Wall Street Definition And Meaning

On October 29, 2012, Wall Street was disrupted when New York and New Jersey were inundated by Hurricane Sandy. Its 14-foot-high storm surge, a local record, caused massive street flooding nearby. The NYSE was closed for weather-related reasons, the first time since Hurricane Gloria in September 1985 and the first two-day weather-related shutdown since the Blizzard of 1888. A crowd at Wall and Broad Streets after the 1929 crash, with the New York Stock Exchange Building is on the right.

After Wall Street firms started to expand westward in the 1980s into New Jersey, the direct economic impacts of Wall Street activities have gone beyond New York City. The employment in the financial services industry, mostly in the “back office” roles, has become an important part of New Jersey’s economy. In 2009, the Wall Street employment wages were paid in the amount of almost $18.5 billion in the state. The industry contributed $39.4 billion or 8.4 percent to the New Jersey’s gross domestic product in the same year. Wall Street is an eight-block-long street in the Financial District of Lower Manhattan in New York City. It runs between Broadway in the west to South Street and the East River in the east. The term “Wall Street” has become a metonym for the financial markets of the United States as a whole, the American financial services industry, New York–based financial interests, or the Financial District itself.

Early History Of Wall Street

He added up prices, and divided by the number of stocks to get his Dow Jones average. Dow’s numbers were a “convenient benchmark” for analyzing the market and became an accepted way to look at the entire stock market. In 1889 the original stock report, Customers’ Afternoon Letter, became The Wall Street Journal. Named in reference to the actual street, it became an influential international daily business newspaper published in New York City. After October 7, 1896, it began publishing Dow’s expanded list of stocks.

  • A report by Michael Stoler in The New York Sun described a “phoenix-like resurrection” of the area, with residential, commercial, retail and hotels booming in the “third largest business district in the country”.
  • Another key anchor for the area is the New York Stock Exchange Building at the corner of Broad Street.
  • The NYSE was determined to re-open on September 17, almost a week after the attack.
  • But its origins as a financial center until 1792, when 24 of the most prominent brokers and merchants in the U.S. signed theButtonwood Agreement .
  • Wall Street was originally known in Dutch as “de Waalstraat” when it was part of New Amsterdam in the 17th century, though the origins of the name vary.

Wall Street panicked, global stock markets dropped, and banks stopped lending to each other. The only thing that stopped the panic was the federal government bailing out Wall Street with the TARP program in 2008, and restoring confidence with the Economic Stimulus Package in 2009. The derivatives based on mortgages were called mortgage-backed securities. They were guaranteed by another financial innovation called credit default swaps. All of these were traded successfully on the secondary market until housing prices started to fall in 2006. The underlying mortgages started to default, and no one knew how to price the mortgage-backed securities. There were so many defaults that the companies, like AIG, who guaranteed the debt ran out of cash.


But because the explosion occurred in front of the Morgan building, known as a symbol of American capitalism, the bombing was ultimately decided to have been an act of terrorism performed by “Reds”—anarchists and communist sympathizers. A stack of anarchist flyers found in a mailbox a block away from Wall Street supported this theory.

How does Wall Street make money?

Wall Street trading can come in many forms. This includes, but is not limited to, the issue of bonds or the sale of ownership in a business through the issue of stocks. Wall Street makes capitalism work—with the support of government regulations—by moving money efficiently to its most productive uses.

Try to get an internship at a Wall Street firm or similar institution during at least one summer. This allowed any bank to use depositors’ savings to invest in complicated securities called derivatives. They based their value on different types of loans, including credit card debt, corporate bonds, and mortgages. Way back when it all started, Wall Street ran along a physical wall built when New York was still a Dutch Colony. Then-Governor Peter Stuyvesant ordered a wooden wall that protected the lower peninsula from the British and Native Americans. It later became a street bazaar where traders met under a now-famous buttonwood tree. In 1792 these traders formalized the rules of the game and created the NYSE.

The World’s Leading Financial Cities

It also evolved into a leading, six-day-a-week periodical , a leading and well-respected source of financial and business journalism. Events that happened on or around Wall Street often have impacted not just the investment industry, but the U.S. economy. Anderson is CPA, doctor of accounting, and an accounting and finance professor who has been working in the accounting and finance industries for more than 20 years.

what is wall street

It includes famous buildings such as the New York Stock Exchange, built in the early twentieth century, even though it has a very modern aspect, and the Federal Hall, rebuilt in the late eighteenth century. Market Insights Record-breaking IPO launches The record of 407 IPO launches in 2020 has been shattered this year with 796 public listings so far. John Tuttle, Vice Chairman and Chief Commercial Officer, joined Cheddar to discuss the state of the IPO market and why so many businesses are going public. By October 28, known as Black Tuesday, a panic ensued with 16 million shares traded away, and the over the next day, the market lost $30 billion.

Explosion At J P Morgan

The Wall Street district, commonly called the Financial District, contains the New York Stock Exchange, NYSE Amex Equities, and the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. The headquarters of many investment banks, government and municipal securities dealers, trust companies, utilities, insurance companies, and brokerage firms have also been located in the district. Finance professor Charles R. Geisst wrote that the exchange has become “inextricably intertwined into New York’s economy”. Wall Street pay, in terms of salaries and bonuses and taxes, is an important part of the economy of New York City, the tri-state metropolitan area, and the United States.

What caused the depression?

It began after the stock market crash of October 1929, which sent Wall Street into a panic and wiped out millions of investors. Over the next several years, consumer spending and investment dropped, causing steep declines in industrial output and employment as failing companies laid off workers.

One estimate was that Wall Street firms employed close to 200,000 persons in 2008. Another estimate was that in 2007, the financial services industry which had a $70 billion profit became 22 percent of the city’s revenue.

Understanding Wall Street

Since telecommunications costs were coming down, banks and brokerage firms could move away from the Financial District to more affordable locations. In 1998, the NYSE and the city struck a $900 million deal which kept the NYSE from moving across the river to Jersey City; the deal was described as the “largest in city history to prevent a corporation from leaving town”. In 1973, the financial community posted a collective loss of $245 million, which spurred temporary help from the government. Reforms were instituted; the Securities & Exchange Commission eliminated fixed commissions, which forced “brokers to compete freely with one another for investors’ business”.

what is wall street

The Dow Jones lost all of its previous gains for the year – and nearly 25% of its total gains for the decade – in a matter of hours at the end of October. There’s not one specific explanation of what precisely triggered the massive stock sell-off in the fall of 1929. The sharpest stock traders – men such as Jesse Livermore – realized that the stock market had been hugely overbought for quite some time. An example is the alternative trading platform known as BATS, based in Kansas City, which came “out of nowhere to gain a 9 percent share in the market for trading United States stocks”. The firm has computers in the U.S. state of New Jersey, and only two salespeople in New York City; the remaining 33 employees work in a center in Kansas. Nevertheless, a key magnet for the Wall Street remains the New York Stock Exchange Building. Some “old guard” firms such as Goldman Sachs and Merrill Lynch , have remained “fiercely loyal to the Financial District” location, and new ones such as Deutsche Bank have chosen office space in the district.

The majority of people are congregating in Wall Street on the left between the “House of Morgan” and Federal Hall National Memorial . Curb trading occurs outside of general market operations, commonly through computers or telephones after exchanges close. Investopedia requires writers to use primary sources to support their work. These include white papers, government data, original reporting, and interviews with industry experts. We also reference original research from other reputable publishers where appropriate. You can learn more about the standards we follow in producing accurate, unbiased content in oureditorial policy.

what is wall street

It was a wooden structure with a roof and open sides, although walls may have been added over the years and could hold approximately 50 men. The city directly benefited from the sale of slaves by implementing taxes on every person who was bought and sold there.

Rockefeller Center

For example, non-bank financial firms like hedge funds were required to register with the Securities and Exchange Commission and provide information about their trades and total holdings. Wall Street in a conceptual sense represents financial and economic power. To Americans, it can sometimes represent elitism and power politics, and its role has been a source of controversy throughout the nation’s history, particularly beginning around the Gilded Age period in the late 19th century. Wall Street became the symbol of a country and economic system that many Americans see as having developed through trade, capitalism, and innovation.

It refers to both the people and places that govern the world of finance. Wall Street firms have, however, also contributed to projects such as Habitat for Humanity, as well as done food programs in Haiti, trauma centers in Sudan, and rescue boats during floods in Bangladesh.

New York City

In a pre-digital-trading era, its epicenter was the New York Stock Exchange. Wall Street runs for a short eight blocks in lower Manhattan and is headquarters of America’s financial markets. But Wall Street is far more than a location—it has been adopted as a term to describe all U.S. financial institutions and U.S. economic power. It has been portrayed alternatively as powerful, hot-shot, corrupt, greedy, excessive and bullish. Below is a timeline of the location—and all that it has come to represent—through history.

what is wall street

The seven largest Wall Street firms in the 2000s were Bear Stearns, JPMorgan Chase, Citigroup, Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley, Merrill Lynch and Lehman Brothers. During the recession of 2008–10, many of these firms, including Lehman, went out of business or were bought up at firesale prices by other financial firms. In 2008, Lehman filed for bankruptcy, Bear Stearns was bought by JPMorgan Chase forced by the U.S. government, and Merrill Lynch was bought by Bank of America in a similar shot-gun wedding.

Wall Street is used as an umbrella term to describe the financial markets and the companies that trade publicly on exchanges throughout the U.S. Occupy Wall Street opposed income inequality, in which the top percent of the world’s population owns the majority of its wealth. They blamed Wall Street for creating the financial crisis, recession, and resultant long-term unemployment. They claimed it is controlled by Wall Street’s money, connections, and power. In 2010, Congress passed the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform Act to prevent another financial crisis by giving the federal government more oversight of Wall Street.

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