NY Stock Exchange 311.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
WALL STREET – The mood outside the US stock exchange on Monday morning – the first day of trading since the nation’s credit was lowered for the first time in history – was tense.
Traders on cigarette breaks nervously paced the pavement outside the iconic building draped in the American flag, while dozens of international journalists awaited news on how the market would react to Standard & Poor’s historic decision announced last Friday.
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“Clearly it’s an event that we don’t really understand all the ripple effects of, in terms of the stock market,” said Theodore P. Weisberg, the founder of Seaport Securities, a trading company. “My guess is that it’s historic in nature – we have not had this to deal with before – but we also know that corporate America had never been in better shape.”
Asked why that surplus hasn’t had a beneficial effect on the economy, Weisberg blamed politics in Washington.
“Politics seems to be trumping everything else and that’s unfortunate,
but there is a political agenda in this country that clearly is at odds
with a lot of conventional economic thinking,” he said.
Dan Good of XO Communications, a company which provides
telecommunication services to financial firms, spoke to journalists
outside his office during a break. He opined that the best way to
rehabilitate the economy was creating new jobs.
“Right now what’s going to have to happen is [to] get the American
people back to work,” he said. “Right now the unemployment rate is too
high, hovering over 9 percent. We need to get that number down to around
We’re outsourcing way too many jobs outside the US. We need to put more
American workers back to work to get the economy going. It’s the only
way to do it.”
Half way through the day’s trading, stocks dropped by about 2.8%, a significant decrease, yet not the free-fall many had feared.
“Today there’s a little bit of optimism, but there’s still a lot going
on, so the general mood is cautious,” said Benjamin, a trader who asked
not to be quoted by his full name because he was not authorized to speak
to the press.
“There was a big sell-off in the morning, but it came back a little bit.”
“It’s still volatile,” said another trader, who requested anonymity. “We
went out for a cigarette [and] it was down 200, and when we came back
it was 360 – in four minutes. We’ll see what happens.”
Meanwhile, a group of 11 meditation practitioners placed yoga mats in
front of the entrance to the Wall Street Stock Exchange and took part in
a “flash meditation.”
A swarm of tourists and workers on lunch breaks quickly surrounded them taking photographs.
“The intention of this mediation is to practice tolerance and acceptance on Wall Street,” a sign read.
Police confiscated a meter long sword from one of the women participating in the meditation, worried it may be used as a weapon.
But if the aim of the meditation was to positively influence proceedings in the adjacent building, it failed.
At 2:15 p.m. local time, about three hours before trading closes, the
NYSE Composite Index took a dip falling by 6.55% from the start of day.
Earlier in the day Weisberg, who has been trading on Wall Street for decades, seemed to take the crisis with stride.
The Wall Street veteran’s advice at the time was to wait until it became clear where the market was heading.
“Go fishing,” he said. “The whole trick is to live to trade another day.”