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Should We Really Automate Stock Trading?

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When I was seven years old, I wrote my first computer program. It made the computer count from 1 to 10 and print out the numbers. Okay, it wasn't like Bill Gates was going to hire me to for the next release for MS-DOS 2.1, but I was pretty proud of it. As I added a little math in the loop, I learned the power computer software has to automate things.

Nowadays it seems like most software engineering isn't done from the ground up. Instead it seems to be about combining existing pieces of code in new and interesting ways. So when Alpari started to explain their new EA Builder I really felt I knew what they were talking about.

It's a good thing that I could make this analogy because much of the rest of what they were describing went a little over my head.

I hear the word Forex and there's a part of my brain (somewhere around 99% of it) that shuts down. I have a very minimal understanding of currency trading. In fact, I'd say my knowledge can be summed up in two points:

  1. It seems very risky
  2. It seems very complex

The combination of the two hasn't endeared me to Forex, and quite frankly, I don't think too many of my readers are that interested in it either. It seems to extend a little too far from the "personal" in "personal finance."

It turns out that this EA Builder, is a way of building Expert Advisors (EA)... software programs that execute trades on one of these Forex exchanges called MetaTrader. So if you happen to be a software engineer (or a good programmer), understand complexity around Forex, and want to take on risk, you can create programs to automatically execute trades on your behalf. I'm going to venture there's not a lot of people doing this, but there must be enough to have such a platform.

So where does Alpari and that EA Builder come in? With EA Builder, you don't need to be a programmer to create software. (Hopefully someone out there besides me has a vision of Visual Basic or Visual C++.) You piece together different components from over 30 indicators and make it go.

I told Alpari that it sounds great, but where is this for stocks on American stock exchanges like the Nasdaq? After all, Nasdaq is supposed to be the stock exchange that technology companies go for, right? Is there software that takes a basic stock screener and puts in limit and market orders?

Truth is, I don't know if this software exists, but I imagine that it would be very helpful to day traders if it did. That said, I don't know if I could ever see myself using it.

I can just imagine racking up a thousand dollars in trading fees by letting software like this just go unattended for a few minutes. I'm sure that experience would make me feel a lot better where the worst thing I could do caused the computer to read, "Syntax Error."

Last updated on January 27, 2014.

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