that was close

The Facebook IPO left some investors seething. For Jared White, it left him feeling very lucky. “I seriously got struck by lightning and survived,” the 31-year-old Austin, Texas, trader said of his experiences amid the confusion that engulfed one of the highest-profile initial public offerings ever. At around 10:45 a.m. Friday, Mr. White says, he placed an order to buy 30,000 Facebook shares, setting as his limit price $43 a share, at the opening of trading on the Nasdaq Stock Market, scheduled for 11 a.m. But the opening was delayed, and at 11:08 a.m., Mr. White accidentally canceled his orders through his firm’s electronic trading system. He pushed the wrong button on his computer, Mr. White explained, when he meant to cancel orders for a different stock. Mr. White realized what he had done at 11:13. He quickly re-entered his order, saw an indication that it was accepted by Nasdaq and settled in front of his screen to watch the action when trading finally started at 11:30 a.m…At around 1:50 p.m., the traders finally got confirmations from Nasdaq on their original orders—except for Mr. White, whose account in the Great Point system showed zero shares. He felt like he had dodged a bullet, but he was confused. “What? How?” Mr. White asked his technical-operations manager, who had been on the phone with Nasdaq all morning. He soon learned why he didn’t have any shares: Across the market, orders that had been placed between 11:11 a.m. and 11:30 a.m. had fallen into some kind of a black hole. That meant Mr. White’s re-entered order was never recognized. About the same time, revelations were hitting other traders across the market, surprising some who held shares they thought they had sold. Trading volume surged as orders flooded Nasdaq, causing a steep drop in Facebook’s price. The shares never really recovered and fell most of the rest of the day, closing at $38.23 at 4 p.m. “I was utterly relieved,” Mr. White said of his phantom trade. [WSJ]

During the financial crisis, the markets were on edge. This was before the big firms blew up, I remember saying on the air, “Well, you’re going to get some commentary from teh ratings agencies.” The companies that were insuring all the big banks just didn’t have the money to insure them. So basically they all lost their triple-A ratings. I said that and the market moved 200 points. I remember walking into San Pietro, a restaurant in Manhattan where a lot of these guys had lunch and I saw Jack Welch, who came up to me and said, “Charlie, you’re doing great but watch this whole notion of moving the markets. Just watch it or you’ll get your brains blown out.” I said, “Literally?” He said, “No, but it’s a dangerous, dangerous thing.” [New Canaan-Darien Magazine]

Mr. Bernanke said the U.S. recovery, now more than two-and-a-half years old, continues to be “modest.” He conceded the pace of growth has been slower than what the Fed expected. But he was more optimistic about the long run, saying the economy hasn’t been permanently scarred by the financial crisis. “Although important problems certainly exist, the growth fundamentals of the United States do not appear to have been permanently altered by the shocks of the past four years,” the Fed chief told the gathering, which this year focuses on long-term growth prospects for the global economy. [WSJ]