Skip to comments.John Phelan, N.Y.S.E. Chief Who Ushered In New Technology, Is Dead at 81
Posted on 08/08/2012 5:56:59 PM PDT by the invisib1e hand
John J. Phelan Jr., a former chairman of the New York Stock Exchange who introduced computer technology to the Big Board in the 1980s and was widely praised for his calming response to the stock market crash of October 1987, died on Saturday in Manhattan. He was 81.
After the 1987 crash, which shook investors' confidence in financial markets, Mr. Phelan coolly resisted calls to close the exchange, fearing that it would breed further panic. He rang the closing bell himself.
"He deserves eternal credit for that,"Felix G. Rohatyn, a longtime investment banker who helped save New York from bankruptcy in the 1970s, told The New York Times on Mr. Phelan's retirement in 1990. "That was his shining hour."
The crash, which quickly became known as Black Monday, represented what is still the market's largest single-day percentage drop, with the Dow Jones industrial average plunging nearly 23 percent. In its aftermath, Mr. Phelan became the public face of the stock exchange, seeking to assure a nervous country that confidence in the markets was justified. In a message to Mr. Phelan several days after the crash, PresidentRonald Reagan praised the functioning of the exchange during the panic. Mr. Phelan read the message aloud to his staff from the podium overlooking the trading floor.
"The calm, professional manner of dedicated men and women striving to meet unprecedented challenges undoubtedly helped assure investors of the soundness of the institution," Mr. Reagan wrote.
As trading volume exploded in the 1980s, Mr. Phelan introduced new technologies to the once-stodgy exchange. Under his leadership, the exchange spent millions to put in place electronic systems to handle huge volumes of orders.
The technological changes helped usher in a new era on Wall Street. Computerized trading lowered costs for small investors and helped make markets more liquid.
(Excerpt) Read more at dealbook.nytimes.com ...
last of the good ones.