The New York Stock Exchange made the decision this week to temporarily move to electronic trading, starting Monday, in response to COVID-19. It means closing down the trading floor at the corner of Wall Street and Broad Street.
For years, electronic trading has all but phased out the loud trading pits you’ve seen in movies and documentaries. But at the New York Stock Exchange, physical trading still matters.
The roughly 400 traders that mill around on the NYSE trading floor have certain advantages, according to Georgetown finance professor James Angel.
“They’re there, hanging out with the other traders, they hear things, they see things, they feel things,” Angel said.
That kind of information is valuable, especially at the end of the trading session. That’s when a special auction helps determine the closing prices for stocks. Angel said human traders can react to new information in real time and call up their clients and let them make decisions in real time.
Floor traders can also step in when technology doesn’t work. Back in 2012, a financial firm’s trading software accidentally bought and sold hundreds of stocks when markets opened.
Justin Schack, the head of market structure at Rosenblatt Securities, a big floor broker on the New York Stock Exchange, said that even though his firm wasn’t having the problem, they were still involved.
“There were folks on the NYSE [floor], including some of our people, that were involved with recognizing that and shutting down some of the stocks that had just opened at crazy prices,” Schack said.
Schack said having human traders together in a place where they can see and speak with one another is important during times of stress. Especially now, as we’re seeing huge market swings on a daily basis.
“Having human beings on the floor is especially important in a time like that,” Schack said. “It’s unfortunate that they’re not going to be there on Monday.”
The New York Stock Exchange says its markets are fully capable of operating in an all-electronic fashion.
“Running the NYSE fully electronically is something that we’ve tested with our customers repeatedly,” said Stacey Cunningham, president of the NYSE.
But she said that, in the long run, the market will benefit when it can return to a combination of trading technology and human judgment.
COVID-19 Economy FAQs
Millions of Americans are unemployed, but businesses say they are having trouble hiring. Why?
This economic crisis is unusual compared to traditional recessions, according to Daniel Zhao, senior economist with Glassdoor. “Many workers are still sitting out of the labor force because of health concerns or child care needs, and that makes it tough to find workers regardless of what you’re doing with wages or benefits,” Zhao said. “An extra dollar an hour isn’t going to make a cashier with preexisting conditions feel that it’s safe to return to work.” This can be seen in the restaurant industry: Some workers have quit or are reluctant to apply because of COVID-19 concerns, low pay, meager benefits and the stress that comes with a fast-paced, demanding job. Restaurants have been willing to offer signing bonuses and temporary wage increases. One McDonald’s is even paying people $50 just to interview.
Could waiving patents increase the global supply of COVID-19 vaccines?
India and South Africa have introduced a proposal to temporarily suspend patents on COVID-19 vaccines. Backers of the plan say it would increase the supply of vaccines around the world by allowing more countries to produce them. Skeptics say it’s not that simple. There’s now enough supply in the U.S that any adult who wants a shot should be able to get one soon. That reality is years away for most other countries. More than 100 countries have backed the proposal to temporarily waive COVID-19 vaccine patents. The U.S isn’t one of them, but the White House has said it’s considering the idea.
Can businesses deny you entry if you don’t have a vaccine passport?
As more Americans get vaccinated against COVID-19 and the economy begins reopening, some businesses are requiring proof of vaccination to enter their premises. The concept of a vaccine passport has raised ethical questions about data privacy and potential discrimination against the unvaccinated. However, legal experts say businesses have the right to deny entrance to those who can’t show proof.
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