Technology

Stock Traders to America: Don’t Be Freaked Out by Coverage of ‘Glitch’

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First we learned that United Airlines was grounding all flights because of a technical glitch. Then came the news that the New York Stock Exchange had suspended trading because of a technical glitch. By the time word came the the Wall Street Journal’s website was down because of some sort of, you guessed it, technical glitch, New York, Twitter, and the global media were freaking out. 

United’s flights resumed shortly before 10 a.m., with the airline blaming the shutdown on a router problem. WSJ.com was restored around noon and the stock exchange reopened shortly after 3 p.m. But was there, or is there still, anything to worry about? Department of Homeland Security officials say no. And anyone expecting hordes of panicked millionaires in tailored suits pouring into the streets of lower Manhattan would have been disappointed. The scene outside the exchange just after lunch on Wednesday looked more or less normal, with the usual stream of tourists chomping on wrinkled, boiled dogs and posing with the NYSE bull. As of 1 p.m., the only indication that anything was amiss was a “slightly larger” lunch crowd at Bobby Van’s Grill and Steakhouse, a bartender said.

The traders who ventured out into today’s sweltering heat were relatively sanguine about the morning’s activities.

“We’re just waiting,” said Michael Mozian, a trader. As he spoke to reporters, several floor traders in their trademark blue jackets were milling around outside the stock exchange chatting casually and smoking cigarettes. “For the most part, everybody is doing their job and we’re pretty calm in there.”

A broker who identified himself only as Chris said the mood inside the stock exchange was “Very quiet. Very mellow. No panic.” He added: “It’s a technical issue. That’s it.”

Despite some speculation about a possible cyber attack, the NYSE said in a statement on Twitter that there was no suggestion of anything along those lines. The Department of Homeland Security seems to back that up, telling CNN that there wasn’t any indication that anything “malicious” had happened. 

Because the NYSE is just one of the systems available to traders, trades can be a rereouted elsewhere, which might lessen the impact of the outage. Sal Arnuk, a trader at Themis Trading, told USA Today that “the good news is there’s redundancy in the system and stocks are continuing to trade.”

As of 2 p.m., despite the emphatic denials that the problems had anything to do with a cyberattack, conspiracy theories abounded. Many pointed to a since-deleted tweet from Tuesday night by hacktivist group Anonymous as evidence that they might have been involved:

Others pointed to a failed systems upgrade—which has not been confirmed by the NYSE. Jim Cramer blamed Greece and China. But more than likely, today’s insanity can be chalked up to being the day the robots turned against us. So no big deal.

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