Sprecher Slams High-Speed Electronic Exchanges

The CEO of the firm that's about to take over the New York Stock Exchange has criticized alternative market trading. Jeffrey Sprecher said equity markets, including the NYSE, allow sophisticated traders to take advantage of small investors. He added such models are destined to fail and that people outside the markets have a sense things aren't fair.

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STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

And let's talk next about Jeff Sprecher, the CEO of Intercontinental Exchange. He's offered some sharp criticism about stock trading. And people are listening because Sprecher's company is about to buy the New York Stock Exchange.

NPR's Jim Zarroli reports.

JIM ZARROLI, BYLINE: In recent years, the stock market has gone through dramatic change, fragmenting into a number of high-speed electronic exchanges. In a conference call with analysts, Sprecher said many of these markets provide a technological edge to sophisticated investors with powerful computers, who can afford to time their stock trades. And he said they do so at the expense of small investors, who often don't have much leeway about when they buy or sell stocks.

JEFF SPRECHER: And that means that they can be charged usury rates and that means that they can have poorer information than people they trade against when they put a market order in.

ZARROLI: Sprecher said small investors want to believe these electronic exchanges are looking out for them.

SPRECHER: But in reality, those people are incented to take advantage of the people that are the weakest on the day they have to trade and I think that that is fundamentally wrong.

ZARROLI: Sprecher said when he talks to people who aren't involved in the markets, there's a sense that things aren't fair. And he said exchanges that are built around this kind of business model are destined to fail. Sprecher's company is about to buy NYSE Euronext, which owns the New York Stock Exchange, and the sale could go through within days.

Jim Zarroli, NPR News, New York.

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