We've been having some fun lately at New York Stock Exchange chief executive John Thain's expense. We want to like the guy, we really do. It's just that lately so much of what he's been saying lately is so implausible. Let's do a quick summary of Thain's claims and then rate them as to their likely truth factor.
The Thain claim: The were no problems with the hybrid system.
He was saying this as early as Wednesday, which was our very first cause for doubt. How did they eliminate the possibility of problems the hybrid system that quickly?
The Thain Claim: The NYSE as no plans to eliminate specialists any time soon.
Well, probably not after the specialists saved the exchange on Tuesday afternoon. But just the day before Thain's hand-picked former Goldman Sachs colleague was handed a top executive position at the NYSE, one that many think puts him in line to be the next chief executive of the exchange. And this guy is widely reported to be an enthusiast for 100% electronic trading.
Verdict: Plausible, but only because of Tuesday's glitches.
The Thain Claim: I'm not retiring.
Only John Thain probably knows whether this is true. So we'll give this one to him.
The Thain Claim: There is no SEC investigation into Tuesday's glitches.
Thain couldn't have been more blunt about this, denying the existence of any SEC interest in looking into trading problems on Tuesday to reporters and on conference calls with NYSE investors.
When asked what exactly the SEC was looking into regarding Tuesday's trading problems, Thain quickly answered, "Nothing."
An SEC spokesman said in an emailed response: "Our staff is working closely with the NYSE and other markets to review Tuesday's events to evaluate how orders were handled and whether any enhancements to capacity management appear to be necessary."
The Verdict: Liar, liar, pants on fire.
Summary: We report, you decide, John Thain spins.