How are contemporary trading markets different from capital markets of the past?

Through a wave of regulatory and technological changes over the past 15 years, today’s capital markets have become complex rules-driven environments that function in nearly the opposite fashion that they did for the 200 or so years that followed the roots of the NYSE under the Buttonwood Tree in 1792. Once a simple auction place, they are now characterized by:

  • Regulated incentives (a product of the maker-taker model) that drive vast volumes of high frequency trading, upwards of 60% of total volumes;
  • Low levels of rational (traditional) investing based on company fundamentals, totaling generally 10% or less of traded volume (to prove this out, compare the change in your 13-F’s from one quarter to the next to your total traded volume);
  • High levels of algorithmic (mathematical/machine) trading;
  • Speculation, or short term trading (while trading for volatility or arbitrage profits has always been a feature of buying and selling, today tiny spreads and trading incentives fostered by regulations have institutionalized speculation as a large and influential price-setting force.);
  • Transient capital that shifts easily and quickly between asset classes according to risk. Why? Because low-spread, electronic marketplaces encourage constant change.

How to make sense of these competing forces? Equity Analysis helps you understand what types of market behaviors are setting your price.