“Flash Boys” irritates Wall Street and even some finc’l journalists. (Two reasons to buy it.)

Best-selling author Michael Lewis (Liar’s Poker, The Big Short) has often irritated Wall Street with his readable inside takes on the goings-on of financial one-percenters. And with his latest best-seller, Flash Boys, he’s even getting under the skin of other financial writers, which I suppose makes sense since there isn’t a one of us who can come close to Lewis’s genius.

Flash Boys is Lewis’s book on high-frequency trading, a topic that, up until now, was impenetrable to the average reader. And that’s what’s so threatening to Wall Street: Grandma could read Flash Boys and get a handle on the downsides of the computer-driven trading that’s dominating the markets.

The book is mostly a look at HFT through the eyes of a Canadian trader who got tired of getting bad trade executions and pushed back against what he considered market manipulation.

But Lewis also writes about the bizarre case of a former Goldman Sachs computer programmer who got thrown into jail for taking HFT code with him when he left Goldman. That’s right — a computer nerd you’ve never heard of wound up in the slammer for taking high-frequency computer code from Wall Street, while Wall Street big shots who oversaw mortgage fraud and other disgraces that helped bring down the economy walk the streets. You can read my CNN.com column about Goldman and its former computer programmer here.

I reviewed Flash Boys in today’s San Francisco Chronicle. You can read my review here.

Ban Robo-Trading? That’s so 1980s

You’re seen a lot of headlines about robo-trading in the financial markets, but don’t fool yourself that it’s some new problem for regulators.

The debate’s been going on for 25 years as to what we can do to rein in computer trading. We’re still bringing up the same questions, and we’re still living in a time where Wall Street is way ahead of its regulators on the high-speed trading issue.

I talk about it in my column this morning for TheStreet.com. Read article