Glitches Galore: A Brief History Of Technical Problems On Wall Street : The Two-Way Computer-related problems on the New York Stock Exchange halted trading for more than three hours on Wednesday, but it was not a one-off.
NPR logo Glitches Galore: A Brief History Of Technical Problems On Wall Street

Glitches Galore: A Brief History Of Technical Problems On Wall Street

Wednesday's computer-related problems on the New York Stock Exchange that halted trading for more than three hours was not a one-off. Over the years, stock exchange failures have been attributed to everything from technical glitches to a stray squirrel.

Here are some recent incidents:

Seth Wenig/AP
An electronic display in New York's Times Square on Aug. 22, 2013. Nasdaq halted trading that day because of a technical problem.
Seth Wenig/AP

Aug. 22, 2013: Technical Glitch at the Nasdaq

Trading was halted for more than three hours. Nasdaq blamed the problem on the system that handles stock quotes.

Richard Drew/AP
A screen at a trading post on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange is juxtaposed with the Goldman Sachs booth on Oct. 16, 2014.
Richard Drew/AP

Aug. 20, 2013: Goldman Glitch

Just three days earlier, a programming error caused Goldman Sachs to place erroneous orders for stock options. As Bloomberg noted at the time: "An internal system that Goldman Sachs uses to help prepare to meet market demand for equity options inadvertently produced orders with inaccurate price limits and sent them to exchanges." Estimates of the loss ranged from tens of millions to $100 million. Goldman later paid $7 million to settle the regulatory claims.

Richard Drew/AP
A pair of Knight Capital traders work at their post on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange before the close of trading Aug. 3, 2012. Knight Capital's stock soared after the battered trading firm received a financial lifeline and clients said they expect to resume routing trades through the system.
Richard Drew/AP

Aug. 1, 2012: Knight Capital

This computer glitch caused the firm to buy a great number of stocks, a mistake that cost the firm $440 million, greater than the company's second-quarter revenues of $289 million that year. The New York Times estimated at the time that the error cost Knight $10 million a minute.

Richard Drew/AP
Electronic screens show the price of Facebook shares after they began trading May 18, 2012, in New York. A technical problem on the Nasdaq marred Facebook's much-heralded IPO.
Richard Drew/AP

May 18, 2012: The Facebook IPO

Facebook's much-vaunted initial public offering was delayed because of a Nasdaq trading problem. The exchange's chairman later apologized and agreed to pay a $10 million penalty for the way it handled the IPO.

Henny Ray Abrams/AP
Stephen Mara of Quattro M Securities works on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange on May 6, 2010, the day of the infamous "flash crash" that wiped about 600 points from the Dow Jones industrial average in minutes.
Henny Ray Abrams/AP

May 6, 2010: The 'Flash Crash'

The "flash crash" wiped about 600 points from the Dow Jones industrial average in mere minutes, leading to about an $800 billion loss; the market recovered almost as quickly. (You can read a timeline of what happened that day from The Wall Street Journal). The crash was at first blamed on computer trading by a large mutual fund company, but earlier this year, U.S. prosecutors charged a British man who they said contributed to the crash.

And — now for that squirrel we mentioned at the top:

As The New York Times reported Dec. 10, 1987:

"An adventurous squirrel touched off a power failure in Trumbull, Conn., that shut down the National Association of Securities Dealers' automatic quotation service for 82 minutes yesterday."

It's unclear what was lost that day, but you can be certain it wasn't (pea)nuts.

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