The Big Board is not so big anymore.
A decade ago, it accounted for 80% of stock trades. Today, it accounts for 20%. There are also far fewer publicly traded companies in the U.S. – 5,000+ today, compared with 8,000+ in the 1990s. The NYSE lists about 2,800 of them.
To trade directly on the NYSE, you used to have to buy a “seat.” In the 1990s, seats sold for as much as $4 million. Today, you can buy a license to trade on the NYSE for $40,000.
Regardless, when “the leading stock exchange in the world“ shuts down, even for just a few hours, it’s big news.
The NYSE shut down for three-and-a-half hours on Wednesday, which was unprecedented. Little information has been shared, but the NYSE has blamed the shutdown on a technical glitch. Call us skeptical, but the odds of a computer glitch shutting down the NYSE, grounding United Continental Holdings planes and bringing down The Wall Street Journal’s website all on the same day are pretty small.
Thanks to Edward Snowden and irresponsible practices by the U.S. Office of Personnel and Management, people who are not our friends now have access to a wealth of information about us. We’d rather not think about what will happen if Chinese or Iranian hackers disrupt our electrical grid, but it’s something that should concern all of us. Its impact not only on your investments, but on our national security, would be devastating. (more…)