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Romain Lafarguette

30 March 2016
We analyze the impact of technology on production and trade in services, focusing on the foreign exchange market. We identify exogenous technological changes by the connection of countries to submarine fiber-optic cables used for electronic trading, but which were not laid for purposes related to the foreign exchange market. We estimate the impact of cable connections on the share of offshore foreign exchange transactions. Cable connections between local markets and matching servers in the major financial centers lower the fixed costs of trading currencies and increase the share of currency trades occurring onshore. At the same time, however, they attenuate the effect of standard spatial frictions such as distance, local market liquidity, and restrictive regulations that otherwise prevent transactions from moving to the major financial centers. Our estimates suggest that the second effect dominates. Technology dampens the impact of spatial frictions by up to 80 percent and increases, in net terms, the share of offshore trading by 21 percentage points. Technology also has economically important implications for the distribution of foreign exchange transactions across financial centers, boosting the share in global turnover of London, the world
JEL Code
F30 : International Economics→International Finance→General
30 July 2019
Focusing on the foreign exchange reaction to macroeconomic announcements, we show that fast trading is positively and significantly correlated with the entropy of the distribution of quoted prices in reaction to news: a larger share of fast trading increases the degree of diversity of quotes in the order book, for given liquidity, order book depth and size of order flows. Exploiting the WM Reuters’ reform of the fixing methodology in February 2015 as a natural experiment, we provide evidence that fast trading raises entropy, rather than reacting to it. While more entropy in quoted prices means noisier information and arguably complicates price discovery from an individual trader’s perspective, we show that, in the aggregate, more entropy actually brings traded prices closer to the random walk hypothesis, and improves indicators of market efficiency and quality of trade execution. We estimate that a 10 percent increase in entropy reduces the negative impact of macro news by over 60% for effective spreads, against over 40% for realized spreads and price impacts. Our findings suggest that the main mechanism by which fast trading may have desirable effects on market performance specifically hinges on enhanced heterogeneity in trading patterns, best captured by entropy.
JEL Code
F31 : International Economics→International Finance→Foreign Exchange
G14 : Financial Economics→General Financial Markets→Information and Market Efficiency, Event Studies, Insider Trading
G15 : Financial Economics→General Financial Markets→International Financial Markets