Wall Street Workers Say Lives Getting Back to Normal With PM-Stocks-Markets, Bjt
NEW YORK (AP) _ Not even veteran Wall Streeters accustomed to crazy days and endless nights had seen anything like the turbulence, fear and exhaustion of the past two weeks, a stretch they say is just now winding down.
″It’s a complete pounding,″ said A. Vincent Lawrence, a specialist at Lawrence, O’Donnell and Co., puffing on a cigarette Thursday at the New York Stock Exchange.
″I’ve been doing this for 38 years, and this is the toughest it’s been,″ he said. But Lawrence added that the mood had been lightening and trading firms were beginning to catch up on paperwork.
″We’re beginning to see light at the end of a very long tunnel,″ agreed Eileen Morey during a quick break at Merrill Lynch, where she works as a clerk in the ″Q.T. room,″ where questionable transactions are sorted out for mistakes.
The staggering volume of trading and the extreme volatility of stocks have caused a huge pileup in these and other chores that are part of processing stock deals.
Since the stock market’s 508-point crash two weeks ago, Ms. Morey’s work day has begun well before dawn, when she boards a subway train in Brooklyn for the 45-minute ride to her office near the World Trade Center in Manhattan.
She arrives as early as 5 a.m.; she has stayed until 10 p.m. or later.
Some of Ms. Morey’s co-workers have grabbed a few hours sleep in nearby hotels between marathon work sessions; others have worked for as long as three days straight, catching their sleep in cat naps.
″Right now, we’re starting to get a firm grip on things,″ said her supervisor, Alexander Jefferson. ″We’re starting to get back to normal.″
At Shearson Lehman Brothers headquarters, traders begin taking their seats on the trading floor about 7 a.m., quietly talking and sipping coffee while catching up on the newspapers and the overnight news from markets abroad.
At 9:30 a.m., when trading begins at the NYSE, the floor erupts in riotous activity. Traders, most of them in their 20s and 30s, jump to their feet, waving their arms, shouting and flailing at buttons on 210-line telephone consoles.
Jack Baker, head of block trading at Shearson, said the activity was only slightly more turbulent than normal. The main difference lately, said Baker and others, has been the size of the transactions and the pressure to execute them quickly.
At many brokerage firms, it is the back-office workers - salaried clerks who belie the yuppie stereotype of Wall Street - who have taken the brunt of the workload caused by the topsy-turvy market.
″The trader thinks he’s bought and sold it when he goes home,″ said Mary Pat Conry, vice president for institutional operations at Shearson Lehman Brothers. ″But if we don’t close it, they didn’t do it.″
Ms. Conry’s staff of nine has been working 16-hour days, plus weekends, to clean up the mountains of paperwork spewed out by the crash. ″We’re doing a week’s work in one day,″ she said.
Still, she said, ″Everyone still has a sense of humor. Nobody’s killing each other yet.″
″The other day, when they were discouraged, I told (the staff), ’Think of little Jessica (McClure) down in that hole. Those people stayed there until they got her out of the hole,‴ she said, referring to the Texas toddler rescued earlier this month from a well shaft. ″And we’re getting out of the hole, thank God.″