Quick quiz. The Amex is overshadowed by the NYSE because:
    It has a lower volume of trading.

    It has lower-status company listings.

    It was forced to merge with the Nasdaq to survive.

    Too much yin.
It's obvious. The inauspicious location and a lack of free-flowingenergy would add up to "D," says Brooklyn-based feng shui consultantStephanie Roberts.

Chi-bang: Dark,reflective doors bounce positive chi back.
Photo credit: EllenLeventry
Translated as "wind and water," feng shui (pronounced fung-shway) is abroad body of traditional Chinese knowledge primarily concerned with theflow and quality of the energy, or chi, occupying a space. (For thoseunfamiliar with the power of chi, see Jean-Claude Van Damme's 1987"Bloodsport".)

Like the bull and the bear of the market, chi is composed of opposingforces -- yang and yin. Yang energy is light, high, bright and active,while yin energy is dark, low and inactive. An excess of yin translatesinto not enough energy for life -- which means not enough energy forbusiness, says Roberts, who does residential and corporate consulting. Fengshui practitioners attempt to balance the opposing forces through theauspicious placement of buildings, doors, furniture and other objects inorder to create harmony, prosperity and well-being.

Once solely a New Age preoccupation, feng shui has lured such soulful'90s converts as Donald Trump and Oprah Winfrey. The Donald consulted afeng shui specialist before building his hulking Trump International Hotelin New York -- hence the blinding silver globe out front at ColumbusCircle. And Oprah is purported to have worked out her chi issues with aconsultant. Even Wall Street has taken stock of its chi flow.

Salomon Smith Barney is reported to have employed the servicesof feng shui specialists, and Credit Lyonnaise Securities Asia putsout a yearly feng shui index for the Chinese New Year.

Cemeteries andcommerce, like oil and water.
Photo credit: EllenLeventry

Unfortunately for the American Stock Exchange, it's got huge feng shuiissues, says Roberts. For starters, it's downhill from the TrinityChurch cemetery. A graveyard is as yin as they come -- it doesn't getany more inactive, folks. Then there's the exchange's downsized entrywaythat limits the amount of chi entering. The doors made of dark glassactually deflect what little free-flowing chi there is, and its flat facadefails to grab the attention and energy of passers-by. Put simply, the Amexis long on yin, short on yang.

This isn't keeping anyone up nights, it seems. When asked if he had anopinion on the excess yin, Amex spokesperson Steve Pechdimaldji managed tohold back his laughter just long enough to say, "Absolutely none."

After taking a look at that other exchange, however, he might changehis mind.

The Big Board could easily be dubbed the New Yang Stock Exchange.Surrounded by money -- literally, most of the buildings around it are banks-- the architecture of the NYSE exudes prosperity. One of the mostdistinctive features, the soaring columns in front, are a particularly goodsign, says Roberts. They represent wood energy, the principle of beginningsand new life. "Think of growth -- that's what you want from the stockmarket." (Even in feng shui, the value investors can't win.)

The hulking Bankof New York building provides a sturdy backrest for the NYSE.
Photo credit: EllenLeventry