CHATHAM, NEW JERSEY: Ticker tape- it’s an enduring image of Wall Street. The paper is gone but the digital tape runs on, across computer and television screens. Those stock quotations scurrying by are, for many, the pulse of American capitalism. But Sal L Arnuk doesn’t really believe in the tape anymore – at least not in the one most of us see.
That tape, he says, doesn’t tell the whole truth. That might come as a surprise, given that Arnuk is a professional stockbroker. But suddenly, and improbably, he has emerged as a leading critic of the very market in which he works. He and his business partner, Joseph C Saluzzi, have become the voice of those plucky souls who try to swim with Wall Street’s sharks without getting devoured.
From workaday suburban offices here, across from a Gymboree, these two men are taking on one of the most powerful forces in finance today: high-frequency trading. HFT, as it’s known, is the biggest thing to hit Wall Street in years. On any given day, this lightning-quick, computer-driven form of trading accounts for upward of half of all of the business transacted on the stock markets.