It seems even the world's foremost trading center can't duck the perils of our modern, high-tech world. On Wednesday, citing a computer error, the New York Stock Exchange halted trading, reportedly cancelling all outstanding orders — just a friendly little reminder of how thoroughly the market can grind to a halt on the back of a technical glitch. The shutdown hasn't affected everything, and that's reassuring — the NASDAQ is still up and running, according to CNBC — but at the NYSE, it's a virtual ghost town. Here's what the NYSE looked like during its shutdown, because you won't see it this empty too often.
In many ways, the popular image of the stock exchange is one that defines American capitalism — harried traders barking out orders, keyed-up and locked into high-stakes, time-sensitive transactions, all while jockeying for position in the scrum of the trading floor. It's a trope that appears in film, television, and if you ever want to see the real thing, you're often just one channel flip to CNBC away.
But now, with the market in shutdown to protect itself from any further snafus, the place is damn near deserted. Here are some images from the NYSE trading floor, in its moment of unexpected serenity.
Pretty eerie, no? Under normal circumstances, the trading floor would be thick with people right now, as it is most any weekday — the NYSE's trading hours usually run from 9:30 a.m. ET to 4:00 p.m. ET, Monday through Friday, excepting some holidays.
It's still not abundantly clear what exactly malfunctioned to cause the shutdown, and I'm sure that plenty of folks are getting antsy for things to warm back up. But for such a robust financial hub, this bit of unexpected downtime carries a somewhat artistic, almost romantic feel — the extent to which we can't control everything around us is a huge part of what makes us human, after all.
Obviously, you have to hope things get back on track, however. The shutdown has also sent anxieties swirling about the possibility of a hacking attempt — a concern which the NYSE has denied.
It's concerning nonetheless, however. When it comes to stock markets, confidence is a keystone — the confidence traders have in their predictive abilities, the confidence consumers have in a given company, and of course, everyone's confidence that the exchanges are able to function smoothly.
In short, hopefully things get cleared up soon. The sparsely populated NYSE floor must be a little creepy at the moment.