Michael Lewis applies his writing chops to the story of high-speed trading
Michael Lewis possesses two virtues that are rarely united in a single writer: he has no fear of talking to engineers about technical issues and he’s a top-flight storyteller. In his new book, Flash Boys, Lewis applies both skills to the rise of high-speed trading in the 2000s and the way its enormous complexity was being used to do something pretty simple–make a huge amount of money for people in the know, without those not in the know realizing it. How could they have? “For a market expert truly to get inside the New York Stock Exchange, he’d need to climb inside a tall black stack of computer servers locked inside a cage locked inside a fortress guarded by a small army of heavily armed men and touchy German shepherds in Mahwah, New Jersey.” The heroes of Flash Boys are a band of insiders who figured out what was going on and how to get around it and, ultimately, reform it. More than ever, the economic injustices of the world are made possible by the unequal distribution of information. Lewis is doing his part to smooth out those differences.
This appears in the April 14, 2014 issue of TIME.