This memoir narrates the inspiring story of the first woman to physically trade financial futures in the pits at the Chicago Board of Trade.
It takes many skills to be a good bond trader. You have to have an ego and great nerve, and you must be smart, quick, and mentally strong. You have to learn from your mistakes, you have to know when to have patience, and you have to be physical. Author Joyce Selander has all of these.
At barely five foot five and110 pounds dripping wet, she ventured into the hand to- hand, financial combat every day for thirteen years as the first woman to physically trade financial futures in the pits at the Chicago Board of Trade. In this memoir, she tells of standing toe-to-toe with five hundred shouting, sweating, testosterone-hyped male traders all trying to reach the top of the financial mountain. Through her work, Selander met diplomats and US presidents; dated secret service agents; and saw murder, mayhem, and a personal plot to overthrow the Taliban, and 9/11.
Joyce, Queen of the Mountain provides an insider's look at the workings of the Chicago Board of Trade and the Chicago Mercantile Exchange and gives insights into the strategies and styles of its key players. A story of ethics, innovation, and visionary leadership, it narrates the inspiring memoir of one woman who rose to the top of her profession.
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JOYCE, QUEEN OF THE MOUNTAINFemale Courage and Hand-to-Hand Combat in the World's Largest Money Pit
By JOYCE SELANDER
iUniverse, Inc.Copyright © 2011 Joyce Selander
All right reserved.
Chapter OneFIRST DAY AT SCHOOL
I was four-and-a-half years old when my mother took me to my first day of kindergarten at Trumbull Elementary. It was in Andersonville, a middle-class Swedish neighborhood on Chicago's north side. Hand-in-hand we walked into the classroom where my young eyes were surprised by the large number of crying children and their consoling mothers. "Who," I asked my mom, "are all these whiny kids?"
Looking tenderly at me she explained that these children were frightened because it was their first day of school and they would soon be left alone. Should she stay with me awhile? Mom clasped my hand tighter. No! I said immediately. I was fine on my own, then I proceeded to explore the classroom.
I found a newly filled sandbox with a giant mound of sand. Jumping on the pile, I screamed at the top of my lungs "I am Joyce, Queen of the Mountain!" But Johnny, the local bully, charged up the side shouting "No, I am the mountain King!" Like a boxer, I punched his chest with a closed fist and sent him flying. Anybody else? I thought, scanning the startled kindergarteners. No. Triumphant, I proclaimed again "I am Joyce, Queen of the Mountain!'
Little did I know then how hard it would be to stay on top. You see, on that day, there were no other challengers, but there have been plenty since I became the first woman to trade financial futures in the pits at the Chicago Board of Trade. Thirty year Treasury Bonds to be exact, that's actual U.S. government bonds, notes and t-bills, the biggest market in the world where numbers are king.
Now numbers, their adding and subtracting, multiplying and dividing have always come easy to me. A natural gift. I remember my kindergarten teacher asking, "Who can count to ten? Who can count above ten?" My right hand shot up and she called on me saying "Joyce, count for us." 12345678910 Jack Queen King Ace I answered proudly. My mother would have beamed and my father would have blushed. You see, I started playing family poker when I was four. I proved a fast learner and by age six, I could shuffle and set up a full house or straight on the bottom of the deck.
Maybe I knew something about numbers because my mother had graduated from college (rare in those days, the 1930s) and taken a job at a bank. When I turned fifteen she got me a part-time job working there on Saturdays. It was a neighborhood bank and by the time I was sixteen, the savings manager had taught me to balance her department. By the time I was 17, I knew how to balance the entire bank. Banking became my livelihood while I was attending college. I started working at a downtown Chicago bank as a teller and margin clerk. That meant I was in charge of computing margins on loans secured by marketable collateral such as stocks and bonds. One day, I received a call from a headhunter who asked me if I could calculate margins on commodities. I told her sure, why not. You take the daily value and fluctuation then use a percentage to figure out how much money the customer needs to maintain his position. On hearing my answer, the headhunter arranged an interview for me the very next week.
That interview turned out to be with Maurie Schneider, owner and president of M-S Commodities. His father, 80 year old Sol Schneider, was one of the founders of the Chicago Mercantile Exchange. Of course, Maurie hired me on the spot.
Two days after I started working at M-S, I strolled into Maurie's office and informed him that one of his branch offices was illegally moving funds. "What!" Maurie stared at me as I explained that someone was taking money from account A and moving it to account B. "That can't be," Maurie protested. His company had just been audited the week before I joined them. Immediately, he picked up the phone, called his auditors and said, "You'd better get over here immediately. I have a mini-skirted girl with a beehive telling me you guys screwed up."
The very next day Maurie sent me, mini-skirt, beehive and all, down to the trading floor of the Chicago Mercantile Exchange to see exactly what the traders at his M-S trading desk were doing. The moment I stepped onto that floor I knew this was it, what I wanted to do with the rest of my life. When the market closed and everyone left, I walked to the top of the trading pit and took it all in. I came, I saw, and now I wanted to conquer. I am Joyce, I said softly to myself, Queen of the Mountain.
Chapter TwoTHE CHICAGO MERCANTILE EXCHANGE - (CME)
It was 1968 and the Chicago Mercantile Exchange (CME) was reinventing itself. There were 500 members including three women Kathy White, who ran a small desk for one of the large floor brokers; a second woman who had a membership but because of exchange rules was not allowed into the pit where the actual, physical trading takes place; and me. A lot of people would be intimidated by such a high pressure environment with a 500 to 3 ratio but those were My Kind of Odds. Besides, it was easy to make friends, lots of friends, all men.
I made many of these friends in a small, members only coffee shop where the big traders played cards when the markets were slow. Maurie would take me there and introduce me, which gave me the chance to meet everyone. It was on these caffeine excursions that I met the two geniuses of the Commodity Industy. One was the visionary Leo Melamed, CME Chairman, then a young man with a grand plan for the future. The other was twenty-eight year old Barry Lind, CME's equally brilliant Director and the founder of Lind Waldock and Company which eventually became the largest commodity retail brokerage house on the planet. This dynamic duo, together with other CME members, became known as the Young Turks. Together, they shook the Commodities Industry with the massive, forward thinking changes that transformed CME into the enormous, powerhouse it is today - a far cry from where the exchange originated.
* * *
Our origins were as The Chicago Butter and Egg Exchange which was organized back in 1898. By 1919, we had become the Chicago Mercantile Exchange and eventually, began trading frozen pork bellies (1961), and live cattle, (1964).
By the time I arrived in 1968, there were only three active, open out cry trading pits. The pits were large circles, twenty-five to thirty feet in diameter and four feet deep, with one wooden step up and two or three steps down. Each held forty to fifty traders. The men would stand in these pits yelling bids and offers on prices of various commodity products including frozen pork bellies, live cattle, and live hogs. In addition, there were about a hundred old fashioned, high-backed trading desks. The wooden backs were hung with dozens of phones easily accessed by the standing traders. Likewise, the desktops were high so you could write orders while standing up, then quickly hand them to a runner who took them to the pit broker. Traders originally wrote these orders under dimly lit chandeliers. Eventually, the ceiling was lowered and the chandeliers were replaced with brighter, modern lighting that allowed us to more clearly see the mechanical boards on the walls and the chalkboards positioned beneath them. But even with this upgrade, the place was dark, dingy, and "Noisy" can't begin to describe it. So why was it the only place in the whole, wide world I wanted to be? Maybe it was the daily action - and I'm not just talking about the five hundred men.
The frantic, organized, incredibly exciting chaos went like this. Eggs were traded on the south wall chalkboards. A member would give the quantity plus the bid or sale price to a CME employee who would grab chalk, then write the information on the big boards so all the traders could see the new order and the change of price that had occurred, setting off a wave of activity.
Across the room, there would be an even bigger wave with the Pork Bellies Futures and the Live Cattle Futures. Back then, Pork Bellies Futures were the largest actively traded commodity with Live Cattle Futures a close second. In August of 1968, the total volume of frozen pork bellies was 108,791 contracts. One year later, that volume surged to 160,632 contracts. Likewise, in August of 1968, live cattle total volume was 16,521 contracts. By August, 1969, that number skyrocketed to 125,519 contracts. Eventually, cattle futures surpassed pork bellies in volume and open interest. The bottom line was this. During my first year at the M-S Commodities trading desk, I saw cattle volume expand nine times its size and pork bellies volume go up 50,000 contracts. And I was part of it.
My morning always began with checking my margin calls and debits, and talking with my direct boss, Priscilla. Then I'd quickly head to the trading pit for the opening of the market. When the market closed I'd dash back upstairs to my office to complete any margin calls I hadn't finished. After a few days, I was promoted to floor manager, responsible for the trading desk and instructing the clerks. Priscilla would come down to the floor every few hours to pick up filled orders and make sure everything was running smoothly. The bottom line was this - my career was happening and it was happening so fast I couldn't believe it. To keep up, I had to study like mad. I learned all the Rules and Regulations of the CME and the CFTC, the Commodity Futures Trading Commission which was orginally called the Commodity Exchange Act (CEA). Soon I became a walking encyclopedia, but all this knowledge didn't prepare me for the unusual, highly necessary responsibility Maurie now assigned me, to physically remove his eighty year old father, Sol, from the pork belly or hog pit if the market went wild, entering into fast or limit conditions. But this was easier said than done.
Every time I entered the trading pit to take Maurie's Dad out of harm's way, I would be fined because it was still against CME regulations for a woman to enter the pit. In addition, a lot of older traders like Sol were not happy with my presence in the trading arena. Sol would hand me a comb and tell me to go comb my hair, my stylish beehive! Every time, I would end up taking the comb and Sol back to the trading desk. (I also kept my beehive intact!)
Finally, the President of the Exchange, Everette B. Harris, called me into his office. He chastised me for breaking the rules and for aggravating the members. I gently sassed him back, informing him of my situation and pointing out that the rules had to change if CME planned to keep up with the times. Of course, I knew all these men wanted to "Keep up" so it was no surprise when they took my advice and hired women to work on the trading floor and to track trades on the chalk boards. At long last, I wasn't the lone mini-skirted girl, but to my chagrin, the CME now made women wear slacks or skirts at the knee. Damn! Oh well, it was good to have female company. - especially with the explosion that was about to occur.
The first rumble was in 1972 when currencies opened. By 1977, U.S. Bonds were trading at the Chicago Board of Trade; followed by Eurodollars in 1981; and S&P 500 Futures in 1982. A whole new world called derivatives was born and technology multiplied the opportunity. With the opening of CME's Globex electronic trading (1992) we could now trade across the globe every hour of the day. That meant the CME not only had to move to a bigger floor, we had to think bigger, much bigger, and we did.
On July 9, 2007, the Chicago Mercantile Exchange officially merged with the Chicago Board of Trade and became the CME Group. But we didn't stop there. Approximately one year later (8/22/08), CME Group acquired the New York Mercantile Exchange, surpassing all challengers to become the largest Commodity Exchange in the world. Today, CME Group trades more than three hundred and fifty different commodities, derivatives, and option contracts simultaneously twenty-four hours a day, six days a week, which just goes to show what a handful of brilliant, determined men, and I'd like to think, one mini-skirted girl can accomplish.
Chapter ThreeCHICAGO, 1968
When most people think of Chicago, 1968, they think of the Democratic National Convention, the riots, the hippies, and the free love. I think of one Dennis Patrick Shaw who I met at the end of the convention. He was the Lead Advance Secret Service Agent in charge of the eventual winner of the presidential race, Richard Nixon. Now Denny was young, tall, and hot, a James Bond type with dark brown hair and darker brown eyes. He stood 6'3" and was 220 magnificent pounds of rippling muscle. I started dating Denny and suddenly found myself commuting to New York, Washington, and Key Biscayne, and of course, he got to the Windy City regularly.
One spring night in 1969, Denny called and said President Nixon was flying into Chicago. Would I pick him up - Denny, not the President, at the airport? You bet. In fact, I couldn't get there fast enough so it's a mystery why I was running so late. Frantic, I drove up to the main gate for the military side of O'Hare International Airport. Security quickly waved me through because Denny had put my name on the list. But I was still late so I punched it, doing forty miles per hour in the parking lot. Suddenly an MP - a military police officer - pulled me over. He swaggered to my car barking "Where you going ma'am?" Ma'am!?!! If you want to see my blood boil, just call my svelte self "Ma'am" especially if you're coming at me with an open ticket book.
* * *
Sweetly, (my ass!) I informed him that I was going to meet Richard Nixon, the President of the United States. The MP demanded my drivers license, then called security to see if I was really on the list. When he discovered that I was on the list, he sulkily returned my license, warning me to drive slow and head straight down the road. Sure I would. As soon as he turned away I rammed my little Volkswagen into gear and floored it. I was doing forty across this wide road when I heard a sound. A very loud, very scary sound. Oh cripes! Over my shoulder Air Force One was bearing down and dropping fast. Holy shit! I put the pedal to the medal, careened off the runway and parked my car. Suddenly, my Volkswagen was surrounded by Secret Service Agents about to draw their guns. There was only one thing to do.
I opened the car door and slowly slid out, legs out first. Make that boots first because I was wearing impossibly tight, black patent leather knee high boots with three inch heels. They were boots made for walking and that's just what I would do. Slowly, I stepped forward so the men could get a good look at my favorite Chanel black and white houndstooth suit with the jacket tailored to accent my micro-mini skirt and matching small rimmed jockey hat. One of the agents grinned. "Hi Joyce, he said, "The president's plane has landed." And so had I.
As everyone deplaned and piled into waiting limousines, Denny walked over and put his gorgeous face close to mine. "Nice job," he says. "We were coming in for the landing and over the Secret Service radio I hear alert, blue Volkswagen crossing the runway. The pilots started to question if they should abort the landing and then over the radio we hear "It's O.K., it's Shaw's girlfriend, Joyce." Denny rolled his eyes. "I will never live this down."
I'll make it up to you! I gave Shaw a big kiss to show I always kept my promises. He hopped into my car and we drove downtown to the Blackstone Hotel where we took the elevator upstairs to Secret Service headquarters. As we entered the room, an agent walked up and tapped Denny on the back.
"Here's the photo of the bomb we defused at O'Hare," he said, showing Denny the picture. "It was big enough to blow up one-third of the airport." I say a little prayer of thanks that Denny and the other agents protecting the President are so good at what they do.
On Mr. Nixon's next visit to Chicago, Denny asked me to come to the lobby of the Blackstone Hotel. When I arrived, the place was totally empty. I was standing alone, wondering what was going on when the President, Mrs. Nixon, and Denny walked in. As the two men stopped to chat with the hotel manager, Mrs. Nixon walked along the red velvet, roped off area toward me. She stopped for a moment, waiting for her husband and Denny. "Good afternoon, Mrs. Nixon," I said.
"Hi Joyce, nice to see you," Pat Nixon smiled.
Excerpted from JOYCE, QUEEN OF THE MOUNTAIN by JOYCE SELANDER Copyright © 2011 by Joyce Selander. Excerpted by permission of iUniverse, Inc.. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Table of Contents
ContentsFirst Day At School....................1
The Chicago Mercantile Exchange - (CME)....................4
The International Monetary Market....................11
The Chicago Board Of Trade....................16
Joy Member, Chicago Board Of Trade....................24
My Big Account....................34
The Trading Pit....................39
Bimbos, Limos, And Lines....................45
1982 - A New Floor, New Traders, And New Opportunities....................52
The Economic Indicators And Reports....................66
The MMI Pit....................72
The Smith Brothers....................80
O'Connor & Associates....................84
In The Pits....................87
The Municipal Bond Pit And The FBI Sting....................96
John T. Geldermann....................100
Electronic Trading Arrives....................104
TakeYour Daughters To Work Day....................113
Foreign Customers And Mock Trading....................117
Is This The End Or The Beginning?....................143
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Nitty gritty great story, takes nerve to enter those pits, a leader fearless and aggressive. Recommend to all interested in a future in the financial arena.
I really enjoyed the book. I've known Joyce for over 20 years and know her to be a very strong, intelligent and ambitious person who prevailed in a competing world of male traders. The book portrays how a woman can be successful in a mans' world. I highly recommend this book.
JOYCE, QUEEN OF THE MOUNTAIN is an interesting and educational book for one who has not been in the business. Joyce,one of the first women to be a trader at the Chicago Board of Trade, tells how she held her own on the floor with male traders. She also adds her relationshipis outside the pit. I found the book hard to put down.
Having worked down at " The Board " (Chicago Board of Trade), I can relate to Joyce's many interesting stories. She was way ahead of her time, being a female trader.Her writing style is fast flowing, and easy to follow. Joyce makes you feel that you are down at the trading pits, or feeling the rush of a great trading position. You don't need a trading or financial background to enjoy this book. In fact, if I had a Hollywood connection, I would not mind having some shares for the movie rights!
This is a must read book and should be added to all book clubs that exist on the circuit in the finance arena. Very strong words of encouragement for women that are wanting to venture into the futures market. Thank you Joyce Selander for having the courage to write this book.
Joyce's book is a great memoire, not only of one woman's fascinating career, but also of a legendary aspect of American business -- the commodity trading pits of Chicago. Many other books, both fiction and non-fiction, have been written about the Chicago trading pits, but Joyce's book is the inside scoop from, not just an inside observer, but an inside major player and influencer of many of these events. The stories she tells are very personal, but take place in the context of several decades of the evolution of the wider game of global finance, of which Chicago's markets have been a major and key factor. Joyce has written in a very easy-to-read, conversational (almost confessional) tone that makes it a page-turner. Buy it and enjoy.