Trading on the American Dream

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HFT and the Stability and Fairness of Markets

High Frequency Trading (HFT), the process of buying and selling small groups of securities at infernally fast speeds, has become one of the easiest ways of ensuring gains for a fund’s customers. Specially designed complex algorithms read and react to market trends in milliseconds, acquiring and dumping stock before a mere human would even know it has happened. Only small gains might be made on each trade, but the speed at which the trades can be made, combined with the scope a speed at which a computer can read market trends, means hundreds of trades done in only seconds. It is low-end retail philosophy applied to market trading: massive quantities of low gain trades.

American GreedThe increase in both network speeds and computing power has meant that those with available capital, usually large hedge fund management companies, can invest in the expensive labour and hardware required to achieve these alarming trading speeds. And they are! Although it is estimated that only 2% of firms in the US are engaged in HFT, they account for over 70% of daily trading. When so few can account for so much market activity, and such high entry costs prevent others from participating, one surely has to reassess whether equality of opportunity is still at the heart of the American Dream insofar as it relates to the stock market.

Other traders are now also complaining of a reduced confidence in the fairness of the market caused byprinting money HFT. Most large investors try to mask their actions using various methods in order to not be headed off. But the most complex of HFT algorithms are capable of reading trends with a speed, precision, and scope that no trader could possibly achieve, granting a significant advantage. Not surprisingly, some investors have reported dissatisfaction at the potential for their trades to be headed off. The speeds at which these algorithms are capable of acquiring data and reacting to trends have raised serious questions over whether fair markets can be maintained while some traders engage in HFT.

Not only has fairness been a concern, but HFT introduces new volatility challenges that are extremely hard to predict. There is a potential for rogue algorithms, in other words algorithms which behave other than intended. And the speed at which other HFT engaged firms respond to these missteps can exacerbate one mistake almost instantly. No mere hypothesis, this phenomenon has already been seen once, when on May 6 a Midwestern mutual fund company’s HFT algorithm mistakenly dumped a significant number of stocks. The HFT algorithms of other firms had read this stock dumping as a sign to sell, and many pulled completely out of the market. In less than four minutes the DOW crashed more than 600 points, its fastest decline ever.

Crumbling EconomyNot only is the use of HFT granting unfair advantages to those who have the upfront capital to acquire such systems, but it introduces a level of unpredictable volatility which has been known to quickly explode in to a flash crash. As more of us rely on investments for our retirement and education savings, this volatility in the market has great effects on our own future, putting it further out of our control. HFT is only one of many American Dream games changers effecting the equality of opportunity which America has always espoused. Over the next few weeks we’ll take a look at a few more ways technology is changing the American Dreamscape, including some which are putting hope back in to the prosperity and freedom of the United States.

<i>with files from the International Organization of Securities Commissions ( and The Wall Street Journal (</i>

Dentists, Doctors and Dorks

So who the heck wants to spend their life behind bars? What about a life behind books? To some its the same damn thing. Yet form the get go we are encouraged to grow up to be dentists, doctors and essentially-dorks.

i am jumping the gun, over-exaggerating and this general feeling is one that is uniquely personal to me. But I do believe there are others that share my experience.

Being brought up in an upper middle class family is something I have always enjoyed. We were never left wanting yet were by no means spoiled. The driving force behind my family was my mother. We called her The General.

She was the enforcer. The one to look out for, the one to ask when you wanted permission and the one you feared the most when you’d done something wrong. My father had equal power (although his authority was was only as grand when affirmed by the support of my mother) yet he was our secret weapon. We always got him to agree to something first before approaching our mom in order to get permission for whatever it was. I’m leaning towards fond childhood memories-yet I digress.

Going to University was ALWAYS the end goal.

It was all about getting good grades in order to get to a good school in order to get a good job. That’s what life looked like to me when I was young.  A step ladder with three main steps and the rest was a giant plateau for grazing or whatever it was that working people were doing.

What do you want to be when you grow up?

The options were the obvious for me and it was stock broker or lawyer. I was constantly asked if I wanted to be a doctor or dentist but never a garbage man or carpenter. I now live in North Hollywood and I am a management constant, seo specialist and I coach some kids as a hobby since I played five years professional tennis. That part will never die.

This part of my life, at 35 years old, has been tricky. Everything came true as my father predicted. My friends are millionaires or at the very least own homes and have families. One of my closest friends from New York has managed to acquire 29 properties after retiring from investment banking. He works around the clock, barely sees his wife and yet is set for a few generations.

After turning pro at 25 years old, I was in deep debt at 30-the price to pay for playing a young mans sport. At 35 I have stopped dreaming about the tour and am still climbing out debt. So who is living the American dream-or getting closest to it? It aint me baby!

Denise Fundora is a dentist in West Hollywood I recently came in contact with through a girl I was dating. I was surprised that her practice was just her and two assistants in a cozy little office in West Hollywood, that was nestled in with a few hundred of other corporate offices. She took pride in her work and was very business like. There’s the stereotypical dentist persona and I gotta say that apart from being a dentist West Hollywood has helped her create an image that is really admirable. She takes fridays off and she is sometimes only in from 10am-1pm. If you need a good dentist in West Hollywood you can check out her Facebook page here.

My understanding of the American dream is to accumulate things and buy freedom by positioning ourselves to benefit from this undying and relentless economy. My goals have been inspired purely from whim and passion and I find myself struggling to keep float since I have an addiction to taking time from work. Having said this, I have the luxury of working three hours a day if I want or don’t want to.

All American dreams aside, who lives in the land of the free?

Although I thought I wanted tot be a lawyer-it never would have worked out. The illusion that money makes you happy is ALMOST real-becasue it does offer a lot of things that can bring temporary happiness-and we are only here on this earth temporarily anyway! The real treasures are the acts of making goals and achieving them.

The best advice I could ever give anyone is to follow your heart, explore your passion and make other peoples passion your business. But above all, make a plan that suits you and know where you want to be at the end of the journey.

Where “The American Dream” Falls Short

bush_devil_hornsNo matter which way I slice it, I come back to the same debate of what it means to be successful. Money is a powerful tool in your lives and yet it resembles the Ring in JR Tolkiens “The Lord Of the Rings” in the sense that it has the power to rule men but the one who wields this power is subject to falling into temptation.

We all desire the things that money can afford but what cost are we willing to pay for those luxuries? How many premium paying families does a health insurance company turn down to turn a huge profit-regardless of the legitimacy or not? How many guilty men does a lawyer protect from incarceration before he reaches a financial milestone. Is there a point where like individuals and entities walk away from their wicked ways or does the behavioral pattern persist and possibly deteriorate from a moral standpoint?

imagesHow long will our governments continue to pervert their own people by making laws that take care of themselves? Will any of this end or is humanity destined for this environment until it’s destruction. We live in the most powerful country in the world and it’s only now we’re finding we’ve been fed lies for years. The same men who will stand up and shout freedom for all claim this land of the free will make a deal worth millions to sell our country out to high bidding foreigners for infrastructure jobs.

The same government who will tap our phones and then make “random” citation only to find by “coincidence” the evidence that they were tracking previously. I’m not supporting crime but if you state laws then as a lawmaker at least abide by them-especially if you’re punishing those who don’t. So what is success? To me it’s finding love for life and beauty in what you do and who you do it with. It sounds simple but that’s what is bliss for me. I just wanna do all that in my 10 million dollar yacht with models pouring coconut oil on me while I get wonky listening to old 80’s music. Nah-it would probably be house music on my yacht….

I’ll let you know when I get there.


Where are our values headed?

Values are sustaining thoughts or notions that provide us with a basic guidance system. Core values are represented by all of us when it comes to showing who we are and what we deem as important. As a single male, 34 years old and finally ready to share a world of love with the right female my fear for our society is compounded by some of the beliefs that I have come across. It’s not to say that I am right or anyone is wrong in what they believe, but when it comes to creating the family environment and sharing a passionate love with someone else… Well it gets complicated.

I have grown up in a suburb outside of Toronto that was prominently middle class and relatively conservative. I went away to NY for University and ended up in Los Angeles where I have stayed for 10 years. During my time on this earth I have never seen more people completely on the extreme ends of the spectrum when it comes to almost every issue that pertains to living a healthy normal life.

What is normal. I’m not. I don’t know anyone who is. We all have something different about us that defines are values which are either shared or opposed. Where does true VALUE come from?

This particular post is inspired by a woman who is 14 years younger than me. She has been everything I wanted with some pleasant surprises. And then came the not so pleasant ones. Even then, I was compelled to get past them and try to make the damn thing work. But the final blow came when she told me she wanted to pose for Playboy.

At this point the readers are now dividing. Well, whatever your opinion may be I had a tough time with it. The value I see in loving someone involves sex-great sex, along with a relationship that is nurturing and caring. Admittedly, I am a bit jealous when it come to other people seeing my girlfriend naked. I can’t wrap my head around the idea of her walking out the door of my place, going to some location and taking off her clothes for a bunch of men.

The situation is not one of desperation. She isn’t being offered some life changing money. The act of posing nude has nothing to do with her goals and aspirations. It’s just fast cash for exposing her nice ass. The whole thing really gets under my skin and bothers the shit out of me.

I see the act of her choosing to expose her delicious body as sharing herself with outsiders. I take joy in our intimacy and I feel that she is taking that away.

She feels that the female body is beautiful and deserves to be seen. She sees Playboy as a stepping stone to her career and a way of making her dreams come true.

I feel lost in the way that this person could knowingly destroy something so sacred and special in our relationship and justify it with the promise of big money when she has not been offered any at all. I suppose this person is not the one who truly cares for me but at the same time the passion and conviction with which she makes her point makes me wonder how it came to be that posing nude became something that should be accepted even though they’re in a relationship where money isn’t lacking and all goals could be met and achieved without them.

What is so alluring about an American dream that leaves hearts broken and lives turned upside down in the process of achieving it? At what point do you draw the line between achieving worldly goals at the cost of sacrificing your spiritual ones?


The American Dream Conceptualized

It is possible that anyone can live a successful life through hard work and determination. This is what the American dream is all about. The concept is based on the idea that America is a free country and with that freedom, life can be fuller, happier and with many opportunities to make anyone’s dreams come true, regardless of their abilities or achievements.

Over the years, the definition and concept of the American dream has changed. People had all sorts of hopes and aspirations towards life especially because they saw the many opportunities that was available in America. What has not changed however is the components that make up the American dream. The idea of improving ones life one way or another, through hard work and determination, still takes up the lead. Other factors such as home ownership and personal development has also remained constant over the years. This also included the right to education and the possibility of having a satisfying career.

The American dream is shared all over the world. People want to improve their well being. First it was due to the abundance of resources all over the country, then the fact that democracy allowed any kind of people regardless of age sex race or ability to acquire the wealth. Thirdly, it was because of the freedom to choose and fashion things to their own liking and now because of the changes brought about by technology. Technology is playing a major part in creating a new concept of the American dream. The fact that the American dream is still being linked to material prosperity and economic advancement, as long as there is still abundance of resources, democracy, freedom and the possibility for change, then hope to achieve our aspiration will live on.

What is important is the fact that there would be not possibility of change if people did not believe in the American dream. The concept is what makes everyone believe in their ideas and work hard to achieve them. Technology on the other hand is making things simpler by ensuring that people do not have to work too hard to achieve their dreams but rather, it allows people to work smart and creatively from where ever they can to achieve what they have destined themselves to. And because there is no way we can reverse the changes that are taking place, all that is expected is to make use of the available resources in order to achieve the aspirations that we have as long as there is freedom, resources, democracy, and the idea for new things.

As long as there is a hope for a dream, anyone can achieve their aspirations. Change is good as long as it is received positively. Economic changes and the though of a corporate take over, should not affect how we view the American dream. In fact, with the concept of the American dream living on, anyone around the world would want achieve it and America would still be seen as the promise land.