Traders, prices, spaces: images of exchanges around the world

September 29, 2007

A timely photo essay has just landed on the newsstands of New York City. Portfolio magazine, the glossiest newcomer to American business publications, features a striking photograph of Kuwait’s Financial Market: men in white Arab robes lounging about a carpeted room with red bench seats, all of it surrounded by electronic price boards. A strange crossover between airport and trading pit.

The photograph is followed by a terrific photo essay. Dramatic photographs of exchanges around the world, taken by artist-photographer Robert Polidori. The piece is a very timely addition to our discussion on the rapidly-shrinking NYSE. From Chicago to Sao Paulo, Tokyo to Nairobi, Polidori’s shots provide a window into the tremendous multiplicity of exchange assemblages. In Nepal, prices are still written on the board like they used to in New YOrk eighty years ago. London’s exchange has added activity to its static computers by planting a four-story high art installation in its lobby. Kuwait looks like an airport lounge. Nairobi and Tehran both look like Internet cafes… brokers sitting on chairs, staring at a PC screen… and separated by mysterious partitions for confidentiality. Hong Kong is organized as concentric circles of benches. Chicago’s pit traders wear colorful jackets, whereas Sao Paulo’s counterparts show up to the pit in white shirt and dark tie.

5 Responses to “Traders, prices, spaces: images of exchanges around the world”

  1. yuvalmillo Says:

    Great pictures! Notice that about a third of traders in Tehran Stock Exchange are women, compared with less than 10% in NY…

  2. danielbeunza Says:

    Yes. Also, it seems that women have a separate trading room in Kuwait. But this reminds me… our “gender balance” here at SocFinance is not that great either🙂

  3. typewritten Says:

    Great photos and great material… But why this emphasis on “trading = trading in stock exchanges”? Trading rooms (i.e. in investment banks, brokerage houses, etc.) constitute “trading places” that are alive and well (and plainly photographable too). To a large extent, the heart of contemporary finance lies with OTC markets — but these go often unnoticed, at least image-wise.

  4. danielbeunza Says:

    Could not agree more. Exchanges are lively, loud, colorful and full of moving humans (in both senses of the word). That’s why they get the media attention. But the comment manifests a fascinating problem: the challenge in visualizing “the stock market” as it happens. Hence my interest in the work of Martin Wattemberg’s “map of the market,” or in the art of Jeremijenko, Klima and Autogena…

  5. Liesa Wise Dutra Says:

    I am interested in getting prints for my office of Robert Polidori’s photos of the world wide exchanges. Amazing!

    These spaces where people gather to “market” are definately on the decline.


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