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Sad Wall Street brokers pictures are staged

August 14, 2011

Their faces look like the apocalypse is now, but maybe it was just something they ate.

During the most volatile week in Wall Street history — the first time ever that the Dow Jones industrial average moved by more than 400 points four days in a row — the public faces of the wild roller-coaster ride were floor traders with their heads buried in their hands, their bodies tight with stress and fear.

Pictures of traders on the New York Stock Exchange floor flooded the Internet and ran on the front pages of newspapers across the globe — but the guys on the floor are chuckling over their overnight fame.

“We all laugh at the photos,” said Charlie Flood, 52, a floor trader with Rosenblatt Securities Inc. “Someone’s always got their head in their hands, and we’ll joke and say to him, ‘What’s the matter, no ketchup with your lunch yesterday?’ ”

Last Monday, Flood was snapped leaning forlornly against the iron gate outside the exchange, moments before the 9:30 a.m. opening bell.”I could be putting my head down because I’m pissed off at my wife,” said Flood. “There’s cameras everywhere, and it’s such a quick shot, and my face ends up on the front page of the newspaper. At that moment, I was getting some air because I knew that would be it for the day.”

Mustachioed floor trader Peter Tuchman prides himself on being one of the most photographed men at the exchange. Pictures of Tuchman dramatically waving his arms in the air as he monitors his stock have run on the front page of Le Monde and of one of the biggest daily newspapers in Hong Kong, he said. Just last week, he made it into the Long Island Press, the Burlington Free Press, USA Today, CNBC and CBS News.

“I love being the human face of the exchange, and I hope the images help keep us in our jobs,” said Tuchman.”I don’t ham it up, because I’m a boisterous, loud, obnoxious, excitable guy by nature.”

Five years ago, about 2,800 traders worked on the floor of the New York Stock
Exchange. Today, that number has dropped to an all-time low of 1,300 floor brokers; many worry constantly that they’ll be replaced by computers.

Most exchanges across the globe, like the NASDAQ, are completely automated, and the question of whether to keep humans working the floor in New York is raised at every quarterly board meeting of the NYSE.

The dramatic photographs of traders working the floor during a volatile week actually give them a sense of job security.

“I’m scenery, and they roll me out,” said trader Jonathan Niles. “They’re trying to present something catastrophic, and I might be just itching my head. But if they got rid of us, then who would they have to take pictures of?”

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