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Just before 3 PM, I turned on Fox news and saw the Dow was -995.  The commentators were talking about about the sell-off being caused by the financial problems in Greece and/or the collapse of the European currency the Euro. Apparently I had turned the TV on at the bottom of the slide  the market slid 700 points in about 20 minutes before it regained its composure and the Dow closed around -350.

Both Fox Business and CNBC are both reporting that the 20 minute crash was caused by a typo. There was trader error in which someone entered a “b” for billion instead of an “m” for million in a trade of  Procter and Gamble stock. This called P&G stock to mistakenly lowered considerably, thus triggering an avalanche of program selling. Procter and Gamble is a component of the DJIA.

In all, Proctor & Gamble lost $60 billion in market capitalization on one trade. According to the company, the Securities and Exchange Commission is looking into the trade

Program trading has been the subject of massive controversy in recent years as many traders and analysts feel it creates dangerous volatility in the market. Such trading began in the 1970s as trades were manually walked around to specialists’ posts. But sophisticated computer systems now allow traders to place trades directly into the exchange computer, increasing the speed of trading exponentially.

The Greek riot situation and austerity program is causing uncertainty in European banking circles, and that uncertainly is having an effect on United States markets because because European and American Markets are interconnected. The apparent trigger for the massive selloff, which began shortly after 2 pm ET, was the approval of austerity measures by the Greek Parliament, which sparked renewed rioting in Athens. But it seems as if a silly little typo made things much worse.
There also is a growing sense that any collapse of Greece could trigger a wave of defaults across Europe and even the world.

“We’ve seen a crisis start in a country—Greece—become regional, impact the whole of the Euro zone and is on the verge of truly going global,” El-Erian, CEO of the world’s biggest bond fund, told CNBC shortly before the selloff began.

The euro fell further against the dollar, hitting a new 14-month low. The euro has tumbled against the dollar since last fall as faith in Europe’s shared currency dwindles. Greece’s debt crunch is widely seen as a test of Europe’s ability to restore fiscal discipline to the weak economies in its union and keep the decade-old currency viable.

“It’s going to drop further,” Tim Speiss, chairman of the personal wealth advisers practice at Eisner LLP in New York, said of the euro.

As a wise man once said, to Err is Human, but to really screw things up you need a computer.

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