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Saving the world one typo at a time

Post by Brian O'Neill on May 7, 2010 at 9:24 am with 5 Comments »
May 7, 2010 9:31 am

So it was a typo?

That was the alleged cause of the Dow’s 1,000 point plummet yesterday, according to the AP report on the front of the May 7 Trib.

Now that the market has started to return to the random state of flux that Wall Streeters consider “normal”, we can take a step back and consider the blunder that created a sense of panic and pandemonium not unlike the current situation in Greece. Only without the souvlaki.

Who knew, that in the high-flying world of finance, populated by computer experts, mathematicians, Ivy league economists and Texas bazillionaires, we could have been saved this cliff-hanging debacle by the least likely of so-called experts?

Ladies and gentlemen, I give you the English major.

I can see the help wanted ad now.

Wanted: English Literature graduate with experience in writing, editing and analysis; prefer candidate who is willing to forgive peers who studied business marketing in college, and who ceaselessly teased the English geeks for pursuing an education over future financial success. Excellent spelling a MUST!

Whew, this is extreme stuff. Who knew my fellow English majors and I could have saved the world from the forces of financial darkness?

Who’s the geek now?

Leave a comment Comments → 5
  1. nwcolorist says:

    Pretty wild stuff. You’d think the’d have some system in place to catch this type of mistake. I woner how many people lost money because of it

    The good news is the market corrected itself quickly.

  2. tubbythetuba says:

    Holy Chit….I watched as my 401 lost 2 grand that day….please wait a “spell” before doing that again… <{;-)~

  3. geeterpontiac says:

    “The good news is the market corrected itself quickly.”

    Well yes, but the full extent of the damage to some investors is really unknown.

    There were a lot of computer generated buys and sells occuring that will have to be sorted out, and some of them are not going to be rolled back.

  4. witchiwoman says:

    So what was the typo that sent everything spinning? Anybody say?

  5. geeterpontiac says:

    This is strictly hearsay, but I have heard a devaluation error in the value of Proctor and Gamble stock. The devaluation was supposed to be 9 mil but 9 bil was used in error.

    Much of the market activity is predicated on related activities. There are zillions of buy, sell, etc, instructions setting in place that automatically kick off if certain things happen. One of those certain things seems to have happened (in error) and the computers just started doing what they had been programmed to do.

    Exciting for sure.

    For example, Procter & Gamble which would normally be regarded as one
    of the safer, plummeted 37 percent in minutes. Consultancy Accenture which would normallyalso be seen as relatively conservative, saw its shares drop from appox.$41 to around a penny.

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