Monday, March 24, 2014

History's Lessons Considered

Sometimes history offers us no insight at all when we don't have an adequate sample case for our inquiry.

For example, the stock market Flash Crash in 2010 was a crash dive of about 9% that recovered within minutes. It was a sudden loss by some and gain by others involving about 1.55 trillion dollars worth of assets.

After months, the SEC report "portrayed how a large mutual fund selling contracts ..., and then how high-frequency traders (HFT) started selling." The report says that the computer algorithm the trader used was set to "target an execution rate set to 9% of the trading volume calculated over the previous minute, but without regard to price or time."

Computer managed trading, faster than human intervention can circumvent. It happened similarly again in August, '13, and we haven't yet really figured out how to prevent it.

We've got just a few years experience with computer triggered actions; precious little time to really grapple with the breadth of the issues.  History doesn't help.

With rapidly evolving businesses, markets, and technology, we're stepping into uncharted territory literally every day, and it's troubling for the pessimists among us.

On the positive side though, the world's brightest minds are opening new doors.  We see new technologies, medical science discoveries, communication capabilities and information spread, and the retreat of ignorance and disease across the world.  Extraordinary possibilities in a volatile, fast paced world; all new territory, and new opportunity for us to make a difference through the choices we make.