The opening bell on Wall Street rings at 9:30 a.m., and the New York Stock Exchange is open for another day – Election Day. The Dow Jones Industrial Average opens at 9,323.89 and almost immediately bumps up more than 100 points.
Despite the small surge, Susan Dacks, 57, a tax accountant, says it’s going to take a lot more than 100 points to help middle-class investors who are being forced out of the market by the downturn in recent weeks.
“They’re getting creamed,” she says.
Standing on Line
Down the block, tourists take pictures of historic Trinity Church while would-be voters stand single file, waiting to cast their ballots. Tim Allen, like most, doesn’t mind the line.
“I’ve never been as invigorated in the democratic process as I have been with this election,” says Allen, 30, who is an independent. “It’s amazing to me that everyone is rejuvenated and I feel like there is a forward moving motion for democracy at work here.”
He looks around and adds, “it’s just blowing me away.”
At 10:27 a.m. the Dow continues its rise, now at 9,520, and Ian Caplan joins the voting line with a “McCain 2008” button pinned to his lapel.
“Republican,” Caplan, 25, says in a muted voice.
Caplan says that although John McCain admits the economy is not his strong suit, he believes the Republican candidate doesn’t need to solve the crisis single-handedly.
“I don’t think the President as one man is going to change the whole economy in either party affiliation,” says Caplan. “As long as he gets the right people surrounding him, he can arm himself with a good stable base.”
Dow on the Way Up
It’s 11:41 a.m., and the Dow is at 9,576 as Lillian Rodriguez-Lopez walks past the stock exchange wearing a blue “Obama ‘08” button.
“I totally understand the importance of Wall Street and how it drives not only the American economy, but the global economy,” Rodriguez-Lopez says. “We have to have a healthier respect for what happens in terms of all of our markets in the United States.”
Alassandro Balla, an Italian who is in New York as a prospective Columbia University student, also sports a Barack Obama button. “It’s important not just for the U.S.A. but for all the world to change our relationship with power,” he says.
At 12:28 p.m. the Dow is up to 9,589, a gain of 266 points for the day.
Artist Geoffrey Raymond sets up two canvasses on the corner of Wall and Broad streets. One is a portrait of McCain, the other of Obama. Raymond urges onlookers to sign comments to each candidate in red, blue or black ink to signify party affiliation.
“Mr. Obama—if Joe the Plumber is all the Republicans have at this late date, you’re looking pretty good!” someone writes in blue, the Democrats’ color. The blue comments soon outnumber the red Republican comments.
“Freedom ’08,” reads another written by an independent in black.
“We’re in such a mess on Wall Street,” Raymond says. “This is about giving a voice to the people who don’t have a voice.”
Fittingly for an artist on Wall Street, Raymond says he will try to sell the paintings for $15,000 each.
At 2:30 p.m. the Dow takes a slight dip to 9,538, down 51 points from noontime. The lunch hour is over, but not the talk of politics—or money.
Harriet Ladd, 67, who works for an insurance company, hopes the election results will trigger a rebound on Wall Street.
“I think it’s going to steady some but not do anything dramatic for a while,” she says. “I wouldn’t want to bet my last nickel on that, however.”
At 4 p.m. the closing bell rings with the Dow at 9,625.28, up 305.45 points for the day.