At 9:06am EDT on 9/11/01, the first plane flew into the North Tower of the World Trade Center. I had come into the office early on the West Coast and a trader said that a plane had flown into the North Tower. I said it had to be a private plane as no planes are allowed to fly over Manhattan. She had heard from Cantor Fitzgeralds’s office in L.A. and that it definitely was a commercial jet. In disbelief, I switched my screen to Bloomberg TV. Almost immediately, I saw the second plane bank and come around and into the South Tower. It was horrifying and mesmerizing.
Later, we heard about the Pennsylvania crash thanks to the heroics of a few passengers, and then the one that hit the Pentagon. It was a horrifying day. I watched a trading screen go blank and a woman who covered me from the firm was not heard from for two weeks. Unlike Cantor, on the 102nd floor, that lost 658 people that day, TradeWeb lost none due to being lower in the building and a manager who told them to leave immediately. She said she could see the building from her apartment and it was a beautiful day which ended with her walking home across the Brooklyn Bridge with the WTC behind her. Every morning she had to look at the rubble of a once beautiful skyline. She was suffering from PTSD.
Last Sunday, I heard a man saying he and his family were on the way to Windows On The World for breakfast and close to going in the building. He could hardly finish his statement. Last year, I had breakfast with Kevin Zraly who managed WOTW. He was late to work that day and arrived shortly after the plane struck. He was in charge of the wine cellar and is one of the most knowledgeable people I know on wine. He suffered PTSD from his guilt that all of his employees died that day and he should have been with them. It took years of therapy during which he couldn’t even look at a glass of wine. He is better now but still has flashbacks.
This is one of the events I remember vividly. I also remember JFK’s assassination, then watching Jack Ruby assassinate Lee Harvey Oswald while in custody, the assassination of Bobby Kennedy. Some things just stick with you…sadly.
Make the most of each day…it might be your last!
How did Trader Bill originate?
It was conceived by me as a way of providing information summaries of global financial markets so that friends and associates could bring themselves up to speed on events and changing market conditions upon their arrival at work. In addition, it provides information on speakers and economic releases that day with consensus estimates and level of last release so that the reader is prepared to react, or knows how the market might react upon the release of information.
Who is Trader Bill?
Initially any reference to me was as ‘i’. This is to remove the aura of ego and to suggest that i am but a humble reporter, albeit with 35 years of investment experience. Investments are demanding of ego, however, or one would not feel that he was qualified to manage someone else’s money in the first instance. Therefore i needed an ‘alter-ego’. Like Winchell and Mahoney, Edgar Bergen and Charlie McCarthy and especially Trader Vic and Mai Tai’s! Why Trader Vic? Because he was a likeable man who delivered pleasure to his customers and knew exactly what their desires were. The reason for the alter ego became obvious once I introduced Trader Bill into my commentaries: people started asking what Trader Bill thought. They had never asked me what I thought before, but suddenly they wanted to know what TB thought! Now mind you they KNEW that I was Trader Bill but for some reason he became bigger than life. Maybe it was the small ‘I’?
What does Trader Bill try to do?His goal is to educate from his years of experience. Consider that most of the traders and people managing investments weren’t even around in 1987 for the crash! Consider that Graham and Dodd, and even Warren Buffet are not relevant to them, too old hat. Their historical perceptions of markets and fundamentals (earnings, price/earnings ratios, bonds, debt service coverage) are irrelevant in this fast moving world. This is the NEW ECONOMY, or is it?
How did your style originate?Years ago i found that i had a knack and talent for writing. In addition, i developed an ability to analyze market news about 15 years ago. It took the Crash of ‘87. Prior to that i was just listening to what others said about the economy. But bond yields had been soaring in ‘87 yet the stock market just kept hitting new highs. That was when i began to learn about markets. i have both a dry and witty sense of humor (some call it inane!). Therefore i
attempt to make even the worst news somewhat amusing: whether it is the absurdity of an economic release, or the comments of a CEO. This is trading desk humor (or gallows humor). It isn’t politically correct but it does ease tension. Ironically, it is seeing the light at the end of the tunnel (in the Navy they say: it’s always darkest before it’s pitch black!), that allows you to be more objective in your analysis, as bad as a situation is there will still be a tomorrow! You will see that i practice three-dot journalism, a style made famous by San Francisco reporter Herb Caen, whom i idolized. At least to me it is effective.
What is so special about your analysis?Frankly, i don’t know that it is special, but at least it beats “the market closed down today on profit taking.” What i do know is that most of what you read is spat out without considering whether or not it is rational, like the above statement. Is it right? Sometimes yes and sometimes no, and that is the key to what is different about my analysis: it is meant to make you think. Is Dan Rather right or is Trader Bill right? If it causes you to stop and think about it, regardless of whether you agree, i win! Because THAT is my goal…not to have you think i am a guru, got that? Bet you never heard that ANYWHERE before in my business! Instead they want you to think just how smart they are but remember in this business if you are right 60% of the time you ARE a genius! Another thing that is different is when i am wrong on an analysis i will tell you, not hope you forget what i said. So now you have the tools to do what the speculators and hedge funds do: challenge authority, and if you make money it is because YOU did it not me. i was just a tool, your flunky to do the grunt work and let you decide…course you could be wrong too but at least you looked at the big picture. But the goal is also to have fun! This shouldn’t be a business of hushed tones and grim faces. It is a living, breathing thing and nowhere else in the world do you have the odds as much in your favor as here. Just beware of the guy who wants to put his arm around you and tell you he is your friend.
So there you have it. I hope you select me as one of your sources for market information. If you do I promise to work my best for your financial success.
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