42 pages 1 hour read

Michael Lewis

Flash Boys: A Wall Street Revolt

Nonfiction | Book | Adult | Published in 2014

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Chapters 5-6Chapter Summaries & Analyses

Chapter 5 Summary: “Putting a Face on HFT”

Chapter 5 returns to Sergey Aleynikov, whose 2009 arrest sparked Lewis’s interest in HFT. He grew up Jewish in Soviet Russia at a time when Jewish people were carefully monitored by the state, and the authorities would not let him switch from his assigned subject of math to his preferred subject of computer science. He moved to the United States at the age of 20. While he had trouble adjusting to certain aspects of American culture, his computer skills were evident enough to secure steady employment. Aleynikov specialized in writing code for optimizing speed, and by 2007 he accepted a job with Goldman Sachs. Although Aleynikov seemed to embody the American dream as an immigrant with a wife, three children, a house in New Jersey, and a prestigious job, he was disgruntled with suburban life and spent most of his time working a job he found unsatisfying. At a time when Russians were gaining a reputation as proficient coders, Aleynikov was among the best, able to write out problems on paper so that the program itself had few bugs. By 2008, he noticed the growing importance of high-frequency trading, as a decentralizing stock market created new opportunities for intermediaries to pop up between buyers and sellers.