Critics say high-frequency trading (HFT) puts institutional and retail investors at a speed disadvantage, but a C.D. Howe Institute report disputes that claim.

“High-frequency trading is taking world capital markets by storm, notably in the United States and the United Kingdom, where it accounted for about 50% of equities trading in 2012, and to a growing extent in other parts of Europe and in Canada,” says Jeffrey G. MacIntosh, author of the report High Frequency Traders: Angels or Devils?

HFT is blamed for the May 2010 Flash Crash when the Dow Jones Industrial Average dropped more than 9% in a few minutes.

However, the report concludes that HFT enhances market quality by lowering bid/ask spreads, reducing volatility and helping create competitive pressures that reduce broker commissions.

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