John Porter is the biggest risk taker at Barclays, one of the United Kingdom’s largest and most venerable financial institutions. Whether it is home mortgages, savings accounts, credit cards, or corporate loans, Porter takes in everything that has interest rate risk. His job is to turn that risk into profit. His mandate is unique among global macro style traders in that he is able to trade with a true medium-term view without the constraints of daily mark-to-market. For example, if a two-year government bond he owns sells off against him, he is not forced to cut the position due to investor pressure, stop-loss rules, or other exogenous constraints. Rather, Porter can continue to collect coupons and hold the security until it matures at par because everything he trades is part of Barclays’ inventory or balance sheet.
Porter is a deep thinker with a nontraditional background for a top trader. American, he studied at the highly selective École Normale Supérieure (which produced such famous graduates as Samuel Beckett, Jean-Paul Sartre, Jacques Derrida, and others) and received a doctorate in psychology from the Sorbonne, both in Paris. He also holds a master’s degree in international affairs from Columbia University and an undergraduate degree from Harvard. After his studies, he spent several years as the chief investment officer of the World Bank, overseeing a $20 billion global fixed income portfolio, and worked for ...