Within the New York Stock Exchange, the day SVB collapsed

  • Peter Tuchman has been on the New York Stock Exchange for nearly 38 years and is the most photographed trader on Wall Street.
  • Shares plummeted last week on contagion concerns from the collapse of Silicon Valley Bank.
  • “We’ve never seen the volatility we’re seeing here. The intraday madness,” Tuchman said.

On the morning of the biggest bank failure since 2008, Peter Tuchman drank four shots of espresso, two glasses of orange juice and got ready for his day.

Immediately stocks plummeted that morning. The S&P 500 had its worst week of the year. Shortly after the opening bell, markets went haywire.

Tuchman, a stockbroker with nearly 38 years of experience on the trading floor, is the most photographed trader on Wall Street and has seen his fair share of volatility.

He has weathered the stock market crash of 1987, the burst of the dot-com bubble, the financial crisis of 2008 and the sell-off of COVID-19 in 2020.

On March 10, when the Silicon Valley Bank collapsed, “it really hit the mark,” he told Insider.

Tuchman describes the New York Stock Exchange as “the delta of all information” and the “ultimate price mechanism” for global markets, and on that Friday, investors and news outlets called him even more than usual for a pulse.

Hedge funds, large institutions, high net worth individual investors and clients with “skin in the game” reached out to Tuchman and other brokers on the floor and asked, “What’s going on? How much is for sale? How much should be bought? Where are we there?” he said. “We are the eyes and ears of listed companies.”

“It is important that in the world of liquidity and volatility there is a human at the point of execution making decisions, not a machine, not a robot, not an algorithm,” he said.

Wall Street panicked and stocks plummeted on concerns about what’s to come under the weight of rising Federal Reserve interest rates, along with contagion from the SVB, which has destroyed more than 50% of all venture-backed companies in the U.S. and whose fall marked a marked decline. the biggest disaster since the last financial crisis.

Bank stocks led the way on Friday, posting their worst week since 2020. Markets’ decline was fueled by fears over SVB peers such as Western Alliance Bancorp and Signature Bank, both of which lost more than 20% on the day. Like SVB, Signature would be taken over by the FDIC that weekend.

“We’ve never seen the volatility we’re seeing here. The intraday craziness,” Tuchman said of financial markets over the past few years. “Things that used to take generations can now happen between lunch and your coffee break, right? We can be in a bear market at 11 a.m. and at 3 a.m. we’re in a bull market.”

He added, “Well, that’s insane. It used to take 20 years. Now it’s happening at lunch.”

Tuchman didn’t have lunch on Friday, but he usually doesn’t.

trader wall street looking up in surprise

Tuchman said when Silicon Valley Bank collapsed last week “shit really hit the fan”.


On the floor, Tuchman gets the sense that “something serious is going on” when several stocks stop trading at once. It’s a pricing mechanism called “limit up, limit down,” which is used temporarily to mitigate extraordinary volatility when price declines in individual securities reach levels that can deplete market liquidity.

In the words of Tuchman, “We’re giving everybody a chance to figure out what they want to do, because nobody benefits from stocks going up 30 points and falling 40 points. It’s just not rational.”

He added: “It gives everyone a minute to calm down, see where the bodies are buried and then make a decision for the future.”

Less than a minute after opening on Friday at 9:30 a.m., First Republic Bank, another SVB colleague, halted trading for six minutes. The stock paused 12 other times that day. Western Alliance followed suit, pausing 20 times a day, according to historical data from the New York Stock Exchange.

“We trade a lot of contagious stocks so suddenly [we] notice that the market is selling [them] radically,” he added.

Monitors cover almost every nook and cranny of the trading floor. Fast-talking brokers sit bent over their screens, taking calls, processing the barrage of headlines to parse what sets markets in motion.

“We are surrounded by all the information that makes up the market. I watch every second what happens to all that information,” he said, gesturing to the hundreds of monitors around us. “You see everything in real time.”

There’s always volatility somewhere, says Tuchman, but that’s part of it.

There was a sense that more trouble was on the way as traders headed out for the weekend. The government only announced on Sunday evening that it would cut losses for SVB and Signature Bank depositors, leaving investors stranded on what would happen next.

“Markets don’t like the unknown and fear,” he said. “We didn’t know much more than we knew. Then you have fear in the market and that’s why we had the massive sale on Friday.”

He added: “I call it a perfect storm. You have a lack of information, transparency and clarity. You have a weekend ahead of you. You have a looming Fed meeting. You have the world trying to come out of a Pandemic. You have an environment of massive rate hikes. You have a tech sector under attack. You have retail sales here. All eyes are on the market.”

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