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Federal Register 090913

Federal Register 090913

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The Commission seeks public comment regarding the potential benefits and

existing use of maximum message rate and execution rate throttles (“execution throttles”).

The Commission also seeks public comments regarding the types of execution throttles

that would be most effective at alerting market participants to potential algorithm

malfunctions and limiting the extent of market disruption when there is a malfunction.74

Execution throttles prevent an algorithm from exceeding its expected message

rate or rate of execution, and when tripped, can alert monitors at both the exchange and

the trading firm. Such alerts can facilitate rapid detection of malfunctioning algorithms.

Depending on the nature of the malfunction, execution throttles may also reduce the

damage and monetary losses caused by the disruptive algorithm during the time when it


The Commission understands that some trading firms and several exchanges already have limits on the
number of orders that can be sent to a trading venue during a specified period of time. See Clark & Ranjan,
“How Do Proprietary Trading Firms Control the Risks of High Speed Trading,” supra note 66, at 7; Oliver
Linton & Maureen O’Hara, “Economic impact assessments on MiFID II policy measures related to
computer trading in financial markets,” United Kingdom Government Office for Science – Foresight
(August 2012) at 24-25, available at: http://www.futuresindustry.org/epta/downloads/Economic-Impact-
assessments-on-MiFID-2-policy-measures_083012.pdf. However, the Commission would like to
understand whether requiring some measure of standardization and the use of such tools among exchanges,
FCMs, and trading firms would provide additional protection for the market.


is being investigated. The Commission understands that trading firms75

and exchanges76

employ individual variants of throttles to limit the number of orders that can be

transmitted to or processed by an exchange. The Commission requests public comment

regarding the extent to which market participants that already utilize execution throttles

apply them in a static manner (i.e., a fixed threshold, beyond which notifications are

generated), or dynamically (i.e., dependent on the time of day or the previous activity of

the algorithm).77

The Commission also requests public comments regarding the extent to

which throttles are applied by trading firms on a per-algorithm basis, calibrated to take

into account the expected message and execution rates of each algorithm for a given time


In addition, the Commission asks whether maximum message rates and execution

throttles could be used as a mechanism to prevent individual entities from submitting

messages or executing orders at speeds that are misaligned with their risk management

capabilities. Execution throttles of this type would be unique to individual firms or

accounts, and could be set by the exchange or clearing firm after reviewing the risk

management capabilities of the entity to which the throttle will apply. For some firms,

there may be a delay before effective risk management begins; in these cases, execution


See Clark & Ranjan, “How Do Proprietary Trading Firms Control the Risks of High Speed Trading,”

supra note 66, at 7.


See Carol Clark & Rajeev Ranjan, “How Do Exchanges Control the Risks of High Speed Trading?”
(November 2011) at 3, available at


The Commission notes that the Futures and Options Association (“FOA”) expressed the opinion that

throttles may hinder price formation and market integrity if applied dynamically during a period of market
stress. However, the FOA generally supported the use of throttles that are “pre-defined, transparent and
certain (i.e., the member obtains connections with a specified bandwidth in terms of maximum messages
per second).” See FOA, “ESMA’s Consultation Paper: Guidelines on Systems and Controls in a highly
automated trading environment for trading platforms, investment firms and competent authorities: A

response paper by the Futures and Options Association” (October 2011) at 2, available at



throttles may mitigate harm to the firm or other market participants prior to the firm’s

response to a malfunction. Last, message rate limits could be used to mitigate the risk of

manipulative or disruptive messaging strategies such as “order stuffing,” where firms use

ATSs to submit large numbers of orders that are cancelled before execution in order to

slow down the matching engine and create arbitrage opportunities in or across products.


If, as contemplated above, maximum message rates and execution throttles

were used as a mechanism to prevent individual entities or accounts from

trading at speeds that are misaligned with their risk management

capabilities, how should this message rate be determined?


Message and execution throttles may be applied by trading firms (FCMs

and proprietary trading firms), clearing firms, and by exchanges. The

Commission requests public comment regarding the appropriate location

for message and execution throttles.

a. If throttles should be implemented at the trading firm level, should

they be applied to all ATSs, only ATSs employing HFT strategies, or


b. What role should clearing firms play in the operation or calibration of

throttles on orders submitted by the trading firms whose trades they


10. Should the message and execution throttles be based on market conditions,

risk parameters, type of entity, or other factors?


11. What thresholds should be used for each type of market participant in

order to determine when a message or execution throttle should be used?

Should these thresholds be set by the exchange or the market participant?

12. Are message and execution thresholds typically set by contract, or by

algorithm? What are the advantages and disadvantages to each method?

13. Who should be charged with setting message rates for products and when

they are activated?

14. Would message and execution throttles provide additional protection in

mitigating credit risk to DCOs?

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