Eddy Elfenbein submits: Wall Street likes to think of itself as hi-tech and forward-looking, but in reality, the Street is nearly impervious to change. Remember decimal pricing? We adopted the base-10 numbering system some nine centuries after the Visigoths. That’s how fast this place moves.
Only twenty years ago, the Nasdaq didn’t allow margin. And thirty years ago, Wall Street ran on fixed commissions. Can you imagine if any industry was run like that today? Think of what would happen if the price of every new car was fixed. America would make lousy cars that no one would buy, and Detroit would lose billions of dollars. Pretty scary.
One of Wall Street’s oldest and oddest traditions is taking off for Good Friday: Bear in mind that Wall Street hates to take off any day. Trading on Saturdays lasted into the 1950’s. Almost no other business takes Good Friday off. Even the Feds are open. But every year, Wall Street shuts down for Good Friday. Strangely, the stock exchange was open for Good Friday in 1898, 1906 and 1907.
I’m not sure where Holy Week stands in the canon of seasonal trading rules. I’m generally not a big fan of these bits of wisdom. You’ve probably heard the ones like “sell in May and go away.