NEW YORK - Despite their sinister-sounding name, dark pools of liquidity can be very beneficial to average investors by offering mutual funds and large institutional investors an efficient way to make large trades without impacting the market.

Unfortunately, the usefulness of dark pools has quickly exceeded the ability of authorities to monitor or regulate them. Many financial leaders are worried that the exploding popularity of these private crossing networks runs contrary to mutual funds' promise of transparency and should perhaps be scaled back a bit.

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