Million a Minute: Inside the Securities Trading - The Men, The Women, The Money That Make the Markets Work

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"An impressive, accessible, up-to-date, and sometimes exhilarating study of the free-market warriors who make up the international trading community."
? Financial Times

A Million A Million is the inside story of the mysterious and wildly influential world of trading. In our interconnected global markets, traders have become the frontline, free-market warriors closest to the money, closest to the action. Their reactions to world events can topple governments and cause currencies ...

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Overview

"An impressive, accessible, up-to-date, and sometimes exhilarating study of the free-market warriors who make up the international trading community."
Financial Times

A Million A Million is the inside story of the mysterious and wildly influential world of trading. In our interconnected global markets, traders have become the frontline, free-market warriors closest to the money, closest to the action. Their reactions to world events can topple governments and cause currencies to rise or plummet. They affect the prices we pay for the food we eat, the gasoline we use, the gold in our jewelry, the steel in our cars, even our homes and our mortgages.

Hillary Davis, a former portfolio manager, shows us who these people are, what motivates them, and how they came to be so powerful. And of course she provides compelling insights into the work they do and how they do it.

Based in part on firsthand interviews with superstars in New York and London, A Million A Million gives readers a special opportunity to learn from the candid observations of Leo Melamed, Michael Bloomberg, Muriel Siebert, Bob Mnuchin, David Shaw, Stanley Shopkorn, Eric Sheinbergm Bill Johnston, Gary Lapayover, and many others.

A Million A Million also offers readers a context for understanding today's markets, with a fascinating account of the rise of trading, the evolution of the markets, and the challenges of today's complex, lightning-fast trading environment, as well as a provocative vision of a virtual-reality trading future.

Throughout this revelatory book, you will meet the criminals and the geniuses, the celebrity traders and the newbies, the women traders who "crashed the party," the visionaries, and the larger-than-life personalities. In all, you'll find an exciting portrait of a unique culture that profoundly affects our world.

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Editorial Reviews

Financial Times
An impressive, accessible, up-to-date, and sometimes exhilarating study of the free-market warriors who make up the international trading community. . . Davis is especially good on the ways computers have revolutionized trading. Although the evolution of markets in recent decades is scrupulously well dealt with, it is when she peers into the future that A Million a Minute becomes most engrossing. . . . This is an excellent book.
Good Book Guide
A fly-on-the-wall insight into the world of the financial markets. In a candid style, Davis describes the rise and role of traders, and the challenges that they face, and brings the reader to the forefront of the electronic future.
Booknews
London home-based financial trader Davis presents a tripartite perspective on those free-marketers closest to the action and the money: the big picture; a close-up on the good, the bad, and the ugly; and a look ahead to the future of electronic trading. Includes a sometimes irreverent guide to traders' terminology. Annotation c. by Book News, Inc., Portland, Or.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780887309410
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 10/21/1998
  • Pages: 304
  • Product dimensions: 6.12 (w) x 9.25 (h) x 1.01 (d)

Meet the Author

Hillary Davis now trades for her own account from her home in London. While working in London at Baring Brothers, Davis managed U.S. equity portfolios as well as actively traded stocks for clients. She has a degree in international economics from Columbia University and a master of philosophy from Cambridge University. Davis's extensive access to key traders in New York and London made this book possible.

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Read an Excerpt

Millions A Minute

IT WAS A BIG ADRENALINE RUSH. A HUGE ADRENALINE
RUSH. AND SOMETIMES AT THE END OF THE DAY YOU
WOULD PHYSICALLY CRASH, BECAUSE YOU WERE
PRETTY MUCH HIGH ALL DAY LONG. IT WAS AMAZING.
TIME COULD EITHER STAND STILL OR SPEED ALONG. I
MEAN, YOU'D FIND OUT HOW LONG A MINUTE CAN
TAKE, OR HOW QUICKLY FOUR HOURS COULD GO BY.
GARY LAPAYOVER

Millions of dollars' worth of trades are done every minute around the world. The sheer speed and volume are due to rapid advances in computers and communications, as well as to the massive amounts of money moved into and out of global markets on a daily basis. These trades are done so fast, and there are so many of them, that even long-standing market participants find it amazing and at times unnerving. Because if that's the way decimals of incremental profit are going to be found, those who don't embrace it will be left behind--and no one wants to be left behind.

"Financial engineers" with degrees in quantum physics and mathematics are using their computers to design and trade ever more complex instruments. Electronic exchanges are emerging, where trading is done directly, computer to computer. Information technology has brought the financial world together so that what happens in Indonesia can affect the value of a stock in New York within seconds.

The amounts being traded are beyond the imagination. Over $300 trillion--or $300,000,000,000,000--is traded on average in a year in the world currency markets, over $15.6 trillion in stocks on the world's stock exchanges, over $27 trillion in bonds. On the Chicago Mercantile Exchange (CME) alone, nearly three thousandmembers, traders, and brokers trade futures contracts valued at over $717 billion a day, almost $182 trillion a year. To put that into perspective, it took the United States more than two hundred years to amass a government debt amounting to $1 trillion. These incomprehensible transaction volumes drive products, governments, investments, and many other areas that touch virtually every human being every day.

The development of computers and the speed and data-processing capability they provide have been pivotal in the evolution of trading, allowing more and faster transactions. Traders have become the lightning rod for the huge amounts of money entering the markets. Understanding where they channel it, the reasoning behind their decisions, and how they conduct their transactions is essential in gaining a perspective on the financial markets and world economy.

Tucked away in the canyons of every financial center of the world is a Silicon Valley, where people--or the computers themselves--are quietly trading faster and more efficiently using Sun Microsystem workstations and neural networks. Then there's the vast majority of trading in the markets where the phone is still the most important trading tool, and traders use computers to receive and manipulate instant data and information. Those doing manual trading write out slips of paper and participate in face-to-face auctions, while computers located under the floor relay to the rest of the market the prices the traders arrive at. By the time they drop their hand from agreeing to a trade, the price has been transmitted to computer screens and news services all around the world.

This linkage between computers and capital has democratized the financial markets. It has smashed time barriers, geographical boundaries, and class and gender barriers; and allowed the floodgates of money to open and reach any company, or country, or person. It has freed money to flow easily into currencies, stocks, bonds, futures, and commoditiesinternational democracy at work providing capital for the growth of enterprise.

A TRADE is a transaction between two parties, each of whom wishes to have what the other has. If you consider that millions of these are done every day around the world, you can begin to imagine the benefits of trading to international economic growth. Traders enable many people or parties to come together who don't know each other, or didn't know the others wanted to transact, allowing transactions to be consummated. The parties could be from opposite sides of the world, speak different languages, and own different currencies, yet through the focal point of traders they have the ability to transact within seconds.

Trading allows investors wanting to buy and sell securities for their portfolios--as well as insurance companies, banks, and corporations that need to invest their surplus cash--to move in and out of the best opportunities. Without traders, investors would have to contact by phone or mail each and every company in which they wanted to buy a stock. Prices would change very slowly, and each company would determine the price of the stock based on supply and demand from the public, rather than the public determining whether one company's stock was worth more or less than another's.

One person may want deutschmarks instead of francs. One may prefer having the stock of IBM, the other would rather have cash. A company may prefer to pay long-term interest rates, while another may want to pay short-term rates. How would they find each other?

With one phone call or keystroke, a trader can switch millions of dollars of currency from one country to the next in seconds. With one trade that may take only minutes, a trader on a commodity exchange can earn a company and its shareholders millions of dollars by locking in an attractive price on a commodity it needs in the future. Traders breathe life into what would otherwise be a very slow activity, making a market that everyone can participate in quickly and efficiently.

By providing the mechanism for exchange, and in the process creating liquidity-or enough activity in a market or security so that it is easy to buy and sell-traders promote economic growth. Through the creativity and product ideas that come from the trading side, they can help create markets and industries.

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Table of Contents

Acknowledgments
Introduction
Pt. I The Big Picture
1 Millions a Minute 3
2 My Word Is My Bond 19
3 Free-Market Warriors 33
4 From Analog to Algorithm 44
5 Big Cigars and Red Suspenders 69
Pt. II Up Close
6 Three Visionaries 81
7 Crashing the Party 103
8 Stateless Money 125
9 Derivatives - The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly 144
10 The Rise of the Buy Side 160
11 Black Sheep 174
Pt. III Loohing Forward
12 Quants 193
13 Mind, Money, and Machine 205
14 Trading on the Future 222
Trade$peak: A Sometimes Irreverent Guide to Traders' Terminology 243
Notes 255
Bibliography 279
Index 285
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