The Big Board Should Become a Supper Club

Big bad Sandy is on its way, and Twitter was all “atwitter” with whether or not the New York Stock Exchange would stay open for trading or shut down tomorrow.

The New York Stock Exchange will close its trading floor Monday as Hurricane Sandy barrels its way up the Northeast, but Big Board trading will continue electronically.

The New York Mercantile Exchange, a commodity futures exchange, also will be shutting on Monday its trading floor which is located in a mandatory evacuation zone. The CME Group, which owns NYMEX, said all electronic markets will open at their regularly scheduled times.

To me this really says it all. The big board has become nothing more than a Hollywood movie lot these days. Stations have been set up for CNBC and other financial media outlets and Bob Pisani sees more action in his Roth IRA than Specialists see order flow these days. It’s so sad, but so true.

I read a blurb in the Wall Street Journal this weekend that the SEC is considering a return to fractions to some degree. Many of you were riding a big wheel or getting tanked in your college dorms when stocks were actually¬† up or down “an eighth or a quarter.”¬† There were no HFT’s. and things always managed to work out fine. We didn’t have flash crashes.

Maybe Mary Shapiro can salvage her epic fail as appointed SEC czar and finally do something. I really don’t know one thing she has done as chairperson accept talk about what a great personal relationship she had with Madoff back in the halcyon days.

Her mandate and mantra of “best execution” at all costs has blown up in her face. It had a cost.

Martha and Wilbur out in Toledo could give a rats ass about “best execution” and saving a “mil” on a hundred $IBM. They would much prefer crash avoidance and less volatility.

High frequency folks claim they “provide liquidity”.¬† Newsflash, this market doesn’t need liquidity, it needs VOLUME.

Don’t get me wrong, the Big Board was a willing co- conspirator, but basically made moves to survive to. In a defensive move, it acquired the all-electronic Arca exchange in 2006.

So can we please just call a spade a spade, bring back the fractions and wave goodbye to Mary and the HFT’s? Bring back the humans, I know its a pipe dream. There wouldn’t be any trading at all tomorrow if it wasn’t for the gizmos gadgets, algos and ECN’s.

Welcome to the freaking Matrix. I could have used the day off.

Joe Donohue

Joe is a full time trader with 25 years experience. He is a senior contributor and investor in Stocktwits and has been seen on CNN Money and quoted in Marketwatch, Forbes, Reuters, NY Times and Wall Street Journal.