I just took a tour of the New York Mercantile Exchange. It was neat!→
They made us line up outside and put away our cameras; then we went through a rigorous security checkpoint before we elevatored to the gallery.
Nothing much was happening on the floor (we saw the energy floor; precious metals was upstairs), since it was a Friday afternoon in August. Most of the traders were just horsing around, though some were still doing business. We saw two CNBC reports and an interview being filmed.
In the past couple of years, since internet trading has been instituted, the open outcry (trading floor) end of the market has dropped to about 15% of the total trading volume, so it'll never again look like it did in Trading Places
They have only two women traders, the guide told us. One is on vacation and one is pregnant. Sure enough, she was out there throwing her arms around and shouting.
I remember going to the Chicago Board of Trade as a twelve year-old, and that was a much wilder scene, but that was before there were so many computers around, before there were flat-panel monitors tracking movements both on the floor and on the wire.
If you look at the How It Works
section of the NYMEX website, you can get a good sense of what the tour guide told us, plus it says "cat pelts were once a hot item in St. Louis," which is pretty incredible.
The view down at the Battery Park City marina was gorgeous, and there were some beautiful sailing vessels on the water.