Friday, May 25, 2012

Nimble NASDAQ:

NASDAQ's computer fumbles in handling the Facebook offering reminded me that fifteen to twenty years ago, when I was developing finance software, NASDAQ was the uptodate, nimble, highly computerized system, while NYSE seemed to be an old fogey. I will give you one example that sticks in my craw.

At that time, both exchanges issued new specifications for the formats of messages that reported trades. The changes made it possible to specify stock prices in much smaller increments, and to specify total trades in much, much higher totals. Since the company I worked at was doing business with NASDAQ and NYSE, we were entitled to get the new format specifications.

I had to modify some software to handle the new formats. For NASDAQ, I went to their website and downloaded the full new transaction message spec. It was a document that was easy to search, and I often cut-and-pasted from the document right into my comments.

For NYSE, I had to call a general phone number and ask around. I soon found a person who was willing to send me their spec. It arrived a week later, a bulky paper document. It was much less convenient than NASDAQ's online spec. It was obvious that this bulky paper document had been printed from a word-processing program. I inquired, and was assured that I was not permitted to have the computer-readable form.

And NYSE billed me $25 for the paper document. (Which I never paid.)

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