No-name Firm Takes Goldman's Crown

Quick note: I'm huddling with a tribunal of judges to rule on the caption contest, which produced some outstanding submissions. The winner will be announced Friday. There will be an additional prize as well.

In the meantime, as I take a quick break from finishing up a feature on a certain entertaining Republican presidential candidate ... I caught a fascinating little blip on Zero Hedge today about a curious development in the New York Stock Exchange's weekly program trading reports.

Program trading is a kind of basket trading usually involving a dozen or more stocks, and usually done by computer – high-frequency trading falls under this category. ZH made a big name for itself on the internet a few years ago by asking questions about Goldman's enormous volumes of program trades in 2009, questions that may have led to the scandal involving Sergei Aleynikov, the ex-Goldman trader who was arrested for trying to steal Goldman's computer-trading program and deliver it to a competitor.

Readers might recall that at Aleynikov's arraignment that summer, a federal prosecutor asserted that Goldman was claiming that this program, if it fell into the "wrong hands," could be used to manipulate markets, a not-so-subtle admission that these computerized trading programs can be used to game the system by trading on knowledge gleaned fractions of a second ahead of the markets.

In any case, Goldman traditionally sits atop the NYSE's weekly reports about program trading volumes. But as ZH notes, they "just lost their crown in that field" to a firm called Latour Trading. From the ZH piece:

The new king. A firm called Latour Trading, which in the last week traded 484.6 million shares in principal strategies. Which begs the question: just who is this Latour Trading which dares to upstage the firm that does god's work on earth? Alas, their website has been less than forthright. Inquiring minds certainly want to know.

All the other companies on the list are household names – Deutsche, Barclays, Merrill, etc. But just who the fuck is Latour Trading? How does an unknown company with a blank website lead the entire world in computerized stock trades? And people wonder why there are protests outside Wall Street.


Image source: NYSE via Zero Hedge