An “undisclosed technical glitch” shut down trading on more than 2000 issuers on the Nasdaq today, including heavyweights such as Google, Microsoft and Cisco.
Glitches in computer algorithms have led to so called flash crashes in recent years, but you have to go all the way back to the 90’s for a time when the Nasdaq was down for this long.
On August 2nd, 1994 a squirrel chewed into a power line in Trumbull, Connecticut, where the Nasdaq’s computer center is located, shutting down trading for 34 minutes.
Here’s the thing; this was actually the second time it happened. On December 10th, 1987 another stray squirrel shut down trading for 87 minutes.
A report from the New York Times on that day got to the bottom of the story.
“An adventurous squirrel touched off a power failure in Trumbull, Conn., that shut down the National Association of Securities Dealers’ automatic quotation service for 82 minutes yesterday. A Nasdaq official estimated that the power failure might have kept slightly more than 20 million shares from being traded. Since the stock market collapse in October, daily volume on the over-the-counter market has averaged about 130 million shares, he said. Before Oct. 19, volume was almost 150 million shares a day.”
The bad news? Both squirrels died. The good news? Power in Trumbull was restored promptly. Oh, and the Nasdaq proceeded to go on the largest bull run in history following the famed crash of 1987.
Will the Nasdaq once again find that its “undisclosed technical glitch” is, in fact, another adventurous squirrel? If history is to be our guide, we can only hope.