Profile America: The Stock Exchange Is Born

Wednesday, May 18 — The New York Stock Exchange, by signaling business prospects through share prices, has long been a bellwether of the nation’s economic health. The exchange started this week in 1792, as some two dozen merchants and brokers established an organized approach to their buying and selling. In good weather, they operated under a Buttonwood tree on Wall Street. Otherwise, they moved to the shelter of a nearby coffeehouse to continue their trading. This makeshift setup eventually evolved into an economic powerhouse, watched closely each trading day to see how the bulls or bears are assessing the overall U.S. economy. Thirty-two years ago, only 7 percent of U.S. household wealth was held in stocks and bonds. Today, that figure is around 20 percent.

Source: US Census Bureau.

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