Author needs to check his facts."
    What disappointed you about Dark Pools?

    The author didn't correctly depict the charges and arrest of the programmer from Goldman Sachs, as I listened I made the assumption he doesn't know what he is talking about. He also made a reference to a" Lamborghini Testerossa" last I checked those cars are made by Ferrari.


    Would you ever listen to anything by Scott Patterson again?

    No


    What about Byron Wagner’s performance did you like?

    The narrator was Good.


    If you could play editor, what scene or scenes would you have cut from Dark Pools?

    The description of the details and intent of the Goldman programmer that was arrested.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    MWR 07-14-14
    MWR 07-14-14 Member Since 2014
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    "Great, but..."
    What did you like best about this story?

    Very compelling inside look.


    Any additional comments?

    Terrific book, but there are parts that are incorrect/missing information. i.e. the part where they spoke about the rogue GS programmer who stole proprietary computer code.. The court system and other programmers alike concluded the code was no more than useless free source code, and the story was embellished a lot.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    M. Gould Los Angeles, CA 01-22-13
    M. Gould Los Angeles, CA 01-22-13 Member Since 2005
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    "Not factual"
    What disappointed you about Dark Pools?

    Patterson makes the reader feel that they are on a behind the scenes tour of Wall Street. Unfortunately, it is more fiction than fact.


    Would you be willing to try another book from Scott Patterson? Why or why not?

    No, after completing this book and then going back reading the reviews for "The Quants" it is clear that Patterson relies on hyperbole instead of research.


    What didn’t you like about Byron Wagner’s performance?

    Byron Wagner put an exclamation point at the end of every sentence, as if every paragraph was detailing a scandal on the order of Watergate. If you listen to more than ten minutes of this, it sounds downright silly, particularly as Patterson waffles between inconsistent conclusions.


    If you could play editor, what scene or scenes would you have cut from Dark Pools?

    I would have sent the book back for further research.


    Any additional comments?

    The story of Josh Levine and the rise of Island is mostly true, however the rest of the book is speculative and misguided.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    fred greensboro nc 01-12-13
    fred greensboro nc 01-12-13 Member Since 2005
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    "Like after watching Jaws...you won't get back in"

    If you've been following stock market news in the 21st century then you're well aware of the massive swings that have been happening. After listening to this book you'll be well aware that an individual stock investor is gonna get creamed. Written much like the Big Short, Patterson chronicles a handful of quant characters through their careers. Some technical street and computer jargon but not enough to turn me off. Even though people have life vests, flippers, oxygen masks, etc. they're not getting back in for a reason...maybe not even with a bigger boat.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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