You Can Jump Into The Fire

What is the creeping menace shown in the haunted chart below?  It’s the amount of high frequency trading in the stock market from the beginning of time January 2007 through January 2012…

Each color stands for a different U.S. stock exchange and the x-axis lays out the hours of each trading day, from 9:30am to 4pm EST.  What is it supposed to look like?   There is no correct answer, but the key is to notice that this phenomenon barely shows up in 2007 and initially only involved spikes at the open and the close of each day.  …  And then it just kind of goes nuts.  …  Much as it did last week when Knight Capital Group’s high frequency trading monster program went rogue and couldn’t be shut down for half an hour.

What kind of effect can one company’s trading program have?

A New York Times analysis of New York Stock Exchange volume on Wednesday morning showed that during the first minute of trading there was 12 percent more trading in all stocks than there had been on average during the previous seven days. By the third minute of trading there was 116 percent more trading than the previous week’s average. The difference reached a peak at 9:58 a.m., when the volume was six times greater. After that, trading volume fell off sharply, nearing the recent average at 10:15 a.m.

Now, where is it that we’re supposed to put all of our money for retirement, you know, to keep it safe?

[Chart from Nanex via Felix Salmon]

The Global Innovation Olympics

As a counterpoint to Olympic medal counts, see how the nations of the world stack up in terms of innovation and, crowd-favorite, GDP per capita:

From the GII release:

For the second year running, Switzerland, Sweden, and Singapore lead in overall innovation performance according to the Global Innovation Index 2012 (GII): Stronger Innovation Linkages for Global Growth, published by INSEAD, the leading international business school, and the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), a specialized agency of the United Nations.

You can see why they put the one on tv and not the other.

Go team.

[Chart from The Global Innovation Index via The Economist]

This Waste of Time Brought to You by Connecticut

posted in: External Screenshot, Smog, Video 0

The good news is Joseph Lieberman (I-CT) is not running for re-election this year.

The bad news is he is still a senator until then.

The worst news is that he is about to waste a couple minutes of your time and effort so that we avoid him hurting the country before he leaves.  After not getting support for his CSA2012 bill in February, Joe is back with the Cybersecurity Act of 2012 and everyone concerned about your rights and privacy is concerned about this new bill.

That’s why Fight for the Future is back with a new site at to walk you through why you should and how you can take action…

(click image to launch the presentation)

Or perhaps EFF‘s video on the subject is more your speed…

They’ve made it so easy for you to get involved you can do so right here, right now…

And last but far from least, the ACLU has more info to share, including what you need to know about the Franken-Paul pro-privacy amendment.

Okay, get to it.  The more time we spend putting out fires, the less time we spend building.  And Connecticut, you owe us (more than) one.

August, or Summer Slowly Going Down the Drain

All hands on deck!  Only one month left to use the season as an excuse to get out of working so much.

Tired of the calendar on your wall?!  Print a pdf of August (as seen above) to upgrade your calendar experience, or get a print-your-own copy of the whole Ape Con Myth 2012 Novelty Rip-Off Calendar!

The Dow Jones Before, During and After the Glass-Steagall Act

After yesterday’s post about breaking up the banks and The Newsroom’s mention of U.S. economic performance under Glass-Steagall, Ape Con Myth decided to dust off  The Tao Jones data set and take another look at the full history of the Dow Jones Industrial Average, from 1896 through last Friday.

This time we’ll look at 31,490 trading days using Glass-Steagall’s tenure as the yardstick…

(click the image to enlarge)

For more exploration of the Dow, check out The Tao Jones.

Ask the I Ching: Should We Break Up the Big Banks?

Former Citigroup CEO Sanford “Sandy” Weill has ruffled some feathers by suggesting that we should break up the big banks, separating investment banking from commercial banking as was the law under the Depression-era Glass-Steagall Act.  It’s definitely an interesting idea coming from “The Shatterer of Glass-Steagall,” particularly since he didn’t agree in 2010 when his former co-CEO at Citi, John Reed, apologized for his part in taking down the act.

Plenty of people are going to weigh in on the subject now, but how about we ask a source that hasn’t been a player in tanking the world economy?

Enter the I Ching…

The adornments must be stripped away.  Sounds a little bit like something you’d expect to hear from an ancient oracle, but that’s what it is.

The situation has been about appearances.  Bigger was thought to be better and so many banks became four.  But there is no too big to fail.  The bigger they come, the harder they fall.  That’s general policy.

Substance is more important than packaging.  If only the banks had consulted the I Ching before slicing and dicing all those mortgages.  And before they turned from stodgy suits into wild gamblers.  It took pushing us to the edge to do it, but trust in these institutions has faded.

Strip away the dead wood.  Perhaps it will be the Safe, Accountable, Fair and Efficient (SAFE) Banking Act that reigns in leverage and places a cap on how big these dead trees can be.

Rely on our own simple efforts.  Like a few other industries, trust is flowing to local alternatives where profit and expansion aren’t the primary concerns.

Or at least that’s one interpretation.  You could read more about the two hexagrams above with the Wilhelm translation to dive further into this reading or check back with the I Ching to see what it thinks today.

[I Ching reading via Psychic Science, Trust charts from the Chicago Booth | Kellogg School’s Financial Trust Index]

Q&A From Another World (or Marshall McLuhan on Canadian Television in 1967)

posted in: Ape Con Myth, Video 0

Answer to the question at 3:55, among other things…

I have no point of view.
As for example now, see I couldn’t possibly have a point of view,
I’m just moving around and picking up information from many directions.
No, a point of view means a static fixed position
and you can’t have a static fixed position in the Electric Age.
It’s impossible to have a point of view in the Electric Age,
and have any meaning at all.
You’ve got to be everywhere at once, whether you like it or not.
You have to be participating in everything going on at the same time
and that is not a point of view.

For more, check out the archive at Marshall McLuhan Speaks.

The Human Microbiome Project (or We’re Not Alone, We’re Teeming)

If you’re feeling full of life, it might be because on a cellular level your own cells are outnumbered 10-to-1 by microorganisms inside your body.  We know some are keeping us healthy and others are making us sick, but the initial goal of the Human Microbiome Project is to simply take attendance of all our guests.

Now prepare for some potentially unsettling truths with this New York Times’ visualization of the project’s microbe survey:

Yes, we’re all completely gross.

Now Playing: Great Galactic Ghoul and the Human Errors

Of humanity’s 40 attempts to explore Mars to date, the success rate has been a disappointing 50%, which has prompted some to wonder if there is a space monster out there with a taste for probes.

Decide for yourself with the Mars Exploration Family Portrait below and learn more about our track record, including the time the Mars Climate Orbiter (#31) made it all the way to Mars only to burn up in its atmosphere due to a mix-up between imperial and metric units.

(click to enlarge)

[Chart by Astrosaurus]

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