Saturday, July 31, 2010

Harry's Singapore

Everytime I'm in Singapore and visit Harry's at Boat Quay, I can't help but think when I glance down the bar that I might see the above.

BBC article:
Leeson's legacy lives on in Singapore's Harry's Bar, Leeson's old watering hole.

Sydney Futures Exchange floor

While visiting Australia last week I passed by where the Sydney Futures Exchange floor once was in downtown Sydney. The SFE, founded as the Sydney Greasy Wool Futures Exchange in 1960, went fully electronic in 1999. I don't know what's become of the former floor itself but as the building has an anchor tenant in the electronic trading powerhouse Optiver, it wouldn't surprise me if they took over the former floor facilities.

Some photos of the floor when it functioned are shared on an SFE Trading Floor Reunion Facebook page.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

First electronic quotation board at CBOT and a little bit of trivia...

Why is the second year call the "red" months? Because they used to be noted in red chalk on the wall boards rather than white chalk for the front year's contracts. So I've been told atleast...

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

The Speculator As Hero

It will be a very rare occasion when I stray from specifically documenting "trading pit history" but I think he following article is quite relevant to the job function of what traders do. Victor Niederhoffer, a great person and an brilliant mind, wrote the following article for a WSJ op-ed in 1989 and is linked below:

The Speculator As Hero

Friday, July 23, 2010

Amercian Stock Exchange Hand Signals

Image from

Coming from a futures background, I've never sought after the hand signals used on the CBOE and AMEX but upon suggestions, I agree they're a worthy addition. It'll be a while before I can incorporate them into the gallery at but in the meanwhile here is a link to a article and some video clips (in Real player format which is required to view them):

Easy Money: A Look at the Hand Signals Used at the Amex

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Fed Head

I had a chat with a longtime CBOT member and he showed me this cap which was a memento from when Alan Greenspan visited the floor and they were handed out (in the days of Deadheads). Greenspan had his own custom cap which was given to him by the exchange, it read not Fed Head like the others but Head Fed.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

SIMEX mock trading at CME

As the Singapore Mercantile Exchange is launching today with testing it's systems through mock trading, I thought it was appropriate to upload these photos of SIMEX traders mock trading and learning how to function in the pit with a trip to Chicago and the CME back in 1984. The CME gave SIMEX, now called SGX, a guiding hand in it's founding and much of SIMEX was based upon how the CME functioned. All photos are from the SunTimes archive which I purchased and own as displayed below, click on the photos or notes on reverse to enlarge.

25 Million Pounds documentary on Barings collapse

In 1996, documentary filmmaker Adam Curtis created the film 25 Million Pounds which someone was kind enough to recently post on Youtube in six, ten minute clips. The film was created shortly after the Barings collapse and has a lot of interview time w/Leeson and those who knew him. Definetly worth a watch and shows some vintage LIFFE and SIMEX footage.

Part 2

Part 3

Part 4

Part 5

Part 6

Barings Bank Books

I've complied a list of books directly focuses on the Barings Bank collapse through the actions taken on the SIMEX floor:

Rogue Trader - Nick Leeson

Going for Broke - Judith Rawnsley

All That Glitters - John Gapper & Nicholas Denton

The Collapse of Barings - Stephen Fay

Barings Lost - Luke Hunt & Karen Heinrich

I haven't read through every book but the most comprehensive is All That Glitters and was cowritten by Nick Denton who is now of Gawker Media fame. Rogue Trader, written by Leeson himself, leaves out some pretty important details such as his forgery charges, etc... which is why it's important to extend reading beyond Leeson's autobiography. Also should be noted that some books were published under different titles in the UK and the US.

*I didn't include the book Barings Bankruptcy and Financial Derivatives by Peter Zhang because it strayed beyond the sole focus on Barings.
**For the record the Ben Mezrich book Ugly American's also makes mention of an encounter with Leeson but I think it's slightly fictionalized like all of Mezrich's book and I regard him as a horrible writer anyways.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

New Handsignals

Apologies for not updating as I've been quite swamped but I do have some signals which will be added thanks to YOUR submissions. All CME currencies (French Franc, Brazilian Real, Mexican Peso, South African Rand, Euro, Aussie Dollar, German Mark, Japanese Yen, Canadian Dollar), 2 additional versions of Goldman, slight variation for Deutsche Bank, Refco variation, Saul Stone, Plaza, Kidder Peabody, Dean Witter, Conti two versions, new version Merrill Lynch, Goldberg, Earl Coombs & Co., Rosenthal & Co., Shatkin, Bache, new version of Goldman on LIFFE, Swiss Bank on LIFFE, Fimat on LIFFE, SocGen on MATIF, Credit Lyonnais on MATIF, Schwab on CBOE, Shatkin on CBOE, Goldman on CBOE, 3/4 on CBOE, full AMEX signals.

In addition besides getting some wonderful emails that lead to the above signals, there are a couple resources in NY and London who are helping to submit signals and I've done a bad job following up due to trading, travel, life, etc...but I will hope they can significantly add to the knowledge and history.

If all goes well the signals will get photos taken next Thursday and should be up shortly afterwards. Please if you have any handsignal suggestions, please email them to Thanks!

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Official LIFFE hand signals guide from 1992

A big thanks to former LIFFE trader Spencer Campbell, who is now starting up the Singapore Mercantile Exchange, for finding this official LIFFE handsignals booklet which dates from 1992. Click on "Fullscreen" in the document border to enlarge it to your fullscreen size so you can read it.


Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Intermarket magazine

First issue shown above

A couple weeks ago I actively sought to find some issues to Intermarket magazine, which was published in Chicago from 1984 until 1989, and tracked down one of the few existing sets at Santa Clara University. From what I saw, there are literally only a few complete sets and even the Library of Congress doesn't carry one.

For five hours straight I sat with the stack and time just flew by while reading through years of trading history in real time. Initially the magazine was very focused on the Chicago trading floors but by the late 80s it became institutionally focused. One thing I found interesting is that there were a number of authors/editors involved with Intermarket who made great contributions to the history of trading such as Kevin Koy, Bill Falloon, and Bob Tamarkin.

Besides the excellent articles on trading, one of the most enlightening discoveries was to read about electronic trading while it was still being developed, in particular the fears and dreams of the electronic systems which had yet to be built such as the CME's GLOBEX and the CBOT's Aurora.

Below are some photos of the magazine covers which I found interesting and although I did photocopy a large amount of articles, those I won't be able to post on the web. Please note that all of the photos are rather small but if you click on them they will enlarge to be easily read:


Just a quick belated update on some progress...most stuff was backend related stuff on tradingpithistory which needed to be fixed up but more specifically:

-The SIMEX photos are up and all the handsignals were sourced from a participant who was on the SIMEX floor since the early 90s. In addition, of the 70 photos which were added, some CME/CBOT signals were uploaded as well.

-The handsignal print shopping cart is up so the print is offically up for sale at $100 each. The London, Singapore and NY prints are very close to going to the printer but not quite yet.

-Handsignal gallery count is up to 250 different signals and growing so if you have any to share, send word. Already I have more for the next photo shoot but don't know when that will be scheduled.

-Minor technical stuff will continue to be adjusted soon as I'm motivated to do it but that could be a while.
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