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Another plus is if the bank tells the feds the security of the U.S. financial markets is at stake. This brings us to the strange tale of Goldman Sachs Group Inc. and Sergey Aleynikov.
Aleynikov, 39, is the former Goldman computer programmer who was arrested on theft charges July 3 as he stepped off a flight at Liberty International Airport in Newark, New Jersey. That was two days after Goldman told the government he had stolen its secret, rapid-fire, stock- and commodities-trading software in early June during his last week as a Goldman employee. Prosecutors say Aleynikov uploaded the program code to an unidentified Web site server in Germany.
It wasn’t just Goldman that faced imminent harm if Aleynikov were to be released, Assistant U.S. Attorney Joseph Facciponti told a federal magistrate judge at his July 4 bail hearing in New York. The 34-year-old prosecutor also dropped this bombshell: “The bank has raised the possibility that there is a danger that somebody who knew how to use this program could use it to manipulate markets in unfair ways.”
How could somebody do this? The precise answer isn’t obvious -- we’re talking about a black-box trading system here. And Facciponti didn’t elaborate. You don’t need a Goldman Sachs doomsday machine to manipulate markets, of course. A false rumor expertly planted using an ordinary telephone often will do just fine. In any event, the judge rejected Facciponti’s argument that Aleynikov posed a danger to the community, and ruled he could go free on $750,000 bail. He was released July 6.
All this leaves us to wonder: Did Goldman really tell the government its high-speed, high-volume, algorithmic-trading program can be used to manipulate markets in unfair ways, as Facciponti said? And shouldn’t Goldman’s bosses be worried this revelation may cause lots of people to start hypothesizing aloud about whether Goldman itself might misuse this program?
“The copy in Germany is still out there,” the prosecutor said, according to an audio recording of the hearing. “And we at this time do not know who else has access to it and what’s going to happen to that software.”
Meantime, it would be nice to see someone at Goldman go on the record to explain what’s stopping the world’s most powerful investment bank from using its trading program in unfair ways, too. Oh yes, and could the bank be a bit more careful about safeguarding its trading programs from now on? Hopefully the government is asking the same questions already.
Originally posted by questioningall
So the program could manipulate markets in unfair ways? Why did they have such a program? Have they done that in the past?
Originally posted by questioningall
So the program could manipulate markets in unfair ways? Why did they have such a program?
A couple of months ago, we also learned through Zero Hedge  that Goldman had profited greatly from a sweetheart deal with the federal government concerning a new program instituted by the Feds known as "The Supplemental Liquidity Provider" Program ("SLP"), launched while we were all eating Turkey last Thanksgiving. It is supposed to provide "market liquidity" (i.e.: an ongoing, active market) for selected groups of 500 different NYSE stocks per SLP participant. The problem is as Durden pointed out to all who were interested, it certainly appeared to him that Goldman was the only active participant in the program.
We also learned from Bloomberg  that as of April, Goldman-Sachs had reaped the benefits of more $100 million-plus days of trading revenue than it had in the history of its business, wow ! How did they do that?
The platform is one of the things that gives Goldman an advantage over the competition when it comes to the rapid-fire trading of stocks and commodities. Federal authorities say the platform quickly processes rapid developments in the markets and using secret mathematical formulas, allows the firm to make highly-profitable automated trades. (and maybe pre-emptive ones at that)
If you have your hands on the code that runs on Goldman's trading platform—again, one of the largest in the world—then you know with 100 percent accuracy which trades Goldman's computers are going to make in response to a given set of inputs. All you need then is even faster hardware so that you can get to those trades just a few milliseconds before Goldman, and you'll always beat the bank and therefore be able to sell to Goldman at a slight premium. Goldman will therefore make less on every trade, since you'll essentially be usurping their place in the pecking order.
When US government prosecutors claim that the release of Goldman's secret sauce could potentially expose markets to manipulation, what they're really saying is that some unknown party could use it to out-manipulate Goldman, and possibly even do something more ambitious like frustrate Goldman's platform so that it fails while simultaneously finding some way to short it.