The once-bustling New York Stock Exchange trading floor could become a thing of the past once New York City’s coronavirus lockdown ends, one Wall Street veteran said on Tuesday.
After the COVID-19 crisis forced the Big Apple to adopt strict stay-at-home orders, the NYSE went fully electronic, with many traders and staff working remotely. With New York City still experiencing high infection rates, there’s no telling when things will get back to normal.
And Alan Valdes, senior partner at Silverbear Capital, believes the longer the iconic floor stays closed, the less people it may need when it re-opens.
“I’m busier now because I don’t have any clerks to help me,” Valdes told Yahoo Finance in an interview, explaining how he’s more productive working at home.
“I’m busier now doing our trades electronically than when we were on the floor, and ... we’re making more of a profit,” Valdes said — adding he’s now used to working from home.
“I actually like it. I’ve got all my screens up here,” he said. “So it’s working, and it’s working very well.”
Meanwhile, the COVID-19 crisis is hastening a shift that’s been underway for years: Automation has already transformed the Big Board’s iconic trading floor from its heyday, whittling down the number of active brokers on the exchange.
Still, Wall Street’s most photographed broker recently announced he beat the coronavirus and is ready to go back. While NYSE’s president has insisted the floor will reopen — although no date has been announced yet — Valdes has his doubts.
“The problem for the exchange is there's no social distancing on the floors,” the trader told Yahoo Finance. Even though the floor has less traders than it did years ago, the booth layouts create a close working environment that’s ill-suited for the post-coronavirus normal.
“People are next to each other — six feet? They're six inches away from each other,” he argued. “I think that's going to be a problem reopening.”
Valdes also believes traders may think twice before going back.
“Myself, I’m saying, I don’t know if it’s worth coming down,” he said. “Until they come up with a vaccine I don’t know how they can really open.”
Ines covers the U.S. stock market from the floor of the New York Exchange. Follow her on Twitter at @ines_ferre