Monday, October 6, 2008

Stock Footage

Why is it that every time the Dow takes a major whacking, the media shows us an image of a twenty- or thirty-something guy in either a cheap suit or a bright green shirt with his head in his hands, in apparent agony? (Go to any major news media site right now and you'll see what I mean).

Who is this guy? I'm guessing he's one of those floor pit traders, who somehow yell loud enough above the stock or commodity market din loud enough to be heard, or use a series of hand signals that would confuse any third base coach this side of an American Sign Language convention.

Either way, my hunch is that this guy isn't a major stock market player -- his age, his costume, and his job as a floor hustler seem to suggest otherwise.

So why is he so upset? Whales on Wall Street literally lose millions on days like today. They should be the ones with their heads in their hands, the look of agony, and the choked-back tears.

The stock image is probably something these outlets keep on hand, along with the "Pain at the Pump" shots of regular, ordinary folk filling their Escalades and the anonymous shots of peoples' oversized midsections leading into a diet or exercise snippet inevitably titled "The Battle of the Bulge."*

* For the record, news media vignettes about diet and exercise with the "Battle of the Bulge" tag line struck me as witty only once, and have become progressively less so with each viewing.

7 comments:

Robert said...

http://apnews.myway.com/image/20081007/Wall_Street.sff_CX105_20081007161052.html?date=20081007&docid=D93LSI7G0

Matt said...

Right on. Also, after every debate you can bet the bank on every pundit saying about each candidate, "There was no Bill Clinton moment."

Matt said...

p.s. just got the pun in the headline.

p.p.s. http://sadguysontradingfloors.tumblr.com/

The New Englander said...

Matt and Rob,

Thanks much for your posts and the pics. The thing is, I think those trader guys' jobs are so stressful and exasperating, if you catch them at different points of the day, you're going to be able to get the exhiliration shot, the agony shot, the what-the-heck shot, the blank stare, etc.

cnn.com has definitely led the charge here -- I've noticed they're just rotating a series of "depressed looking young guy in the uniform sort of looking thing" shots when they talk about the Dow getting rocked.

Also, Matt, love the Clinton blurk. What would post-debate tripe be without a paean to the most overrated public speaker and politician of the 20th century?

Speaking (sort of) of media stuff, just want to mention that I wasn't sure what I would think of the new Bob Woodward, but it's great -- a pretty politically unbiased look at the different opinions within the gov. when Iraq was at its nadir in mid- to late-2006.

-gp

Chris said...

During the summer, many flights are late and/or cancelled . . . one such afternoon, there was a 2-man "on the scene" camera crew from a local news outfit parked in front of the out ticket counter. They were there less than an hour, but it was long enough for them to get a shot of me with a telephone on each ear.

Later in the day, I was told by coworkers that I was "on TV."
Indeed, I became a victim of the "stock footage" phenomenon because, over the course of the next few weeks, I was told that I was "on TV today" over and over again. The news outfit (Local Channel 8) used that image whenver they had flight cancellations or delays to report, with my airline, or otherswise.

The New Englander said...

Chris,

Well, at the end of the day I still think it's pretty awesome you made it onto the local news. Congratties on that and if you can ever send a pic of you on the two phones, I would love to have it!

stay militant,
gp

Paul said...

It's funny, I worked on the floor of a commodities exchange for almost 3 years and every time I see one of those snapshots of the "exasperated trader" who apparently has just lost his shoes, I can't help but think that the photographer might just have caught the guy after a sneeze/in the midst of a boring phone conversation/nursing a hangover/trying to hear over the noise of the crowd/having an itchy nose/telling an animated story about a chick he banged last weekend/smelling a noxious fart/etc.

For sure, there are some weary souls on the floors of the major exchanges who have had -- and are going to have -- some miserable days. But for every one of them, there's another who shorted Google, gold and Goldman Sachs and is going to appear pretty content.

It is remarkable, though, how media outlets can take such snapshots and define them so well -- and in so doing exacerbate the FEAR that you spoke about previously.

I mean, Chris, you certainly may have been having productive and meaningful business conversations using 2 phones, but the message from your snapshot was most certainly "Disgruntled Passenger."

p.s.: by the way, those hand signals used on the exchanges are, perhaps, surprisingly easy to learn and use and are extremely efficient.