THE TRADERS by Sonny Kleinfeld


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Entertaining closeups of a dozen-odd mavericks who trade for their own accounts on the floors of the country's leading securities and commodity exchanges--misfits, really, who can't abide authority and lust after ""the big score."" At the NYSE there's Jim Connolly, who seems to know more about the nicknames of the issues he trades--Love 'em and Leave 'em (Pittsburgh Screw and Bolt), Marilyn Monroe (Welbuilt)--than their lines of business. Over at the American Stock Exchange, Stanley Katz (a Penn Ph.D. in math) grinds out a six-figure annual income trading put and call options on Mesa Petroleum. ""I look on this in the sense that Harrah's looks on a casino as gambling,"" he says. ""I'm the house."" The really high rollers, notes Kleinfeld (The Biggest Company on Earth), trade futures contracts--on soybeans, silver, pork bellies, cocoa, Treasury bills, etc. He also observes that, when trading activity quickens, public orders can get lost in the shuffle; brokers may be less interested in canvassing the turbulent pits for a best execution than in ""helping a buddy out of a jam."" Kleinfeld, as a financial writer for the New York Times, puts marketplace mechanics in clear perspective; his explanation of exchange-listed options, for instance, would do credit to a far more ambitious text. He also supplies some amusing detail--like the runner at the Chicago Mercantile Exchange (which has a live-hog contract) who sports a button proclaiming: ""We will sell no swine before its time."" Though Kleinfeld concedes that his crew of renegade capitalists has little in common beyond an aversion to working for others, the engaging way he spins their yarns and his keenness in sketching their high-pressure operations give this a potential outside financial circles.

Pub Date: Jan. 17th, 1983
Publisher: Holt, Rinehart & Winston