“The Machines Broke”: Dow Down 400 Points, But It Was Down 900

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If you want to pick a day to watch CNBC, today would be a good one. At about 2:47 p.m. today, the Dow collapsed sharply, and then a minute or so later, recovered. (See chart here at 2:48 p.m.; the Dow was trading, for an instant, below 10,000) It is now trading down about 4 percent, at 10,480, mainly on fears of Greek contagion. Which is not so bad, considering. Jim Cramer delivered the play-by-play, explaining that for a moment, the computers took over. Or as he put it, “the machines broke.”

UPDATE: CNBC now reporting that it may have been a human error. Someone wrote down “billion” when they meant to write “million.” You know how it goes. Phrase of the day: “Fat Finger Trade”

UPDATE II: Megan McArdle has some more theories.