Ex-SEC chairman says another 'flash crash' possible

Storm clouds

It's been five years since the "flash crash" wiped out trillions of dollars in a matter of minutes. But despite a slew of new regulatory measures designed to prevent such an incident from occurring again, a former head of the SEC said the chances of another "flash crash" happening again are quite "high."

On Tuesday's " Fast Money ," Harvey Pitt , a former chairman of the agency and current CEO of Kalorama Partners, said existing regulations don't go far enough in protecting market participants from another sudden market drop. Specifically, Pitt said he was troubled by the fact that officials are now laying a big part of the blame for the crash on a single rogue trader. 

"We're not safer if you think a single trader could cause this kind of problem," said Pitt.

Last month, London-based trader Navinder Singh Sarao, 36, was charged by the U.S. government with wire fraud, commodities fraud and market manipulation all relating to the 2010 crash. Sarao has claimed innocence, saying in court he did "nothing wrong."

According to Pitt, regulators need to go further in protecting the markets. He suggested that officials should crack down on so-called spoofing, the practice of submitting bids and rapidly withdrawing them.

"Algorithms can be written to prevent this kind of activity," said Pitt.

He would also like to see more accountability and transparency in the market.

"There has to be a complete audit trail for every transaction," said Pitt. "So when people are doing this kind of thing, it can be detected immediately instead of a precipitous drop in trading. "

As for the crash itself, Pitt is reluctant to believe that one trader could have cause it, saying it "takes a village to commit fraud." A report released five months after the crash in 2010 made no mention of a single trader having any impact, which makes Pitt skeptical of what the Department of Justice is saying now.

In the long term, the crash hasn't seemed to have stopped the market's run. Since May 6, 2010, the S&P 500 is up 80 percent.

 

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