Michael Lewis has been a best-selling business writer for 25 years. His Liar’s Poker told what it was like in the late ’80s for fast-talking, aggressive phone jockeys hawking securities in industries and markets they didn’t understand. (And what was it like? Pretty lucrative.) His Moneyball described new ways of looking for value and competitive advantages in the marketplace. (Brad Pitt starred in the movie.) His The Big Short pulled the covers off how and why a few of Wall Street’s biggest players would concoct derivatives they knew would fail. (You may have read about some of them during the 2008 recession.)
His new book, Flash Boys, takes readers inside the world of high-frequency trading, where the guy with the fastest router wins and milliseconds are worth billions. We’re mentioning it here because, like every other industry—including yours—Wall Street has been transformed by technology. Not only in obvious ways (e-trading and the like), but also in hard-to-suss-out ways that, some would say, have rigged the game in favor of high-frequency traders at the expense of those of us who dabble in the market, and those of us whose only exposure happens inside our 401(k)s.
Lewis’s grasp of technology is steadier than that of most non-geeks, and he does a good job helping us see the connections between fiber optic cabling and price fluctuations on NASDAQ. It’s a fascinating read.