High-frequency trading (HFT) is a relatively new phenomenon, powered by advanced technology and characterised by high-speed trade execution, high turnover rates, and high order-to-trade ratios. HFT is a type of algorithmic trading where large numbers of orders are executed within microseconds. This rapid trading, often conducted by hedge funds and investment banks, can cause significant market volatility.

HFT firms utilise advanced mathematical models to predict market trends and execute trades based on these predictions. These models are often kept secret and are a key competitive advantage. HFT firms also take advantage of small differences in price between different markets, buying low in one market and selling high in another, a practice known as arbitrage.

HFT has been criticised for creating an uneven playing field, as firms with the fastest technology can gain an unfair advantage. Critics also argue that HFT can exacerbate market instability. Despite these criticisms, proponents argue that HFT can increase market liquidity and narrow bid-ask spreads, which can benefit all market participants.

Regulators are grappling with how to oversee HFT. Some have proposed measures such as transaction taxes or speed limits, while others argue for a laissez-faire approach. The debate over HFT is complex and ongoing, with no clear consensus on its benefits and drawbacks.

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