The Stock Exchange Specialist

New York Stock Exchange Floor September 26,1963

The Specialist as a member of a stock exchange has two functions.’ He must execute orders which other members of an exchange may leave with him when the current market price is away from the price of the orders. By executing these orders on behalf of the other exchange members when the market price reaches the price stated on these orders, the specialist makes it possible for these members to perform their business elsewhere on the Floor. In handling these orders, the specialist acts as broker or agent. In addition to the brokerage functions, however, he has historically had the additional function of acting as dealer or principal for his own account. Under current rules and regulations of the exchanges and the Securities and Exchange Commission, purchases and sales for his own account must be made, insofar as reasonably practicable, with a view to assuring a fair and orderly market in the stocks which he services. Moreover, whenever there are public buyers but no public sellers, or public sellers but no public buyers, he is expected, within reasonable limits, to buy or sell for his own account in order to decrease price differences between transactions and to add depth to the market. He performs both functions for a limited number of issues assigned to him by the stock exchange.


In 1935 the Twentieth Century Fund’s study of the securities market concluded that: Specialists, as well as other exchange members, should be permitted to function either as traders or as brokers, but not as both. . . .No specialist, or other broker, should be permitted to have any interest in any trading account, pool, syndicate, underwriting operation or option!

The Fund’s basis for this conclusion was its belief that “the services rendered by the specialist are not of sufficient value to warrant the continuation of a condition where a small group of persons is given a preferred position in the market.”

One year later the Securities and Exchange Commission in studying the same system reached the conclusion that insufficient data had been presented to justify the segregation of functions.’ In 1941 Professor Vernon, then a member of the Commission staff, suggested an alternative to considering the specialist in terms of his general beneficial or detrimental effect on the market as both the Twentieth Century Fund and Segregation Report had done. He stated that the feasibility of regulating the specialist should be viewed in terms giving recognition to the possibility that his job may vary in different types of stocks . . . .The dealer role of specialists may be necessary and justifiable for one set of stocks, providing sufficient grounds for overlooking his advantage over the public as a dealer in such issues, while his dealer position in another group of stocks runs contrary to the public interest In actively traded issues where a sufficient number of buyers and sellers exists to assure a continuous market with each sale price related to the prior sale, Vernon reasoned, little justification for the specialist function exists. He recognized the need for greater study to effectively develop such segmented rules regulating the specialist’s activity.

Little was written on the specialist system in the exhaustive manner of the Twentieth Century Fund, the Segregation Report, and Vernon’s book until 1963 when the Commission’s Special Study reported that “in its present form, [the specialist system] appears to be an essential mechanism for maintaining continuous auction markets and, in broad terms, appears to be serving its purposes satisfactorily.”‘ With the adoption of rule 1 lb-110 which recognized both the dealer and broker functions of the specialist, the issue seemed finally settled, at least from a legal standpoint, that the specialist system’s beneficial effects surpassed any defects.


Several important questions should be examined to acquire an understanding of the economic motivations -present in the specialist system and of the impact of the specialist on market prices. To what extent is the specialist’s monopolistic, or oligopolistic power to administer the price of his specialty stock limited by his obligation to maintain a fair and orderly market? Can a specialist be a speculator and still meet this obligation? What do the terms “fair market” and “orderly market” mean?

In any economic categorization of the specialist’s function, the specialist’s position as the price administrator of his specialty stock requires analysis. To the extent that he is a sole” price administrator, he may be considered a monopolist Professor Baumol comments that “the specialist must be treated not as a competitor, but, on the contrary (at least for a narrow ‘normal’ price range) as a price administering monopolist or oligopolist.”‘ In part his conclusion depends on the assertion that the specialist knows the demand and supply curves through his “book” and can “choose to end up at the spot which is most favorable to him from among all the points that constitute the market’s offer curve.”‘

Any economic analysis of the specialist’s role must also consider the obligations of the specialist both under the securities laws and the applicable rules of the stock exchanges. While economic theory is practically limited by the specialist’s legal obligation, that theory should be influential in interpreting or formulating particular rules within the legal framework. Since obligations may differ as the time period is lengthened, the specialist’s economic role can be classified into three time periods: short, intermediate, and long run. The unique nature of the specialist’s function suggests a fourth classification-sudden price fluctuations.

While the latter category generally occurs within the short run, it warrants special attention because it involves unique legal and economic considerations.

Short Run

The primary emphasis on the role of the specialist has always been on his short run” value to the market.6 He is obligated to reduce temporary disparities between supply and demand in order to facilitate a fair and orderly market. However, the meaning of “temporary disparities” is unclear, since the time duration of the specialist’s short run obligation may depend upon the particular facts of the situation. Arguably, in certain instances, his obligation may be for only a few hours or less if his economic capability as a dealer is threatened by a deluge of orders. Thus the specialist’s obligation to maintain a fair and orderly market is limited in the sense that no one expects him to go bankrupt performing his daily duties. His monopolist’s or oligopolist’s role is further limited since the direction in which he is obligated to administer the price of his specialty stock is against the market trend.

To evaluate the specialist’s performance the NYSE uses the “tick test” to determine if he is acting to maintain a fair and orderly market. By this test, specialist purchases below and sales above the last different price are deemed stablizing and therefore proper.”

The specialist has a certain amount of discretion in exercising his short run obligation. In some situations, he has no choice but to enter the market as dealer and consequently is obliged to be a price administrator.

Other situations, however, do not necessarily require his entry into the market nor do they foreclose his participation. For example, if the highest bid on the “book” is for 100 shares at 20 and the lowest public offer is at 20 3/8, the specialist might in certain cases have discretion to either place his own bid or withhold himself from the market. If the situation were changed so that the lowest offer was at 24, making the spread four points, the specialist would be obliged to enter the market as dealer. In this instance he would be required to administer the price of the stock. But depending on numerous considerations including the last sale price of the stock, competition from both regional stock exchanges and the third market, and volatility of the stock, he has a certain amount of discretion in determining how to enter the market-as a bidder, offeror, or both-and at what price. Hence, even when he is under an obligation to administer the price of the stock, the manner in which he exercises this obligation is somewhat discretionary so long as his action ultimately promotes a fair and orderly market.

It should be noted that while many monopolists and oligopolists are regulated as to the price they may charge, the specialist, because of the very nature of the “free market'” could not be so regulated.

In considering the specialist’s short run value to the market, a problem arises in determining when “temporary disparities between supply and demand” cease to be temporary. The answer arguably appears after the situation has occurred, making the short run obligation as nebulous as the actions of market prices themselves.

Sudden Price Changes

The possibility of sudden large shifts in market prices provides a major justification for the specialist’s existence.

The shift may result on an individual stock-by-stock basis due to a public announcement by management or from a sudden rise or decline in the general market. While suspension of trading in the specialist’s stock or in all stocks will release the specialist from his obligation, 9 a considerable economic dislocation will undoubtedly occur between the influx of orders and the eventual suspension of trading. In the interim the specialist is expected to add depth and liquidity to a market which would otherwise be devoid of these characteristics. In two previous sharp declines specialists have been net purchasers, but their participation probably depended not only upon their obligation but upon their economic outlook. Although specialists were net buyers immediately after President Eisenhower’s heart attack and during the sharp market decline of May 28, 1962, their stabilization effect on these two occasions differed greatly.

According to the Special Study, one reason for the lack of substantial purchases by the specialists on May 28 was their belief that this decline was non-temporary in nature!’ The stabilizing effect of the specialists on May 28 was widely publicized by the NYSE, implying that at least the Exchange felt that most specialists had met their obligations n The emphasis placed on net purchases by both the NYSE and the Special Study indicates that the characterization of the specialist as a stabilizing monopolist or oligopolist definitely includes the daily periods of sudden price movement. The extent to which the specialist must meet this obligation is difficult to determine; numerous factors including his capital status must be considered. The Special Study commented; “Obviously, no one person has the capital to stem a selling wave such as that of May 28, but with his central location, the specialist is in a position to cushion the public’s selling by giving depth to the markets.

The Intermediate and Long Run

The specialist’s obligation to stabilize the market is reduced as the long run is approached. Indeed, if such an obligation exists in the long run, the auction market would be a manipulated, rather than a free, market. The terms used to describe the specialist’s function-“fair and orderly market;” “temporary disparities between supply and demand;” “liquidity and continuity,—as well as the “tick test” and the limited capital requirement of the specialist place emphasis on the specialist’s economic role over the short run.

Regardless of the duration of the specialist’s obligation, economic .analysis of the specialist’s role must necessarily consider Congress’ two basic aims that the stock market be “fair” and “orderly.”‘

Professor Vernon commented:

  1. A “fair” market . . . bears the connotation of a market in ,which the individual investor need not fear for the integrity of his broker, the safety of his funds, or the possibility that price movements are being artificially controlled.
  2. An “orderly” market is regarded as one in which there are no “sudden and unreasonable fluctuations in the prices of securities” and consequently a market which makes no unnecessary adverse contribution to the stability and well-being of the public at large. The two major functions of regulation, therefore, are carefully distinguished; the goal of fairness, directed primarily at the protection of the individual, may be looked upon as something in the nature of a police function, while the “orderly market” aim, an aim intended to benefit the general public interest, is more suggestive of the use by Government of economic controls.

Clearly, [orderly market] was intended in some way to represent a market which was free from “excessive speculation,” a type of speculation which, we are told, results “in sudden and unreasonable fluctuations in the prices of securities.”

No agreement exists concerning the effect of speculation on stock prices. Under one theory, the speculator stabilizes prices by purchasing or selling as necessary to move prices toward an equilibrium position. A contrary theory assumes that the speculator will continue to follow trends past the equilibrium. Under the latter hypothesis the mere presence of traders in the market can accentuate, rather than dampen, fluctuations.2 Thus generalities are not possible.

Not all speculators follow, or in the case of specialists, should be permitted to follow, a destabilizing pattern. The “bad” speculator aggravates price trends by going with the trend; the “good” speculator goes against the trend, thereby adding stability to the market.  The “bad” speculator may have prompted Congress’ adoption of the “orderly market” standard. To the extent that the specialist is not permitted to buy or sell except to promote a fair and orderly market, he is prevented, at least on a trade-by-trade basis, from being a “bad” speculator. Thus, the scope of his obligation under the applicable rules of his exchange and the obligation imposed by the 1934 Act and Commission rules thereunder are of importance in limiting instability due to speculation?

Some economists, including Professor Stigler, believe that the specialist’s ability to “predict changes in equilibrium prices, or, in other words, how closely does he keep bid and ask prices to the levels which in retrospect were correct” should be a criterion for judging his efficiency. To the extent specialists are able to estimate the future course of events they would “smooth the path of the price quotations.  Hence, the specialist’s own profit motive as a speculator, rather than any imposed obligation, would enable him to perform his economic and legal roles. Stigler further criticized the suspension of trading in a stock in an emergency situation, believing that the mechanics of speculation would work as effectively here as in a normal market.

Some disagreed with Stigler’s approach. Considering the proposed standard of market efficiency-the success of the speculator in judging changes in equilibrium prices-commentators argued that Stigler implicitly assumes that speculators do not affect equilibrium price, so that the existence of speculative profits is necessarily a reflection of the success of speculators in anticipating movements in equilibrium price . . . .This is a basic assumption . . . without justification . . . .There are both theoretical and empirical grounds for believing that the demand schedule of investors in the stock market is greatly influenced by price movements, so that speculators can profit substantially by trading actively which is destabilizing. For example, if speculators make heavy net purchases of a security in a period when its equilibrium price has risen moderately as a result of favorable financial news, their activity may drive the price much higher than it would otherwise have gone 3

Replying to this criticism, Stigler stated that he did consider the effect of the speculator’s activity by assuming “that the speculator’s balances are equal at the beginning and at the end of a speculative interval.”” The rebuttal to Stigler’s reply concluded that Stigler’s economic model “assumes that the equilibrium price of investors is not affected by price movements or by the speculator’s effects on such liquidity of the auction market in which specialists play a pivotal role. In this connection, they are considering an increased role for block positioning firms with specialists. In that case, the specialist rules which evolved to fit the needs of individuals may have to undergo profound changes to satisfy the new situation and the increasing role
of block positioners. Even if the exchanges succeed in their efforts to bring and keep blocks on the floor of the exchange, the changes in structure due to the growth of blocks may result in the growth of a situation which many feel currently exists-that is, two de facto separate markets, a negotiated market for blocks and the traditional specialist auction market for individuals.movements,” notwithstanding Stigler’s contrary assertion. Reference was again made to the substantial evidence indicating that the speculator could indeed aggravate price movements and thereby be destabilizing.

Reprint of The Stock Exchange Specialist: An Economic and Legal Analysis, by Nicholas Wolfson and Thomas A. Russo

Click here to read full copy with footnotes and sources.

Click here to learn how the Specialist system works in today’s modern markets.


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Saint Francis of Assisi, founder of the mendicant Order of Friars Minor, as painted by El Greco.

Catholic religious order

Catholic religious orders are one of two types of religious institutes (‘Religious Institutes’, cf. canons 573–746), the major form of consecrated life in the Roman Catholic Church. They are organizations of laity [...] Read more →

Vitruvius Ten Books on Architecture


The Ten Books on Architecture




Indian Modes of Hunting – Musquash

Hudson Bay: Trappers, 1892. N’Talking Musquash.’ Fur Trappers Of The Hudson’S Bay Company Talking By A Fire. Engraving After A Drawing By Frederic Remington, 1892.

Indian Modes of Hunting.


In Canada and the United States, the killing of the little animal known under the several names of [...] Read more →

A Survey of Palestine – 1945-1946

This massive volume gives one a real visual sense of what it was like running a highly efficient colonial operation in the early 20rh Century. It will also go a long way to help anyone wishing to understand modern political intrigue in the Middle-East.

Click here to read A Survey of Palestine [...] Read more →

A History of Fowling – Ravens and Jays

From A History of Fowling, Being an Account of the Many Curios Devices by Which Wild Birds are, or Have Been, Captured in Different Parts of the World by Rev. H.A. MacPherson, M.A.

THE RAVEN (Corvus corax) is generally accredited with a large endowment of mother wit. Its warning [...] Read more →

Commercial Tuna Salad Recipe

Tom Oates, aka Nabokov at en.wikipedia

No two commercial tuna salads are prepared by exactly the same formula, but they do not show the wide variety characteristic of herring salad. The recipe given here is typical. It is offered, however, only as a guide. The same recipe with minor variations to suit [...] Read more →

What’s the Matter?

A rhetorical question? Genuine concern?

In this essay we are examining another form of matter otherwise known as national literary matters, the three most important of which being the Matter of Rome, Matter of France, and the Matter of England.

Our focus shall be on the Matter of England or [...] Read more →

Mudlark Regulations in the U.K.

Mudlarks of London

Mudlarking along the Thames River foreshore is controlled by the Port of London Authority.

According to the Port of London website, two type of permits are issued for those wishing to conduct metal detecting, digging, or searching activities.

Standard – allows digging to a depth of 7.5 [...] Read more →

A Couple of Classic Tennessee Squirrel Recipes


3-4 Young Squirrels, dressed and cleaned 1 tsp. Morton Salt or to taste 1 tsp. McCormick Black Pepper or to taste 1 Cup Martha White All Purpose Flour 1 Cup Hog Lard – Preferably fresh from hog killing, or barbecue table

Cut up three to [...] Read more →

Looking for a Gift for the Book Collector in the Family?

Buying a book for a serious collector with refined tastes can be a daunting task.

However, there is one company that publishes some of the finest reproduction books in the world, books that most collectors wouldn’t mind having in their collection no matter their general preference or specialty.

Christmas Pudding with Dickens

Traditional British Christmas Pudding Recipe by Pen Vogler from the Charles Dickens Museum


85 grams all purpose flour pinch of salt 170 grams Beef Suet 140 grams brown sugar tsp. mixed spice, allspice, cinnamon, cloves, &c 170 grams bread crumbs 170 grams raisins 170 grams currants 55 grams cut mixed peel Gram to [...] Read more →

Rendering Amber Clear for Use in Lens-Making for Magnifying Glass

by John Partridge,drawing,1825

From the work of Sir Charles Lock Eastlake entitled Materials for a history of oil painting, (London: Longman, Brown, Green, and Longmans, 1846), we learn the following:

The effect of oil at certain temperatures, in penetrating “the minute pores of the amber” (as Hoffman elsewhere writes), is still more [...] Read more →

The Racing Knockabout Gosling

The Racing Knockabout Gosling.

Gosling was the winning yacht of 1897 in one of the best racing classes now existing in this country, the Roston knockabout class. The origin of this class dates back about six years, when Carl, a small keel cutter, was built for C. H. [...] Read more →

Beef Jerky



Slice 5 pounds lean beef (flank steak or similar cut) into strips 1/8 to 1/4 inch thick, 1 to 2 inches wide, and 4 to 12 inches long. Cut with grain of meat; remove the fat. Lay out in a single layer on a smooth clean surface (use [...] Read more →

Cup of Tea? To be or not to be

Twinings London – photo by Elisa.rolle

Is the tea in your cup genuine?

The fact is, had one been living in the early 19th Century, one might occasionally encounter a counterfeit cup of tea. Food adulterations to include added poisonings and suspect substitutions were a common problem in Europe at [...] Read more →

Tuna and Tarpon

July, 16, l898 Forest and Stream Pg. 48

Tuna and Tarpon.

New York, July 1.—Editor Forest and Stream: If any angler still denies the justice of my claim, as made in my article in your issue of July 2, that “the tuna is the grandest game [...] Read more →

The Black Grouper or Jewfish.


Nov. 5. 1898 Forest and Stream Pg. 371-372

The Black Grouper or Jewfish.

New Smyrna, Fla., Oct. 21.—Editor Forest and Stream:

It is not generally known that the fish commonly called jewfish. warsaw and black grouper are frequently caught at the New Smyrna bridge [...] Read more →

The First Christian Man Cremated in America

Laurens’ portrait as painted during his time spent imprisoned in the Tower of London, where he was kept for over a year after being captured at sea while serving as the United States minister to the Netherlands during the Revolutionary War.

The first Christian white man to be cremated in America was [...] Read more →

Method of Restoration for Ancient Bronzes and other Alloys

Cannone nel castello di Haut-Koenigsbourg, photo by Gita Colmar

Without any preliminary cleaning the bronze object to be treated is hung as cathode into the 2 per cent. caustic soda solution and a low amperage direct current is applied. The object is suspended with soft copper wires and is completely immersed into [...] Read more →

The Billesden Coplow Run

*note – Billesdon and Billesden have both been used to name the hunt.


[From “Reminiscences of the late Thomas Assheton Smith, Esq”]

The run celebrated in the following verses took place on the 24th of February, 1800, when Mr. Meynell hunted Leicestershire, and has since been [...] Read more →

Stoke Park – Granted by King Charles I

Stoke Park Pavillions


Stoke Park Pavilions, UK, view from A405 Road. photo by Wikipedia user Cj1340


From Wikipedia:

Stoke Park – the original house

Stoke park was the first English country house to display a Palladian plan: a central house with balancing pavilions linked by colonnades or [...] Read more →

A Summer Memory


Here, where these low lush meadows lie, We wandered in the summer weather, When earth and air and arching sky, Blazed grandly, goldenly together.

And oft, in that same summertime, We sought and roamed these self-same meadows, When evening brought the curfew chime, And peopled field and fold with shadows.

I mind me [...] Read more →

Preserving Iron and Steel Surfaces with Paint

Painting the Brooklyn Bridge, Photo by Eugene de Salignac , 1914


Excerpt from: The Preservation of Iron and Steel Structures by F. Cosby-Jones, The Mechanical Engineer January 30, 1914


This is the method of protection against corrosion that has the most extensive use, owing to the fact that [...] Read more →

King James Bible – Knights Templar Edition

Full Cover, rear, spine, and front

Published by Piranesi Press in collaboration with Country House Essays, this beautiful paperback version of the King James Bible is now available for $79.95 at Barnes and

This is a limited Edition of 500 copies Worldwide. Click here to view other classic books [...] Read more →

Seeds for Rootstocks of Fruit and Nut Trees

Citrus Fruit Culture

THE PRINCIPAL fruit and nut trees grown commercially in the United States (except figs, tung, and filberts) are grown as varieties or clonal lines propagated on rootstocks.

Almost all the rootstocks are grown from seed. The resulting seedlings then are either budded or grafted with propagating wood [...] Read more →

CIA 1950s Unevaluated UFO Intelligence



INROMATION FROM FOREIGN DOCUMENT OR RADIO BROADCASTS COUNTRY: Non-Orbit SUBJECT: Military – Air – Scientific – Aeronautics HOW PUBLISHED: Newspapers WHERE PUBLISHED: As indicated DATE PUBLISHED: 12 Dec 1953 – 12 Jan 1954 LANGUAGE: Various SOURCE: As indicated REPORT NO. 00-W-30357 DATE OF INFORMATION: 1953-1954 DATE DIST. 27 [...] Read more →

Platform of the American Institute of Banking in 1919

Resolution adapted at the New Orleans Convention of the American Institute of Banking, October 9, 1919:

“Ours is an educational association organized for the benefit of the banking fraternity of the country and within our membership may be found on an equal basis both employees and employers; [...] Read more →

Carpenters’ Furniture

IT requires a far search to gather up examples of furniture really representative in this kind, and thus to gain a point of view for a prospect into the more ideal where furniture no longer is bought to look expensively useless in a boudoir, but serves everyday and commonplace need, such as [...] Read more →

Carpet Cleaner Formulae

The Ardabil Carpet – Made in the town of Ardabil in north-west Iran, the burial place of Shaykh Safi al-Din Ardabili, who died in 1334. The Shaykh was a Sufi leader, ancestor of Shah Ismail, founder of the Safavid dynasty (1501-1722). While the exact origins of the carpet are unclear, it’s believed to have [...] Read more →

Zulu Yawl

Dec. 10, 1898 Forest and Stream Pg. 477-479


The little ship shown in the accompanying plans needs no description, as she speaks for herself, a handsome and shipshape craft that a man may own for years without any fear that she will go to pieces [...] Read more →

The Hatha Yoga Pradipika


Translated into English by PANCHAM SINH

Panini Office, Allahabad [1914]


There exists at present a good deal of misconception with regard to the practices of the Haṭha Yoga. People easily believe in the stories told by those who themselves [...] Read more →

Cleaning Watch Chains

To Clean Watch Chains.

Gold or silver watch chains can be cleaned with a very excellent result, no matter whether they may be matt or polished, by laying them for a few seconds in pure aqua ammonia; they are then rinsed in alcohol, and finally. shaken in clean sawdust, free from sand. [...] Read more →

Slaughter in Bombay

From Allen’s Indian Mail, December 3rd, 1851


On the evening of November 15th, the little village of Mahim was the scene of a murder, perhaps the most determined which has ever stained the annals of Bombay. Three men were massacred in cold blood, in a house used [...] Read more →

Art Fraud

A la Russie, aux ânes et aux autres – by Chagall – 1911

Marc Chagall is one of the most forged artists on the planet. Mark Rothko fakes also abound. According to available news reports, the art market is littered with forgeries of their work. Some are even thought to be [...] Read more →

Copper Kills Covid-19 and the Sun is Your Friend

The element copper effectively kills viruses and bacteria.

Therefore it would reason and I will assert and not only assert but lay claim to the patents for copper mesh stints to be inserted in the arteries of patients presenting with severe cases of Covid-19 with a slow release dosage of [...] Read more →