NYSE: How Long Until Actors Replace Traders?

The NYSE should simply concede the obvious and ask the various television networks to ante up money to support actors futzing in front of a trader backdrop in the cavernous NYSE trading rooms. Call it a cost of doing business, but the only people who really need the sturm and drang of traders anymore in this algorithmic & automated world is television.

"That’s good for the visibility. It’s a symbol," said Patrick Healy, who heads The Issuer Advisory Group which advises companies on stock trading related matters.

Although traders on the New York Mercantile Exchange (Nymex) are known for feverishly calling out their trades and using mysterious hand signals to conduct business, such rowdiness has largely been replaced at the NYSE by computers.

The remaining NYSE traders who ply their business in the cavernous trading hall typically work around trading booths adorned with their companies’ names, but their ranks have been significantly depleted.

Many markets around the world are all-electronic. Traders on the Paris Bourse for example hung up their jackets about 20 years ago.

Although the number of NYSE traders has sharply fallen in recent years, the floor is a popular backdrop for television correspondents covering the stock markets.

There is something deeply nutty in the idea that television is the main reason the NYSE trading room exists. Sort of like the fake Enron trading rooms of the late-1990s, what’s the over-under for a made-for-TV NYSE trading room? Five years would be my guess.

More here.


  1. When I see video of [stock] traders, it makes me think they’re a bunch of clueless Luddites to be avoided at all cost.

  2. The floor is there for the issuers. When company x drops 5% the CFO wants to call up the specialist and ask what happened. Company X pays NYSE a lot of money for that in the form of listings fees. Oh and to ring the bell of course.

  3. then call me a luddite, I guess. I like the idea of commerce being conducted in the open, rather than behind closed doors.
    (Yes, everybody can see electronic trades. But nobody can see who is executing them.)

  4. Ever since I worked for an electronic trading start-up from 2000 to 2001 I have called the NYSE building and floor “the Niketown of American capitalism and markets”. The exchange has been electronic for ages, but it serves as a showplace for free markets, business might and justification for listings.
    “Visual Rhetoric/The Rhetoric of Brand Identity” on Wikibooks offers this analysis that helps explain my analogy.
    “Niketown is neither a sporting goods supermarket nor simply a building; it is a city animated by the spirit of Nike (von Bories, p. 75).” The stores are filled with multimedia simulations, dramatic lighting, high ceilings and themed media, all creating a museum-like perspective on the Nike brand. The clear connection between NikeTown and museums allows us to interpret the rhetoric of NikeTown in a similar fashion to that of a museum.”
    So let’s just change its name to NYSEtown.

  5. Ahh, the last vestiges of the cenralized market.
    Even funnier though is the NASDAQ Market Center. There was never a centralized mareketplace there, just an electronic dealer network. But the public couldn’t see it…
    It looked more like a TV studio from the start…

  6. dbt,
    Nobody can see what’s going on on the floor either. Even the traders themselves don’t often, if ever, know who is actually executing trades. This gives a false illusion of openness that simply doesn’t exist.
    Electronic trading, however, is perfectly traceable and potentially more open. (Perhaps every trade should be published–complaints that my trades are private is bogus since we’re talking about public companies. Does that mean you could reconstruct someone’s stock portfolio? Yup and too bad. This is very possible in the electronic era and almost impossible logistically otherwise.)