Of Bears and Stuff…

This is the first chunk of a short story that tells a true tale. It was told to me by a very senior executive and it apparently happened when he was a junior on the next desk to the one involved…

London, 1992.

The desk had just lost a fortune. Again.

Jason Abraham was a lot more than annoyed. He was fucking furious. The twelve bond traders under his responsibility were bleeding money left, right and centre. Down twelve million in a four days, twenty-eight in September. He swore and grabbed the print-out from risk control, staring at the weekly report and trying to make sense of it.

Just about everyone on his European Government trading unit was struggling, but Carson’s book was wreaking the worst damage. The man needed to be reined in, his positions cut, the haemorrhage slowed down. It pained him – Willie Carson was a good trader, experienced, calm under fire. He had made the bank a lot of money over the years, often clearing his budgets. But in Investment Banking you’re only as good as your last twelve months, and Carson’s had been shit.

Abraham sighed, then he stood while looking for his jacket. He glanced out of his glass-bowl office and checked the dealing floor. The place was empty, as it should have been late Monday night. Computers hummed away. The screens shone darkly but nobody ever switched the machines off. It would take long minutes to turn them on again, and sometimes minutes were the thin red line between making a fortune or losing one.

A phone rang on endlessly somewhere in a far corner, over a hundred yards away. Probably a stuck dealerboard, looking for a partner.

It gave him the creeps.

The floor felt like a corpse ready to come back to life, and soon. Abraham slammed the door and locked his office: the click rebounded loudly in a cavernous space where you’d normally need to shout to be heard by the guy sitting next to you.

Something shifted near a crowd of tall filing cabinets, a shadow coalescing out of nowhere. He almost jumped out of his skin, then grimaced as he recognised Carson coming out of the toilet. Son-of-a-bitch. His nerves were going to hell, obviously. But at this point there was one more task to finish: letting the trader know. He’d prefer having these type of conversations in his office, but there was no-one about anyway. He approached the row of trading desks and grabbed a chair.

Carson had seen him and slowed down – probably trying to delay the inevitable, Abraham guessed. The trader was not an idiot and must have expected a moment like this, sooner or later. Still, nobody liked being ordered to close positions down. Most dealers actually hated it. Deeply. It proved they had been wrong, and there was no way back. It felt like the little death of a money dream.

Abraham shrugged. There’s always another trade. He didn’t really care, as long as people stayed productive afterwards. He carried a big mortgage and an expensive wife, and had been promoted to head-of-desk only nine months earlier. Higher entities were watching him, trying to gauge if he was good enough for the job. He didn’t really know himself, but this was one of those times he would be expected to prove he had the balls to run a bunch of testosterone-fuelled, egomaniac traders.

“Jason, you still here as well?”

continues….

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