SAFE Working Paper No. 344

Frequent Batch Auctions and Informed Trading

We study liquidity provision by competitive high-frequency trading firms (HFTs)

in a dynamic trading model with private information. Liquidity providers face

adverse selection risk from trading with privately informed investors and from

trading with other HFTs that engage in latency arbitrage upon public information.

The impact of the two different sources of risk depends on the details of

the market design. We determine equilibrium transaction costs in continuous

limit order book (CLOB) markets and under frequent batch auctions (FBA). In

the absence of informed trading, FBA dominates CLOB just as in Budish et al.

(2015). Surprisingly, this result does no longer hold with privately informed

investors. We show that FBA allows liquidity providers to charge markups and

earn profits – even under risk neutrality and perfect competition. A slight variation

of the FBA design removes the inefficiency by allowing traders to submit

orders conditional on auction excess demand.