MorningWord 11/8/13: The New York Stock Exchange will always hold a special place in my professional heart (if that is not an oxymoron in this biz). When I started working at SAC Capital in early 1997 as clerk, the first thing they did was send new recruits to the floor of the NYSE to shadow our floor brokers for a week or two. As a young buck 18 months out of college this was an education to say the least, not only from an intellectual and professional standpoint, but from an endurance standpoint, these guys were on their feet from 8am to 4:30pm, either standing cramped in very tight spaces with 2 phones glued to their ears, or they were running around from post to post placing bids and offers, yelling, nudging and rushing back and forth to and from phone booths to give fills. At that time there were hundreds if not maybe a thousand brokers, clerks and specialists doing a job that had been done the same way for decades, which sadly was all about to change, and most down there knew it with the increasing popularity of electronic exchanges.
I consider the days down there at the dawn of my career as a sort of foundation for everything else that I would go on to do in the business, the diligence, attention to detail, persistence and the sense of urgency displayed by those hardworking peeps has been ingrained in what I still do today. Which is why it gives me great joy to see the level of professionalism displayed by so many down on the NYSE yesterday getting the TWTR IPO off without a hitch, and very much putting a human touch on the opening pricing that was amazingly transparent for those of you tuned into CNBC all morning. To be fair, this is exactly what the NYSE exists to do, and most pundits are only speaking about it because of the mismanagement of the May 2012 Facebook IPO, but regardless, the end result is that the professionals down there who work for the exchange, the underwriters and brokers representing customers from all over the world created a “fair and orderly market” regardless of what you think about the stock’s valuation.
Prior to this year I hadn’t been down to the NYSE since the late 1990s, and it is most definitely a different place, 3 large rooms of specialists posts are now 1, obviously much fewer people, little commotion, a lot more technology and tricked out TV broadcasting sets right in the middle of the floor. I will tell you though, as an active market participant over the last 17 years, it does give me a bit of solace to know that if we need it, there are still stewards of times past ready willing and very able on the NYSE to execute our orders whether the underlying stock is a fancy new issue or as boring as US Steel.
SO maybe I am just being a bit nostalgic, but tonight’s Options Action will be shot from the NYSE and I am excited for it and earlier in the week I was on the floor for Fast Money Halftime, and where else would a bunch of die hard Yankees and Mets fans be excited to see David Ortiz holding the championship Trophy from the Fall Classic? Simple answer, at an institution that is a classic in its own right, the NYSE!