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Electronic Trading Executives Want to Shoot the Messenger

Chris Concannon, president and COO of electronic trading firm Virtu Financial also chimed in, stating "there's a couple of reporters at the Journal that I might want to talk to about helping us with our confidence in our markets."

O'Brien added, "Amen. Stop scaring people."

It's easy to see why these executives are so upset. High-frequency trading profits have taken a drastic tumble -- from $5 billion in 2009 to $1 billion last year according to Rosenblatt Securities data cited in a recent Bloomberg Businessweek article entitled "How the Robots Lost: High-Frequency Trading's Rise and Fall." While the article certainly notes the technical glitches scaring off investors, it also points to shrinking margins for high-tech trading firms -- an inevitable occurrence as nearly any industry matures.

Despite repeatedly returning to the subject of negative media coverage of their industry, the electronic trading executives appeared willing to take at least some share of the blame.

Concannon, for example, faulted industry participants "accusing other participants of manipulation." It is "kind of a problem if you want investor confidence when we as an industry are negative about ourselves," he said.

The executives also noted the importance of preventing future trading mishaps.

O'Brien declared "we're about 98% of the way there with respect to the Flash Crash risks. The limit up/limit down system that's been implemented almost completely and will be by August will really solve that problem and the idea of a stock going from $40 to a penny to $39 in a couple of minutes just won't be able to happen."

Let's hope he's wrong. As a member of the media who envies people who make money, I've been chomping at the bit for my next chance to overhype an occasional glitch.

-- Written by Dan Freed in New York.

Disclosure: TheStreet's editorial policy prohibits staff editors, reporters and analysts from holding positions in any individual stocks.
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