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What were the kids on the next block charging? What kind of demand did we see? The corner of a block seemed to offer more opportunity than the middle of the block. None of us considered working from the alley. We also needed to know how much our sugar, plastic cups and water cost, in order to see if we were making any money at five cents a cup. Basically, all the transactions in our life, from selling a used car to running a garage sale, contain elements of what happens among those brightly dressed folks running around the stock exchange floor by the way, those jackets help traders quickly identify who a fellow trader works for.
But in the world of stock markets, things happen faster and on a much larger scale than at a lemonade stand. A number of other markets exist, but they make markets mainly in stocks that are primarily traded at one of these two marketplaces. When companies go public, they can seek to list on any of these exchanges. It began in under a buttonwood tree in lower Manhattan, with folks trading shares back and forth among one another.
Since then it has grown to become the largest stock market in the world. In a world of high-speed information, stock market participants can work from Whitefish, Montana, as easily as from the floor of the exchange itself. In this system, a single person is in charge of the trading in a particular stock. That specialist acts as a kind of traffic cop, directing movement among buyers and sellers. He or she looks around to find someone who wants to sell a share of IBM at the price you want to buy.
When the NYSE is on television, sometimes you see a gaggle of folks standing in front of the specialist, hollering out buy and sell orders. Along with shouting and pointing, specialists also match buyers and sellers electronically. This kind of high-tech activity makes up a growing amount of the trading that happens at the New York Stock Exchange. While the trading volume and the number of stocks trading at the NYSE have grown dramatically in the past twenty years, the number of people working on the floor of the stock exchange has remained about the same, thanks largely to the growth of high-tech, all-electronic trading.
All aspects of NYSE trading, including electronic trading, are refereed by the specialists. But the NYSE became the heart of various financial panics, too. Jay Cooke, who played a role in financing the Union efforts in the Civil War, was a large dealer in the bond market through his eponymous company. It was the first popular measuring stick for the NYSE and remains a cultural touchstone more than a hundred years later.
Its initial value was For more on the DJIA, see page In , the NYSE moved into its current location. Three years later, the Dow Jones Industrial Average closed above for the first time. The stock exchange closed for four and a half months in —its longest closure ever—just before the start of World War I. The NYSE reopened later in the year. The Roaring Twenties led to widespread speculation, roaring stock prices and newfound wealth. But the dreams of getting rich on stocks ended badly.
Prior to its establishment, few rules governed the buying and selling of stocks. Politicians believed that the watchdog function of the SEC was needed to restore confidence in the stock market. But during the Depression, few people cared much for the market. Trading was thin, as the memory of the crash and the wealth lost remained far too vivid. In the late s, a steady increase in trading volume led to a paperwork crisis. Eventually, greater automation was adopted to stave off a problem that had back offices processing trades around the clock for months in order to keep up with trading volume.
NYSE volume topped a then-record million shares, yet the NYSE was able to maintain a relatively orderly market, something that competing markets, such as the Nasdaq Stock Market, failed to do. The following day, as prices stabilized, volume set another record, topping million shares.
By , the stock market had evolved from its clubby beginnings to include wide swaths of America. More than 50 million individuals owned shares of stocks traded on the exchange. This rise of individual investment in stocks continues today. Daily trading volume passed 1 billion shares in during a selling panic that prompted officials to halt trading briefly.
The downdraft became a blip in an otherwise impressive move in share prices. From to , the Dow Jones industrials rose from to 10,, eventually clipping past 11, Starting in the spring of , major market measures peaked the DJIA at 11, Over the next few years, the Dow slipped toward and the Nasdaq Composite Index lost more than half its value, dropping below In the wake of the September 11, , attacks, which destroyed the nearby World Trade Center, the NYSE closed for four sessions, its longest closure since Trading reopened on September 17, with a record 2.
Today, daily trading volume routinely tops 1 billion shares, and about 2, stocks trade on the New York Stock Exchange. While trading still takes place via a specialist system established in the late s, most transactions move through the exchange electronically. The Nasdaq, known for its high-tech stocks such as Microsoft and Intel, trades in a different way.
Rather than having specialists who manage the trading in specific stocks, the Nasdaq Stock Market relies on an army of so-called market makers to trade stocks. Market makers are like specialists, in the sense that they focus on the trading of one stock or a specific group of stocks. But rather than a single referee, the Nasdaq has groups of market makers all making deals in a single stock.
These market makers post bid sell and ask buy prices and trade shares among themselves, usually on behalf of investors. Its trading world is all electronic, living in the phone lines and computers of various brokerage firms around the country.
ECNs Electronic communications networks are the newest way to trade. These all-electronic networks enable buyers and sellers to find one another in a manner similar to the Nasdaq Stock Market, but large investors favor the speed of ECNs. ECNs also often provide for lower transaction costs and a degree of anonymity that is favored by very large investors. If others know a large investor is buying a big chunk of a certain stock, they may want to join the buying fray.
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