Ted Weisberg: A View From The NYSE Floor After another volatile week on Wall Street, Robert Siegel checks in with Ted Weisberg, a floor trader on the New York Stock Exchange. Weisberg is the president of Seaport Securities.

Ted Weisberg: A View From The NYSE Floor

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This is All Things Considered from NPR News. I'm Melissa Block.


And I'm Robert Siegel. Recently the graph of the daily Dow Jones Industrial average has displayed a predictable pattern. The jagged line meanders modestly up and down until the end of the afternoon, nosedive time. Today the reverse, up and down, up and down, up and down, and then a dynamite finish, up almost 500 point on the day. Almost enough to make you forget the last two days. We only read and weep at this stuff. Ted Weisberg actually lives it, he's a trader who works on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange, and he joins us from his office nearby. Ted, how would you describe the past week?

Mr. TED WEISBERG (Floor Trader, NYSE): As volatile as it seems it has been for the last 14 months. It just - it's draining and it's - and the volatility absolutely takes your breath away and it is with us everyday. Luckily today, it ended on a positive, but if we have had this conversation yesterday I don't think anybody would have been smiling.

SIEGEL: Now, observers are forever inferring motives to all of this. What was the news that was so disturbing or what was the absence of good news that was so disturbing that was driving stocks down earlier in the week?

Mr. WEISBERG: Well, I think it's been just this relentless barrage of negative economic news whether it's a company specific or the overall economy or the world's economy. But no matter what the catalyst, the news had been negative and the market has been of course in this negative bias now going back 16 or 17 months, and it's just been relentless without anything positive to look at. In fact, if there has been positive news and clearly there has been from time to time, it's been completely lost by the negative, by the overall negative feeling.

SIEGEL: Now, today the big comeback at the end for the Dow came just as word of Timothy Geithner, the president of the New York Federal Reserve Bank, being picked for Treasury secretary was being reported everywhere. Were people on the floor actually hearing Geithner, Geithner, Geithner, was this the Geithner rally?

Mr. WEISBERG: Well, I don't think they said it was the Geithner rally, but clearly that was one of the catalysts. But I think a lot of folks actually felt coming in to today after last - yesterday's close which was so disappointing that, you know, it's sort of like kicking a dead horse and after a while and no matter how bad the news, and the market is so dramatically always sold, that it just felt today like perhaps we will going to get a rally. And I think the Geithner news couldn't have come at a better time because it came late in the afternoon, the market actually had sold off about 80 points, it rallied to even and then the news sort of came out and then the market took off. I think it was just primed for any kind of news that would be construed as positive, and clearly I think that's a good selection. I think most people are happy with that I mean certainly he's qualified and he understands the dynamics of what we've been going through for the last six months. So, I think the perception is that it was a good choice, the market needed something good to focus on, it was over sold, and we ended up with a good short covering, technical rally to close. We're still down on the week, but certainly whatever the reasons I think it's - we'll take it.

SIEGEL: I was hoping you could define for us, a word that we hear sometime from Wall Street people, a capitulation. What is it and is it anywhere in sight?

Mr. WEISBERG: Well, I think a capitulation is basically when people say you can keep the cheese, let me out of the trap. It's - they give up, you know, so much of stock trading is driven by human emotion. Unfortunately they never ring a bell at the top, they didn't ring a bell when the Dow was at 14,000 to tell us it was the top, and we have a lot of emotions running then, except it was all positive and now of course we're on the opposite side of that equation and we have a lot of people that are basically just giving up and perhaps for good reason because they are scared and disappointed and everybody has lost a lot of money and, but at the end of the day when human emotion starts to make the investment decisions I suppose to logic, we get into an environment where we get the capitulation and it's simply - it's another word for people just throwing in the towel. They give up, they're scared, they just want to go home and be left alone. And it usually comes at an inflection point in the market either, you know, you can get a capitulation on the upside and certainly you can get it on the downside. I'm not sure that we have seen that yet because we've been through so many negative days, but there is no question that people are basically throwing the towel in here and it is in an environment like this whether the capitulation comes in one day or it comes over a period of time that usually things get way over done in this case on the downside, and in fact there could be some really very, very, interesting long term opportunities.

SIEGEL: Ted, thanks a lot for talking with us once again. Have a good weekend.

Mr. WEISBERG: Thank you.

SIEGEL: Ted Weisberg, president of Seaport Securities and a floor trader at the New York Stock Exchange.

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