Thursday, May 6th, 2010
58

The Crash Of '10: An Oral History

Looking back at the wreckageThe Great Market Crash of May 6, 2010, affected everyone in different ways. With the passage of time we can look back at the events of that day from a historical standpoint. In three separate interviews we got the perspective of a trio of bloggers from The Awl, a semi-popular website of that era.

Alex Balk: It's funny, we were just sitting around talking about Courtney Love, without a care in the world. And then the news came through.

Maura Johnston: I was saying something about Nobody's Daughter. I guess I was mocking it a little, but you have to remember, those were different times, back before the crash. We were able to joke then. Anyway, all of a sudden Choire told us that something terrible was happening with the Dow.

Choire Sicha:
I think it might have been the scariest moment of my life. I mean, I have been through some shit, but when Joe Weisenthal uses six exclamation points you know immediately that THIS IS NOT A DRILL.

Maura Johnston:
And also, let's not kid ourselves, Nobody's Daughter was not good.

Alex Balk: Once we all understood what was going on it was really strange. It was eerily quiet for a minute, and then Choire started looking around with this bizarre, focused gaze. We've never discussed it, but I'm pretty sure he was looking at everything in the room to see what he could turn into a weapon.

Choire Sicha: I figured I'd take Balk out first, because he's slow and it would be easy, and maybe Maura would be so stunned by it that it would give me time to break free before all the shit came storming down. It's a little mercenary, sure, but it's all part of the training.

Maura Johnston: I grew up eating Old El Paso taco shells, so I knew that I could survive on pretty much anything, but I was a little worried about Choire. He's such a pissy gourmet. I was genuinely concerned by what he might survive on. Balk? I figured if he lived through the first hour, which seemed unlikely, he had plenty of stored fat to see him through.

Choire Sicha: I know Balk keeps a bunch of Slim Jims in his computer bag. After I cracked him in the face with the table leg I was going to swipe those and head down to Mexico. [Chuckles] Of course they're disgusting. [Suddenly serious] You don't get to choose what you survive on. You JUST SURVIVE.

Alex Balk: It was starting to get pretty tense. If Maura hadn't hit refresh on her screen when she did I don't like to think about what would have happened.

Maura Johnston:
Well, you know, thirty seconds had gone by, I thought I might see if things had changed. By that point the Dow had bounced back by about 500 points. We took a deep breath and went back to our respective RSSs.

Choire Sicha: I probably will smash Balk in the face with a table leg at some point, but I guess I'm glad it didn't have to be today. I'm also glad that now I know exactly which table leg I'm going to do it with.

Alex Balk: I tried to check in with Cho to see if he had made it through okay, but his IM message read "Out looting sneakers." Which is usually what it says, so I guess he was fine.

Choire Sicha:
It's the one on the right at the front. You see how there are already some dents and splinters coming out of it? That's definitely gonna take that guy down.

58 Comments / Post A Comment

BadUncle (#153)

So, does this mean I shouldn't order the Rosetta Stone for hobo glyphs?

+1 million billion

LondonLee (#922)

Laugh of the week!

dntsqzthchrmn (#2,893)

FTW

flossy (#1,402)

Nooooo, it's way too late to sport my winter Go Bag but my summer Go Bag is on back-order! DAMMIT, GREEKS!

Art Yucko (#1,321)

"I think the machines just took over. There's not a lot of human interaction," said Charlie Smith, chief investment officer at Fort Pitt Capital Group. "We've known that automated trading can run away from you, and I think that's what we saw happen today."

= Good Morning! This has been your Singularity Courtesy Wake-Up Call.(TM)

brent_cox (#40)

!!!

gumplr (#66)

1101011101001

kneetoe (#1,881)

There's always tomorrow.

HiredGoons (#603)

Don't remind me.

BadUncle (#153)

And there'll be plenty of alcohol then, too.

Art Yucko (#1,321)

Cho doesn't have anything to worry about, as the Sneakergeek economy is completely self-sufficient and impervious to external manipulation. Put that in your Dunk and smoke it.

Oh. I was reading about afros and missed the whole shebang.

belltolls (#184)

You All Are Legend

I heard that Warren Buffett just dozed off on his keyboard.

BadUncle (#153)

the whole economy is his hamster wheel, and he needs more pellets.

Art Yucko (#1,321)

YOU try finding a fun afternoon party for stock-traders-only on Craigslist/Omaha/Casual Encounters!

BoHan (#29)

Well, Sirius/XM AltNation started "Pacific Coast Highway" in hourly or so rotation today, which made me not care about the stock market, so just think about what you are saying Maura Johnston!!!!!! There are consequences. Courtney Love's Boyfriend.

BoHan (#29)

Also, that made no sense, but that's because I read the Twitter.

HiredGoons (#603)

Where was Cat?

Multiphasic (#411)

Who do you think stepped in to save the market? Geithner?

Art Yucko (#1,321)

plotting some feline putsch against Choire, no doubt. Cannot trust LOLz.

kneetoe (#1,881)

When Choire goes for the Slim Jims, there will be no more Slim Jims.

Art Yucko (#1,321)

ize in ur basement
NOMing all ur slim jimz

This so obviously a fake. True disaster scenarios elegantly reduce everything to one simple query, "To whom should I be doing sex?"

Mindpowered (#948)

So you're the accidentally sold Accenture down from $41.00 to $0.04 single-handedly causing worldwide financial panic, and wiping $500 off the stock market in a few minutes.

Now you have to explain yourself to your mother. What do you say?

"I was under a lot of pressure?"
"The trailer for Iron Man 2 was on."
"I was looking at pictures of Ms Kerr"

Any other ideas?

Mindpowered (#948)

$500 billion. US. For the record.

Bittersweet (#765)

"Those bastards at Accenture totally deserved it?"

petejayhawk (#1,249)

*applause*

*Arsenio Hall arm pumps*

doubled277 (#2,783)

Okay can someone help me out here? The conventional wisdom quickly pegged this as a reaction to the Greek Credit crisis. To which, it always seems to me to be speculative, this kind of overall blaming. (For example, Proctor & Gamble loses almost half it's value in the course of 10 minutes b/c of Greece? Why????) Anyway, now it appears there was an error whereby someone entered a B for billion instead of an M for million and this caused some kind of panic, and was exasberated by the "trading machines" that are set to sell if a stock hits a certain level. O.K. But it seems to me once the dust has settled, everyone will still be blaming this on Greece – whereas it seems to me – and tell me if I'm wrong please – this had NOTHING to do with Greece at all.

mmmark (#4,458)

Wonky boyfriend Felix agrees. And explains.

Mindpowered (#948)

Eh. Greece set the stage, to point where something (that would have been written off as glitch back in 2007) caused a market wide route. Don't forget that the market was already down over 200 points even before this happened (directly linked to pictures of Greeks not taking their medicine).

kneetoe (#1,881)

Well thank god whoever it was didn't hit TR.

doubled277 (#2,783)

That's some good wonk. Thanks

The fault lies with a glitch in automated trading systems, which dropped PG like a rock (37%!); this alone pushed the DJIA down 172 points. Seeing the DJIA drop, tunnel-visioned traders and other automated systems amplified the effect. My take: absolutely nothing to do with Greece, except for generally making people nervous and twitchy.

Also, it's really too bad that Empirica isn't around any more. Still, I can only hope that some holders of out-of-the-money options made out huge today.

Mindpowered (#948)

Well sorry to rain on the bad trade hypothesis.. yes there were some irregularities (Accenture PLC anyone?) But they happened in an extremely fearful environment, look how oil collapsed and gold shot up, copper sank while the VIX skyrocketed. EVERYONE, was twitchy as hell due the current situation in Greece.

raf_oh (#1,296)

Also, it used to be that program trading would be curbed if the Dow Jones was down too much. That rule was put in after the '87 crash, and removed in '07.

It was removed because it seemed that wasn't seen to limit moves like today.

doubled277 (#2,783)

So my takeaway from all this is: Greece = not that important (certainly not important enough to cause a market collapse). Sorry Greece!
But P&G on the other hand = very important. That about sum it up? Suck it, Greece.

doubled277 (#2,783)

Also, if you'll notice, almost every mainstream news outlet is indeed still touting the crash as a response to Greece's woes. The WSJ is not, but they're definitely the exception.

Oh dear, they've walked back the glitch-in-the-system rationale already? I guess I'll fall back on the "oh, just a little test of my Finance Ray, Mr. Bond" scenario.

jolie (#16)

I have this fantasy (one of many, yes) that when Choire gets mad at Balk he hurls Cat at Balk's face as hard as he can. I'm now imaging that this tactic might employed as a diversion to aid the snatching-of-Slim-Jims-and-sprinting-to-Mexico-for-delicious-post-apocalyptic-tortillas.

HiredGoons (#603)

I'm eating a burrito from Baja Fresh right now (Times Square food options suck) and I can hear Choire *tsk *tsk *tsk ing me from downtown.

Matt (#26)

@HG, I wish I could just stand at their salsa bar all day and DRINK, I won't lie.

HiredGoons (#603)

@Matt: I'm right there with you.

Have you perchance seen Coraline? Climactic cat-hurling. Also, the cat is voiced by Keith David, which is rather how I imagine a Choire-cat would talk.

Note: The Awl table (legs intact!) is currently on display at SmithsonianCorp Headquarters in Reagantown DC.

Matt (#26)

Arlington will be renamed Reagantown, maybe. DC will be Barrytown. (And not the of the Steely Dan stripe, either.)

Bittersweet (#765)

Is Arlington really getting that neocon? All my extra-liberal friends left there must be peeing themselves. (This was the only county in VA that carried Mondale in '84, after all…)

Matt (#26)

The Bush years were not good years for Northern Virginia. HELLO ATTORNEY GENERAL KEN CUCCINELLI.

sigerson (#179)

I was born in the District and raised in Arlington and I can assure you that it's the People's Republic of Northern Virginia. Seriously grungy, progressive, liberal — like Portland-on-the-Potomac.

/choosing to ignore all the white hat frat boys on Wilson Blvd…

raf_oh (#1,296)

So it started with a fat finger at Citi…
selling billions instead of millions of S&P e-mini futures.

"semi-popular"? What's with the big head all of a sudden?

Art Yucko (#1,321)

See, I think Choire's on to something with the exit-strategy because, (from a Mexican perspective!):

1. We've been preprogrammed with low expectations, which in turn:
2. We don't give dos mierdas! They can crash their Mercado para Gordos all they want and we'll still have Tecate.
3. Artificial intelligence-trading glitch? We barely even have electricity down here, chinge computer.

Now what was all this about table-legs?

Jeff Barea (#4,298)

Thanks P&G for quietly donating Dawn dish soap without trying to make a cheap P/R ploy to help with your sales.

What? Try and find my fingerprints.

paco (#2,190)

I wish the markets would just give themselves the day off tomorrow. I'm too scared to watch what's going to happen.

Jeff Barea (#4,298)

Hung Parliament means they are safe…

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