You know the dealer, the dealer is a man
With the love grass in his hand
Oh but the pusher is a monster
Good God, he's not a natural man
-- Steppenwolf, "The Pusher"
You'll want to have this song playing in the background as you read today's column, because Nasdaq
On Monday, the exchange announced that it will "facilitate universal, free access to real-time stock quotes" for customers of Google
But isn't that good news?
Hardly. I mean sure, at first it's going to save people some money. But beware: Nasdaq's just giving investors a "taste" of free, real-time quotes. It's after this first free month that SOPP (Standard Operating Procedure for Pushers) kicks in. Once customers are hooked, Nasdaq will begin selling the data for $150,000 a month -- $100,000 for its own data, and another $50,000 for real-time price quotes on NYSE- and AMEX-listed stocks. (The move mirrors Yahoo!'s
Don't be evil
Now, I understand the temptation Google faces. Yahoo! aims to steal a march on it -- and perhaps investor market share as well. But considering Google's oft-quoted mantra: "Don't be evil," I'd urge it to reconsider joining this arms race.
Why? Well, if you've ever subscribed to "real-time, streaming quotes" from an online broker, you know how this story goes. You'll become addicted to the "real" prices. But you won't want to pay for it when the freebies stop in a month, so Google will have to pay up. Sure, Google can foot the bill. But the real cost here is for investors.
If accurate quote data is mere "love grass," then real-time quotes are heroin to investors -- sinisterly addictive, and guaranteed to make them crave trading. But as we've seen in study after study, excessive trading is hazardous to your wealth. Not only do we not need free, real-time quotes. They'll more likely than not hurt us more than they help.
Nasdaq's offer is evil, Google. Don't take the bait. Just say no.