‘Moneyball’ Author: U.S. Stock Market Is “Rigged”

In Moneyball, author Michael Lewis told the tale of the Oakland A’s GM using statistics to gain an advantage over teams more flush with cash. Lewis’s new book Flash Boys tells a different story – one where the Wall Street traders flush with cash are the ones with superior information. Instead of outsmarting baseball teams, these characters play in what Lewis calls the “rigged” U.S. stock market. Everyone from small-time investors to hedge fund managers lose in this game.

Lewis appeared on CBS’s “60 Minutes” on March 30 to explain the premise of his new book titled, Flash Boys: A Wall Street Revolt. Lewis says the legal system of high-frequency trading is no less dangerous and unethical than the excesses that brought down financial markets ahead of the Great Recession. Then as now, limited understanding of advanced Wall Street trader techniques allows a select few with the technology to bilk millions out of investors on a daily basis.

“The United States stock market — the most iconic market in global capitalism — is rigged,” he said in the interview.

The Moneyball and Liar’s Poker author told “60 Minutes” on March 30 the cheat takes place in the processing of stock trades between the New York exchanges and the servers across the river in New Jersey. While average investors do not have access to prices for bids and other in-depth data, there is no way to profit from information about the rest of the activity on the market.

Enter the top traders working at the NYSE and NASDAQ. They have access to the information and the means to exploit it, Lewis says. In the estimation of one hedge fund manager, the difference “was costing [the hedge fund] $300 million a year.”

Lewis opens up more at length in the “60 Minutes” video. The former Bloomberg reporter’s Flash Boys goes on sale March 31.