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Former Senator Calls on Congress to Investigate ‘Flash Crash’

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Former Sen. Ted Kaufman, D-Del., and Dennis Kelleher, president and CEO of Better Markets, are urging Congress to create an independent commission to investigate the “Flash Crash,” which caused the market to lose nearly $1 trillion in value five years ago.

In their letter to Senate and House leaders, Kaufman and Kelleher write that on May 6, 2010, in “just 36 dizzying minutes, the U.S. stock market lost almost $1 trillion of value and just as quickly regained it.”

This so-called flash crash “starkly exposed how fragile and vulnerable our markets are to lightning-fast, unregulated, dark trading, often referred to as ‘high frequency trading,’” Kelleher wrote.

While many investigations over the years have been performed, “none were very convincing and many questions remained,” Kelleher said.

The two note the recent arrest of a lone day trader in London who is being charged with being “a cause” of the flash crash “proves those concerns were valid and highlights the urgent need for a more thorough and credible investigation.”

The British trader, Navinder Singh Sarao, 36, traded from his parents’ home in West London. He has been charged by the U.S. Justice Department with wire fraud, commodities fraud and market manipulation, and is fighting extradition to the U.S. As reported by Reuters, he told a London court on Wednesday he “had done nothing wrong and was just good at his job.”

Former Sen. Kaufman stated in the letter that “it is unacceptable that five years after the flash crash we still have more questions than answers. Until we fully understand the causes of the flash crash, we’ll never be able to implement real reforms that protect investors and markets from future crashes.”

Kaufman stated that only a “congressionally created independent commission with full funding and subpoena power will be able to get those answers, recommend reforms and begin to restore some trust in our markets.”

— Check out Under the Hood: Understanding Volatility and the VIX, Pt. 1 on ThinkAdvisor.