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Outrageous

It never ends.

There’s yet another story of how the rich and powerful stack the deck and take advantage of their positions.

The University of Michigan conducts a monthly survey of consumers, crunches the numbers, and releases its Consumer Sentiment Index. The report often moves the markets, so getting the information in advance can give you a big leg up if you’re a big market player. Sure enough, the company that has the million dollar a year contract with the university to distribute the report will give you the information early, for a fee.

How early? Are you sitting down? Two seconds. That’s right, two seconds before everyone else. That’s because you don’t get the information, your computer does and on Wall Street these days, thanks to blazingly fast computers and complicated mathematical formulas, that’s an eternity.

The CNBC story on all of this has a stunning example of how long two seconds can be on Wall Street. At exactly 9:54:57.975 AM on May 17 trading spiked in a fund that tracks the S&P 500 stock index. By 9:54:57.985, in just 10 milliseconds, 100,000 shares in the fund had traded hands. By 9:54:58.075, in just 100 milliseconds, the price of the fund jumped from $165.90 to more than $166.06. A half second later (500 milliseconds) there had been more than $40 million in trades. Just for a little perspective, it takes you between 300 and 400 milliseconds to blink your eye.

It’s not just Wall Street. I think our whole fiscal system is broken, and rife with abuses. It was supposed to all be fixed by the Dodd-Frank fiscal reform bill, but the lobbyists for the fat-cats are doing their best (which is pretty good) to gut the bill as its language is turned into actual rules and regulations.

It’s just outrageous.

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