Just a random thought today...
The other day when the Dow dropped over 900 points, it was blamed on some trader someplace entering an order to sell "billions" instead of "millions" of P&G stock. To date, they still cannot produce the trade or the trader. Something doesn't smell right.
1. I would think that level of trade would require some sort of secondary approval.
2. Isn't there an audit trail of trades that would lead back to the trader?
3. If a billion dollar trade could do this, shouldn't there be an edit or at least warning message, "You have entered an amount in the billions. Click OK to bring down the entire global financial system."
This makes me question if this was really the case. Other possibilities could be:
1. A run on stocks that was truly panic selling and this was a way to explain it away without spooking everyone else in the country. I guess this is the "conspiracy theory" view.
2. A software defect...and maybe not a simple one. This could be one of those deeply-embedded ones. I know a little about how the Wall St. systems and processes work and believe me, this is not beyond the realm of possibility.
It may be impossible to know for certain. One would have to perform a deep dive root cause analysis, go through the change logs (if they exist), look at the exact version of code for everything going on at that time, look at a highly dynamic data stream...you get the idea. That probably won't happen. If someone does manage to isolate this as a software defect and can show it, I nominate them for the Root Cause Analysis Hall of Fame, located in Scranton, Pa. (Don't go looking for that...but there is a Tow Truck Museum in Chattanooga, TN.)
Just a random thought...