STOCK PERFORMANCE 2015
For over two hundred years, the NYSE was a non-profit, a quasi-utility. In 2006, the exchange became a for-profit company whose stock trades on its own exchange.
As a publically traded company, the stock market is now contractually obligated to maximize profits for shareholders. The scale and volume of trading are measures of its performance.
With a market cap of 16.6 trillion dollars and a volume of 20.16 trillion dollars, it is the largest exchange in the world.
This line is the performance of the stock, of the exchange, on the exchange.
This line is a self-reflexive existence. It is the stock market subject to its own critical analysis. As the price fluctuates, the stock exchange is valued through the very means of that which is being valued. It is creating its own image, attaining its own concept in self-revelation.
This serves to anchor and focus the market more deeply in its area of competence. That area of competence is trading, which has gone beyond its traditional function of promoting business investment by providing liquidity. It now claims twice the share of GDP than it did a century ago, when it was financing a massive industrial expansion. Despite its distance from the real economy, trading is the end in itself.
Trading employs strategies. This is the diagram of a financial option. The line is the performance of the strategy at all potential outcomes. It is called a straddle. To perform a straddle, the investor purchases a call option and a put option. They are the legs that wrap around the stock. In a straddle, the investor bets that the stock will move into the money, that it is volatile, not immobile. The profit is incarnated in the legs.
A strangle is almost a straddle. The distinction is that the strike prices of the call and put options are different rather than the same. This makes a strangle less expensive, but also less profitable. Essentially, it is a straddle that is squeezed and constricted.
Trading has not discarded the representation of companies as stocks. After all, it is the constant valuation, evaluation, re-evaluation of companies, represented as a line. Rather, it has discarded the representation of companies through any illusion of rationality. One sees the stock before, rather than after, seeing the company that it represents. The stock is first, subject to the psychological and physical vagaries of the market.
An estimated 90 percent of quotes on major exchanges are canceled. Many were never intended for execution. Instead, they are placed to test the market, to subvert it, or clog the system. They are there to front-run larger orders, confuse competing algorithms, or arbitrage across markets. The algorithms test norms for their indispensability and in an algorithm, .0001 cents matter.
The market is a medium constituted of its own limitations. Trading is not performed in discrete batches of time. It is performed in continuous time.
The stock gives direction to time in the line and in so doing gives the valuation an occurrence, a historical temporality. Its concept sensuous and abstract, time is the line that the spirit can only try to grasp and, in so doing, temporalizes temporality. As it is divided, and further subdivided, time reaches its physical limit, which is beyond human experience. With automated trades, any quote I see is long gone in the market. There is always a distinction between looking “here now” at a stock “there then.”
This line runs the 720 miles between Chicago and New York. Its endpoints are right next to the data centers of the stock exchanges. It is a tunnel containing dark fiber, which conveys information in the form of light pulses. It was built as straight as possible, bringing the roundtrip from 16 milliseconds down to 13 milliseconds. Those 3 milliseconds cost 300 million dollars. It was built in 2010 but it is already obsolete. Microwaves have gotten closer to the theoretical minimum of 7.5 milliseconds, the line of sight. The tunnel, though remains in the land – through mountains and under rivers as a straight testament to market competition.
On May 30, 2014, I bought and sold shares of Golden Enterprises Inc. This line is the performance of the stock, its price throughout the day. By the scale of my trades, I pushed the market cap of the company up and down between 52 million dollars and 57 million dollars.
I traded Golden Enterprises with complete disregard to its fundamentals as an Alabama-based snack foods company. I traded it because of its name, and because nobody else was doing so. Any change in the performance of the stock would be my performance, which I executed at precisely 20-minute intervals to delineate intention. I saw it as a line first, then a stock. This irrational, human gesture remains in all the many public financial records of the stock’s performance, as a horizon.