NASDAQ's Been Out of Commission for Hours and Everything Is Fine in the Real World

A blog about business and economics.
Aug. 22 2013 3:15 PM

NASDAQ's Been Out of Commission for Hours and Everything Is Fine in the Real World

The NASDAQ stock exchange has been shut down essentially all afternoon thanks to some technical problems, and this is obviously a huge story if you're actively involved in stock trading. But the most interesting thing about it is the extent to which it's not a big deal for the real world. Many of the companies traded on the NASDAQ do business 24/7 but stock exchanges generally close on weekends and holidays.

And yet the great engine of capitalism powers forward without them, just as a non-scheduled halt in trading has very little impact on the gears of industry in the real world. Now obviously if you didn't have stock markets at all, that would be a big change. But the fact that one can go away for hours unexpectedly without it being much of a disruption to anything anyone is doing is a reminder of the fairly marginal role of stock trading in actual economic activity, even as more and more of corporate governance has somewhat perversely been oriented toward trying to make share prices high.

Matthew Yglesias is the executive editor of Vox and author of The Rent Is Too Damn High.

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