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No Signal

Published in Automated Trader Magazine Issue 41 Q4 2016

NO SIGNAL is a regular column where we examine various snafus in the trading, particularly the automated trading, world. In 'No Storage For You' Uri Stocks considers the dangers of being penny wise, pound (or Euro) foolish when it comes to Xetra data storage. And in 'Sellers Only' - what happened on Borsa Istanbul when Buy and Sell translated into Sell and Sell. If you have a story that you think makes for a valuable lesson or is simply funny in a facepalm moment kind of way, please get in touch with us at

NO SIGNAL is a regular column where we examine various snafus in the trading, particularly the automated trading, world. We look at errors in application logic, mistakes by overzealous co-workers, failures in technology and temporary losses of power to both infrastructure as well as craniums. These all make for good stories that everyone can alternatively either learn from or be amused by - or both.

By Uri Stöcks

No storage for you

This story begins on a normal business day a few years ago. It takes place in the technology division that supports trading inside a large German bank. One of the system administrators noticed a particular server that he hadn't looked at in a while. This server was collecting market data for the entire German equity exchange: Xetra. It seemed to be an older server as by now it had been storing several years of data. The files were neatly archived and compressed, one file for each day. This was a German bank storing German market data after all. There must be order, jawohl mein Herr.

As mentioned, the server was a few years old.. and by now the unavoidable was happening: It was running out of disk space. The sysadmin noticed this and poked around a little. Diligently he informed his superior, who in turn started requesting new storage to be assigned or a new server to be installed...

His request was turned down with rather unfortunate results...

Sellers only

Nowadays trading is a pretty global business. While you might not always have to trade something in places like Indonesia, Chile or Russia, you usually can do so without too much of a problem. Of course this assumes that you are prepared to pay eye watering fees and commissions.

This story begins across the Bosphorus in Istanbul. There is a relatively active equity trading market place there called 'Borsa Istanbul'. It's pretty typical as far as trading venues go: You can buy stocks, bonds and derivatives to your heart's content. It is not big, trading maybe a handful of billion USD per day, but hey, it all adds up.

However something got lost in translation...

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