How Software Updates Are Destroying the Stock Market

Recently there has been a rash of incidents in which software that supposedly had been rigorously tested crashes and burns. Photograph by Simon Roberts/Gallery Stock

The Knight Capital computer glitch that cost it $440 million is the latest in a series of software updates that’ve caused catastrophic mess-ups in the financial markets. In March, electronic exchange BATS had to cancel its own IPO when a previously undetected bug in its new IPO auction software reared its head at the worst possible time, this despite months of internal testing. In May, Nasdaq’s IPO software encountered a major error during the early stages of the hugely anticipated Facebook IPO. Again, like Bats, Nasdaq had performed thousands of hours of testing replicating “a hundred scenarios” aimed at anticipating problems, Nasdaq Chief Executive Robert Greifeld said.

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