Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Old CBOT trading floor hand signals

The following except I clipped from a 1947 magazine on the CBOT which listed some handsignals.

Above is four signals which show different trading/brokerage firms to indicate their activity. Notice how simple they are just as 'modern' day signals were as well.

The four months listed, only July is the same. Sept and Dec got much more efficient and easier to signal as the market needed arb speed 20-25 years later.

I have to admit that signals were far more advanced at an earlier period than I imagined before stumbling upon this article.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Traders vs. Intruders part 2

That was clipped from The Southeast Missourian August 18, 2001

According to a friend who was there at the time, everyone ran off the trading floor and a couple traders went to the parking garage to get THEIR guns from the car and tried to find him in the building. Supposedly the guy was mad about gas prices or something that didn't even have to do with wheat trading.

Great Moments in Trading Pit History: Traders vs. Greenpeace

Photo from BBC

An oldie from 2005 when Greenpeace protesters visited the floor of the International Petroleum Exchange and got their ass beat.

Kyoto protest beaten back by inflamed petrol traders Times Online story

Global oil trading stopped Greenpeace's version

Sunday, May 16, 2010

The New Gatsbys

For those who want to read trading pit stories, I can make no better recommendation than to read The New Gatsbys: Fortunes and Misfortunes of Commodity Traders by Bob Tamarkin which was published in the early 1980s and can be found on the internet for under $5. It's a perfect mix of historical and contemporary (atleast when it was published) stories from commodities trading and truly shows the fortunes or misfortunes that participants have faced.

Another Old Hutch article

Thanks to Chris Willinghurst for the contribution of linking the following article:

Sketch of Old Hutch The Chicago Speculator Who Cornered Wheat from the Pittsburgh Press, October 4, 1888.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Trading floor union

I should've posted this on May Day.....but there was a workers union for those who worked on the trading floor in Brazil at the BM&F in Sao Paulo which is now closed and a fully electronic market as of June 2009. The Sindicato dos Trabalhadores no Mercado de Capitais do Estado de São Paulo translates from Portuguese into English as "Union of the Workers in the Stock market of the State of São Paulo" and they even have a website which I linked on the union name above.

I got to visit the BM&F a few times and the most distinctive thing I remember was that there were ZERO women who worked on the trading floor. Brazilian women would be far too much of a distraction to get any work done so I can understand why there were none on the floor.

The following Bloomberg story does a good job describing the closure of the BM&F pits and is linked:
Brazilian Futures Pit Empties as Open Outcry Ends in ‘Sadness’

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Floored the movie review

I finally was able to see Floored over the weekend and if I had to sum up the movie in one word it'd be "honest" and in many respects brutally honest regarding how some people were depicted. A lot of the characters and subjects didn't hold back their thoughts and feelings even though I felt it doesn't represent the majority of traders or ex-traders. The characters were certainly 'characters' and another reason why reality is much better than fiction because you couldn't invent some of them if they didn't already exist. It's definitely worth seeing the movie during the rest of the week in Chicago if possible and worth purchasing a DVD in June once it's available.

A few random thoughts on it:

- It was apparent that a lot of work and thought went into the movie and the finished product was worth the wait.
- The floor traders depicted were mostly outright traders who I believe in general are a dying breed, truly the end of a era as most traders now do correlations and spreads.
- It was unsaid that the difficulty w/moving to the screen is that it's incredibly competitive to get trades and as Charlie D. said, that's 75% of the battle. Often on the screen I'm reminded of a line in a movie I heard, "It's like prison sex, the kind you get you don't want and the kind you want you don't get." That is what it's like trying to get good trades on the screen and different from the floor.
- The movie did seem to have an perspective of depicting the downside of the move to the screen and didn't do good enough to show the benefits which have come from electronic trading. The pit was great back in the day but the market is much, much better to be on the screen in order to serve the function of price discovery.
- I've heard that the pit reporter Ron who is shown late in the movie died shortly after being laid off. I traded up by him when I first came into the pit and he was a nice guy, really sad situation how it all ended.
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