My dad passed away last week. He had been a Specialist on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange for forty years, where he also loved to make football bets with his colleagues. Sometimes some of these football bets would involve odd point spreads shifted away from those being displayed on the Las Vegas line, with one party then laying the other party odds about a given betting proposition.
I wish this story had some colourful characters to make it more interesting. In fact, any characters at all would be a help. The truth of the matter is that I don’t know the specifics of the tale.
In January 2014 I had a large position (both as a percentage of AUM and the company) in a nanocap biotech company. Although it was sort of a liquid stock for just a $50 million or so market cap, I still owned probably 200% of its average daily trading volume.
The year was 1992. The locale: a prominent office building on Broad Street, New York City. The precious metals trading desk. Jimmy loved chances to front-run customer business.
In the 1990s I was a geeky kid sitting on, what was then, by far the best equity desk in Canada. It was an incredible seat to be educated in the finer details of trading.
So it was the late 1990s in London. Money brokering was in its heyday. With so many cross currencies to trade the banks of trading desks was absolutely necessary and thus the characters legendary….
I was 26 years old when the transition of tuna fish on a Ritz cracker on my couch was replaced with Yellow Fin Tuna Tartare at Gotham Bar & Grill on the reg.
Tony McFarland had a drinking problem, but he called it his “drinking solution”. “Every computer has a fan in the back to dissipate heat, so how’s that different from my bending an elbow at the end of a day?”, he laughed when his friends poked fun at him.
A long time ago when the NYMEX was still called the Merc and they traded potatoes on Harrison Street, a guy named Neil was a local. He wore polyester brown suits, old shoes and he looked like a pear.
The Long Term Capital Crisis “LTC” was at a boil. You know what else was at a boil … Phish summer tour. The only show I caught that summer was the tour ending Limestone Maine “lemon wheel festival.”
It was the early spring of 1994 and I was a 23-year-old junior metals trader working for J Aron & Co, the commodities arm of “The Vampire Squid.” That was Goldman Sachs FICC division at Peterborough court in London.
Of the ten stocks in which Ben Orthwein made markets, his most lucrative was Silicon Technologies. Manufacturing the memory for nearly every PC maker, it figured as the first derivative of the boom in personal computing.
This story took place while I was at a small research boutique on Wall Street. Delta Airlines had been on an incredible run and just reported earnings. Our airline analyst was a leading bull in the sector.
In 1987 George Soros was hardly a household name. He had yet to break the Bank of England, and although highly regarded within the small group of Wall Street traders who covered hedge funds, these types of clients were still relatively unknown.
I started work on Canada’s biggest dealer’s institutional equity desk in the early 1990s. I was hired to help another trader whose large index client was increasingly taking more of his time.