Watch: Could the New York Stock Exchange cease to exist in the future? (
Yahoo Finance's Editor-in-Chief Andy Serwer examines the future of the New York Stock Exchange.

A year ago last week, March 23, 2020 to be exact, as COVID-19 was beginning to ravage America, the New York Stock Exchange closed its trading floor and moved to all electronic trading. It was the first time in 228 years that the floor was closed but markets remained open. (The floor and trading were both shuttered for two days after Hurricane Sandy in October 2012 and four days after 9/11, more on the latter, later.)

The move was said to be temporary and as it turned out the floor was completely shut for the next two months, only to reopen in May at 25% capacity. And that’s more or less where things stood until recently, when, Yahoo Finance has learned, the exchange opened up to 50% capacity, meaning some 160 brokers and traders are working the floor of the biggest stock market in the world, (with listed companies worth some $32 trillion.) Still a small fraction of the thousands who traded there only a few decades ago.

That all-electronic trading at the NYSE went off without a hitch—and during such a wild and crazy 12 months to boot—is both a positive and a negative for the exchange. On the one hand the past year showcased the NYSE’s remarkable technology. Bravo NYSE! On the other hand, it makes us realize once and for all that the guys in the funny jackets—the floor brokers, specialists and traders—were exactly what we thought they were, a colorful anachronism.

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