The Alpha

August 30, 2012 § Leave a comment

A few years ago I considered giving up banking. My life was a haze. I’d wake up, get into work, lose money and go home. Sure we all lose money– this isn’t really a problem as we’re still getting paid.

The problem was that I had developed a conscience. I started to think about the people who’s money this really was. I thought that somewhere, on the other side of the world, this money would mean something to someone.

It was hard. Try as I might I couldn’t shake off the feeling that this was wrong. And so I left the bank. I stayed at home, wandering the halls of my house in Berkshire. I was probably suffering from depression. I was also drinking too much. It was a funny feeling. Having it all. Then having nothing.

I thought back to my childhood when all I wanted to be was a trader. The tales my father told, raiding another nowhere company, kicking the bums out and turning it around for a million profit– so inspirational. I used to watch the currency markets and think buy, sell, buy! And more often than not I’d get it right. You know I called Soros before he ever shorted the pound– I knew!

Then I joined the bank. What a kick! My first day. Being led onto the trading floor, being given a platinum Amex, my Bloomberg, the client account I got (it was 10m, seems ridiculous now…). How thrilling it was. The rush of two bps moving on your every click. I gradually rose through the ranks. Became a star!

And yet, those feelings, that memory, the energy– somehow I’d lost it all. I was listless. Sad. Then one day, lying in bed, I had a revelation. Donald Trump was on the TV talking about condos. It was weird– but I looked at his face and his eyes went all soft. They bore into my own. It was as though he was trying to communicate.

And I heard a voice.

“Tim, you are the end and the beginning. You are the alpha. You are not a layabout. You love money as much as I do. Come my friend. Get up and fucking get back to work.”

The next day at 8.55am my phone rang. It was Mike. My old friend from JP Morgan. He said he had just set up a hedge fund and wanted me with him. Call it coincidence, call it fate, call it a miracle, but I knew then this was my destiny.

And so I said yes. And now look where it’s got me!

More Libore

August 24, 2012 § Leave a comment

As mentioned previously the Libor scandal has further to run. Newspapers seem reluctant or slow to report this.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/business/2012/aug/23/rbs-libor-barclays-mp

The banks are a big short right now.

The website

August 23, 2012 § Leave a comment

In the film Casablanca there is a famous scene involving a loaded roulette wheel which falls on the number 22. Rick advises Jan to bet on this number and so saves his girlfriend Annina from prostituting herself to raise money for their visas.

The number always seemed to have a poignant significance to me. Special things happened on this date. Successes. Triumphs. Chance encounters. I didn’t know why, why this one in particular. Then last week I finally cracked the mysterious website.

At first I was confused. There’s no trading system, analytical charts, data…none of that. None of the things I’d expected. Just shadowy boxes with weird symbols. It was all a confusion of chaos. But gradually I have started to unpick the puzzle. Slowly I am starting to unlock its secrets.

What is the website?

Somehow Fassbender had entered into a secret networking website– though saying that is a disservice to the thing. There is no algorithm. But there are the contacts of some of the most important men in the world. Locked together in a secret society. Soros? Pah he doesnt even make it here. But his new wife does. Prince Al Waleed? No, but his personal secretary is here. The porter of Le Rosey. The captain at arms at the Palace. The locksmith at the treasury. These people make things happen.

And now it’s become clear. If you want to move markets this is how you do it– it’s not a financial model. It’s people.

Facebook? Billionaire? Asmallworld? Don’t be stupid…..this is Gold. This is 22.

The code

August 22, 2012 § Leave a comment

“Achtung Sir,

Achtung wella wella, si si , uber die fuzgangerzone.”

And all that……..

I don’t know how to speak German but I’ve just spent the past half an hour of my life speaking to some ****g**t in German and managed to relate my demands as well as the most native sausage-muncher out there.

If you need to get a trade done you will soon learn to speak German, Chinese, Swahili whatever……….

What am I trading you ask? Deutschmarks. Do they exist? They will soon.

This language thing is effective evidence of the interconnectedness of the world on a most basic level.

A span of human chains linking the world. Example:

Do you ever wonder why you meet your long lost school friend in a bar in Hong Kong? Or how your photo appears on a phone bought across continents, shown to a man in Beijing who you once had a drink with in Melbourne?

My dream on the yacht wasn’t a dream it was a sign. A sign from Fassbender– a vain, insecure, triumph-seeking man. Who would he want to connect to? Who would be his doppelganger? Who?

Slowly I turned on the laptop. I brought up the email address and slowly typed in the word.

MICHAEL

Click……I was in.

And the LORD said to him, ‘By what means?’ And he said, ‘I will go out, and will be a lying spirit in the mouth of all his prophets….’ blah blah

Yacht weekend

August 20, 2012 § Leave a comment

Deckshoes, long shorts, Ray Bans and Pimms– it could only mean one thing. St Ives.

I arrived on the Friday to hang out on a boat with Mike, Woolsey (a friend of Mike’s from the bank, old money, grew up in Mustique) and a couple of girls, Amanda who’s just returned from St Tropez (v v passe) and a girl from LA called Mikki who has a big coke habit.

On my part I brought Gale Tate. She has a nice body and a bold ginger bob which, while not to my taste, was still trussified enough to lend her a bit of credibility for the voyage.

Mike hired a boat from the Henley BC. With a case or two of Krug, some smoked salmon and a package of drugs we set off. Gale immediately sidled up to me and started to ask me how business was at the hedge fund. She was flirting outrageously taking me as far as she could go. But actually I am quite sanguine. Her body looked good in the Gucci bikini.

Mike skippered the boat while his cohorts were inside sniffing on their cocaine. I stayed outside savouring the sun. Gale pointedly asked me about the Fassbender affair. She told me that she’d heard one or two rumours. The signet ring found on his finger, which didn’t belong to him, the tar and feathers, the traces of woman. She was sure he had been blackmailing someone. The chairman of xx Bank perhaps. In truth she doesn’t know anything. It’s a simple ploy to get me to cough up.

She wants to know about my contretemps with that computer programmer? Why? Of course I made up some cock and bullshit story, about having been stalked. I in no way let on what I knew about the global trade algo.

Gale, though, was very persistent. She sidled up to me and started stroking my leg. I playfully told her to stop. She reached over as if to kiss me, then grabbed a strawberry from behind my back. Oh it was all so steamy.

Eventually Amanda appeared from inside and stripped off to her thong. But within five minutes she started to complain that she was getting burnt. She wanted to moor up somewhere and go for a swim. Her incessant whining finally led us to stop and her, Mike Mikki, Woolsey and Amanda went off for a swim. I want to join them but am too bloated with champagne.

No one could accuse me of being parti pris vs the common folk. But I don’t know where Mike picks up these savages from.

Gale dives in. I see her naked wet body flickering in the sea covered sun, dazzling white. My mind clouds over and I start to dream of Fassbender. He appeared to me on the shore, waving in his bermuda shorts.

“The code,” he whispered to me. “Twenty two twenty two.”

Then his head turned into a mole’s.

“Find me.”

Then his head turned into a giant testicle.

“Remember the boy.”

Then he was surrounded by savages wearing leaf-clothes, poking him with spears and a pot.

I woke to the sounds of grunting coming from inside the cabin. It was getting dark. No one was around. I walked inside. There, on the bed was Gale, naked, with Mike and Amanda. Mike screamed for me to join them. Gale looked sly and shameless. Her face’s covered in white powder, like a clown’s. I should have been angry. But I am not. To tell you the truth all I could think of was Fassbender.

I know what the code is.

Dorien Fassbender: More Clues, Part 2

August 16, 2012 § Leave a comment

We’d just finished the main course when Devitt said he needed the toilet. He had been acting very strangely throughout, looking about him with shifty eyes and a seedy expression. I was thankful that the so-called ‘meeting’ was drawing to a close and had just asked for the bill when I hear a loud wailing noise coming from the toilets. Suddenly the door flies open and out storms the figure of Devitt his head wrapped in toilet paper arms aloft wailing like a banshee!

He ran straight out of the door and out into the street where he was hit by a passing taxi and died on the spot!
The police questioned me for several hours to find out what had happened. I recounted all the facts and told them I knew nothing– which was generally true. Except for one thing. Before running out into the middle of the street his head wrapped in toilet paper to be smashed by a taxi, Devitt had given me a card. It was the same one Fassbender had given him– the one with the website address. Immediately as I got home I plugged in my computer and called up the site.

The screen went momentarily blank. Then a login space appeared. I entered the code written on the other side of the card. This could be the solution to everything I needed. My Valhalla. But unfortunately it hasn’t worked.

So I am sitting here with a mystery in my hands. Who can tell me how to unlock this code? How can I access the site? I’m completely certain that it will tell me all about the mysterious programme that Fassbender was working on with the young man, who remains unidentified. It may point to his death, but more importantly, if what Devitt said is true, the algorithm that they developed would be the most important find since the efficient portfolio hypothesis.

I’ve called my old programmer Anil who could help, but the blighter’s gone on holiday to Pakistan or somewhere. It’s not the best month to be following leads anyway. Liquidity is thin, news slow, traders pretty bored. Off to St Ives this weekend.

Another aside: Gale Tate– the journalist who I spoke to in March has been calling me. She wants to meet. I have told her that I must swim but she’s promised me some kind of revelation. I couldn’t quite hear her properly but something to do with Wonkycock or something.

Anyway my previous meeting with her was one of my crowning moments of the year. I might invite her to St Ives. Who knows what may happen?

Dorien Fassbender: More clues

August 14, 2012 § Leave a comment

Late last week I had the meeting with Devitt, the computer programmer at Chase. This triggered such a strange turn of events that I barely know where to start recounting it all. Well, in the words of Napoleon, I will try.

Devitt– a person who I’ve never heard of– called me late last week. He claimed he’d been told to do so in a telephone recording which I left him. At the same time I received a photo with an image of Dorien Fassbender. Anyway look at my previous blog if you want reminding, time is precious and I don’t have the time to spend inordinate minutes….

Foolishly I suggested we meet at t’Ledbury. Yes I was mistaken but I thought if this was a crazy then there’d be enough people there who knew (and liked) me to rescue me from trouble.

Unfortunately that also meant that more people would see me with this strange, awful looking man. He walked in at 9pm and stood out like a sore thumb. Actually sore bumhole is a more apt description (I apologise if this image may offend some). It wasn’t just his clothes– a v-necked jumper with nothing on underneath and a pair of denim jeans for God’s sake! But his shifty eyes, his greasy hair and second-hand spectacles, his nose, his unshaven neck, the spots on this chest— ugh.

Foolishly I had asked for a table right in the middle where everyone could see me. I noted my old friend Menhauser who was about to walk up to me to ask me about some deal or other but then walked straight past when he saw the company I was with.

Ho hum…..anyway Devitt ordered very little food. I too was unable to eat. He told me that he has been working as a derivatives modeller for several years now. He doesn’t see much action in the bank since they’ve normally got him hidden in the basement with the other computer men making abstruse calculations for the hedge fund desk.

But he said something out of the ordinary happened a few months ago. He got into the bank from being an expert chess player– they’d felt he could design something algo-based to run their quant strategies on, with a chess formula basis. He tells me he had been struggling until one day, by chance, he saw an old figure from the past– Dorien Fassbender. The two had crossed paths before– in a couple of chess tourneys.

By all accounts DF was a mediocre chess player, never had the skills to think for himself and was formulaic and predictable. So he quickly abandoned chess to become a RA analyst. But this time when Devitt met him he was flushed by success. A new Austin Metro car, expensive suit, glasses– the works.

They went out and got drunk in some seedy little bar somewhere. DF was flashing his cash and starts talking about a new algo model he’s been creating. His words sound nonsensical– he says that this model can run every single algo based strategy in the world. It works on something called hyper-hyper predictability. It can destroy markets etc etc.

Devitt told me he though Fassbender was bragging as he always used to. He paid him no heed. At the end of the night as they were leaving Fassbender, who is wildly drunk, says– “it wasn’t me. It wasn’t me it was Bradley. It’s Bradley who did it all.”

And then he passed him a card with a link to a website. He wrote a password on the back and told Devitt to hold onto it.

TBC…..

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