The Stock Exchange at 10–12 Broad Street, 1882
The earliest recorded organization of securities trading in New York among brokers directly dealing with each other can be traced to the Buttonwood Agreement. Previously, securities exchange had been intermediated by the auctioneers, who also conducted more mundane auctions of commodities such as wheat and tobacco. On May 17, 1792, twenty four brokers signed the Buttonwood Agreement, which set a floor commission rate charged to clients and bound the signers to give preference to the other signers in securities sales. The earliest securities traded were mostly governmental securities such as War Bonds from the Revolutionary War and First Bank of the United States stock, although Bank of New York stock was a non-governmental security traded in the early days. The Bank of North America, along with the First Bank of the United States and the Bank of New York, were the first shares traded on the New York Stock Exchange.
In 1817, the stockbrokers of New York, operating under the Buttonwood Agreement, instituted new reforms and reorganized. After sending a delegation to Philadelphia to observe the organization of their board of brokers, restrictions on manipulative trading were adopted, as well as formal organs of governance. After re-forming as the New York Stock and Exchange Board, the broker organization began renting out space exclusively for securities trading, which previously had been taking place at the Tontine Coffee House. Several locations were used between 1817 and 1865, when the present location was adopted.
The invention of the electrical telegraph consolidated markets and New York's market rose to dominance over Philadelphia after weathering some market panics better than other alternatives. The Open Board of Stock Brokers was established in 1864 as a competitor to the NYSE. With 354 members, the Open Board of Stock Brokers rivaled the NYSE in membership (which had 533) "because it used a more modern, continuous trading system superior to the NYSE’s twice-daily call sessions". The Open Board of Stock Brokers merged with the NYSE in 1869. Robert Wright of Bloomberg writes that the merger increased the NYSE's members as well as trading volume, as "several dozen regional exchanges were also competing with the NYSE for customers. Buyers, sellers and dealers all wanted to complete transactions as quickly and cheaply as technologically possible and that meant finding the markets with the most trading, or the greatest liquidity in today’s parlance. Minimizing competition was essential to keep a large number of orders flowing, and the merger helped the NYSE maintain its reputation for providing superior liquidity." The Civil War greatly stimulated speculative securities trading in New York. By 1869, membership had to be capped, and has been sporadically increased since. The latter half of the nineteenth century saw rapid growth in securities trading.
Securities trade in the latter nineteenth and early twentieth centuries was prone to panics and crashes. Government regulation of securities trading was eventually seen as necessary, with arguably the most dramatic changes occurring in the 1930s after a major stock market crash precipitated the Great Depression.
The Stock Exchange Luncheon Club was situated on the seventh floor from 1898 until its closure in 2006.
The main building, located at 18 Broad Street, between the corners of Wall Street and Exchange Place, was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1978, as was the 11 Wall Street building.
The floor of the New York Stock Exchange in 1908
On April 21, 2005, the NYSE announced its plans to merge with Archipelago in a deal intended to reorganize the NYSE as a publicly traded company. NYSE's governing board voted to merge with rival Archipelago on December 6, 2005, and became a for-profit, public company. It began trading under the name NYSE Group on March 8, 2006. On April 4, 2007, the NYSE Group completed its merger with Euronext, the European combined stock market, thus forming NYSE Euronext, the first transatlantic stock exchange.
Wall Street is the leading US money center for international financial activities and the foremost US location for the conduct of wholesale financial services. "It comprises a matrix of wholesale financial sectors, financial markets, financial institutions, and financial industry firms" (Robert, 2002). The principal sectors are securities industry, commercial banking, asset management, and insurance.
Prior to the acquisition of NYSE Euronext by the ICE in 2013, Marsh Carter was the Chairman of the NYSE and the CEO was Duncan Niederauer. Currently, the chairman is Jeffrey Sprecher. In 2016, NYSE owner Intercontinental Exchange Inc. earned $419 million in listings-related revenues.
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The exchange was closed shortly after the beginning of World War I (July 31, 1914), but it partially re-opened on November 28 of that year in order to help the war effort by trading bonds, and completely reopened for stock trading in mid-December.
On September 16, 1920, a bomb exploded on Wall Street outside the NYSE building, killing 33 people and injuring more than 400. The perpetrators were never found. The NYSE building and some buildings nearby, such as the JP Morgan building, still have marks on their façades caused by the bombing.
The Black Thursday crash of the Exchange on October 24, 1929, and the sell-off panic which started on Black Tuesday, October 29, are often blamed for precipitating the Great Depression. In an effort to restore investor confidence, the Exchange unveiled a fifteen-point program aimed to upgrade protection for the investing public on October 31, 1938.
On October 1, 1934, the exchange was registered as a national securities exchange with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, with a president and a thirty-three-member board. On February 18, 1971, the non-profit corporation was formed, and the number of board members was reduced to twenty-five.
One of Abbie Hoffman's well-known publicity stunts took place in 1967, when he led members of the Yippie movement to the Exchange's gallery. The provocateurs hurled fistfuls of dollars toward the trading floor below. Some traders booed, and some laughed and waved. Three months later the stock exchange enclosed the gallery with bulletproof glass. Hoffman wrote a decade later, "We didn't call the press; at that time we really had no notion of anything called a media event."
On October 19, 1987, the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA) dropped 508 points, a 22.6% loss in a single day, the second-biggest one-day drop the exchange had experienced. Black Monday was followed by Terrible Tuesday, a day in which the Exchange's systems did not perform well and some people had difficulty completing their trades.
Subsequently, there was another major drop for the Dow on October 13, 1989—the Mini-Crash of 1989. The crash was apparently caused by a reaction to a news story of a $6.75 billion leveraged buyout deal for UAL Corporation, the parent company of United Airlines, which broke down. When the UAL deal fell through, it helped trigger the collapse of the junk bond market causing the Dow to fall 190.58 points, or 6.91 percent.
Similarly, there was a panic in the financial world during the year of 1997; the Asian Financial Crisis. Like the fall of many foreign markets, the Dow suffered a 7.18% drop in value (554.26 points) on October 27, 1997, in what later became known as the 1997 Mini-Crash but from which the DJIA recovered quickly. This was the first time that the "circuit breaker" rule had operated.
On January 26, 2000, an altercation during filming of the music video for Rage Against the Machine's "Sleep Now in the Fire", directed by Michael Moore, caused the doors of the exchange to be closed and the band to be escorted from the site by security after the members attempted to gain entry into the exchange.
In the aftermath of the September 11 attacks, the NYSE was closed for four trading sessions, resuming on Monday, September 17, one of the rare times the NYSE was closed for more than one session and only the third time since March 1933. On the first day, the NYSE suffered a 7.1% drop in value (684 points); after a week, it dropped by 14% (1370 points). An estimated of $1.4 trillion was lost within five days of trading. The NYSE was only 5 blocks from Ground Zero.
On May 6, 2010, the Dow Jones Industrial Average posted its largest intraday percentage drop since the crash on October 19, 1987, with a 998-point loss later being called the 2010 Flash Crash (as the drop occurred in minutes before rebounding). The SEC and CFTC published a report on the event, although it did not come to a conclusion as to the cause. The regulators found no evidence that the fall was caused by erroneous ("fat finger") orders.
On October 29, 2012, the stock exchange was shut down for two days due to Hurricane Sandy. The last time the stock exchange was closed due to weather for a full two days was on March 12 and 13, 1888.
On May 1, 2014, the stock exchange was fined $4.5 million by the Securities and Exchange Commission to settle charges that it had violated market rules.
On August 14, 2014, Berkshire Hathaway's A Class shares, the highest priced shares on the NYSE, hit $200,000 a share for the first time.
On July 8, 2015, technical issues affected the stock exchange, halting trading at 11:32 am ET. The NYSE reassured stock traders that the outage was "not a result of a cyber breach", and the Department of Homeland Security confirmed that there was "no sign of malicious activity". Trading eventually resumed at 3:10 pm ET the same day.
On May 25, 2018, Stacey Cunningham, the NYSE's chief operating officer, became the Big Board's 67th president, succeeding Thomas Farley. She is the first female leader in the exchange's 226-year history.