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The Bloomberg network of financial data terminals, used by most of the world’s biggest financial firms, failed globally leaving investors in the dark and sending stock markets crashing. The outage lasted for about two and a half hours early Friday morning and was described as an internal technical issue. The system executes many tasks and reports live data for stocks, bonds, currencies, commodities (oil, gold, etc) and other complex financial metrics.

Statement from a Bloomberg spokesperson

“Significant but not all parts of our system experienced a disruption today. There is no indication at this point that this is anything other than an internal network issue. We have restored service to most customers and are making progress in bringing all parts of the system back online. We apologize to our customers.”

Service has been “fully restored” as of about 11AM eastern. Problems were reported as trading began in London around 8 a.m., which is one of the world’s largest financial centers, for foreign exchange and bond markets.

European stocks fell quickly on negative news out of Greece as global markets have been jittery given the continuous shenanigans happening with Greek debt and balancing the IMF payments. Markets in Germany, the EU’s most stable economy, were hit hard also as 10 year Bund yield was 5 basis points above zero, which has also increased bond “contagion” further straining the tense situation.

Chinese stocks were closing at the time and tanked on the news (and lack thereof), down almost 7% which is the 2nd biggest drop in 7 years, according to Zero Hedge. The British government postponed a planned 3 billion-pound ($4.4 billion) debt issuance.

The outage caused US stocks to drop and left the Dow Jones average in the negative for 2015.

Zero Hedge
Dow down 350 points from yesterday’s highs…

 

Dow is now back into the red year-to-date…

 

Charts: Bloomberg

To understand more about why this domino effect is so dangerous, here is another excerpt from Zero Hedge since they pick the slack for “mainstream” media.

Zero Hedge

This promptly led to widespread panic among traders mostly in Europe, who were flying blind and unable to chat with other, just as clueless colleagues (the one function used predominantly on the terminal is not charts, nor analytics, but plain old chat).

It got so bad that in a world in which everything has become automated, Europe was forced to delay or cancel pricing various bond deals.

As the WSJ observed, the U.K.’s Debt Management announced in a statement Friday morning that it was postponing a scheduled buy-back of government debt ”due to ongoing technical issues with the third party platform supplier,” and that bids already submitted would be declared null and void. A spokesperson confirmed that the supplier is Bloomberg.

In short if the “terrorists” want to take down the financial world, all they have to do is crash the chat system used by global bond traders. As a reminder, equity “traders” speak in nanosecond bursts of binary, and don’t need Bloomberg.

The WSJ continued: “It’s scary how dependent we have become on our Bloomberg screens,” said Anthony Peters, a strategist at London-based capital markets adviser SwissInvest. “We had [bond] deals which are not going ahead due to this,” one London-based banker said, other bankers said that trading volumes had fallen as a result of the outage.

“The communication chat has become vital to the sharing of information across regions and counterparties. So a global outage like this is systemically important to markets all around the world,” said Louis Gargour, the chief investment officer at London-based asset manager LNG Capital, adding that this shows just how vulnerable the market has become.

 

“We’re flying blind and in our office as our principal counterparties are unable to act as market makers, therefore we’re all catching up on admin because there is little else that we can do,” he added.

 

A second London-based banker said that even if you wanted to do a bond deal in today’s market, “you couldn’t as communication with possible investors and salespeople is incredibly difficult.”

 

A third fixed income banker said that he was involved in a deal but relying on phone conversations for communicating with brokers and investors, which he said feels incredibly “old fashioned”.

 

The outage was trending on Twitter in early European trade and in Asia. Bloomberg said on its website: “We are currently restoring service to those customers who were affected by today’s network issue and are investigating the cause.”

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