High-Frequency Traders Need a Speed Limit

New research suggests that markets are running too fast for their own good.

Slow it down, folks.

Photographer: Matt Cardy/Getty Images

In today's electronic financial markets, a single investor can execute more than 10,000 trades a second, meaning that more than 1,000 trades can happen in the blink of an eye. Electronic trading firms are willing to spend hundreds of millions of dollars to shave off even millionths of a second. This raises an important question for human welfare: If real economic activity depends on people doing things, and people can't possibly think or react this fast, who benefits from all the speed?

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