eli5 What exactly do people talking about the economy mean when they say Wall Street?


They always go like Wall Street this and Wall Street that but what’s so important about wall street in particular?

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Wall Street is the street that the New York stock exchange is on. It’s used as a euphemism for the whole of corporate america.

Wall Street is a financial district in NYC and happens to be where the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) is located.

So basically, a ton of financial businesses are there, and that made “Wall Street” be a word people mean to just mean “bankers, investors, and the market in general”.

It’s kind of like how in some cities, there’s one area known for being where some rich people live, so some people might just use the name of that neighborhood to mean “rich people” and not necessarily people who live there.

It’s shorthand for stock market, bond markets, commodities, derivatives (options and such)… basically investments and high level finance like investment banking.

When they say things like “wall street was down today” (or wall street was up or flat today) they mean that stock indices like dow jones or s&p500 or nasdaq declined (or rose or stayed flat).

When they say “wall street greed led to…” some bad situation like the 2008 financial crisis they mean banks and financial institutions.

Way back in the 17th century, slave traders and financial instrument traders (i.e. those who trade things like stocks and bonds) used to gather in a place on Wall Street in Manhattan, New York to conduct their trading.

Today the term “wall street” in media symbolizes either financial markets or financial institutions depending on what is being discussed.