One of the areas that Sen. Ted Kaufman and his chief of staff Jeff Connaughton tried to focus on during his accidental two-year term in the Senate was high-frequency trading. The 2010 “flash crash” showed the potential dangers of this fast-growing industry. Consider that our financial system places a large emphasis on where super-computers are sited relative to the trading machines.
As Felix Salmon points out, one of the consequences of the melting polar ice sheet is not just that companies want to drill for oil in the Arctic. They want to lay cable through the shorter Arctic route, to increase the speed of information between the US and Asia by a matter of 20-60 milliseconds. And that infinitesimal shaving off the time of a trade matters. It’s the difference between placing a trade too early and placing it too late. It means billions upon billions of dollars. And that’s a huge problem.