"Ghost Exchange" film questions runaway stock market technology

Wed Oct 24, 2012 3:26pm EDT
Email This Article |
Share This Article
  • Facebook
  • LinkedIn
  • Twitter
| Print This Article | Single Page
[-] Text [+]

By Emily Flitter

NEW YORK (Reuters) - A Washington-based filmmaker is taking a hard look at how the U.S. stock market evolved from a crowded, noisy trading space into a quiet one dominated by machines in her new film, "Ghost Exchange."

The feature-length documentary film portrays the market as a system in need of serious repair, with flaws that could be costing the U.S. economy some 20 million jobs.

The film is being released amid growing attention to problems in the stock market. Investors have been pulling money out of stocks despite the major indexes approaching the highs before the 2008-09 global financial crisis.

Following the near collapse of market-making giant Knight Capital after a trading software glitch on August 1, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission held a roundtable on stock market technology. Meanwhile, the Commodity Futures Trading Commission is getting ready to consider a concept release with ideas for better regulation of electronic trading.

Day-to-day events in the stock market have kept attention focused on high frequency trading. On Wednesday, traders blamed the high-speed machines for a quick, sharp dip in the price of AT&T shares following the company's earnings report. AT&T's stock fell from $34.50 to $33 and bounced back in just four seconds.

The creator of "Ghost Exchange," Camilla Sullivan, a documentarian and marketing professional who wrote and directed the film herself and produced it with her partner, Rob Lyall, said she hopes it will spur regulators and industry leaders to work together to repair the system.

"Are we taking care of and nurturing our capital markets or do we have the potential to lose something very important?" Sullivan said in an interview with Reuters.

"The market has evolved far more quickly than the regulators can regulate," she added. "We're not saying it's their fault. They barely have the skills or the technology or the resources to process the changes."   Continued...

Filmmaker Camilla Sullivan is shown in this 2009 publicity handout photo. REUTERS/Sheri Whitko/Handout