Chapter One, page 8-22

  • The project was discussed of a line, like the lines used to send signals back and forth for phones, that connects a data center in Chicago to New Jersey, without the purpose being disclosed to the very people working on the line. Also discussed was the road blocks found along the way, and the process of selling the line.
  • “it sent out its first press release:”Round-trip travel time from Chicago to New Jersey has been cut to 13 milliseconds” They’d set a goal of coming in at under 840 miles and beaten it; the line was 827 miles long.”p.22
  • This quote is interesting because it shows the accomplishments of the line, and gives some insight to its importance. I find a parallel in the blindness of the construction workers on the line and the blindness in the ‘experts’ trying to explain wall street. I wonder if that is something common of wall street, and I predict it is, workers not knowing why they’re working on certain things, or just in general people working in wall street not knowing the whole picture.  Bennan Carley said that,” [Some] would sell their grandmothers for a microsecond” Which is interesting, because it shows the importance that was put on the speed of information going back and forth and the estimated profits of $20 billion a year if a single wall street bank were to exploit the discrepancies in prices, because of the faster travel time of information because of the line. One thing I don’t fully understand is that the consumer of the line, came back with a single question,”Can you double the price?” It doesn’t make sense to me for the only problem the boss came back with, was the price wasn’t high enough. Maybe he saw more potential in the line then the builders saw, or the price effects how other businesses see the transaction.

Introduction, page 1-5 and Michael Lewis’s article for Vanity Fair,”Did Goldman Sachs Overstep in Criminally Charging Its Ex-Programmer?”

  • Sergey Aleynikov the inspiration for Flash Boys, a Russian computer programmer who came to America to live the American dream and worked for Goldman Sachs, an American multinational investment banking firm, was arrested July 3, 2009, and was the only employee charged with the crime of stealing from Goldman Sachs. This crime was important enough to call the FBI, and the question is brought up if the code was so valuable and dangerous, how did a Russian who had worked for Goldman Sachs for only two years get his hands on it. Also brought up was the concept that since the stock market crash in 1987, the U.S stock market  now trades completely with computers and even an expert cannot explain what happens inside them or why, as well as the concept of the magnitude of the stakes in the stock market, and that picture.
  • On page four, chapter two it is discussed the picture of the stock market and that,”This book is an attempt to draw that picture…of computers, programmed to behave impersonally in ways that the programmer himself would never do personally”
  • It is said that ever since the crash in 2007, computers are replacing people. My question, is why is the stock market becoming ran by computers so important, when other parts of society is also becoming ran by computers. I also would like to learn more about the direct affect this has, and if it is a bad or good thing to replace people with computers. It is said that not even experts can say what happens in the stock market and why, which says something about how blind the people in the inside are, and makes me wonder how far up do you have to go to find the people who do know and control what happens. Since the ‘experts’ are blind to this, what does this say about how the stock market works and the possible corruption of it? I think that something should be done about the stock market and I hope the book goes into more detail about how it works so I can understand it and develop a better opinion.
  • In Michael Lewis’s article for Vanity Fair, Lewis makes a convincing case that Sergey Alenynikov’s worst mistake in life was going to America and working for Goldman Sachs. He goes on to discuss the lack of search and arrest warrants, biased law enforcement, not informing Alenynikov of why he was arrested until later as well as not telling Alenynikov his Miranda rights until he was in an interrogation room, and the lack of education of the law enforcement, with the officer directly dealing with Alenynikov later admitting he had no idea the value of the code.
  • “McSwain [ the agent in charge of Alenynikov’s case ] later conceded that he didn’t seek out independent expert advice to study the code Serge Alenynikov had taken…He himself had no idea the value of the stolen code”
  • Because Alenynikov was the inspiration for Flash Boys, I decided to do more research on him and his case. I came across this article also written by Michael Lewis, September 2013, which explains in more detail Alenynikov’s situation.  Some of the things that the FBI and the government in general did in terms of Alenynikov and his arrest does not follow protocol and the rules. While Alenynikov did steal code from Goldman Sachs, he didn’t open it when he had it after he stopped working at Goldman Sachs. This is interesting because if it was so important to get the FBI involved and neglect him of his rights, why didn’t Alenynikov open it? Also, Alenynikov only worked at Goldman Sachs for two years, and since code was important enough to get the FBI involved, I think he didn’t open it because Alenynikov was unaware of how important it was. Which goes back to my previous thoughts about the experts being blind and the people in the inside themselves not understanding how wall street and the stock market works.

Project Pitch

  • I’ve always been interested in crime, and especially criminals who are clever and execute their crimes. The motivations of those crimes committed is also very interesting to me. After talking with my teacher I decided that Flash Boys by Michael Lewis would be perfect for me to do my project on. This book focuses on white collar crime, which was coined in 1939 by Edwin Sutherland, is a financially motivated nonviolent crime committed by business professionals. This type of wall street crime affects anyone who has any connection with the market, most people, which is one reason why I’m interested to learn about it. Also, I want to understand better the affects of this crime because I have learned more about violent crimes in the past, so white collar crime is new to me and interesting to learn about.
  • The issue I’m reading about is that the U.S stock market has been rigged for the benefit of the insiders, and the markets have also become more controlled by the big Wall Street Banks and the exposure of how the profits are made in the stock market. One thing that is interesting about this topic is that it hasn’t been very well known of, and Flash Boys sheds light and exposes the immorality and crime, which is something very few people have done before. I can’t provide that much information here because I’ve done very limited research on the topic and theres not a lot out there on the topic, I hope to learn more as I read the book.
  • I think the potential arguments to be made in response to the issue will vary, but overall focus on how to fix the problem as well as the problem of punishing the criminals fairly. I think some arguments will be made that the stock market should go back to how it was in the past, with people instead of computers and slower times. Another issue is how well connected the criminals are and how to handle their punishments and how to handle corrupt employees in the future. It could be suggested that tests and inspectors could come and watch randomly, but that runs into the problem of those inspectors being corrupt as well. I’ve read a few articles that said that what they’re doing is legal, so I am not completely sure and I will have a better opinion of the potential arguments when I understand the concept more.
  • Because the lack of the knowledge about wall street being rigged, and the lack of  other books, articles, and videos, finding outside resources about this issue is going to be challenging for me. One thing I plan to do is outside research on how wall street works and understand the system so I can better understand the corruption in that system. I would also like to explore the affects of this crime on society as a whole in America, and the effects on an average citizen. More specifically, I am going to explore Michael Lewis’s other writings about wall street. I will watch the documentary Inside Job, as well as the movies Company Men and Margin Call which will show the culture of wall street. I will read Andrew Ross Sorkin, NY Times financial columnists articles to better understand the topic.