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Easy Street

NYSE: American icon goes global to survive

Heidi Moore Feb 15, 2011
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Kai Ryssdal: I have to tell you: Stocks are just so yesterday. You can trade ’em pretty much anywhere; everybody who wants to be in the market is in the market; and they’re just not profitable for stock exchanges to handle anymore.

That is how the New York Stock Exchange came to agree to a takeover today. The board of the NYSE — formally the company name is NYSE Euronext — approved a buyout by Germany’s Deutsche Borse. The NYSE’s going to set its sights on more complicated and profitable products like derivatives and options.

But that doesn’t necessarily mean ‘Auf Weidersehn’ to everyday investors. Our New York bureau chief Heidi Moore reports.


Heidi Moore: Some people are afraid that the New York Stock Exchange may have to drop “New York” from its name now that it’s owned by Germans. The bigger problem is that it may have to drop the words “Stock Exchange.”

The stock-trading business is less profitable these days. High-speed computer traders dominate the market and have pushed others out. Here’s Larry Tabb, the founder of a firm that analyzes stock markets.

Larry Tabb: The economics of the exchange business has radically changed.

Tabb says stock exchanges have to pay more attention now to futures and other derivatives that will be a growing market for them. The Dodd-Frank financial reforms this year pushed the markets to trade more derivatives — on exchanges. So they’re leaving stocks behind.

Sal Arnuk, who founded Themis Trading, notes that the push toward derivatives comes as retail investors have shied away from stocks because they feel the odds are stacked against them.

Sal Arnuk: Investors are discouraged because it’s not an even playing field. You have long-term investors and hyper-short-term nano traders. And the hyper-short-term nano traders are 75 percent of the volume in the market.

The NYSE might be at the forefront of another trend. Arnuk and Tabb believe regular investors won’t want to be left behind forever. Eventually, they will look to buy and sell more exotic financial products that once were left to the pros, like swaps to trade foreign currencies.

Arnuk: Instead of trading Oracle, they will be able to trade swaps from their online account. And if this is not scary, it should be.

That may be a future concern. For now, the NYSE and Deutsche Borse have to figure out a name.

In New York, I’m Heidi Moore for Marketplace.

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