Bats and Brokers

Looking for clues to explain Tuesday's market gyrations? Observe a bloodsucking mammal

Quick! The market is crashing, and you are overextended, so where do you turn for help: a) your broker or b) a bloodsucking vampire bat? Yes, the correct answer is b. Through trial and error over many eons, these bats have devised a market for blood that allows a bat to call on other bats when they find themselves with a temporary liquidity crisis. By contrast, when investors faced margin calls during the market free fall on Tuesday, brokers dumped customers' stocks, inflicting pain on clients and accelerating the downdraft. The vampire-bat comparison may be comical, but it points to a...

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