Judgement Day: algorithmic trading around the Swiss franc cap removal

Working papers set out research in progress by our staff, with the aim of encouraging comments and debate.
Published on 16 February 2018

Working paper No. 711
By Francis Breedon, Louisa Chen, Angelo Ranaldo and Nicholas Vause.

A key issue raised by the rapid growth of computerised algorithmic trading is how it responds in extreme situations. Using data on foreign exchange orders and transactions that includes identification of algorithmic trading, we find that this type of trading contributed to the deterioration of market quality following the removal of the cap on the Swiss franc on 15 January 2015, which was an event that came as a complete surprise to market participants. In particular, we find that algorithmic traders withdrew liquidity and generated uninformative volatility in Swiss franc currency pairs, while human traders did the opposite. However, we find no evidence that algorithmic trading propagated these adverse effects on market quality to other currency pairs.

PDFWorking paper No. 711


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