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Response To Volatile Wall Street Muted In Lower Manhattan


The numbers on Wall Street today spelled panic, but if you could get a glimpse at the financial district in Manhattan today, you wouldn't know there was a historic thousand-point drop of the Dow this morning. NPR's Joel Rose takes us there.

JOEL ROSE, BYLINE: For all the drama inside the New York Stock Exchange, you might not guess there was anything unusual going on at the corner of Broad and Wall Streets.

JOHN TABACCO: I don't see people running down the streets with their hair on fire.

ROSE: John Tabacco works around the corner at an electronic trading company called t0.

TABACCO: I think we've seen much worse than this in 2008, 2009. We saw much worse than this, you know, back in '87. I think everyone's pretty calm here.

ROSE: That was easy to say around lunchtime when the U.S. markets were down only a few percentage points on the day. It was harder to stay calm shortly after the opening bell when the Dow dropped more than a thousand points. Eugene Belinkoff (ph) works for an electronic securities exchange.

EUGENE BELINKOFF: China has bad numbers, so the perception is the economy is slowing down. There's a fear that, you know, everything's going to go down, so that's why the fear rules today.

ROSE: It was difficult to get a read on the mood inside the stock market. Traders in blue jackets emerged from the building to grab lunch or smoke cigarettes behind a security fence that kept reporters at bay. But trader John Cole (ph) did stop briefly to talk. He says today's selloff might have more to do with summer vacations than economic fundamentals.

JOHN COLE: I think it's because it's - guys are out. CEOs are out, so there are no buyers. That's the problem. So I could see a panic selloff. That's what it was, nothing more.

ROSE: Outside the New York Stock Exchange, throngs of tourists snap selfies in front of the world's most famous stock market. But the summer season seem to be taking a toll on some of the street vendors too. Diane Herby (ph) was selling discount bracelets and jewelry at a kiosk on the corner of Nassau and Wall Streets.

DIANE HERBY: It's been consistently bad this month, but I think that it's a summer thing. It's the end of the summer.

ROSE: Herby and her partner, Pepe del Gato (ph), say business did seem remarkably slow earlier this month when the Greek stock market tanked.

PEPE DEL GATO: That day was, like, the worst day over here at this table (laughter). 'Cause the business was so, so slow that day, I was actually (unintelligible) on that situation.

ROSE: Del Gato says business wasn't great today, but he's not ready to blame his problems on the U.S. stock market, at least not yet. Joel Rose, NPR News, New York. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Joel Rose is a correspondent on NPR's National Desk. He covers immigration and breaking news.