Tuesday, March 07, 2006

The NYSE (yawn) Goes Public

Tomorrow, for the first time in its 200-something-year history, the New York Stock Exchange becomes a publicly traded company! Isn't that exciting? Isn't that terrific? Isn't that ...zzzzzzzzzz....

I'm just mentioning this NYSE-going-public thing because it is an example of the kind of story of which I would like to see less in the financial press, in favor of stuff that really matters to people.

I know, it has to be covered. Here's one good piece in Marketwatch, for example, and I am sure tomorrow there will be a lot of other nice stories on the subject. Can we give it a rest after that, guys?

The financial media spends far too much of its limited resources pursuing inside-baseball stuff of little interest to anyone north of Chambers Street. After Dick Grasso's self-destruction in September 2003, you couldn't grab a sheet of newspaper to line a litterbox without finding a story with "NYSE" or "Grasso" somewhere. It was ridiculous.

As I say in you-know-what, the actual location where a stock is traded -- whether it is a "trading floor" or a "trading ceiling" or a computer network or whatever -- is a matter of little consequence to most investors. True, it matters greatly to high-volume institutional traders. The rest of us couldn't, and shouldn't, care less.

The same thing goes for the "governance" of the NYSE. Again, who cares? If the NYSE wants to be a paragon of lousy management, that is of little concern to anyone except the NYSE's owners, who are currently 3,000 or so retired millionaire seatholders.

Meanwhile, I read in the Wall Street Journal law blog that Dick Grasso is being deposed by Eliot Spitzer today as part of that ridiculous lawsuit that was filed against him. Good gawd. So Grasso was paid a lot of money. Again, who the hell cares? As I say in you-know-what, he earned every penny of what he was paid (though not exactly for the reasons outlined in NYSE press releases).

If he hadn't been overpaid he wouldn't have lost his job, and if he hadn't have lost his job the NYSE would not be going public, and those 3,000 retired millionaires wouldn't be getting a nice hunk of change. They're making out nicely, so who's got a reason to complain? Or perhaps I should say, "Who's got a reason to complain who's not running for governor?"

At least Spitzer isn't doing something even less useful, like being led around by the nose by the anti-naked-shorting cultists of the Baloney Brigade. Perhaps he could have a word with the ones who are, at the SEC and other state regulatory agencies.

P.S. I'd like to welcome all the very nice (I am sure) people who have signed up via Notifylist to get updates when this blog is updated. Among them are a grand total of 23 people with email addresses from our financial regulatory agencies! A extra-special welcome to y'all.

A prime number. How lucky!


Wall Street Versus America will be published by Penguin USA on April 6.
Click here for its Amazon.com listing and here for more information on the book, from my web site.

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