Rat Traders? A joke! But what if…

Rat TradersThe other day at lunch time in our office in Barcelona, jumping from one topic to the other, we ended up talking about Rat Traders.

Rat what?

“What are you talking about?”

It is exactly the question that our CTO Javi asked when joining us in the room. Gonçalo was explaining us how some guys had made experiment with rats and educated them to make winning trading decisions based on music patterns and a risk/reward system. Everyone was amazed and questions and comments burst out:

  • How those people came to the idea to transform rats into traders in the first place?
  • How rats can give better results than humans? Animal instics and their amazing power.
  • Is programming rats different from developing automated systems and algorythms?
  • Who are the clients of such a product, if commercialized?

I came back to my desk very curious about this story. And started to research about “rat traders”.

I first found the website www.rattraders.com which seemed to be the experiment Gonçalo had talked about. My first impression was that the page seemed very old but I jumped and watched the videos, read explanations… On the homepage, they even state that they can “help institutions”, that they have “rattraders-solution for your trading desk” and give “the latest advice from our most successful trading rats for individual investors”. Incredible!

A joke?

Everything looked odd to me, so I kept searching. I found articles explaining that it was the project of the Austrian conceptual artist Michael Marcovici. All this was a satire. A hoax. Though I found articles where Marcovici presumably declared it attracted genuine interest from the institutional investment world.

Then I’m writing this post today and I see that the Russian 24/7 English-language news channel RT did an interview of Marcovici last Saturday, February 14th!

I’m not sure what is true, if part of it (Marcovici really spent time trying and educating rats and did not consistently develop it) or all of it (it’s only a conceptual/artistic project where Marovici built a website based on the idea, recorded videos and made it look real).

In any case, Marcovici created a buzz on the web that caused a stimulating conversation in our team and, I imagine, elsewhere, raising interesting questions about automated trading, human intelligence limits, markets behaviours or the famous search for the Holy Grail that all traders (and humans?) are persuing.

What if one day this project is fully developed, gives results and is commercialized? That’s the thrilling question that stays on my mind.


Leave a Reply