There was nothing very surprising about the news that the Kansas City Board of Trade will be shuttered this July, as the new owner of the 150-year-old trading floor—the central exchange for red winter wheat, used to make bread—folds it into the Chicago Mercantile Exchange. The once-raucous floor had been dead for years—traders had long since moved to desks with computer terminals.
But the announcement signaled another step into virtualization for the stock market, which has gone from being a real-life place where people shout orders at each other to bundles of high-speed wires and giant servers, a market built on speed and efficiency and ones and zeros. “The thing has come to an end,” Morgan Shay, a trader at the exchange since 1971, told Reuters. “The handwriting was on the wall when the electronic [trading] started.”