The fast pace of change at the New York Stock Exchange

Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange in New York.

TEXT OF INTERVIEW

Kai Ryssdal: The market news of the day has nothing much to do with the major indices. It is, instead, news of the stock exchanges themselves, specifically that the New York Stock Exchange is in serious talks about being bought by Germany's Deutsche Borse. New York mayor Michael Bloomberg thinks it's a fine idea, some of his constituents we talked to outside the NYSE today agree with him; some of them don't.

Ralph Polmyer: I'm all for it, globalization. It's totally fine with me.

Lujar Giodarno: It's not surprising that it's being purchased by a foreign corporation.

Antoine Shamlee: We are giving away everything. We're giving away half the real estate in Manhattan.

Lyle Hitt: I'd like to still continue to think that New York is the financial nerve center of the world.

That was Ralph Polmyer, Lujar Giodarno, Antoine Shamlee and Lyle Hitt at the corner of Wall Street and Broad today.

The change, if it does happen to the New York Stock Exchange, would not come without a twinge of regret. Ted Weisberg is the president of Seaport Securities and a longtime presence on the trading floor. Teddy, good to talk to you again.

Teddy Weisberg: My pleasure.

Ryssdal: Any sense of "Auld Lang Syne" as this rumor of the Deutsche Borse deal moves a little farther along?

Weisberg: Oh yes. Absolutely. It's tugging at the heartstrings of not only my heart -- 41, going on 42 years as a member of the exchange. But a lot of other of my fellow members -- most of whom are all gone, retired, and off to nicer places to live -- but I think their hearts still live at 11 Wall Street.

Ryssdal: Here's the thing, though, Teddy: The New York Stock Exchange now is kind of just another company, right? It's got profits and losses, and it's got to get its way ahead in this new global economy?

Weisberg: Well no, absolutely. On one level, it is a very emotional experience; on the other hand, when the stock exchange converted from being a membership-owned company and became a publicly owned company, it changed the dynamics completely.

Ryssdal: You know what struck me was the pace of change of this whole thing -- I mean five, six years ago, you were a seatholder on the stock exchange; all it was doing was making those trades. Then it became a public company, then the Euronext deal happened, and now this thing. It's been an amazing, amazing five years.

Weisberg: The change has been dramatic, quick and severe. No question about it. The population of people that work on the trading floor has shrunk in that time period from approximately 5,000 people to less than 1,000 people. And now, of course, we don't know what this will mean going forward, in terms of what the ultimate combined companies will look like. But from a stockholder's viewpoint -- and we are still stockholders, because when we owned our memberships, we exchanged them for stock when the company went public -- you know, it's sort of exciting. I mean, who knows? Hopefully they're rating one and one together and it'll equal three or four.

Ryssdal: Other than the romanticism of this whole thing, does it make a difference for investors and traders? Deals are still going to get done.

Weisberg: I think from the investors' and traders' viewpoints, if anything, they will see ever-increasing benefits and speed of trading from the combination, with a much, much bigger and much more robust platform.

Ryssdal: Still a little sad, though, huh?

Weisberg: More than a little sad, yes. More than a little sad.

Ryssdal: Teddy Weisberg, he's the president of Seaport Securities. We got him on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange today.

Weisberg: Teddy, thanks a lot.

Ryssdal: My pleasure.

Ryssdal: You can check out a timeline of the way the business of stock exchanges has changed.

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