You might think that our stumbling from crash to rally in the stock markets would keep traders busy. But you’d be wrong. Thanks in large part to innovation that has led to more efficient electronic trading, the men (and they are mostly men) on the floor of the stock exchange are spending more time than ever doing anything but trading stocks.
The traders are still busy at the market open and at market close. But in the hours in between, things sometimes slow to a crawl.
Mary Pilon, the pretty girl who the Wall Street Journal sends down to the NYSE to chat up traders, files this awesome report on how traders are dealing with the the dearth of actual trading.
One part of the trading floor is referred to by some as “Jurassic Park” because it’s where the older traders sit and rest. Another area called “Rodeo Drive,” the corridor of elite trading posts of now defunct firms like Bear Stearns and Lehman Brothers leading up to the famed NYSE bell, is now fodder for jokes from traders about tumbleweeds.
As cameras and reporters from Fox Business News and CNBC canvass the gallery, traders openly engage in lengthy discussions over how the Rangers or the Yankees are doing. Some traders plug in headphones and watch YouTube clips online. Others browse goods on shopping Web site Amazon.com. Or they play computer solitaire.
Some prefer to sit in side rooms, reading the sports pages of the daily tabloids. A few page through thick novels or play crossword puzzles. Others nap slouched on benches in rooms adjacent to the trading floor.
Two traders say they play a daily game of gin rummy. They say they angle in toward trading posts when playing, in case a TV cameraman should walk by and film their game. Then, there’s the movie room. Windowless, it contains a television set, a DVD player and about a dozen black leather chairs. Traders take turns choosing titles, but action and horror films top the play list.
The lounging about upsets some floor veterans. “I didn’t come here to watch movies,” bristles David Henderson, a trader with Dru Stocks who joined the floor in 1988.