A modest prediction: We will never know the precise details of the “technical error” that caused Thursday’s stock market madness.
We’ll be told something. It might even be truthful. But it won’t (OMG will I ever forgive myself for encouraging conspiracy theories?) be the whole story.
And here’s a bet, though I wouldn’t stake much money on it (and in fact, I’m hearing already that I may be wrong): The theory they’ll end up with was the one that says a single trader mistakenly typed in billion when he meant million — something along those lines. Sort of like the “lone gunman” theory of assassination, only the guy or woman won’t have acted with malice, just momentary inattention.
No matter what the theory, we won’t be expected to ask many questions about the system that enabled one booboo, human or electronic, to turn into the NYSE’s most chaotic day and a threat to world financial stability. The Wall Street Journal and maybe even Wired will do some articles on how terrible it is that important trading systems are so vulnerable to error, Congress will hold hearings and promise a fix. Then the issue will disappear.
But I’m not paranoid or anything like that. Oh heavens, not me …