What is a Dark Pool?
A dark pool is a private exchange where institutional investors can trade large blocks of securities without their orders being displayed to the public. This allows them to trade more anonymously and avoid the risk of their orders moving the market.
How Do Dark Pools Work?
Dark pools typically operate as a matching engine that connects buyers and sellers of securities. When an investor places an order in a dark pool, it is matched with the best available offer from another investor. The trade is then executed anonymously and without any information about the size or price of the trade being made public.
Why Do Investors Use Dark Pools?
There are several reasons why investors might choose to use dark pools. First, dark pools can provide anonymity, which can be important for investors who want to avoid moving the market or attracting attention from other market participants. Second, dark pools can offer better prices than traditional exchanges. This is because dark pools typically have lower trading costs and less competition than public exchanges. Finally, dark pools can provide liquidity, which can be important for investors who need to buy or sell large blocks of securities quickly.
Here is an example of a real-world institutional investor using dark pools:
BlackRock: BlackRock is the world's largest asset manager, with over $7 trillion in assets under management. BlackRock uses dark pools to trade large blocks of securities without moving the market. This is important for BlackRock because it allows the company to execute trades quickly and efficiently without disrupting the market.
In 2015, BlackRock announced that it would be using dark pools to trade more actively in US equities. The company said that it would use dark pools to trade stocks that were not very liquid on public exchanges. This would allow BlackRock to buy and sell stocks more quickly and efficiently, without having to worry about moving the market.
BlackRock's decision to use dark pools was met with some criticism. Some critics argued that dark pools could be used to manipulate the market or to trade on inside information. However, BlackRock said that it would only use dark pools for legitimate trading purposes. The company also said that it would comply with all applicable regulations.
BlackRock is not the only institutional investor that uses dark pools. Many other large asset managers, such as Vanguard and State Street, also use dark pools to trade securities. The use of dark pools by institutional investors is becoming increasingly common, as more and more investors look for ways to trade securities more efficiently and anonymously.
Are Dark Pools Safe?
There are some concerns about the safety of dark pools. For example, some critics argue that dark pools can be used to manipulate the market or to trade on inside information. However, dark pools are regulated by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), and there is no evidence that they are used for illegal or unethical purposes.
The Future of Dark Pools
Dark pools are becoming increasingly popular, and their use is expected to continue to grow in the future. This is because dark pools offer a number of advantages to investors, including anonymity, better prices, and liquidity. As more investors use dark pools, it is likely that they will become even more important in the global financial markets.
by Eric White