Sandy Shows Wall Street No Less Vulnerable

Weather-related shutdown suggests markets infrastructure still too concentrated in New York area.

The longest weather-related shutdown of U.S. stock trading since 1888 ended Oct. 31 without incident, while underscoring how vulnerable the world’s biggest financial market remains to disasters.

Duncan Niederauer, the chief executive officer of NYSE Euronext, said trading went smoothly as American equity markets came back to life after a 48-hour hiatus forced by Hurricane Sandy. Trading was suspended three days earlier when concerns about human safety and how well the New York Stock Exchange’s backup plan would work convinced executives that moving ahead was too risky.

‘Hurricane, Tornado’

“We cannot be locked into this geography,” he said. “The key point is to be ready no matter what happens, whether it’s a hurricane, tornado, terrorist attack. It’s our job to make sure the markets are ready to function.”

More Competition

The role of the NYSE floor in American equity markets has diminished since September 2001 as the exchange ceded market share to competitors. While 83 percent of trading in NYSE companies occurred on the Big Board then, only about 21 does now following the growth of Nasdaq OMX and rise of new electronic rivals run by Direct Edge Holdings LLC in Jersey City, New Jersey, and Lenexa, Kansas-based Bats Global Markets Inc.

SEC Informed

 

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