A "Flash Crash" prevention plan

Financial news of the turbulent stock market is displayed on a news ticker in Times Square May 6, 2010 in New York City.


BOB MOON: Wall Street capped last week with some new ideas from a government panel, aimed at lessening the risk of another "flash crash," like the one last May 6th. There's a newly emerging question now that electronic trading is driving more exchanges to merge and become more interconnected: Will they get the technology right?

Here's our New York bureau chief Heidi Moore.

HEIDI MOORE: Stock exchanges run on technology 24 hours a day, but that doesn't mean they're necessarily good at it. Consider this: the New York Stock Exchange merged with Paris's Euronext four years ago. They're still trying to get their computers to speak the same language.

More mergers mean another bumpy ride -- but not necessarily another flash crash, says Jamie Selway, an expert on trading systems for ITG.

JAMIE SELWAY: I look at the flash crash and it didn't have anything to do with exchange systems per se.

Vlad Khandros, head of corporate strategy at trading firm Liquidnet, agrees. He says stock exchange mergers won't increase the chance of flash crashes.

VLAD KHANDROS: The flash crash, one of the biggest problems was that the rules were inconsistent.

He means that each stock exchange has its own policies: one exchange can see a stock dropping too fast and hit a switch to stop it from trading -- but it can keep trading elsewhere.

That's a problem for regulators and stock exchange officials to fix -- so getting the computers talking to each other may be the easy part.

In New York, I'm Heidi Moore for Marketplace.

About the author

Heidi N. Moore is The Guardian's U.S. finance and economics editor. She was formerly the New York bureau chief and Wall Street correspondent for Marketplace.


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