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2006-7-15 22:59  

  Computerised trading agents may help humans build better markets

  THANKS to slumping markets, investment banks are shedding many of their highly-paid traders. When markets recover, the banks might be tempted to replace them with rather cheaper talent. One alternative has been around for a while but has yet to catch on: autonomous trading agents-computers programmed to act like the human version without such pesky costs as holidays, lunch breaks or bonuses. Program trading has, of course, been done before; some blamed the 1987 stockmarket crash on computers instructed with simple decision-making rules. But robots can be smarter than that.

  Dave Cliff, a researcher at Hewlett-Packard Laboratories in Bristol, England, has been creating trading robots for seven years. In computer simulations he lets them evolve "genetically", and so allows them to adapt and fit models of real-world financial markets. His experiments have suggested that a redesign of some markets could lead to greater efficiency. Last year, a research group at IBM showed that Mr Cliff's artificial traders could consistently beat the human variety, in various kinds of market. Nearly all take the shape of an auction. One well-known type is the English auction, familiar to patrons of the salesrooms of Christie's and Sotheby's, where sellers keep mum on their offer price, and buyers increase their bids by stages until only one remains.

  At the other extreme is the Dutch auction, familiar to 17th-century tulip-traders in the Netherlands as well as to bidders for American Treasury bonds. Here, buyers remain silent, and a seller reduces his price until it is accepted. Most markets for shares, commodities, foreign exchange and derivatives are a hybrid of these two types: buyers and sellers can announce their bid or offer prices at any time, and deals are constantly being closed, a so-called "continuous double auction".

  Mr Cliff's novel idea was to apply his evolutionary computer programs to marketplaces themselves. Why not, he thought, try and see what types of auction would let traders converge most quickly towards an equilibrium price? The results were surprising. In his models, auctions that let buyers and sellers bid at any time like most of today's financial exchanges were less efficient than ones that required relatively more bids from either buyers or sellers. These "evolved auctions" also withstood big market shocks, such as crashes and panics, better than today's real-world versions. Mr Cliff's most recent results, which will be presented in Sydney, Australia, on December 10th, show that the best type of auction for any market depends crucially on even slight differences in the number of buyers and sellers.

  Bank of America has been investigating these new auctions, along with robotic traders, for possible use in electronic exchanges. The hope is that today's financial auctions and online marketplaces might work better by becoming more like their English and Dutch forebears. But what to call such multi-ethnic hybrids? Here's introducing the "Cliffhanger".

  注(1):本文选自Economist;11/30/2002, p65, 1/2p, 1c;

  注(2):本文习题命题模仿2000年真题text 3第1题(1),text 4第3题(2),2004年真题text 4第1题,2001年真题text 1第2题(4),1999年真题text 1第4题(5);

  1.The passage is mainly__________.

  [A] a review of two kinds of auctions

  [B] an introduction of trading robots

  [C] a survey of the trading market

  [D] about trading alternatives

  2.Which of the following is true according to the text?

  [A] David's robot traders have now been used in real-world markets.

  [B] Robot traders can evolve like creatures.

  [C] There is room for improvement in efficiency in trading markets.

  [D] The English auction is the most popular trading form.

  3.If you were trading American Treasury bonds, you would most likely take the trading

  form of ___________.

  [A] the English auction

  [B] the continuous double auction

  [C] the Dutch auction

  [D] the evolved auction

  4.We can infer from the text that______________.

  [A] existing auctions can not withstand market shocks

  [B] the Dutch auction is better than the continuous double auction

  [C] it's hard for traders to reach an equilibrium price

  [D] the best type of auction takes place when the number of the buyers is equal to that of sellers

  5.Toward robot traders, the writer's attitude can be said to be__________.

  [A] biased

  [B] objective

  [C] pessimistic

  [D] optimistic

  答案:B C C B D




  slump: [slQmp] v. (价格等)暴跌, (买卖)清淡; 衰落; 萧条

  shed: [Fed] v. 去除除去(不想要或不需要的东西)

  pesky: [5peski] adj. 讨厌的,麻烦的

  auction: [5C:kFEn] n. 拍卖

  patron: [5peitrEn] n. 顾客;主顾

  salesroom: n. 拍卖场

  mum: [mQm] adj. 沉默的;无言的;不说话的

  derivative: [di5rivEtiv] n. 衍生物

  hybrid: [5haibrid] n. 混合物

  converge: [kEn5vE:dV] v. 达成一致趋于或达成联合、共同结论或者结果

  equilibrium: [7i:kwi5libriEm] n. 平衡

  forebear: [5fC:bZE] n. 祖先,祖宗

  cliffhang: [`klIfhAN] v. 扣人心弦,悬疑


  In his models, auctions that let buyers and sellers bid at any time like most of today's financial exchanges were less efficient than ones that required relatively more bids from either buyers or sellers.

  主体句式:auctions… were less efficient than ones……




  1. 答案为B,属推理判断题。判断文章主旨要从文章整体来把握。文章第一段说明机器人交易员可以替代人类从事交易工作。接下来作者介绍其研发过程及其模拟的几种拍卖形式以及拍卖中的表现,最后一段对这种机器人交易员的前景进行了展望,可见全文都是在介绍机器人交易员。

  2. 答案为C,属事实细节题。根据文章第二段第四行,克里夫的研究表明“对某些市场进行重新设计可能会大幅提高效率。”可见交易市场仍然有提高效率的空间。

  3. 答案为C,属事实细节题。文章第三段介绍荷兰式拍卖时说它是“今天竞拍美国国库券竞标人所熟悉的一种拍卖形式。”可见,如果交易美国国库券,最有可能采用荷兰式拍卖方式。

  4. 答案为B,属推理判断题。根据文章第四段克里夫的研究发现,现今大多数金融交易中所采用让买卖双方随时竞价的拍卖方式比起那些需要买卖双方提出更多竞价的模式效率要低下。可见荷兰式的拍卖方式比连续双向拍卖。这也可以从文章最后一段中所说的“今天的金融拍卖和网上市场如果能更多地模仿它们的英国和荷兰先祖生意也许就会更好”看出。

  5. 答案为D,属推理判断题。作者的态度可以通过材料的选择和措辞来判断。在第一段,作者指出,机器人交易员不同于程序交易,是聪明的交易员。接着作者介绍了 IBM的一个研究小组的成果:这种机器人交易员可以在各种市场上击败真人交易员。可见,作者对机器人交易员持积极乐观的态度。


  由于市场不景气,投资银行辞退了许多高薪交易员。等到市场恢复,银行也许会用薪资更低廉的人才来取代他们。现在他们又多了一个选择:电子交易员—— -经过编程可以像人一样工作,但却不需要休假,午餐休息或者奖金等烦人的支出的电脑。这种电子交易员已经面世一段时间了,但尚未流行起来。以前当然也出现过程序交易;有人就把1987年的股市崩盘归罪于那些只按照简单决策规则指令工作的电脑。不过机器人会聪明得多。




  美洲银行已经开始研究这些新型拍卖形式以及机器人交易员,看看是否可能在电子交易中使用。今天的金融拍卖和网上市场如果能更多地模仿它们的英国和荷兰先祖生意也许就会更好。但这种多种类混合体该叫什么呢? 叫“克利夫悬疑”如何?