October 30th, 2012
Econintersect: Back in the 1790s when the NYSE (New York Stock Exchange) was a group of traders meeting under the buttonwood tree at 68 Wall Street there probably were frequent weather related closings. But reviewing the records back to 1885 weather has only closed the exchange for a full day six times. Hurricane Sandy will be only the second time that weather has closed the NYSE for two consecutive days. The exchange has announced that it will remain closed Tuesday 30 October. The previous 2-day occasion was the four-day Blizzard of 1888 which dropped up to four feet or more snow over the metro New York-New Jersey area and up to six feet inland. High winds piled up drifts as high as 50 feet and entire multi-story houses were buried.
There have been a total of 49 "non-business" closings involving one or more full days in the past 127 years. Of course there are a number of scheduled holiday closings every year and there have beet business operations reasons for closing over the years as well, for such things as catching up on paperwork backlogs that resulted from the crash of 1929 and moving of trading facilities.
The most common non-business closings have been deaths, funerals or memorials for national leaders (17) and special celebration days (16). So weather closings (6) have not been common. Noteworthy among the remaining 10 closings are three "heatless" Monday's in February 1918, a closing of 102 days from July 31 to November 27 1914 associated with the outbreak of World War I, and two bank holiday closings at the depth of the Great Depression in 1933.
The bank holiday closings ran for 9 consecutive days March 4 to March 14, 1933. The first holiday was a state banking holiday declared for Saturday 04 March 1933, the same day that FDR (Franklin Roosevelt) was inaugurated. One of Roosevelt's first acts after inauguration was to close all banks effective Monday March 6 until Congress could pass legislation establishing the requirement that all banks must operate under the Federal Reserve. This action ended bank runs which had closed thousands of banks.
The following table contains the 49 "non-business" events that caused full day closings of the NYSE: