New York Stock Exchange
America's biggest, oldest and most important securities exchange, the New York Stock Exchange and its august Wall Street home are virtually synonymous with the stock market for many people. It is the exchange with the most stringent requirements for being listed, and it is where most of the nation's largest and best-established companies are listed. Although computers are used, the NYSE remains somewhat old-fashioned in that buyers and sellers (representing investors all over the globe) shout orders at one another face to face. In fact, the NYSE's ""auction"" system, in which buyers and sellers meet in the open market, generally produces fair market pricing. To maintain an orderly market, ""specialists"" on the trading floor manage buying and selling of assigned stocks and have the responsibility of buying when no one else will. The NYSE's preeminence faces a number of challenges, including after-hours trading away from the exchange and the rise of Nasdaq, whose computerized system proves that trading is entirely possible without all the operatic shouting and gesturing, no matter how picturesque. But Nasdaq's dealer spreads have proven that technology in and of itself doesn't always make for the most efficient market.