The New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) is a facility where stocks and securities are bought and sold. It is the largest and oldest such exchange in the United States, and one of the major players in the world market as well. Events there shape the American economy, and also have an impact on American morale, as was clearly demonstrated by the “Black Thursday” crash of 1929, which played a major role in the Great Depression.
In 1792, the New York Stock Exchange was founded with the signing of the Buttonwood Agreement. After moving through several locations, the exchange settled into its home on 11 Wall Street in New York City. About 1,500 employees work for the organization, which is run as a non-profit corporation and managed by a board of directors. It lists securities available for sale or trade, oversees stock trades and sales, and sets policies within the stocks and securities industry.
Approximately 3,000 companies are listed with the New York Stock Exchange. In order to become a publicly listed company, a company must submit annual reports, offer stock for trade, and list an income above $2.5 million US Dollars (USD) before taxes. Once a company is listed, stock can be bought and sold on the exchange, either directly from company representatives who walk the floor or from other traders.
Many stock exchange companies around the world have switched to an electronic format for buying and selling. The New York Stock Exchange takes a hybrid approach, offering both electronic trades and auctions on the trading floor. In order to work on the trading floor, brokers must buy a license, although until 2005, they were required to purchase one of only 1,366 seats in the exchange.
Along with other financial institutions, the New York Stock Exchange plays a major role in shaping American economy and financial policy. It aims to provide a safe and secure environment in which to trade, and often encourages additional regulation of the industry to ensure that investors continue to do business. Trading on the NYSE is not for the weak of heart, however. The trading floors are crowded and chaotic, filled with a wide range of sensory input including shouting traders, ticker screens detailing breaking news and stock prices, and a crush of humanity struggling to buy and sell.