"Retroactive Market Conditions": Nasdaq Says Would Have Called Off FaceBook IPO If It Knew Then What It Knows Now

Tyler Durden's picture

First of all, let's get one thing straight: if instead of about to breach a 20-handle, the Facebook stock price was in the $60, nobody would care about anything that happened in the past 3 days, everyone would be happy and delighted, and increasing the velocity of money with the comfort that some greater fool would be willing to pay even more for ridiculous overvalued ponzi, pardon, portfolio holdings. Alas, we are not there, and as a result, the fingerpointing phase has come and gone. Now come the lawsuits, because people, led to believe in huge short-term profits, are now faced to face with a grim sur-reality in which the tooth fairy was just exposed as the cookie monster. And the latest farcical development: Nasdaq finally pulling market conditions, but not just any market conditions - retroactive ones.

As the WSJ reports: "A senior Nasdaq Stock Market official told customers Tuesday afternoon that it would have pulled the plug on Facebook Inc.'s initial public offering had it known the full extent of the technical problems that plagued its systems. On a conference call with brokers after Tuesday's close, Eric Noll, head of transaction services, said the exchange "by no means would have gone forward" with the much-watched Facebook debut if it had known problems would disrupt a "normal trading day." "In retrospect, it was incorrect," Mr. Noll said of Nasdaq's interpretation of problems." At this point every plaintif's bar attorney eyes just lit up, because what Nasdaq just admitted was liability. And every single retail investor who has lost money, which would be everyone who has bought and held as the stock closed at a fresh all time (read 2.7 day) low, will now demand that had they known what the Nasdaq pretended not to know, but now knows, they would not have put that limit $43 buy order. In the meantime, the actual stock price of Facebook will flounder as the stock becomes a whipping boy if not for investors, then for attorneys everywhere.

More from the WSJ:

Nasdaq said it can't promise customers they will be compensated for losses due to its IPO system failures.

 

We don't ultimately know whether everyone will get a dollar on the dollar," Mr. Noll said, saying the ultimate payouts will depend on regulatory approval and sign-off from Nasdaq's own board.

 

The exchange operator has been in touch with Facebook since the IPO blunder last week, according to Mr. Noll, and those conversations were "ongoing," he told brokers on the conference call.

 

When asked why Nasdaq hadn't tested for the high levels of order cancellations that it said drove the technical problems with Facebook's IPO opening, Mr. Noll said on the conference call that exchange officials believed they had sought to address such potential issues.

We'll give the Nasdaq one thing though: unlike everyone else in this day and age, whose primary recourse is to scapegoat, and to deflect blame, Nasdaq refused to bash that one whipping boy for all things market structure (which Zero Hedge first warned about over 3 years ago): high frequency trading.

High-frequency trading firms, known for the heavy burden they place on exchange systems, played no role in Nasdaq's problems opening up Facebook's shares for trading Friday morning, Mr. Noll said on the conference call. Most such firms do their trading after stocks open on the broader U.S. markets, Mr. Noll told member firms, and there were no signs that any were active as Nasdaq struggled to match up buy and sell orders to form the opening trade in Facebook.

Sadly, something tells us that the final outcome of this debacle will be the end of the Nasdaq which will soon be BATS'ed out of existence, but not due to faulty algos originating on the NYSE or Sigma X, but because the firm will soon be sued to liquidation.

Which a world in which virtually no retail investors are left, is probably very much overdue.

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Still why didn't Nasdaq, or Morgan Stanley, do pull a "market conditions" on Friday? Here is how we laid it out.

In retrospect, the current outcome will likely turn out even worse for investors' faith and sentiment in the farce known as the capital markets.