from the The-House-Always-Wins dept.
US Securities and Exchange Commission Chair Mary Jo White told a US House of Representatives panel that she flatly rejected claims that retail investors are being fleeced by high-frequency traders who can use their speed to jump ahead with buy and sell orders that fetch better prices. "The markets are not rigged," says White. "The U.S. markets are the strongest and most reliable in the world." White's comments to the House Financial Services Committee mark the first time she has directly responded to allegations in Michael Lewis' new book "Flash Boys: A Wall Street Revolt" that high-speed traders are engaged in a form of front-running, in which the firms are able to quickly identify an investor's desire to buy a stock, rush to buy it first and then sell it back at a higher price. The SEC has been reviewing equity market structure issues, particularly following the May 6, 2010 flash crash incident when the Dow Jones Industrial Average sharply plunged before quickly rebounding. Although staff at SEC are considering whether to launch some pilot studies to test different regulatory proposals, there are no immediate plans to issue rules to crack down on high-speed trading or trading in unlit markets. "I want to be very clear that the market metrics suggest that the retail investor is very well-served by the current market structure."