Just how stable are the U.S. capital markets

Financial professionals trade on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange, November 3, 2010 in New York.

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STEVE CHIOTAKIS: The Senate Banking Committee today will look at how to make U.S. capital markets more stable. Sounds kinda wonky, but more stable markets help investors and bankers -- and keep retirement money safe for the rest of us. Wall Street reform passed this year was supposed to fix the glitches, like that scary flash crash that caused investor panic earlier.

But, as Marketplace's David Gura reports, the markets are still not failsafe.


DAVID GURA: If there's a problem with any of the capital markets, the whole system can fall apart. On May 6, when a big order came in all of a sudden, that happened. The computers couldn't keep up with the volume. Investors got skittish. And, in just five minutes, the Dow fell almost ten percent.

JAMES ANGEL: When you events that make people doubt the structure and fairness of the market, people get concerned.

That's James Angel, a professor at Georgetown University. He's scheduled to testify later today, and he says people don't understand how complicated the whole system is.

ANGEL: It is a complex network that consists of the exchanges, the brokers, the trading platforms, the technology vendors, the media companies --

The Dodd-Frank Act was supposed to overhaul financial regulation, to heal the whole financial body. Angel says it's nothing more than "a pile of Band-Aids."

ANGEL: It fixed a lot of the obvious problems we had in our financial markets, but it didn't fit the fundamental fragmentation of our regulatory structure.

He'll share the witness table with regulators today, including the chair of the SEC. Angel will tell the committee regulatory agencies need to cooperate more, or this year's flash crash won't be the last.

In Washington, I'm David Gura for Marketplace.

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