The Dow Jones industrials were down 17 percent this week heading into trading Friday. Last week, stocks gyrated wildly because of the uncertain fate of the $700 billion financial rescue package that eventually was passed by Congress at the end of the week.
Valdes described Friday's trading, which saw the Dow trade in a range of 1,019 points and featured a 700-point drop early and two subsequent rallies into positive territory, as being driven by emotion. Overall, he didn't see a sense of panic, and was optimistic that better days were ahead.
Valdes described his fellow traders as "all worn out. Clients are screaming at them on the phones."
How are traders dealing with that frustration?
"A lot of smashed telephones," said Charlie Felten, a technician for the New York Stock Exchange
- as many as three or four a day.
Companies that rely on Wall Street for part of their business are feeling the crisis in the markets as well. Randy Strauss, managing partner for the executive placement firm StraussGroup Inc., based in Williamsville, N.Y., said business with financial institutions hasn't been this bad since 1987.
"In 1987, it all happened in one day," he said, referring to Oct. 19 of that year, when the Dow plunged 22 percent. "Now it's happening over a two-week period."
Megan Tatch, 28, a bartender of two years at the Bull Run Restaurant on William Street, a block away from the NYSE, said during lunchtime on Friday that she has seen a noticeable decline in business over the past couple of weeks.
"This Christmas is going to be a tough one," Tatch said.
She added, however, that her usual clientele from AIG, the large insurer recently taken over by the federal government and headquartered within walking distance of the Bull Run, are beginning to drop in again. "There was a scare there for a bit, but they're starting to recover," she said.
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Back on the floor, Doreen Mogavero, a trader at Mogavero Lee & Co., said there hasn't been the same sense of gloom among traders as there would have been in the past because most markets are electronic now. But that doesn't mean she doesn't still feel the rush of working the floor during tough times, she said.
"Does the feeling or urgency we get in these kind of markets change? Not really," she said.
Valdes, the Hilliard Lyons trader, said it's impossible to pick a bottom, but has words of wisdom for investors with a long-term perspective.
"Ten years from now, you'll be kicking yourself if you don't buy," he said, adding he is basically optimistic the markets will recover. "Is IBM going to go out of business? I doubt it. Is Johnson & Johnson going to go out of business? I doubt it."
The condition of his portfolio? "Like everyone else, I've been getting hit. My 401(k) is looking ugly."
The Dow finished Friday at 8,451.19 after losing 128 points. It was a mild drop compared to the staggering declines earlier this week. As traders left the exchange for the day, they were greeted at the exit by a mob of tourists, photographers, reporters and at least one demonstrator dressed in black and waving a sign that read: "You have every reason to worry."
One NYSE employee shook his head as he stalked away down Wall Street. "It was a wild ride," he said of the day's trading.
Press; By DAN STRUMPF]
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