Thursday, January 20

Frogger Meets Forex, or, Revenge of the Nerds

The declining importance of brawn in futures trading from the Economist explains why jocks are out and video gamers are in on trading floors:

FOR Scott Okamura, electronic trading seems a godsend. A slight 41-year-old, Mr Okamura says that he never did well in his 18 years as a floor trader at the Chicago Mercantile Exchange (CME). In the trading pits, towering ex-athletes with booming voices had an edge. Now the playing field looks a lot more level. As the futures industry shifts from open-outcry towards screen trading, big, burly men with sharp elbows are out. Twenty-somethings with cool heads and quick fingers (often trained on video games) are in. So are some flexible veterans like Mr Okamura. Rather than trade sitting alone in an office or at home in their pyjamas, a growing number are choosing to work in electronic trading ?arcades? or ?prop shops? (trading firms that pay them a salary and a slice of profits) offering computers, real-time news streams and the company of other traders, even if they are competitors.

Those Econo boys and girls can write, can't they? Wait a minute, though: Wasn't letting strangers walk in off the street and enter trades on your computers what led to the market-timing and late-trading scandals in the mutual fund industry? Shades of Boiler Room.

Speaking of which, they're filming in our building again (above). The management rents out an entire floor for that purpose. Grips hustle carts stacked with fresnels through the lobby, the greasy security guards try to make time with the influx of outside hotties.

I hired someone yesterday--my first full-time hire, if you want to know the truth. If you want to know the truth, I was just as nervous as the candidate! But you know what? I feel sure I made the right choice. All those years of teaching lit and writing to frosh-sophs actually help: I think I'm pretty good at evaluating people without making 'em squirm so much they can't focus on the issue at hand. Functional hierarchy. My secret? I'm a crypto-Freirian.

And a tip to job applicants: Say plainly that you want the job, and be able to say why. Positive reasons outweigh negative ones ("Those bastards I'm working for now are starving me and crushing my spirit.")

Yes, it's five in the freaking morning. I do my news junkie routine at this hour a lot these days. So little time, so much to know.


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