One belongs to New York instantly, one belongs to it as much in five minutes as in five years.
– Thomas Wolfe (1900-1938), American short story writer and novelist.
New York has often been described as the center of world business, and if it be so, theres no questioning what is its throbbing heart – the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE). For some time now, no company can be said to have truly arrived until it was listed on the NYSE. Here then, is a short history of the NYSEs long and illustrious career as the barometer of the nations, indeed the worlds, financial health.
The history of the NYSE can be said to have begun in 1792, when twenty-four prominent brokers and merchants gather on Wall Street to sign the Buttonwood Agreement, agreeing to trade securities on a achievement basis. At that time, Bank of New York became the first company to be listed on the New York Stock & Exchange Board.
The first base of operations was at 40 Wall Street in a rented room, which was eventually destroyed in the Great Fire of New York in 1835. In 1863, the name New York Stock Exchange was adopted, and in 1865, it moved to 10-12 Broad Street. As trading multiplied over the next four decades, a larger building was required, and finally inaugurated on on April 22, 1903.
Over the next few decades, the Garage, the Blue Room, the Extended Blue Room and the Bond Room were added. As electronic trading gained popularity, the NYSE decided to close down many of the rooms that had been added by earlier expansions.
Currently, the NYSE is operated by NYSE Euronext, which was formed by the NYSE’s 2007 merger with the fully electronic stock exchange Euronext. This merger brought together major marketplaces across Europe and the United States with histories stretching back more than four centuries. The combination was by far the largest of its kind and the first to create a truly global marketplace.
Even as the NYSE developed into the marketplace of the world, it wasnt all smooth sailing. One of the first shocks occurred when President Abraham Lincoln was assassinated in 1865, leading to the exchange being closed for around a week. Then, in 1920, a bomb exploded outside the NYSE, killing 33 people and injuring more than 400. The scorch marks are still visible on the building.
October 24, 1929 marked the Black Thursday crash at the NYSE, leading to the the sell-off panic which started on Black Tuesday, October 29 and often considered the initiator of the Great Depression. On October 19, 1987, also known as Black Monday, the benchmark index (Dow Jones Industrial Average) dropped 508 points, a 22.6% loss in a single day.
There was also the Mini-Crash of 1989 on October 13, 1989 when a UAL deal went bust, causing the Dow to fall 190.58 points, or 6.91%. The Asian Financial Crisis led to a 7.18% drop in value (554.26 points) on October 27, 1997. There was a sudden 998 point drop on May 6, 2010 but the markets rebounded immediately.
In spite of these hiccups, the NYSE has progressed on its way as the predominant stock exchange in the world with the market capitalization of its listed companies at totaling $ 11.92 trillion as of Aug 2010.
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