8 Classic Trading Floor Pranks That Happened At The American Stock Exchange

AMEX

We recently ran a report on the best trading floor pranks of all time from the different exchanges in the U.S. including the NYSE, the CBOT and the NYMEX. 

Unfortunately, we didn’t have any stories from the American Stock Exchange, which was acquired by NYSE Euronext in 2008 and now operates as NYSE AMEX Equities.

That is, until now.

We spoke with a former broker from the American Stock Exchange nicknamed “Groucho” about their old floor pranks.

They might actually be some of the best that we’ve heard so far.

Back in the day, it was very common for traders and brokers at the different exchanges to pull pranks on each other as a way to blow off steam during the trading day. Unfortunately, though, we’re told by veteran traders that trading floor humour has subsided in recent years.

We’ve included the notorious AMEX floor pranks in the slides that follow.  (Note: Some have been lightly edited for clarity).

Brokers who were getting married were handcuffed to a fire hydrant and taunted outside.

'When someone got married, we took them outside and handcuffed them to a fire hydrant and then tossed anything and everything we could find -- ketchup, mustard, powder, flour. And actually we cuffed the bride-to-be alongside her future and did it to her also.'

Source: Former AMEX broker 'Groucho'

Like many other exchange floors, some of the AMEX brokers did the classic baby powdering of the newly shined shoes prank.

'Other brokers bet that I could not powder 10 West Point cadets' spit shine shoes all at once. I did it and won a nice amount of money,' Groucho told us us adding that they wanted him to powder Cardinal O'Connors' shoes but he 'didn't want to turn into a pillar of salt' (Bible reference).

Source: Former AMEX broker 'Groucho'

Sometimes they would pull the pranks on celebrities.

'I personally put baby powder on Alan Alda's shoes three times in one day when he came down to visit. We did it to initiate him into the club. He was great about it.'

Source: Former AMEX broker 'Groucho'

It was also popular to cut out different shapes and stick them on each other's backs.

'We did the arrow on the back and the oldest broker on the floor, he was in his 90s, would put on a full Indian headdress and whoop it up as the broker with the arrow would look around and see what was going on.'

Source: Former AMEX broker 'Groucho'

Eating contests were common, too.

'We would also see who could eat the most burgers in a time period or drink a gallon of milk and hold it down.'

Source: Former AMEX broker 'Groucho'

On their birthdays, brokers would have to watch out for the old pie in the face trick.

'If it was your birthday, brokers would buy you a cream birthday cake, sing happy birthday and then when you turned away they would hit you in your face with the pie,' Groucho said, adding that this was before computers were on the floor.

'One broker who wasn't really liked got hit three times in one day.'

'On my birthday my boss got one of our clerks to get dressed up as a 'UGLY lady of the evening' wig and all. They paged me to the centre door and after I took off my glasses he smashed me in the face with a whipped cream pie. He got the rest of the day off.'

Source: Former AMEX broker 'Groucho'

One broker even got a special gag gift on his birthday.

'One broker was in a terrible accident and had a metal plate put in his head and for his birthday we all gave him magnets.'

Source: Former AMEX broker 'Groucho'

Then there was the classic make up the fake stock for the new broker to trade.

'If you were a new broker, to get initiated, the floor would set you up. The entire floor would be in on it. One specialist would be chosen to have a fake stock, usually the symbol was 'GFY.' He would start trading it and all the other brokers would make a huge crowd, and the new broker would come in with a fake order from his booth (who was also in on it) and the crowd would trade it and block the broker from getting his order executed. After the stock ran up about five points the crowd would let the broker buy his stock. Meanwhile his booth is yelling at him to get it done. His booth would be going crazy that he paid up so much. Then his booth would say to 'sell it.' He would try to get back into the crowd and again they would not let him into the crowd. They would let him in after it went down five points. Again his booth would be going crazy. The broker would not know what's going on. Then, all of the sudden, a hand would reach in and grab his collar of his shirt and rip it off and the crowd would cheer and he would now be considered 'one of us.''

Source: Former AMEX broker 'Groucho'

Think the old AMEX pranks were funny?

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