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Robert Harris On Why He Thinks Financial Markets Are ‘Out of Control’
February 29, 2012
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In the course of writing and researching his new novel "The Fear Index", British novelist Robert Harris had to learn about the inner workings of our financial system. He explains what he learned about the chaos that is driving the global economy.

Harris is on the show tonight, along with singer Jordan Knight.

"There's two types: there's the traders, which are the traditional kind of guys that you see in the Oliver Stone movies, but increasingly there are these people called "quonts", short for quantitative analysts... they are physicists, mathematicians, scientists and they are really in it for the theories, and they are increasingly driving the markets."

"It's a grand casino and there's huge money made. I mean, there was one guy that sat down opposite me at a restaurant in Geneva and I said, 'How are things going?', and he said, 'Oh, pretty well, I made 700 million dollars on Thursday'... and I bought the meal, which is most annoying!"

"I mean, the system has got out of control. My novel is set on the 6th of May 2010, which was the day of the so-called "flash crash". And on that one day in New York, 19.1 billion shares were traded - that is more traded on that one day than in the whole decade of the 1960s. Seventy-five percent of shares are traded by computers, which is what's in my novel, and the average length of time that a share is held in America is now 22 seconds. So you know, you've got to get rid of the old model in your head of what the financial markets are like. They're super-fast, trillions of dollars, they're controlled by scientists... and the system is out of control, I think."


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