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Swiss Bank Threatens to Sue NASDAQ Over Facebook IPO 147

Posted by samzenpus
from the what-took-you-so-long dept.
jfruh writes "On the day of the Facebook IPO, the NASDAQ's trading systems suffered multiple failures and couldn't confirm buy orders for several hours. Big banks buying shares for their funds and customers placed multiple orders as a result, and bought more Facebook stock than they intended to as a result. NASDAQ has agreed to set up a fund to compensate them for their losses, but apparently this isn't enough for Swiss bank UBS, which is threatening legal action."
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Swiss Bank Threatens to Sue NASDAQ Over Facebook IPO

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  • by Kaz Kylheku (1484) on Wednesday August 01, 2012 @06:27PM (#40849999) Homepage

    Who submitted the orders, NASDAQ or the Swiss bank?

    If the system is down, don't keep submitting orders. Or keep track of them yourself? Gee, you're a big bank, you can count!

    The trading systems have disclaimers which cover this kind of eventuality (order execution times not being guaranteed).

    • by SomePgmr (2021234)

      You'd think they would have some kind of resolution plan for this that the exchange and participants both agreed to. It's not like any business, anywhere, doesn't have problems turn up.

      If the compensation fund is exactly (or better than) what's in those terms, you'd think the bank would get told to "go screw".

      • frankly, I'm not sure why NASDAQ didn't bust clearly erroneous trades made on day 1. That would've made investment banks unhappy, but then nasdaq wouldn't be in such a big mess itself... Most out of whack trades from ``Frash Crash'' got busted, why not trades-during-trading-system-crapping-out periods?

      • by Sir_Sri (199544)

        I think the problem is that the compensation fund is no where near adequate to cover the scale of the problem.

        The compensation fund is only in the 100 million dollar range. That sounds like a lot of money, but when you're talking about 5 or 6 billion dollars in trading,(or more) 100 million dollars doesn't go very far, especially if it's spread out over multiple parties, i.e. that's for more than just UBS.

        In that situation UBS is (probably correctly) taking the position that NASDAQ as a trading entity isn'

    • by Mashiki (184564)

      Pretty much. Exclusion times are not guaranteed, and you can end up paying more, or less, or not getting anything at all. They can whine, and thrash about all they want but they're sure not going to get anywhere. To me it seems like they tried to make a big bet on the IPO being worth more, and it's now tanking hard(and will tank harder) and are trying to recoup losses by doing this instead. Yeah...not gonna work there guys.

    • Re:Boo hoo! (Score:4, Insightful)

      by mysidia (191772) on Wednesday August 01, 2012 @06:49PM (#40850255)

      If the system is down, don't keep submitting orders.

      Exactly. Absence of a confirmation is not confirmation that there is no order.

      In that case, the transactionally correct action would be to cancel the original order, and receive confirmation of the cancel, before attempting to place another order.

      Of course... if Facebook stock had gone up instead, then they would complain that more orders were cancelled and not resubmitted than they intended.

      • Re:Boo hoo! (Score:5, Informative)

        by hawguy (1600213) on Wednesday August 01, 2012 @07:20PM (#40850521)

        If the system is down, don't keep submitting orders.

        Exactly. Absence of a confirmation is not confirmation that there is no order.

        In that case, the transactionally correct action would be to cancel the original order,
        and receive confirmation of the cancel, before attempting to place another order.

        That depends on what the protocol spec says. If NASDAQ acknowledged receiving the order but didn't confirm that the order was placed, it's entirely possible that the right thing to do was send the order again under the assumption that it didn't get filled.

        Of course any system that doesn't use unique transaction ID's to prevent dupes is braindead, but I've been appalled at some of the brain dead protocols I've seen that are used to transfer large volumes of transactions amongst businesses (sometimes involving someone manually keying them in on both ends with no check digits or other verification.)

        Of course... if Facebook stock had gone up instead, then they would complain that more orders were cancelled and not resubmitted than they intended.

        That's why you better make sure your systems work correctly before you accept billions of dollars of orders since your liability can be measured in billions of dollars.

        • Re:Boo hoo! (Score:5, Informative)

          by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday August 01, 2012 @11:14PM (#40852147)

          I work in the trading industry with experience tracking down order problems between client and exchange, and if you do not receive information on your original order status you had better contact the exchange to find out what happened. FIRING ADDITIONAL ORDERS INTO THE ETHER IS A STUPID DECISION AND YOU ARE 100% LIABLE FOR BEING AN IDIOT.

          Pretty much all of the exchanges use a unique order ID function for tracking orders (both client-unique and exchange unique generated on either side and provided to the other). Once you submit the order a few different things need to happen for almost all exchanges.

          You will receive an order confirmation (Ack message) which will typically contain all of the same information your order had in it along with the Exchange Order ID (you have your own client order ID attached to the trade which is echoed back to you too) or you will receive a Reject message if your order has something wrong with it (price is not valid for the security you are trading, order ID is a duplicate of one you sent already, order type is not allowed for your account, you are submitting a day order during an invalid session, trading is suspended on that security, etc).

          Once your order is acknowledged IT IS LIVE ON THE MARKET. There isn't a valid order state where the exchange has accepted the order, but it won't match in the matching engine against suitable orders (bugs not withstanding, but are extremely rare). Some order types like IOC orders may not be acknowledged but must come back as a trade or a cancel message (IOC is "immediate or cancel", as-in match my order now or cancel it back to me).

          If you submit an order and it does not either come back as acknowledged, filled, cancelled, or rejected then you DO NOT KNOW THE CURRENT STATE OF THE ORDER AND MUST CONTACT THE EXCHANGE FOR ASSISTANCE. At this time your order is considered live (to you at least) and may come back filled at any time! If you have not received an order acknowledgement or reject message you can TRY to cancel your pending order using your own client order ID on some exchanges (others mandate you cancel your order based on their exchange ID), but until you get a FULL cancel confirmation your order is considered LIVE on the market and may be filled at any time.

          Let me repeat one more time: while your order is in any other state than fully canceled, filled, or rejected you MAY BE FILLED at any time!

          Poster before you is correct, anyone who continues trading without knowing exactly the state of their order is a FOOL. You cannot assume anything about the state of your order if you are missing information from the exchange.

          • Re:Boo hoo! (Score:5, Informative)

            by nri (149893) on Thursday August 02, 2012 @12:34AM (#40852547)

            "If NASDAQ acknowledged receiving the order but didn't confirm that the order was placed, it's entirely possible that the right thing to do was send the order again under the assumption that it didn't get filled."

            Exactly, you resend with a poss resend flag on the fix message

            http://fixprotocol.org/FIXimate3.0/en/FIX.4.2/tag97.html [fixprotocol.org]

            my guess is an algo went out of control at the swiss bank.

            (disclaimer, I work with FIX messaging as a day job and I used to worked for a company that is now part of OMX-NASDAQ)

          • Greed turns adults in really dumb idiots.
        • That depends on what the protocol spec says. If NASDAQ acknowledged receiving the order but didn't confirm that the order was placed, it's entirely possible that the right thing to do was send the order again under the assumption that it didn't get filled.

          The OUCH specification [nasdaqtrader.com] says, "All Inbound Messages may be repeated benignly." If UBS sent multiple (identical) orders with the same Order Token, then they would (should?) have been fine due to filtering of duplicates. However, perhaps their client soft

          • by mysidia (191772)

            However, perhaps their client software didn't actually re-send identical messages

            I don't think it's necessarily safe to assume that it wasn't a human erroneously thinking they were "resubmitting" their order to the client software, and the client software dutifully generating a new unique client order identity each time.

            • I don't think it's necessarily safe to assume that it wasn't a human erroneously thinking they were "resubmitting" their order to the client software, and the client software dutifully generating a new unique client order identity each time.

              Oh, I totally agree. I can't imagine many trading UIs come with the "sends duplicate orders" feature; especially those developed in-house. However, owing to the speed of modern trading systems, I would hope that more UIs would be developed that limit in-flight (unack

      • by vux984 (928602)

        Exactly. Absence of a confirmation is not confirmation that there is no order.

        Why not? If I send a TCP packet over the wire and don't get an ACK, within the window, then the protocol is to retransmit. If you don't get an ACK, you assume the packet was lost.

        In that case, the transactionally correct action would be to cancel the original order, and receive confirmation of the cancel, before attempting to place another order.

        So... what happens if Nasdaq has received the order, sent the confirmation back and t

        • by sjames (1099)

          The correct measure is to use a unique ID as suggested above. In the case of TCP, the sequence number in the header counts for that.

      • by Kaz Kylheku (1484)

        Indeed!

        It's like when the network is lagged, and you keep typing commands and hitting Enter.

        If by doing that you delete files accidentally, do you sue the network? The developers of OpenSSH? :)

  • by HaaPoo (696098) on Wednesday August 01, 2012 @06:41PM (#40850157)
    if the price was going up, would they be returning the stock for a refund?
  • by Anonymous Coward

    Did they ignore the bit where it says don't hit refresh in your browser?

  • by ackthpt (218170) on Wednesday August 01, 2012 @06:43PM (#40850195) Homepage Journal

    But then, when you buy stock in a company with no real product and it tanks to about 50% it's IPO value, you can only blame yourself and your silly Bay of Pigs attitude towards business.

    • But then, when you buy stock in a company with no real product and it tanks to about 50% it's IPO value, you can only blame yourself and your silly Bay of Pigs attitude towards business.

      Facebook has a product. It's you.

    • by BeanThere (28381)

      It doesn't really make sense to entirely blame traders here .. what about all the traders that tried to sell early to minimize their losses when they realized early into the IPO that it had been overvalued, put sell orders through at price $X, had their orders mysterious "fail", then get blocked from selling for hours while all they could do was watch the price (and thus their savings) keep falling? If that was (say) your own mother who could just watch some of her savings evaporate (and your inheritance) p

      • by BeanThere (28381)

        To be absolutely clear, I am not saying investors aren't at fault merely for making a 'bad investment'. (It was reasonably obvious in advance to anyone with a few brain cells that Facebook was a bubble stock.) However, we aren't talking about losses from just making a bad investment - we are talking about multiple different forms of either outright criminal trading fraud, and/or what is being called "technical problems" that resulted in "effectively negligently fraudulent" trading platform (that e.g. gave w

      • If that was (say) your own mother who could just watch some of her savings evaporate (and your inheritance) purely and only because of so-called "technical errors"

        I don't mean to defend NASDAQ at all (and IANA Financial Advisor), but my personal opinion is that (1) mom and pop should be treating IPO day like a day at the casino, not a rational investment; and (2) mom and pop shouldn't expect to open and close a position in a single day. They aren't day traders or scalpers, and they are sure to get burned

      • by nedlohs (1335013)

        Any "retail investor" trading in the first few days of an IPO deserves to lose their money.

        Of course that doesn't mean fraud is acceptable to ensure that happens, but it's really just speeding up the inevitable.

  • by CheshireDragon (1183095) on Wednesday August 01, 2012 @06:54PM (#40850305) Homepage
    Why did anyone think this was going to be a good stock?
    I assume none of the share buyers or anyone that was involved ever had or seen a FB account.
    • by ErikZ (55491) *

      It's a good stock, because everyone uses facebook and think's it's a good stock.

      Buy in early, sell to the suckers.

      • It's a good stock, because everyone uses facebook and think's it's a good stock.

        Buy in early, sell to the suckers.

        I know Barnum disagrees, what if there aren't enough suckers for liquidity =)

        -AI

    • I assume none of the share buyers or anyone that was involved ever had or seen a FB account.

      I would wager it was exactly the opposite. Likely the vast majority of the buyers had accounts and thought "hey, if everyone is using this, then it must be on the road to insane profitability!". The problem is none of these people realized that there was no business plan behind it - at least, none beyond selling members' personal information.

      On top of that, a lot of people thought it would be the next Google. What they would have realized if they were paying attention before spending money is that i

      • by Genda (560240)

        Ah, explains the new "You have FaceMail..." So now we'll have AOLusers and folks who got FACED... add them to the YAHOOs and there you are, the shallow end of the technological gene pool.

    • Simple, you assume there will more suckers down the lane. It might even have a simple buy and sell in the next minute trade (which works works moderately well on the day of the IPO, depending on the hype and the pulse)

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Everyone who did any analysis said it was wildly overvalued before the IPO.

      It was hyped by the various low content talking heads. The only thing that supported the IPO's valuation was that it was being traded privately at obscene values. In hindsight that was just rich idiots trading white elephants amongst themselves.

    • by BeanThere (28381)

      That's not what any of this is really ultimately about, e.g. cf comment above http://news.slashdot.org/comments.pl?sid=3020415&cid=40851961

      You would understand more clearly if you RTA (and some of the other articles about the various other lawsuits being filed).

  • Market Glitches (Score:4, Interesting)

    by DukeWeber (1806878) on Wednesday August 01, 2012 @06:54PM (#40850309) Homepage
    These are getting to be fairly frequent events. See http://www.forbes.com/sites/davidleinweber/2012/08/01/another-tech-glitch-roils-markets-how-simulation-could-help/ [forbes.com] for comments on the problems this morning, and how traders might be able to build their own early warning systems
    • What I find disconcerting is not so much that peoples' systems break from time to time, that's to be expected; but that a single party's breakage can occasionally trigger such notable oscillations. That suggests that either the market is loaded with actors programmatically chasing one another off cliffs like lemmings on amphetamines(which actually don't do that; but they've somehow become symbolic of it), or that there is sufficiently substantial consolidation, relative to trading volume, that there are act

  • Was the lack of transparency on orders a result of a risk mitigation scheme in case there weren't enough retail investors to get suckered in? Now the banks can back out at taxpayer expense.
  • by Required Snark (1702878) on Wednesday August 01, 2012 @09:57PM (#40851661)
    USB has legal problems that are far more serious them NASDAQ's inability to make timely trades. I can't help but wonder if this suit is partly an attempt to distract people from how much trouble USB is facing.

    USB, along with Barkley's and RBS (Royal Bank of Scotland) are all under investigation for rigging LIBOR. This is potentially the largest currency fraud in the history of the world. Literally 100 of TRILLIONS of US dollars may have been influenced by rigging interest rates.

    http://articles.economictimes.indiatimes.com/2012-07-28/news/32906786_1_libor-global-benchmark-interest-rates-credit-card-rates [indiatimes.com]

    Soon, the trading had crossed to the euro rate markets, according to the settlement documents filed in the Barclays investigation. And by 2007, traders at RBS and UBS were seeking to influence the yen rate market, according to documents filed in 2011 in Singapore's High Court and in Canada's Ontario Superior Court.

    Traders at Barclays are believed to have participated in manipulating the rate for the dollar and the rate for the euro known as Euribor, according to documents filed in the Barclays settlement last month.

    RBS and UBS traders are a focus of the global investigation because of their alleged involvement in seeking to influence yen-denominated rates.

    Two RBS traders in London, Brent Davies and Will Hall, are alleged to have agreed to help a trader at UBS, Thomas Hayes, to manipulate yen Libor, according to court documents filed by the Canadian Competition Bureau.

    So USB getting press about how unfair NASDAQ is acting could be an attempt at a smokescreen while they deal with their own problems. It's been reported that these banks are willing to do almost anything to settle with regulators because they are terrified of the potential liability if any more information comes out. Bankruptcy is not out of the question, and neither is jail time.

    One can only hope that this time these evil bastards finally get some small measure of what they deserve.

    • Your Tech meter exploded: You typed USB every time instead of UBS. Notably excepted from what you copied from that article and quoted.
    • by BeanThere (28381)

      Didn't know 'USB' was having so much trouble, but what are the alternatives really? Firewire doesn't seem to be taking off and USB3 will obviate any speed complaints etc.

    • by Genda (560240)

      Douglas Adams had it all right. Put the Bankers, Lawyers, Politicians, Insurance Executives, CEOs, etc... but not the phone sanitizers... in a space ship, launch it to a habitable but uninhabited planet, and get them all as far from the rest of the human race as is conceivably possible. Oh, and if the planet is uninhabitable, eh.

      • Plausible Deniability

        you see if you have every reason to believe that said planet is suitable for a colony but it turns out that say it is inhabited by Raptors or other Apex Predators (or has a periodic EM storms) then you are in the clear.

    • thugs rob people, great criminals rob banks. But the really big criminals are those who create banks.
  • by Builder (103701) on Thursday August 02, 2012 @05:15AM (#40853851)

    Most of the banks I know spend at least $300,000 a year on equipment and salaries to block sites like facebook. Given how much they spend to stop their own staff accessing FB, why did they try and sell it to other people?

Mediocrity finds safety in standardization. -- Frederick Crane

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