We use computers for so many things over the holidays, from online shopping to video chatting, so why not go all in and let it run the stock market, too? That's what a growing number of Wall Street firms are doing, says The Wall Street Journal. On Monday, the paper reported that "more than a dozen firms trading everything from currencies to equities and fixed-income products say they plan to rely on computer-based trading programs and on their colleagues in Asia to cover for them." As one bank president told the paper, computer-driving training models are getting better and better. Plus, they never need time off. "Models don't take vacations," said Mike Harris, president at Campbell and Co. "That's one of the great things about them."
With the fiscal cliff coming up and everything, some could argue that relying on algorithmic trading isn't really the smartest thing to do. The practice has been under scrutiny the past couple of years, especially high-frequency trading, for its tendency to flush millions of dollars down the drain, often due to latency issues or the sometimes unpredictable nature of the algorithms. As the name implies, algorithmic trading relies on specially built mathematical formulas that can respond to a number of variables like price and quantity that dictate how the firm buys and sells. Normally, they're overseen by human traders, but it's hard to watch the robots when you're "relaxing in a hot tub at a British Columbia ski resort with a glass of Drambuie in hand."
Tongue-in-cheek, some might say that anybody or bot can run the stock market better than the bankers on Wall Street. Plus, even finance folks deserve a break from the assaulting reality that is the global economy. Especially after they all had such crappy "budget conscious" holiday parties this year.