Of Bears and Stuff… (Part 2)

… continued.

Carson’s voice sounded a little shaky and Abraham studied him. The trader was tall and reedy, his shirt ill-fitting. It flapped off his narrow shoulders, and his tie had disappeared. But it was Carson’s skin that struck him, even paler than the typical arc light reverse-tan of office workers everywhere in the City. “We need to talk,” Abraham grunted.

“About what?”

“Your P&L. It’s a disaster, you’re getting murdered.”

“I know. But I think the Bundesbank is about to reverse policy, and…”

“That’s what you said last Monday. And the one before.” Monday was strategy-day, because the risk reports took all weekend to get compiled and give Abraham a clear idea of what positions his traders held, and with what results. This is why I should get them every day, at least. Once a week was ridiculous but, with computers growing exponentially faster, maybe soon…

“Yes, but…”

“I don’t want to know, Willie.” The management books Abraham had been reading cut it clear. Carson was older than him, and probably had a better track-record, but it didn’t matter. He was supposed to impose his authority, right there and then. “I want you to halve your Gilt positions.”

“Halve it?” Carson looked aghast.

“You heard me. I don’t care how you do it, but I want them gone by Friday.”

“Fucking hell, this is…” Carson grabbed a piece of paper on his desk, crumpled it. His face was turning red, and he shook.

“Just do it.” Abraham stood, deciding it was time to make a graceful exit before anything unpleasant happened. To him, possibly.

A week later.

Abraham swore at his brand new report, scanning the numbers. Another down week. Another five million lost. He turned the pages, studying the individual breakdown. What? That idiot Carson had lost most of the money by himself, and his risk positions hadn’t budged, at all.

He’s fucking ignored me. Abraham stood, hands shaking with anger, and stalked out of his office, onto the floor. A couple of traders noticed him as he approached. He ignored them, heading for Carson. The thin man didn’t turn, kept staring blankly at his screens.

“Willie. What the fuck is wrong with you?”

Carson swivelled his chair, surprise apparent on his face. “What?”

“You lost a fortune and didn’t cut any risk, at all. Why?”

“But… I did. I sold half the Gilts, to Jonny.”

Abraham hesitated. Carson sounded sincere. Maybe there was a mistake in the report. “Jonny who? Which bank?”

“Jonny, on our desk.”

“What?” Abraham looked around, confused. “There’s no Jonny on the desk.”

“Of course there is,” Carson leaned over and opened a drawer. An old teddy-bear sprawled on a pile of papers. He lifted it out, holding it with care. “This is Jonny, he’s been trading the market for years. Don’t tell me I’ve never introduced you.”

Final thoughts.

Nobody really knows what’s happened since to Carson (not his real name), he seems to have fallen off the City’s radar. And nobody ever figured out if his teddy-bear thing was real, or just made up by a guy trying to hang onto his seat. Not that it would ever work, obviously. No bank would ever leave someone like that anywhere near a money-switch. He was packaged off of to a mental health clinic for a while, eventually came back to the bank and disappeared soon after. With his teddy.

Abraham (also not his real name, of course) became a successful hedge-fund manager, riding the first wave of the dot-com boom, then recycling himself in credit, and is probably worth more millions than you or I could ever spend. But he never really figured it out, either. Though for years he swore it was absolutely true – he had looked into Carson’s eyes and was certain the guy was not play-acting.

Carson wouldn’t be the first to lose it, in fairness. Or the last.

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