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Faster, Cheaper, Dumber: Street Whispers

That is why the new Wall Street war for clients isn't about serving retail giants E-Trade (ETCF), Charles Schwab (SCHW) and TD Ameritrade (AMTD - Get Report) with lower prices, but instead about serving up ordinary trades to a shark tank of fast-money traders who've plugged directly into exchanges.

As ordinary equity investors flee stocks because of a loss of confidence in markets after flash crashes have led the likes of Apple (AAPL) above $100,000.00 and Accenture (ACN), Hewlett Packard (HPQ) and Boston Beer Company (SAM) to pennies, stock market trading is increasingly the domain of quick buck artists.

As a result, exchanges and trading outfits are now focused on gaining the remaining retail or institutional orders to lure in exponentially larger sized HFT trades.

While exchanges, regulators and high frequency trading outfits frame new developments in the structure of stock trading on improvements in pricing, speed and execution, there seems to be little recognition that markets remain on a crash course towards instability and speculation, at the detriment of long-term retail and institutional investors who used to be the fabric of stock trading.

In order to take back market position from ominous dark pools and high frequency exchanges where trading largely goes unregulated, NYSE Euronext's seemingly well-intentioned efforts to bring those trading practices to retail investors - backed on a "trial basis" by the Securities and Exchange Commission -- are likely to be overwhelmed by benefits to speculators.

For more on high frequency trading see why high frequency traders are ready to feast on corn and why they love a good flash crash.

-- Written by Antoine Gara in New York

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