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Flash Boys in the US Treasury Market

Jim Greco, Linkedin, Flash Boys in the US Treasury Market, here.

Every bank I‘ve spoken to recently has had the same complaint: The liquidity in the screen isn’t real anymore. Traders used to be able to grab the entire bid or offer, but are no longer able to. The complaint (usually said while yelling at IT over the phone) goes something like this:

I saw $400M five years offered on the screen. I go to lift the entire offer and I only get $225M back. I just lost a $100k chasing the quote. Fix this f——— piece of s—- technology!
The argument is a bit of a straw man in that it makes the assumption that it used to be just as easy to access the same quantity (reality: there used to be much less on the bid/offer) at the same bid/offer spread (reality: spreads used to be wider). However, it is true that the markets have fundamentally changed. The dominant liquidity providers have shifted from human to machine. A machine can change its quote thousands of times faster than a human can.

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