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Thursday, May 27, 2010

Nobody at the SEC Knows Perl

This story was funny.

The Securities and Exchange Commission took a step Wednesday toward making that job (investigating the sudden market crash) a bit easier by proposing to unify the collection of trading data across all stock and options markets.
The SEC is requiring all exchanges to keep their logfiles in a common format. Allegedly, this will facilitate future investigations.

It would take a competent Perl programmer a couple of hours to convert an exchange's logfiles into a common format. It would be a simple Perl script to parse out the logfile and figure out who was selling during that 15 minute period. The exchanges have to keep track of the buyer and seller for each order/trade.

A FIX message literally is symbol=XYZ, price=XX.XX, quantity=X, accountID=XXXXX, buy/sell=X, time=HH:MM:SS:MMM. It's a very simple Perl script to parse that out. (There are some other minor details.) Almost every exchange keeps its records in FIX format. The other common formats are similarly parseable.

If the SEC can't figure out how to hire a competent Perl programmer, they could hire any CS grad student to assist with their investigation.

The vast majority of financial programming is "convert data from one format to another format".

The SEC seems to be covering up the true cause of the sudden market crash on May 6. This is being presented as a fake excuse for their lousy investigation. I can't believe that zero competent programmers are working for the SEC.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I used to work for a famous tech company.

One day I came across an email exchange between one manager and one software developer.

They were struggling on finding out a way of organizing some information. In the end the two clowns couldn't work out how to do something very simple.

All these idiots needed was a hashtable. In fact only recently I had done something similar and pushed out my solution into the real-world.

Yet, one of the guys had a degree in Physics and the other a degree in Computer Science.

I decided not to tell them a solution to their problem, because I knew from previous experience the manager was a very brain-dead individual and getting involved would involve pain to myself. He spent his time doing nothing other that screwing people over and not doing his job.

So it is likely that even a famous place can have loads of brain-dead stupid people with university degrees that can't do the simplest thing.

Maybe it advances their careers to be purposely stupid.

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