Moneybox

Stock Traders Touch Their Faces

Stocks may be down, but their hands keep going up.

A trader on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange touches his face
Spencer Platt/Getty Images

Do not touch your face.

Some variation of this directive exists in nearly every one of the countless coronavirus prevention articles that have surely made their way across your screen. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention even has it listed second on its official coronavirus prevention page, right after not rubbing yourself on the already infected. It’s a simple message: If you do not want the disease, do not touch your face. Short. Logical. Easy to remember.

Monday, amid the global fears and uncertainty surrounding the coronavirus outbreak, the S&P 500 had its worst day since the 2008 financial crisis. When the numbers go bad, the news requires pictures of the people whose job is to look at the numbers—traditionally, pictures in which those people appear to be expressing their alarm or concern by clutching their faces. What would prevail in the contest between the financial photojournalism protocol and the infectious disease protocol? Behold, but do not put your own palm on your face in dismay.

A trader hunches over a keyboard with his hand over his mouth
A trader at the New York Stock Exchange touches his face. Timothy A. Clary/Getty Images
A woman rubs her eyes as she walks
A woman with the New York Stock Exchange touches her face. Timothy A. Clary/Getty Images
A man in a blue coat clutches his chin
Meric Greenbaum, a designated market maker for IMC, touches his face. Spencer Platt/Getty Images
A man in a blue coat sits at a computer with his head in his hand.
A trader touches his face. Timothy A. Clary/Getty Images
A man looks up at a screen and adjusts his glasses while touching his face
A trader touches his glasses, and his face. Spencer Platt/Getty Images
A bearded man puts his hand over his mouth
A trader touches his bearded face. Spencer Platt/Getty Images
A man deep in conversation puts his hand on his forehead
A trader touches his face. Spencer Platt/Getty Images
A man staring at a computer rubs his chin
A trader touches his face. Spencer Platt/Getty Images
A man sits in front of a wall of computers with his hand over his mouth
A German trader touches his face. Torsten Silz/Getty Images
A man sits in front of a computer with his chin resting in his hand
A South Korean currency dealer monitors exchange rates and touches his face. Jung Yeon-Je/Getty Images
A woman sits at a row of computers and puts her hand on her chin.
A South Korean currency dealer monitors exchange rates and touches her face. Jung Yeon-Je/Getty Images

They touched their faces.