Trader: NYSE sold, but not going anywhere

Ken Polcari has been working at the NYSE for over 30 years. A lot has changed since he first started.
CBS News

(CBS News) The biggest sale Thursday at the New York Stock Exchange was the New York Stock exchange.

The institution -- nearly as old as the United States itself -- was sold for $8 billion. It is being bought by an upstart kid of a company from Atlanta: The IntercontinentalExchange, or "ICE," a derivatives trading firm founded only a dozen years ago.

An icon of American capitalism since 1792, the NYSE long dominated the financial landscape. But the big board has seen its influence erode in recent years.

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When Ken Polcari started on the floor in the early 1980's, he was one of some 3,000 traders.

"It was the energy in the building that really drove kind of the personality of the place, the markets, the excitement of it," he said.

Today, the floor is considerably quieter. As electronic trading has eliminated the middleman, the number of traders has dwindled to fewer than 700. And the NYSE also faces tougher competition.

"There are 12 other exchanges which are public transparent exchanges," Polcari said.

Traders on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange on Wall Street.
Traders on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange on Wall Street. CBS News

The NYSE has seen its share of trading in the stocks listed on the exchange decline from 82 percent to 21 percent.

Polcari said, however, he doesn't think the floor is going away anytime soon.

"The fact is the NYSE is still iconic in the city," he said. "And it still defines the capitalist system. And I don't really think it's going anywhere."

The stock exchange's influence may have declined, but it's still a world renowned brand. And that's what "ICE" is buying -- immediate credibility. The IntercontinentalExchange says the combined company will be headquartered in Atlanta and New York.

  • Anthony Mason

    CBS News senior business and economics correspondent; Co-host, "CBS This Morning: Saturday"