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ICE Volatility Is What Big Money Lives For

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- What big money likes most is predictable volatility.

Traders with capital can get in front of predictable market swings, take their profits, and get out fast.

That's what high-frequency trading was about. I first wrote about it in a 1999 profile of daytraders for Salon

You see a stock moving and you get in, you get out before the move reverses. There may be just pennies of profit per share, but if you're disciplined, the thinking went, you could make some money.

HFT simply automated this process. The "scandal" unveiled by Michael Lewis in his book Flash Boys was that BATS Trading found a way to beat the other markets doing this by microseconds, by locating their computers near the Holland Tunnel.

The BATS move was the climax of the HFT game. They were dealing in advantages measured by the speed of light, and 186,000 miles per second isn't just a good idea -- it's a physical law.

So the game has moved, and as is so often the case, Goldman Sachs (GS - Get Report) is out ahead of the move.

The bank is closing its "dark money pool" called Sigma X, which was dedicated to HFT. It's even selling its New York Stock Exchange market-making unit

And here's the key to that story. The seat on the floor was acquired in 2000, through the acquisition of Spears, Leeds & Kellogg, for $6.5 billion, and the sale price in 2014 is a reported $30 million.

Over at Zero Hedge, Tyler Durden sees this as evidence Goldman Sachs is expecting a market crash.

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