Another episode of “It’s Charlie’s Stross’s fiction, we are just living in it” : Will Wall Street require Python?

Saw “Will Wall Street require Python? | ITworld”, on the Hot Links website and thought “interesting”, and then I read the description !

“Charles Stross was right. “with Release 33-9117, the SEC is considering substitution of Python or another programming language for legal English as a basis for some of its regulations.”

I remembered the use of python in Charlie Stross’s novel Halting State , (which would seem to be the most relevant one), but I can’t recall that one!

I may need to do some greping on the BT text I have 😉

UPDATE : from the comments, Lee says : “The actual reference is in Accelerando – Manfred Macx’s swarm of robot companies have their regulations written in Python. (p. 41 in my copy)” Indeed! good catch, Lee! Accelerando (Singularity) it is :

Malice — revenge for waking him up — sharpens Manfred’s voice. “The president of agalmic.holdings.root.184.97.AB5 is agalmic.holdings.root.184.97.201. The secretary is agalmic.holdings.root.184.D5, and the chair is agalmic.holdings.root.184.E8.FF. All the shares are owned by those companies in equal measure, and I can tell you that their regulations are written in Python. Have a nice day, now!” He thumps the bedside phone control and sits up, yawning, then pushes the do-not-disturb button before it can interrupt again. After a moment he stands up and stretches, then heads to the bathroom to brush his teeth, comb his hair, and figure out where the lawsuit originated and how a human being managed to get far enough through his web of robot companies to bug him.

Although the use of code as a financial contract makes some sense since all non standard derivative contracts are excel spreadsheets.

A relevant quote (via a sub link on Prof. Jayanth R. Varma’s Financial Markets Blog The SEC and the Python ) from the SEC proposal :

“We are proposing to require that most ABS (asset backed securities) issuers file a computer program that gives effect to the flow of funds, or “waterfall,” provisions of the transaction. We are proposing that the computer program be filed on EDGAR in the form of downloadable source code in Python. … (page 205)”

The proposal also would require detailed asset level data in XML format, and that if there is a conflict between the software and textual description, the software should prevail. The purpose of the proposal being to allow an investor with the ability to programmatically input the user’s own assumptions regarding the future performance and cash flows from the pool assets.

Wired Magazine had a article in February 2009 on Road Map for Financial Recovery: Radical Transparency Now! which is worth a re-read.

My Python friends will be very very happy!

Update: I wonder if you could create a DSL (Domain Specific Language) for financial and legal contracts? Probably in Ruby, something Cucumber like? Or has it been done already?

One Reply to “Another episode of “It’s Charlie’s Stross’s fiction, we are just living in it” : Will Wall Street require Python?”

  1. The actual reference is in Accelerando – Manfred Macx’s swarm of robot companies have their regulations written in Python. (p. 41 in my copy)

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