I was last on the floor of the NYSE in the summer of 2009. I got the whole tour from an insider, saw the amazing portraits on the wall of chairmen past and that incredible conference room with the massive table where the fate of the world is sometimes decided behind closed doors.
What was striking to me about the floor was how empty it was on a Thursday morning with the markets in full swing. These days, you could have a rollerskating birthday party on the trading floor in the middle of the day and probably not disrupt things too much…I’m talking a full-fledged Couples’ Skate to Cindy Lauper’s Time After Time and everything, holding hands with that Jessica chick while you mentally will your palms not to get too sweaty.
But just don’t trip over Art Cashin’s mic wire, kids; he’s one of the good ones.
Anyway, USA Today takes a look back at the New York institution that so symbolically reopened soon after the 9/11 attacks of a decade ago and finds that the population has decreased quite a bit since then…
“I cannot believe how few people are on the floor these days,” says Bob Cunningham, a member of the NYSE for 25 years. He has been off the floor for five years now.
There are still people on the floor of the exchange. They still trade, mostly handling large block orders for major institutional investors. But they are keenly aware that they are a dwindling lot.
The number of brokers and clerks on the floor of the exchange has shrunk from a high of 3,000 to just 1,200.
Now we all know it’ll eventually become a museum, five or ten years from now once the efficiencies and machine traders make the last human beings there obsolete…but even with that foreknowledge, it’s still sad to watch it happening.