A Beginners Guide To The New York Stock Exchange

Summary: Understanding the workings of the New York stock exchange is vital to every investor. The movements of the Dow Jones influence every other market around the world. This, in turn, impacts every pension fund, share portfolio, most commodities and options contracts and other equity investments. In other words, this is important stuff!

The New York Stock Exchange is the world's largest equity market. For example, an average of 1.46 billion shares worth approx $46.1 billion are traded on the NYSE every day!

New York Stock Exchange listed companies are among the world’s biggest and best. They range from 'blue-chip' companies that have been trading for decades, to young, high-growth corporations. There are approximately 2,800 companies listed!

Since the US is the world's largest economy, it follows that many of the biggest companies are also the biggest in the world. The NYSE is therefore home to some of the most famous brands and companies - those that we all use the products and services of every day.

The NYSE has a status called 'members'. A member firm is a company or individual who owns or leases a "seat". Only these member firms are allowed to buy and sell securities on the trading floor. The member firms must must meet rigorous professional standards set by the Exchange.

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The number of seats has remained constant, at 1,366, since 1953. Since 1868 it has been possible for members to sell or lease their seats after a change in the rules of the exchange.

Obviously, in the computerised world, trading is not done on the floor of the exchange as it once was. These days, a stock exchange does not really need a physical location, it actually operates in a network of computer servers virtually. Though the servers are housed in the actual exchange building, there will also be many more servers housed elsewhere to ensure that trading speeds are faster in different parts of the country and that if some disaster were to hit one set of servers there would be others storing the information and enabling the market to stay open.

The NYSE can trace it's history all the way back to 1792 when the Buttonwood Agreement was signed to commit to the highest standards to investors and companies.

No matter how you may view it, the New York Stock Exchange has to maintain very high standards of ethics and conduct at very competitive prices. In the modern world, there are so many global companies with a 'foot' in many financial centres that it would be relatively easy for them to uproot and move to a new, more competitive, location.

After the bolting horse

However, since the financial crisis of 2008, ethics, transparency and accountability have been questioned regularly on Wall Street. With these questions, bankruptcies and bailouts come greater regulations (the notion that markets and financial services firms can self-regulate seems to be totally discredited now) which will likely lead to greater transaction costs and lower profits. Despite that, it is difficult to imagine anything other than an important role in the future for Wall Street and the New York Stock Exchange.

This tarnished reputation combined with the excesses of the financial world and the Masters of the Universe lead to the Occupy Wall Street movement for the 99%. These idealogical battles look set to become increasingly common around the financial elites.

Getting listed

The full listing rules are codified in Section 303A of the NYSE's Listed Company Manual. These were approved by the SEC in 2003. Applicant companies also now have to comply with the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002 (pdf).

My honest advice to you is that unless your life depends upon you knowing the NYSE's Listing Rules, you avoid the subject completely. That is not written as a joke either...

Should you need to understand the listing rules, you visit the official New York Stock Exchange website and this page on the SEC website.

It ought to be pointed out though, that at the time of writing, it is not easy to find out the type of accurate details that might be needed to make an application to become an NYSE listed company. It seems that approaching the relevant authorities would be the most logical step.

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To learn more about the workings of New York, click on the following links that will take you to other related pages:

What Is The New York Stock Exchange Dow Jones Index?

How Did The New York Stock Exchange Seat System Work?