What Naked Capitalism Has Meant To Me: Teaching Someone from the Old Wall Street About the New Wall Street

By Furzy Mouse, a long-standing Naked Capitalism reader who provides many links and Antidote du Jour images

Working on Wall Street was so much fun, so informative, I felt I’d landed on the catbird seat to watch the world unfold.

I started out small and hungry.

Being a single mom of a 3 year old in NYC, I needed a 9 to 5 Monday to Friday job, as those were the only feasible hours. For no really sane reason, except I’d been a 4-H-er and lived in rural Maryland, I thought I knew something about commodities. Corn, wheat, cows, – you know. Wall Street filled that bill. (I had a chance to work as a film editor, but no way could I work those hours).

I therefore decided to get my CFTC license by working for zero at a bucket shop on Broad St. Then I weaseled my way into a Wall Street job at 120 Broadway by going up to a PaineWebber office in 140 Broadway, and asking a lady Veep there where I could find the PW Commodities Department. She gave me her card, and sent me to 120 Broadway, where I introduced myself to the head of the department, Art Calcagnini, who, lucky me, was looking for an assistant.

My boss Artie ran a “sugar desk” brokering cargoes and barges of raw sugar between the producers (Hawaii, Australia, DomRep, Brazil, etc.) and the refineries (Savannah Sugar, Domino, Imperial Sugar in TX, etc.) We hedged and priced (“against actuals”) the trades in the sugar futures ring on the WTC trading floor. All deals were on the honor system; a broker was only as good as his or her word, and we confirmed our contracts via a Telex machine, way before the internet took over the world.

Then President Ronald Reagan reintroduced country-by-country import quotas in order to keep domestic sugar market prices up, which pretty much demolished our desk. So I hunkered down and took my Series 7 to get my stockbroker ticket and keep food on the table, eventually returning to my true talents in the futures market.

Now, imagine my surprise after retiring to Thailand, the other side of the world from Wall St., to witness the meltdown of the world markets in ’08-’09.

I couldn’t comprehend what had pulled the plug on our financial and real estate markets. Frantically scanning the many Lehman Brothers and related news to figure out what caused this, I lucked out and found Yves’ blog, Naked Capitalism.

Yves opened the door for me to the world of subprime mortgages, credit default swaps, and all the other overleveraged assets that Wall Street quants had been cooking up. More than that, over the many years of reading Yves’ exposés and copious links, NC has become my new catbird seat to watch the world go by.

It’s been my pleasure to send antidotes and suggest links to Yves, and here’s hoping we may all continue in this virtuous cycle. Yves’ mission to pull back the curtains on financial and political shenanigans is a vital service for all of us. She’s quite witty as well, and loves all the critters!

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  1. Rolf

    What a great piece, thank you Furzy Mouse (and for all the Antidotes!), and thanks to Yves for posting :-)

    Imperial Sugar now essentially a museum in Sugar Land. What is a bucket shop?

  2. farmboy

    Furzy Mouse in the CatBird seat, the joke makes itself! My journey to Naked Capitalism very similar, 08 and Lehman, first inspected the goldbugs, nope us dollar not going to zero, then wall street ‘splainers, nope nothing out of the ordinary, Yves in ECONNED says it all. Been on Michael Hudson before NC, so glad he’s sniffed out here too!

  3. Carla

    Who woulda thought a Humanities major and free lance writer from Cleveland would ever meet Yves Smith or Stephanie Kelton, or sit in a small seminar in NYC also attended by Michael Hudson?

    I recall reading on this site about Modern Monetary Theory, probably back in 2011 or so. After struggling through several posts, I had one burning question: what the heck is a JG? With fear and trembling, and well knowing that stupid inquiries were not tolerated in NC comments, I finally asked. Yves replied promptly and very kindly that JG stands for “job guarantee,” and apologized for the unexplained acronym. After that, I was no longer afraid to make a comment on NC.

    Many thanks to Furzy Mouse for all of her priceless contributions, and for sharing her story!

  4. bassmule

    What a great story! The closest I ever got to the world of finance was in 1981, taking a course called “Financial Rates & Flows” taught by the late Arnold Sametz. It was the only one that really clarified things for me. I dropped out of what used to be the NYU Graduate School of Business shortly thereafter, realizing I was insufficiently numerate. I still keep my notebook from that class. I remained hypnotized by the concept of “free markets” until I found NakedCapitalism. I cannot thank Yves and crew–and the Commentariat!–enough for opening my eyes.

  5. Susan the Other

    Thanks Furzy. You have given us lotsa good stuff. I wonder where all of us would have scattered if we had not found NC. But we did find it. Just considering the fact that we came together here gives me chills. There is so much truth here it is really foundational.

  6. Paul Art

    I don’t even remember how I came to know about NC. Amazing. The earliest memory is buying Econned. In fact I don’t even remember when I walked through these doors but I have been through an education. Still am. Don’t tell anyone but I got politics in America courtesy of Bill C. Was sitting next to my daughter’s hospital bed after her second heart procedure at 8 months old when old Bill produced his Family Medical Leave legislation. Got hooked and the journey started then. I am thankful to Yves and all who contribute here. Don’t know why the comments these days are not as plentiful as before. I guess moderation takes its toll. I cannot recall the number of absolute gems of books I have come to know about and read from these pages. Carry on the good work!

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