Quants: The Alchemists of Wall Street

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The days of spivs wearing silly jackets shouting at each other on a trading floor have all but died, in their place are supremely intelligent mathematical geniuses and computer scientists creating algorithmic trading models and software programs which use mathematical formulas to determine when to buy and sell a stock, allowing trading to be performed by bots with no manual intervention.

Quants: The Alchemists of Wall Street is a 2006 documentary which peers into this world and meets the geniuses creating these trading models, but have they created a monster which is at danger of spiraling out of control and leading us into a new financial crisis? Algorithmic trading already shouldered a proportion of the blame for the 2009 financial crisis.

A great documentary to watch after you have finished this one is Floored (2009) which shows the impact that automated trading has had on traditional traders on the trading room floor in Chicago, particularly those who were unwilling to ditch their traditional methods and switch to software based trading.

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