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!