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Stephen Gandel

If the Stock Market Has a Problem, His Job Is to Fix It

Brett Redfearn of the SEC has a full plate: IPOs, high-frequency trading, exchange fees and the price of data.

Equity markets have evolved into a complicated and fragmented mess.

Equity markets have evolved into a complicated and fragmented mess.

Photographer: Zach Gibson/Bloomberg

It’s harder these days to find reasons for stocks to rise. But the recent 5,000-point market plunge, and seemingly daily swings, when consumers are still spending and the unemployment rate is at historical lows, has more and more people thinking that it’s not the economy that is broken but the market.

Last month, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin blamed high-frequency traders and the Volcker Rule, which restricts trading by large banks, for the market’s volatility. Better Markets, a nonprofit group that advocates for more market regulation and is not normally aligned with officials from the Trump administration, seems to agree. The group has called on the Securities and Exchange Commission to start monitoring for signs the market is being impaired by new trading systems. “Computer-driven, high-frequency algo trading has been driving market drops, swings and volatility for too long. The damage to investors and our economy has been incalculable,” Better Markets CEO Dennis Kelleher said in a statement.