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December 10, 1987

FINANCIAL TAILPIECE: SQUIRREL STOPS PLAY ON US OVER-THE-COUNTER MARKET

By CBR Staff Writer

Wall Street has always had its bulls, who make the market go up, and bears, who make it go down. Now it has an animal that brings about stability – the squirrel. On Wednesday, with trading brisk and investors cheerful, a squirrel brought America’s over-the-counter stock market to a halt, thus preventing it from joining the other exchanges in a rally. The animal, undaunted by bulls, bears, and large numbers of electrons, ate, for its last meal, a portion of the main power line for Nasdaq’s computer, the machine that runs the OTC market.Had the rodent performed its act on October 19, investors might have been spared billions of dollars in losses; a statue of the intrepid squirrel might now grace the Trumbull, Connecticut home of the electronic exchange. As it now stands, the only monument to a small animal that did, on a whim, what the mighty Securities and Exchange Commission was afraid to do only six weeks ago, is a wisp of smoke and a small patch of gray fur. These were the clues that enabled technicians from the local power company to determine, beyond a doubt,why the Nasdaq system had crashed. — Hesh Wiener

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