'Flash freeze': Another cry for a better back-up plan
Last week, after sporadic technology burps, the Nasdaq stopped trading for several hours, creating disorder and disarray in some 2,000 stocks. It was yet another clarion call for a better back-up plan.
Putting one in place could avoid having a portion of our economy being put on hold—again. Last year, amid Superstorm Sandy, the New York Stock Exchange shut down because it had failed to plan properly.
Neither exchange should have been in such a situation. Markets are interconnected and global. When one goes down, it creates ripples around the globe.
After Sandy, I called for the creation of a Financial Market Multiagency Command (MAC), a public and private sector organization to devise implementable best practices to avoid shutdown circumstances. A few folks said it wasn't necessary.
(Read more: CNBC unleashes 'Decabox' for 'flash freeze')
Government already has a Financial Stability Oversight Council (FSOC) and a Financial and Banking Information Infrastructure Committee (FBIIC). The private sector has a parallel organization, the Financial Services Sector Coordinating Council (FSSCC).
One would think the last thing we need is another group and another acronym. But a MAC is different. It doesn't take on a lengthy life of its own. It's established to work on one issue and get it resolved. The military uses MACs frequently as an effective problem-solving mechanism.
The redundant protections for the "backbone"—exchanges, clearinghouses and market utilities—of our financial markets are supposed to exist already. That hasn't worked so well. Post-9/11, it's reckless not to have appropriate systems and procedures tested to the max and ready to go.
Securities, derivatives and banking regulators must work with industry. Specific guidelines for systems, technologies and human resources should be shared. There needs to be sufficient geographic dispersal of business continuity and disaster recovery resources—including systems (both hardware and software) and people—to resume operations promptly when disruptions affect primary operations. And the trading firms must meet similar standards, or it won't work.
(Read more: 'Flash freeze' raises concerns about cybersecurity)
Nobody listened much after Sandy. The MAC idea was just a "flavor of the day" news story. Those organizations with the acronyms have had some discussion, but no cross-fertilization, no chop-chop action meetings, no financial market MAC and no forthright path forward. What will it take—a cataclysmic catastrophe?
It's just a matter of when the next shut down occurs. Spin the wheel and take our chances. Or, maybe, get a better plan. Maybe a MAC.
—By Bart Chilton for CNBC
(Commissioner Bart Chilton of the Commodities Futures Trading Commission is the author of "Ponzimonium: How Scam Artists Are Ripping Off America.")