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NYSE President John Thain

John Thain is the current Chief Executive Officer of the New York Stock Exchange. Before coming to the NYSE, Thain was the Chief Operating Officer and President for Goldman Sachs, one of the world’s most prestigious investment banks. During Thain’s tenure with Sachs, he was able to develop a portfolio worth over $300 million dollars in stock.

Thain was chosen for his business acumen, but also for the fact that unlike his predecessor, Dick Grasso, Thain isn’t as much of a showman and enjoys being behind the scenes at the New York Stock Exchange. There are famous stories of Thain while at Goldman Sachs that talk about how he was an important and influential member of their company, people didn’t talk about him because he was so quiet. This demeanor is thought to be a major reason why he was chosen to replace Grasso after the extremely controversial and public way he left the NYSE.

Thain attended the prestigious Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and still has very close ties to the school today as a member of the MIT Corporation and with the Dean’s Advisory Council. Thain graduated from Harvard in 1979 with his MBA.
It was thought to be a bit of an upset that Thain would get the job to head the New York Stock Exchange. Many other higher profile business men had been bantered about in the media as possible successors to the tarnished throne of Dick Grasso, but Thain won out.

One of the hopes of Thain’s reign at the NYSE is that he will help to modernize the trading floor. A major criticism of the Dick Grasso era was that he refused to let computers and more efficient systems be installed into the exchange with the rational that since trading had always been done this way, it should always be done this way. One of the possible reasons Thain was chosen is that, while he is by all means an insider to the financial world, he has no particular allegiance to the men and women on the floor who trade stock, and while no one wants to fire people who are doing their jobs, the need to modernize the trading system to match other exchanges around the world is a must.

While no one can predict the future, it is hoped that the tenure of John Thain is just as effective as his predecessor Dick Grasso, just a heck of a lot quieter.

  © Mirza Rais 2008

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