Neophytes and Neanderthals
There was no tunnel leading to the trading floor, as there was at the Commodities Exchange Center.
There was barely even chaos.
Rather, a serene calm prevailed, so still that the hum of the air conditioning was the dominant sound, intermittently interrupted by softtoned phone ringing.
I had just walked onto the institutional futures trading floor of Lehman Brothers in the newest of New York City’s downtown ivory towers, the magnificent World Financial Center. I had taken a job as a trader’s assistant for Howard Levine, one of the most successful futures brokers in the industry. He was a quirky but brilliant broker who demanded perfection in the services he provided his clients.
With the introduction of foreign fixed-income futures on the London Financial Futures Exchange (LIFFE), the recently introduced Standard & Poor’s 500 Stock Index futures, and the still fairly new and expanding trading in crude oil futures, the mid-to-late 1980s became a heyday for institutional futures brokerage. There were fat commissions, scant competition, and full-blown service operations to support the business. Lehman was a boutique firm that specialized in cuttingedge products offered by cutting edge brokers such as Howard Levine, Stan Jonas, Martin Lysaght, and Louis Bacon.
Although I would be starting all over again, I would begin with a rapid learning curve and would gain my introduction to hard-core macrofundamentals. An institutional broker had to be able ...