Examining Stock Market A Year After Crisis Began

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Ted Weisberg, president of Seaport Securities and a floor trader at the New York Stock Exchange, says though there has been a stock rally since last year's lows, "there's still a lot of blood on the street." Weisberg says the Dow Jones industrial average is still down 30 percent from its 2007 highs, but he sees the glass as half-full.


Early last October, as the financial markets were experiencing seismic shocks, I asked trader Ted Weisberg to describe his day on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange.

Mr. TED WEISBERG (President, Seaport Securities): You know, I've been worked on the trading floor as a broker for almost 40 years, and I've never taken Excedrin or any other kind...

(Soundbite of laughter)

Mr. WEISBERG: ...of pills. I've been swallowing them the last three or four days. I mean, the tension and certainly today's activity, though not unexpected based on what happened in Asia and Europe overnight, no matter how long you're here, it's still tough to get used to it sometimes.

BLOCK: That's Ted Weisberg, president of Seaport Securities, describing the tumult on Wall Street last fall. He's back with us today to talk about what has been a long and turbulent year in the markets.

Ted, welcome back.

Mr. WEISBERG: Thank you.

BLOCK: And that day that we talked last October, the market closed below 10,000 for the first time in four years. Today, the Dow is still under 10,000.

Mr. WEISBERG: Yes, it's been - certainly been a rocky road since we spoke a year ago. I mean, we've seen the Dow as low as slightly north of 6,000. And we've certainly have had a dramatic rally from those early March lows. But there's still a lot of blood on the street. The Dow, when you go back to the highs of 2007, is still down around 30 percent from the highs to where we are today.

BLOCK: Yeah, those high as 14,000. Can you even imagine a 14,000 Dow right now?

Mr. WEISBERG: Well, absolutely.

BLOCK: You can?

(Soundbite of laughter)

Mr. WEISBERG: Absolutely. You know, to work in this business as long as I've been in it, you have to be an optimist. Even if you're a cynic, you still need to be a bit of an optimist.

BLOCK: You know, looking at a graph of the year and you look at that low point in March, where the Dow, as you said, hit about 6,500. Now, it's come up, what, about 50 percent in the last six months? What accounts for that? What accounts for that rally?

Mr. WEISBERG: Well, I think there are a lot of things at play. First of all, I think that the period of time from January, February, into very early March was what hindsight - 20/20 hindsight would dictate was the capitulation phase of the market.

Certainly, October of '08 was a low. But that two and half months or two months and a couple of weeks of early 2009 was the most difficult period of time that I can remember in the markets, since 1973-'74, putting aside the one-day wonder of October of '87.

BLOCK: Hmm. And you, looking ahead, I know you're probably way past the point of trying to make predictions.

(Soundbite of laughter)

BLOCK: But as you look forward, are you - you said you're an optimist - are you bullish?

Mr. WEISBERG: Well, I don't know if bullish is the right word. But certainly, I see the glass as half full. I do think perhaps, at least at the moment, maybe there's a little more political risk in the market than economic risk.

But if you go back over history, in my 45-year career in Wall Street, certainly, every major selloff, every major capitulation in terms of the stock market has proven to be a buying opportunity over time. And so one way or the other, I think the market will work itself out, prices will move higher.

The whole question, of course, is one of timing, not so much will it happen because I'm reasonably certain it will happen.

BLOCK: And, Ted, how's that bottle of Excedrin holding out?

Mr. WEISBERG: Well, I...

(Soundbite of laughter)

Mr. WEISBERG: I've given up the Excedrin.

BLOCK: I see. You've moved to stronger stuff?

Mr. WEISBERG: No. No. I can sleep again, thank you very much. The headaches are gone. Now, we just have to figure out how to make our business work. Because unfortunately, the near death financial experience that we've all went through in the early part of 2009 is still with a lot of folks, and so unfortunately, a lot of the customers are still on the sidelines kind of licking their wounds. And hopefully, when the confidence comes back and that feel-good factor comes back, they'll come back to the market and then business will get better along with the market.

BLOCK: Okay, Ted. It's great to talk to you again. Thanks so much.

Mr. WEISBERG: Thank you.

BLOCK: That's Ted Weisberg, president of Seaport Securities in New York.

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