Read Forbes explanation of high frequency trading at forbes.com/sites/billconerly/2014/04/14/high-frequency-trading-explained-simply.
“That doesn’t make sense.” Nell was thinking while she walked. “If what you’re saying is true, then it takes a whole hundredth of a second just for information to go from Dublin to New York, because that’s about three thousand miles. Cillian ought to be losing every time he places an order just because he lives so far away. “
“That’s right.” Ariel was happy to discover that this woman could not only follow along but she could do simple division in her head while she did it. “But Cillian isn’t making the decisions. The other thing we do for Cillian is we design software to think for him. In fact, our programs take in data, analyze it, and issue buy and sell orders based on Cillian’s criteria, but far faster than he or any other human ever could. It, the machine with our software, lives right on Wall Street and right next to the London Stock Exchange. You’re exactly right, Nell. Milliseconds do matter and we make Cillian faster every single way that we can. He still won’t always come out on top in a trade, but he will more often than not, which is what investing is all about.”
“Oh,” Nell said it like she was surprised to find the mumbo-jumbo was quite so simple. “So what happens when everybody starts using your fancy high frequency techniques and they are all super fast? Then who wins?”
Let NASA tell you how long a radio wave is at missionscience.nasa.gov/ems/05_radiowaves.html.
“So we must be tuned to different frequencies!” Siarnaq continued on, pleased with his discovery. “You understand science. You understand radios.”
“I studied them in school, don’t remember much.”
“Well, I work a lot with radios. They are an important part of communication here in my world. Do you know how long a radio wave is?”
“Long. Like maybe feet long.” Ariel was pretty sure of that.
“You people still know what AM radio is?”
Ariel rolled here eyes. “Yeah. It’s the stations you turn to for sports.”
“Okay,” Siarnaq agreed. He pointed out the window. “The waves for AM radio are like from here to that building down the road.”
“Really? That big?”
“Your FM radio waves?” he went on. “More like just from me to you.”
Ariel got the analogy. “So I’m an FM radio seeing things more closely and you’re an AM radio seeing things further away. How cool is this? What are other waves? Microwaves? Longwave radio? Are there other kinds like us, but in other frequencies?”
“I don’t know,” Siarnaq shrugged. “Lots of other Inuit tell the future, but they all use tools for their fortune-telling, and no one seems as sure about their predictions as I am.”
Learn more about wealth distribution at cnbc.com/id/100780163.
Ariel was curious about most things. Why was the sky blue and what was dirt made of? How did frogs have sex? Why did people have to sleep? She liked quick information, not lengthy explanations, and she had gotten uncommonly good at finding out facts fast, as long as her questions had answers.
Sticky philosophical quandaries interested her less. She didn’t want to talk about the meaning of life. It couldn’t be determined, and that made discussing it just a waste of time. Good time that could be spent enjoying life instead, which she rather thought was the point anyway. However, every once in a while a broader question had an impact on her that could not be ignored.
“Why do people want to make more money than they can spend?” Ariel understood wanting to be rich. No problem. Who wouldn’t like to be well off enough to travel and buy whatever clothes struck your fancy and not have to worry about health and safety the way one did when money was scarce. That made sense. What Ariel didn’t get was wanting to be worth forty million instead of twenty. At some point didn’t all the toys and houses and expensive vacations roll together? Why were men like Mikkel and Baldur and even Cillian hell-bent on taking a perfectly fine fortune and growing it into a bigger one?
Learn more about black swan events at blackswanevents.org.
Baldur stared out of his office window, considering black swans. Not real black swans, of course, but the theory for which they stood. As a man well schooled in all types of economics, Baldur was acutely aware of the occasional occurrence of an event that was outside of the realm of normal expectations and yet appeared so obvious in hindsight. He knew these metaphorical black swans by definition went on to produce significant consequences, and they were thought by some theorists to in fact be what drove human history.
Baldur hoped not, because he had two potential black swans sitting clearly in front of him and the last thing that he wanted now was unexpected consequences. The first potential black swan had red hair.
Learn about a group dedicated to considering humanity’s survival into the far future at longnow.org/about.
Ariel and Siarnaq communicated more often than Ariel would have expected. He liked to send her little things to make her laugh, stories that would be best appreciated by someone who had her skills. She felt like her life had more stress than his and her ability to find humor in the situations around her wasn’t as well developed. Nonetheless she tried to respond in kind by sending stories back, and by early June they had a working long-distance friendship going. He had not brought up Mikkel again, and for that she was grateful. Finally the subject came up at the end of a text message.
“I also have contacted another person who knows of Mikkel and does not like what he is doing either. I do not want to lie to you so I will tell you. His name is Baldur and he is your client.”
What? Ariel went from mildly amused at the preceding anecdote to furious in less than a second. How would Siarnaq even know about Baldur? Then she froze.
All that time lying side-by-side, with her viewing the lives of the Inuit of three centuries in the future while Siarnaq picked up the broad brush details that were his forte—but thanks to her he picked them up for once about people of the present day. More than anything, he picked up people that mattered to her. Of course he had seen Baldur, gained some knowledge of him. He could easily have gleaned animosity between Baldur and Mikkel as well.
“Not acceptable! This is my career you are fucking with!” Ariel was in no mood to use nice words and she typed with a staccato anger.
The words “This is humanity I am trying to save,” came back in seconds.
“Fuck humanity,” Ariel muttered it as she started to type it, then she stopped herself. That sounded horrible. On the other hand, why exactly should she, or any human for that matter, make their own life one bit more miserable for the sake of people three-hundred years from now? And how much misery did it have to be and exactly how much better did those people’s lives have to become before she was being an asshole?
She wasn’t even sure how much she believed that what Siarnaq saw was likely or even inevitable. How much did she believe that he was on a path to do some good? A lot of good? How much did and should she care if her species never saw the year 3000? Seriously, what did it matter? Her children’s children would be long gone before then, if she even ever had kids.
A bunch of strangers die. It happens every day. So what if it was all of the strangers? Did she believe someone out there was keeping score, would mark us as a failure as a species if we didn’t at least make it to the paltry fifty-thousand-year mark as a sentient life form?
At that she laughed. This was too much philosophy for Ariel. She tried for another response altogether.
“Your enemy’s enemy may NOT be your friend,” she typed. That was a good response, she decided. “Baldur may be as dangerous as Mikkel. Be careful.”
“I will.” It came back right away. “Thank you, sunset hair. I will try to cause you no trouble at your job.”
Read about how we are mostly made of empty space at physics.org/featuredetail.asp?id=41. The other three “bonkers” facts included in the article are pretty amazing too.
“Don’t touch me!” He said it more sharply than he intended and she looked at him quizzically.
“Why? Is there something in our mutual near future that you don’t want me to see?”
“I am offering you the chance to be far richer than you could ever hope to be,” he said defensively. “I would think that your response would be gratitude and eager acceptance.”
“Assuming I want to be very rich, and I’m not actually sure that I do, exactly how would you envision a partnership between us? I’m prohibited from using my company’s software to make trades and I can’t go beating out my own clients.”
He laughed aloud at her when he heard her first concern. “I rather assumed that you would quit your job. That would allow me unlimited access to you, physically, and in return you would no longer have any ethical constraints.”
“So not a partnership, more of an apprenticeship. Are we talking about a sexual relationship?”
“I don’t know,” he said. “Holding your hand might be as effective as anything, in which case I would ask for nothing more. However, I’ve developed some theories of my own about how this works. Did you know that atoms are almost all space? I read somewhere that you could fit the entire human race inside of a cube of sugar! So I figure with all that space our boundaries are a little less clear than we think they are on a macroscopic scale.”
Ariel agreed. “Electrons get shared all the time between atoms. In the subatomic world they jump all over the place and have no sense of belonging to me or you or the chair I am sitting in. They go where they go.”
“Exactly! The past is done—where those electrons have been is decided. But the future is only possibilities, and because of that I think the fuzziness of the boundaries between me and you matters. When I see the future, my edges aren’t so well defined. I touch you, or my keyboard, and there is fluidity, and that’s why touch gives me more information.”
“You think more skin contact gives better results?”
“It makes sense. I also notice that changing the contact area helps. It’s like after a while you’ve exploited all the overlap and if you introduce new surfaces, and therefore new electrons, then the information flow stays strong. To answer your question, I would require sufficient and varied skin contact with you, as I experiment with ways to use you to be more effective with longer term trading. There would need to be a certain amount of trial and error and you would have to be open to that as well.”
“So I’d be your girlfriend?” Ariel persisted with the questions. “And your student.”
“Others would likely consider you my girlfriend, yes. What we consider each other is up to us and matters very little to me as long as I have as much access to as much of your body as I need.”
She wiggled her fingers towards his neck again. “And I get as much access as I need, too.”
“Of course. See. It is a mutually beneficial arrangement. It could possibly include pleasure and affection. I understand that those are frequent byproducts of intimacy.
Learn more about jerk and snap at preposterousuniverse.com/blog/2008/07/01/waiter-theres-a-derivative-in-my-cereal
The fourth derivative also showed up occasionally, but in the physical world it was the first of the derivatives of time to be beyond the realm of human detection. Changes in jerk simply made no sense to anyone not working their way through an equation, and regular people had no reason to know or care that it existed. This fourth derivative, change in jerk, also had an official name. It was called snap, and it was the world of the instantaneous that existed one step past something a person could explain. It was change that happened under the radar. It was Baldur’s world.
Ariel was glad that she had heard nothing from Baldur in the week since she gratefully accepted a ride from a patrol boat back to Dun Laoghaire Marina and headed home without even telling him goodbye. That had given her seven days in which to ponder whether her own mind was exaggerating the degree to which Baldur was a threat to her.
He had drugged her, although even then he had assured her it was a mild sedative and she would not be harmed. He had also told her that his use of her language was awkward. Maybe he only ended up sounding like a creep because of bad social skills and poor word choice. Was that possible? She didn’t think so, but she kept playing the conversations over in her mind.
Wiki offers a nice list of predictions about the end of the world (or universe). Take a look a them at rationalwiki.org/wiki/List_of_predictions_of_the_end_of_the_world.
“Can someone actually take over the world?” Zane asked. “I mean, like, the whole world?”
“You wouldn’t think so,” Toby said dryly, “but then again you wouldn’t think people could alter their appearance or see the future, now, would you?”
Zane ignored that. “Ariel says that your study has caused a lot of turmoil in her office, and to tell you that she’s posted more information for you on the same secured place online. She also knows more about someone else, another client, who is trying to save humanity from something else bad that has nothing to do with this first guy. How many catastrophes are we talking about here?”
“I only know of two,” Toby assured him, “and Ariel says not to worry about the second one right now because none of it is happening anytime soon.”
Read the true story of Swiss oilfield supply company Weatherford International’s unexplained price surge at bloomberg.com/news/2012-09-21/weatherford-surges-in-last-minute-of-trading-to-close-4-higher.html.
One of the larger investments that Baldur made with the early expirations was to write a large number of puts on the Swiss oilfield supply company Weatherford International Ltd. Writing puts is basically betting that a stock price will be above a certain level on the day the puts expire. It means you like the stock, or at least you like it better then the person you are betting against. If you are right, you get to pocket the money you got paid for placing the bet to begin with. If you are wrong, you have to buy the stock for the agreed upon price, when you could be buying it for less, maybe much less, because the other person is in fact buying it for less and then selling it to you on expiration day for an instant profit.
Baldur had been watching the stock drop since August, and feared that Ariel had been wrong about this one. Then on Friday, September 21, the Swiss stock exchange announced that it was investigating Weatherford for breaking the rules governing disclosure of how much stock its executives were buying and selling. The company’s stock dropped even further, and at a minute before the market closed it remained low enough for Baldur to face substantial losses as he was forced to pay a high price for a poorly performing investment. Then, with only seconds left in the trading day, the stock price shot back up, with over 12.6 million shares being traded and Baldur’s impressive profits now safe.
“There very well may have been a large order out there, but I can’t confirm that,” an analyst at Iberia Capital Partners LLC, was quoted as saying. “There have also been so many weird things going on with algorithm-driven trading that it’s almost impossible to tell exactly what may have happened.”
Baldur didn’t care. Whatever had happened, it meant that Ariel’s abilities to predict an unexpected event could be considerably more impressive then he had thought.
Enjoy or even purchase a poster of a storm brewing behind an Irish castle at allposters.com/-sp/Lightning-over-Ruins-of-the-Rock-of-Cashel-Tipperary-County-Ireland-Posters_i10374361_.htm
Views from the world over were available to Siarnaq every day on the internet, yet seeing something on a screen isn’t the same as being driven up a wide, rock-lined drive to an old Irish estate on a blustery autumn afternoon. The clouds were dark and heavy. The wind came in fast, strong bursts that warned of the storm to come.
In spite of the weather, Cillian had chosen to meet Siarnaq out at the gazebo, the best spot on the grounds for avoiding prying eyes. Cillian studied the mostly Inuit young man as he strode up the steps, determination in his every step.
He was taller, thinner and younger than Cillian had expected, with a head full of shiny straight black hair, worn longish, and a seriousness on his face. He took a look at Cillian and he nodded. Then he pulled off his jacket, lifted a sweater over his head and a t-shirt after it. His clothes hid strong muscles that were now apparent as he stood bare-chested in the cold wind and waited.
Cillian understood. Off came everything above the waist, while Brendan watched silently. As the breeze picked up and little pellets of rain began to fall, Siarnaq marched up to Cillian and wrapped his arms around the Irishman’s sturdy, freckled torso and held on tight. Cillian hesitated for a few seconds, and then responded in kind and his long arms held Siarnaq’s golden brown body against his.
Take a virtual trip to this 350-year-old restaurant in Oslo at dehistoriske.com/restaurant/gamle-raadhus-oslo/.
They treated themselves to a dinner at a wonderful restaurant in an old town hall built in 1641. Ariel wondered if the shortsighted focus on the present, disproportionately common in the Americans, was an artifact of seldom encountering history more that a couple of hundred years old. She mentioned the idea to Mikkel and he agreed right away, laughing that she had stumbled on an observation shared by most of the rest of the world.
They kept the conversation light and general, and by the time they got back to the hotel some of the awkwardness had subsided. Mikkel began looking around the room for an alternative to sharing the cozy double bed or sleeping on the floor. There wasn’t one.
Read about how the 100 richest people added $12.7 billion to their net worth while lower-than-expected corporate earnings wiped out gains for average investor at bloomberg.com/news/2012-10-19/world-s-richest-gain-12-7-billion-as-google-shares-drop.html .
He noted from the Bloomberg report that the 100 richest people on the planet had managed to add $12.7 billion to their collective net worth during the past five days, even while those corporate earnings that were below expectations in the U.S. wiped out most of the gains for average investors everywhere. It was so good to have the means and the knowledge to play the game well.
Baldur studied his chart of the 100 wealthiest humans on Earth. He wasn’t listed of course, and he was doing his very best to keep it that way. Let the press focus on those who headed large well-known conglomerates or had come into this world far wealthier than most. Baldur had no desire to explain his success to anyone. So some of his worth was hidden here, some was hidden there, and it would stay that way until he could be very sure that he was too big to be critically scrutinized.
The next item was making sure that his income continued. He no longer needed to worry that Ariel’s successes were flukes, which meant that he needed to be putting something in place that would ensure her cooperation. He was confident that if he could only force her to go along with him for a little while, she could be won over.
It was fun to be wealthy, after all, and given a little time, growing those bank account numbers became something of a game. Ariel had a competitive streak. Once she saw how easy it was, how much fun it was, and how nice life could be, she wasn’t going to walk away from it. Not easily.
Enjoy some of Ireland’s most famous toasts at islandireland.com/Pages/folk/sets/toasts.html
“It’s a bit of a dangerous game,” Cillian said. “Ariel, do you get anything helpful?”
She shook her head. “Not about money, I don’t. I get a flash of Mikkel in maybe a couple of months, feeling happy about how much he has stashed, sort of knowing it’s good enough. Better than even odds it happens, actually, but that’s all I premember about it. I’ll tell you if I can precall more later.”
“Okay then.” Cillian gave a sad smile. “Brandy in front of the fire. Peat of course. Toasts are in order.”
Once they were seated, Eoin raised his glass first. “This is one of my favorites: ‘May your home always be too small to hold all your friends.’ Looking around, Cillian, I have to say that I don’t think the problem here is that you need any more friends.”
Their host laughed in appreciation. “I agree. Seven good true friends are more than any man has a right to ask for. Thank you Eoin. I get your toast and it is wise. I do need a smaller house.”
With that, the liquor went down smoothly and the toasts flowed freely into the wee hours of the night.
Who are the wealthiest people on earth and how did they get to be that way? Learn more at forbes.com/billionaires/list/#tab:overall
“What do you think he is worth all total? Hidden everywhere?” Fergus asked. “Does he have, like, a billion euros?”
Eoin laughed. “You don’t follow that kind of news much, do you?”
Fergus shrugged. “Not really. But a billion seems like a lot to me.”
“Fergus, there are easily over a hundred people out there worth ten times that much, and each of their wealth fluctuates every day by tens and even hundred of millions of euros. No biggie when you are worth over ten billion. You’ve never heard of most of them. Unless Baldur is lying to himself, and I don’t think he is, he has got to be in that ten billion plus group already to think that he can become so important so fast. Probably hasn’t been there all that long, though, because no one yet has put two and two together. Except for the astute folks at y1 and a few other small groups that watch individual investors, he remains off everyone’s radar. If he can accomplish what he wants in January, and maybe triple what he’s got, then he gets into the thirty-plus billion category and he’s playing with the big boys, the top eighteen richest or so.”
I would also like to thank the following authors whose books contributed to my thought process.
All About High-Frequency Trading (All About Series) July 26, 2010 by Michael Durbin. Publisher: McGraw-Hill; 1st edition ISBN-13: 978-0071743440
The Arctic: Enigmas and Myths September 9, 1996 by Simpson-Housley, Paul Simpson-Housley.
Publisher: Dundurn Group; First Edition ISBN-13: 978-1550022643
Clairvoyance August 3, 2009 by Charles Webster Leadbeater. Publisher: Merchant Books ISBN-13: 978-1603862417
Lonely Planet Iceland, Greenland & the Faroe Islands May, 2001 by Graeme Cornwallis and Deanna Swaney. Publisher: Lonely Planet Publications; 4th edition (May 2001) ISBN-13: 978-0864426864
The Privatization of Space Exploration: Business, Technology, Law and Policy Paperback December 16, 2011 by Lewis D. Solomon. Publisher: Transaction Publishers; Reprint edition ISBN-13: 978-1412847568
The Problem of HFT – Collected Writings on High Frequency Trading & Stock Market Structure Reform January 18, 2013 by Haim Bodek. Publisher: Create Space Independent Publishing Platform; Reprint edition ISBN-13: 978-1481978354
Seeing Your Future: A Modern Look at Prophecy and Prediction March, 1990 by John E. Ronner. Publisher: Mamre Pr; First Edition ISBN-13: 978-0932945389.
The Story of the Irish Race A Popular History of Ireland 1992 by Seumas MacManus. Publisher: Devin-Adair Company; Forty-Fifth Printing edition (1992) ASIN: B001B1EI96
This Cold Heaven: Seven Seasons in Greenland January 7, 2003 by Gretel Ehrlich. Publisher: Vintage ISBN-13: 978-0679758525