Hearing debates decentralized trading

December 20, 2001 | Source: United Press International

On Sept. 11, alternative stock-trading networks stayed active via the Internet and redundant systems even after the New York Stock Exchange closed because of the terrorist attacks on the nearby World Trade Center, witnesses told a House subcommittee Wednesday.The House Subcommittee on Commerce, Trade and Consumer Protection looked into the post-Sept. 11 experience of these “electronic communications networks”–operations with names such as Instinet and Archipelago.

These ECNs bring stock sellers and buyers together anonymously in private computer systems, without the need for trading floors and human middlemen. The committee wanted to see how the ECNs’ methods could help major stock exchanges avoid crippling damage from any future attack.

Rep. Clifford Stearns, R-Fla., committee chairman, said the terrorist attacks at the World Trade Center and the Pentagon revealed the value of decentralized systems. While the damage closed the New York Stock Exchange and other major stock markets for several days, he said, ECNs could have continued with business as usual.