NYSE Glitch Sparks Chaos, Plunging Berkshire Hathaway Stock by 99%

Discover how a technical glitch at the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) caused Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway stock to plummet by 99%, sparking chaos and highlighting the importance of robust systems in the financial world.

NYSE Glitch Sparks Chaos, Plunging Berkshire Hathaway Stock by 99%
Photo by teleterapia.fi / Unsplash

On June 3, 2024, a technical glitch at the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) caused significant disruptions, sending shockwaves through the financial world.

The glitch, which stemmed from a problem with the exchange's price band system, led to erroneous price displays and volatility halts for several securities. Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway A-shares (BRK-A) appeared to plummet by an astonishing 99.9%, from $627,400 to a mere $185.10.

The Ripple Effect

The impact of the glitch was not limited to Berkshire Hathaway. Berkshire Hathaway B-shares (BRK-B), which trade at 1/1,500th the price of A-shares, experienced a more modest decrease of up to 1.1% and exhibited heightened volatility.

The incident also affected several other companies, including Chipotle Mexican Grill (CMG), Horace Mann Educators (HMN), and Franco-Nevada Corp (FNV), a gold-focused royalty and streaming company. The glitch instigated trading halts for approximately a dozen companies, causing confusion and volatility in the market until the NYSE resolved the problem.

CTA SIP Issue: The Root Cause

The NYSE glitch was traced back to a technical problem with the industry-wide price bands published by the CTA SIP, designed to prevent excessive volatility or extreme price movements for individual stocks.

These price bands are crucial in maintaining market stability and protecting investors from sudden, drastic price fluctuations. The malfunction of this system led to the startling misrepresentation of stock prices on the exchange's screens, with Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway A-class shares bearing the brunt of the glitch.

NYSE's Swift Response

In response to the technical glitch, the NYSE took immediate action by halting trading in the affected stocks and issuing a statement confirming that the issue had been resolved, with trading resuming around 11:35 a.m. Eastern Time.

To mitigate the impact of the erroneous prices, the NYSE announced that it would unwind trades made during the glitch period, effectively reversing any transactions executed at the incorrect prices. This decisive action helped restore normal trading conditions and maintain the market's integrity.

The Importance of Robust Systems

The NYSE glitch is a stark reminder of the importance of robust and reliable financial systems. As markets become increasingly complex and interconnected, the potential for technical issues to cause significant disruptions grows.

This incident follows closely on the heels of another recent issue, where live calculations for the S&P 500 and Dow Jones Industrial Average were unavailable for approximately an hour, further highlighting the need for resilient infrastructure.

Adapting to Changing Regulations

The glitch also occurred amidst the NYSE's efforts to adapt to a new SEC rule mandating a one-day settlement period for stocks, down from the previous two-day timeframe between a trade and settlement.

This change, aimed at modernizing and streamlining the trading process, may have contributed to the increased complexity and potential for technical issues.

Moving Forward

As the NYSE works to prevent similar incidents in the future, the exchange must invest in upgrading and maintaining its systems to ensure the smooth functioning of the market. This may involve increased testing, redundancy measures, and contingency plans to minimize the impact of any potential glitches.

Furthermore, the incident underscores the need for effective communication and transparency during market disruptions. The NYSE's swift response and clear communication regarding the resolution of the issue and the unwinding of affected trades helped to restore confidence and stability in the market.

In conclusion, while the NYSE glitch on June 3, 2024, caused significant disruptions and momentarily sent Berkshire Hathaway stock plummeting by 99%, the exchange's quick action and the robustness of the overall market structure prevented long-lasting damage.

As the financial world continues to evolve and adapt to new regulations and technologies, market participants and regulators must work together to ensure the integrity, reliability, and resilience of the systems underpinning the global economy.