Makin' Money

Bats goes bats: The worst IPO ever

Chris Farrell Mar 23, 2012

Wow! Jaws are dropped all over Wall Street as Bats Global Markets — the high-speed electronic-exchange — withdrew its initial public offering (IPO) after computer glitches derailed trading in its stock. It had been priced at $16 yesterday, yet this morning its shares were trading as low as $0.02, according to Bloomberg News. Computer errors also forced a halt to trading in Apple, the world’s most valuable company.

Imagine: Bats stands for Better Alternative Trading System. Oops.

The implications of the Bats debacle are huge. The exchange is a creature of the high-frequncy trading market. High-frequency traders use extremely powerful computers and sophisticated algorithms to exploit exceedingly small price movements, buying and selling in fractions of a second. The trading has led to weird market-shaking moments. Regulators are already investigating the firms and the impact of their high-speed trading on the market. In essence, the problem is that the quicksilver computerized networks have outrun the existing regulatory safeguards.

Greater scrutiny is needed.

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