April 2, 1997
BUREAUCRAT’S MATH MISTAKE ROCKS MARKETS!
You just knew that one day some anonymous bureaucrat was going to make a careless error that would cause chaos around the world. Well, it happened.
Soybean prices soared from Manhattan to Tokyo yesterday as traders were informed that a math mistake by an employee in the Agriculture Department’s Mississippi field office had caused a 22 million bushel overestimate of US soybean supplies.
“It’s embarrassing and makes us look silly,” said one Agriculture Department official. But for commodity traders around the world, it was no joke. Fortunes around the globe are rising and falling dramatically. The price of soybeans soared on the announcement of the mistake, and there is still worry that supplies will not last through August.
Hopefully, the next clerical error won’t occur during atomic bomb testing.
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