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Rise of the machines: algorithmic trading in the foreign exchange market

  • Alain P. Chaboud
  • Benjamin Chiquoine
  • Erik Hjalmarsson
  • Clara Vega

We study the impact that algorithmic trading, computers directly interfacing at high frequency with trading platforms, has had on price discovery and volatility in the foreign exchange market. Our dataset represents a majority of global interdealer trading in three major currency pairs in 2006 and 2007. Importantly, it contains precise observations of the size and the direction of the computer-generated and human-generated trades each minute. The empirical analysis provides several important insights. First, we find evidence that algorithmic trades tend to be correlated, suggesting that the algorithmic strategies used in the market are not as diverse as those used by non-algorithmic traders. Second, we find that, despite the apparent correlation of algorithmic trades, there is no evident causal relationship between algorithmic trading and increased exchange rate volatility. If anything, the presence of more algorithmic trading is associated with lower volatility. Third, we show that even though some algorithmic traders appear to restrict their activity in the minute following macroeconomic data releases, algorithmic traders increase their provision of liquidity over the hour following each release. Fourth, we find that non-algorithmic order flow accounts for a larger share of the variance in exchange rate returns than does algorithmic order flow. Fifth, we find evidence that supports the recent literature that proposes to depart from the prevalent assumption that liquidity providers in limit order books are passive.

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Paper provided by Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.) in its series International Finance Discussion Papers with number 980.

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Date of creation: 2009
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Handle: RePEc:fip:fedgif:980
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  1. Evans, Martin D.D. & Lyons, Richard K., 2008. "How is macro news transmitted to exchange rates?," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 88(1), pages 26-50, April.
  2. Bollerslev, Tim & Wright, Jonathan H., 2000. "Semiparametric estimation of long-memory volatility dependencies: The role of high-frequency data," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 98(1), pages 81-106, September.
  3. Torben G. Andersen & Tim Bollerslev & Francis X. Diebold & Clara Vega, 2007. "Real-Time Price Discovery in Global Stock, Bond and Foreign Exchange Markets," CREATES Research Papers 2007-20, School of Economics and Management, University of Aarhus.
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  6. David W. Berger & Alain P. Chaboud & Sergey V. Chernenko & Edward Howorka & Jonathan H. Wright, 2006. "Order flow and exchange rate dynamics in electronic brokerage system data," International Finance Discussion Papers 830, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
  7. Alain Chaboud & Benjamin Chiquoine & Erik Hjalmarsson & Mico Loretan, 2008. "Frequency of observation and the estimation of integrated volatility in deep and liquid financial markets," BIS Working Papers 249, Bank for International Settlements.
  8. Paolo Pasquariello & Clara Vega, 2006. "Informed and strategic order flow in the bond markets," International Finance Discussion Papers 874, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
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  10. Torben G. Andersen & Tim Bollerslev & Francis X. Diebold & Clara Vega, 2002. "Micro Effects of Macro Announcements: Real-Time Price Discovery in Foreign Exchange?," Center for Financial Institutions Working Papers 02-23, Wharton School Center for Financial Institutions, University of Pennsylvania.
  11. Ananth Madhavan & Matthew Richardson & Mark Roomans, . "Why Do Security Prices Change? A Transaction-Level Analysis of NYSE Stocks," Rodney L. White Center for Financial Research Working Papers 20-94, Wharton School Rodney L. White Center for Financial Research.
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  15. Torben G. Andersen & Tim Bollerslev & Francis X. Diebold & Paul Labys, 2003. "Modeling and Forecasting Realized Volatility," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 71(2), pages 579-625, March.
  16. Ron Kaniel & Hong Liu, 2006. "So What Orders Do Informed Traders Use?," The Journal of Business, University of Chicago Press, vol. 79(4), pages 1867-1914, July.
  17. Milgrom, Paul & Stokey, Nancy, 1982. "Information, trade and common knowledge," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 26(1), pages 17-27, February.
  18. Hasbrouck, Joel, 1996. "Order characteristics and stock price evolution An application to program trading," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 41(1), pages 129-149, May.
  19. Martin D.D. Evans & Richard K. Lyons, 1999. "Order Flow and Exchange Rate Dynamics," NBER Working Papers 7317, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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