zerohedge.com / by Tyler Durden / 07/10/2012 20:55 -0400
Courtesy of the author, we present to our readers the following excerpt from Dark Pools: High-Speed Traders, AI Bandits, and the Threat to the Global Financial System, by Scott Patterson, author of The Quants.
In the dark dawn hours of yet another frigid New York morning, Josh Levine dressed quickly and left his apartment in the shadow of the Twin Towers at Battery Park. He trudged through city blocks clogged with treacherous mounds of packed dirt-pocked snow and ice from the year’s record-breaking string of storms. It was February 16, 1996. A Friday. Earlier that week, IBM’s AI supercomputer Deep Blue defeated world chess champion Garry Kasparov for the first time. Bill Clinton was entering his second term in office. The country was in the midst of a powerful economic boom that would culminate in a massive tech-stock bubble, and Levine and Datek’s army of traders would be at the center of it.
The programmer walked east on Wall Street, then turned south on Broad, passing by the marble façade of the NYSE. At 50 Broad, he took the elevator to the sixth floor and walked past a few early risers, the wired, sunken-eyed day traders for Datek. Staring at their computer terminals, hugging their steaming coffees, waiting impatiently for the action to start at the opening bell, they nodded to Levine quietly as he passed.
Months earlier, Levine had decamped from the tiny cluttered room on the tenth floor of 50 Broad to a larger room on the sixth.
The room quickly slouched toward the en- tropic chaos Levine seemed to thrive in. He brought in an inflatable kiddie pool and populated it with turtles. He grew sea monkeys in a glass jar. An Israeli army bazooka leaned in a corner. The ubiquitous garbage piles, the tech ’zines such as PC World, stacks of computer books, pizza boxes, magazines, crunched Coke cans, crumpled computer printout paper, and candy wrappers rose to the ceiling like tropical plants, competing for space with the baker’s racks of computers, rows of computer terminals lined up on card tables, electric cords and creeping cables shooting out of the floor and through holes in the ceiling.
Levine shed his jacket, sat down before his monitor, and hit a but- ton. His computer hummed awake. It was time. The pieces were in place. Now he was about to bring to life the heretical idea that he’d been nurturing ever since he was a teenage runner in the 1980s.