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Algorithms and the Anthropocene – Finance, Sustainability and the Promise and Hazards of New Financial Technologies

– Thomas Skou Grindsted –

Since the global financial crises (2007-2009), we have experienced one big crash with a temporality of years and months, weeks and days. We have also experienced around ten crises in minutes, hundreds of crises in seconds, and thousands of crises in microseconds. For this reason, we experience turbulent financial worlds with crises and sub-crises in the interface between different spatio-temporalities.
This paper explores new financial technologies that have fundamentally reconfigured the spatiality and temporality of global stock exchanges. Stock markets have accelerated to a rate to which shares change hands in microseconds, and algorithms execute around half of all trades at US stock exchanges. One algorithm can carry thousands of orders in a split second. In essence, high frequency trading is non-human trading in sequences. Sequences in which algorithms take economic decision on timing, price and execution of orders, at a speed where no human traders can possibly follow.

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