Academic paper says "flash crash" trader Navinder Singh Sarao not the cause of 2010's sudden market drop

Hayley Kirton
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(FILES) The floor of the New York Stock
Navinder Singh Sarao has been accused of contributing to the sudden crash in May 2010 (Source: Getty)

A research paper published online earlier this week by three US-based academics claims that May 2010's "flash crash" had little or nothing to do with the actions of a British trader accused of contributing to the sudden market drop.

The study, which is entitled The Flash Crash: A New Deconstruction, concludes that it is "highly unlikely" the crash was caused by the actions of Navinder Singh Sarao.

It was penned by Eric Aldrich and Gregory Laughlin, both of University of California, Santa Cruz, and Joseph Grundfest of Stanford University Law School.

Instead, the academics propose that the sudden drop of the Dow Jones Industrial Average, which plummeted by around 1,000 points in less than five minutes on 6 May 2010 but recovered soon afterwards, was more likely caused by the current market conditions combined with the "introduction of a large equity sell order implemented in a particularly dislocating manner".

US authorities have accused Sarao, who has been dubbed the "hound of Hounslow", of manipulating the market by using an automated process to place a large number of sell orders, driving prices down, and then cancelling them shortly afterwards.

The new research is not dissimilar to a report issued jointly by the United States' Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and its Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) about the incident, which pinned the sudden drop on a hefty sell order from a mutual fund on the S&P 500 for "e-mini" futures.

However, the CFTC alleges that, as Sarao was also repeatedly selling and cancelling at the same time, the market was unable to take the strain of the larger order.

According to Reuters, Sarao is due to appear in a UK court next week. He is facing extradition to the US.

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