Until Charles Schwab, the founder of Charles Schwab (SCHW - Get Report), spoke out against HFT in the marketplace to the Wall Street Journal, Mark Cuban was one of the few that stood up and took a stance.
Well, ladies and gentleman, he's right! Cuban, owner of the National Basketball Association's Dallas Mavericks, has laid out several different scenarios that wouldn't outlaw high-frequency trading per se, but rather, highly discourage it.
By enhancing the tax benefits to long-term investors -- such as eliminating the dividend tax for stocks held more than five years and a lower or eliminated tax on long-term capital gains -- it encourages stocks to be held over longer periods of time. He also proposed a per-share tax or fee for positions held for less than 1 hour.
Why would the public have a problem with that? I certainly don't.I'm an investor for the long term and I'm also a trader. I don't usually hold positions less than one hour, but swing them over days or weeks. For the vast majority of market participants, this would have little to no effect. Actually, I take that back. It would have a positive effect. By eliminating taxes on dividends or cutting down the long-term capital gains tax, it allows investors to hold on to a greater portion of their earnings. That "extra" money can be reinvested into something else -- perhaps the same security, if it's a dividend -- and allow investors to have more bang for their buck. As Cuban said, the equity markets were originally put in place to raise capital for businesses. Now, it's a battleground for algorithms and computers. A nerd wonderland of financially destructive bots. Another "fat finger" incident will happen again; it's only a matter of time. The circuit breakers are no help either. So they shut the market down for a couple of minutes after a 10% swoon. Big whoop. That's like putting a band-aid over a bullet wound. The government (and many other organizations for that matter) are notorious for coming up with short-term solutions that fail to address the long-term issues. Let's get something right and discourage high-frequency trading. Outlawing it might be "un-American," but nothing says we can't discourage it.
-- Written by Bret Kenwell in Petoskey, Mich. Follow @BretKenwell At the time of publication, the author held no position in any stocks mentioned.
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