John Phelan, Head Of The NYSE During The 1980s, Has Died At 81

1987 crash nyse

Photo: YouTube/philipareed

John J. Phelan Jr., the man who lead the New York Stock Exchange through the storied 1980s and guided the Exchange into a new technology based era, passed away this weekend, Laurence Arnold of Bloomberg reports.John Phelan, who considers his greatest achievement to be the implementation of technology in the NYSE, passed away in New York on August 4th, with no cause of death yet disclosed.

Here are a few highlights from John J. Phelan Jr.’s life via Bloomberg Businessweek

  • Phelan served in the Marine Corps from 1951 to 1954 and spent a year in combat in Korea.
  • He went to work in the NYSE at his father’s firm, Phelan & Co. and later ran the company in 1966.
  • In 1975, he accepted the unpaid position of vice chairman of the NYSE.
  • Phelan left his firm in 1980 to accept the paid position of NYSE president and chief operating officer.
  • In 1984, he became CEO and chairman of the NYSE.
  • Phelan helped implement electronic systems which match buyers and sellers of large blocks of stocks, forever changing the role of the stock broker.
  • During the booming 1980s, stock prices soared as investors dealt with high interest rates and inflation expectations.  Phelan began warning of a possible correction in stock prices in 1986, and emphasised how computerized trading could escalate the correction.
  • On Monday, October 19, 1987, the correction in stock values that Phelan saw coming finally occurred, and the Dow Jones Industrial Average lost 22.6% in one day.
  • On Black Monday evening, in a press conference, Phelan provided confidence for the markets through his tone and plan of action.
  • Following the sell-off in 1987, Phelan spent much of his time trying to prevent another massive correction.  He helped to implement circuit breakers, which halt trading of volatile and crashing socks with an imbalance of bids or asks.
  • Phelan retired from his position in early 1991.

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