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NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Not all progress is good for mankind, Jim Cramer told his "Mad Money" show viewers Tuesday. He was responding to a recent report by the Chicago Federal Reserve that acknowledged the threat high-frequency trading represents to the individual investor.
Cramer said that genetically modified seeds were once touted as "progress," but now the country is rejecting them in favor of all-natural, organic products. Nuclear power was also praised as "progress," until the Three Mile Island and Fukushima disasters convinced people otherwise.So it should come as no surprise that high-frequency trading, the kind that caused the "flash crash" and almost bankrupted Knight Capital (KCG), is in the same situation. Individual investors understand there are risks associated with investing in stocks. There's a sense of "acceptable risk," said Cramer, and investors can wrap their heads around things like the events that caused the dot-com collapse of 2001 and the financial panic of 2008, for example. But when it comes to high-frequency trading, individuals have no idea what they're up against. The algorithms are far too fast and far too powerful for even the most seasoned of investor to understand. Unfortunately, the Chicago Fed is not the agency to do anything about the problem, said Cramer. Only the Securities and Exchange Commission can make changes like reinstating the uptick rule to limit short-sellers or ban the double- and triple-levered exchange-traded funds that serve no purpose other than catering to the high-frequency crowd. Thus our market system will continue to sacrifice integrity and transparency in favor of speed and "progress."