Raymond Tsang

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May 14, 1999

Open outcry and electronic trading in futures exchanges

Despite the efficiency gains that accompany automation, most large futures exchanges have been reluctant to move away from the traditional trading floor, citing early evidence that open outcry exchanges were more liquid than electronic exchanges. More recent studies, however, suggest that electronic trading is superior to open outcry in many respects, including liquidity. In this article, the author compares the two trading systems. Although many exchanges are shifting towards electronic trading, there are still several obstacles to this transition. But as technology rapidly reduces the cost of automation and increases the demand for global 24-hour trading, a worldwide transition to electronic order-matching will likely be the next important milestone for futures exchanges. Less-automated exchanges (including the Canadian futures exchanges) will undoubtedly continue to study and promote automation in order to keep pace with technological innovations.

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