Enthusiastic Joanna had been telling me how she learned the hand signals used on the trading-room floor during a slow day at work. Things have changed since they were the primary means of communication, however.
It’s almost tragic to go down to the floor of the exchange now, because even the guys that are standing in the pit have what look like Blackberries and are trading on their electronic terminals more than half the time, and then flashing only every now and again. So even now, they’re still trading on their electronic platforms because that’s where the liquidity is in the market. That’s the number-one rule, you always go where the liquidity is.
Do you see any connection between changes in food production you’ve become interested in recently and the changes that are affecting your work place?
Well both are about efficiency, right? So it makes sense—or actually, I don’t know if it’s entirely logical, but one can see that through modernization, both of those industries have become more and more efficient. I think for both industries, price point is so important that any efficiency matters greatly. So it makes sense that—I’d never thought about that before—both industries are requiring fewer and fewer workers and that’s creating a problem for everybody for both industries. Which is interesting, this sort of factory model that’s being used in both of them.
Part of why I like this job is because we have a 24-hour desk, so in the morning we have guys that are there that are working my European shift, that are trading for my clients during the European hours. I walk in, they hand me a stack of tickets of things that they’re working or things that they traded overnight. I keep track of all of that. Then in the afternoon, by about one-thirty the Asian shift comes in and gets ready for their markets. So I get in at 6:30 and I leave at 4, and I pass my tickets to my Asian shift and then it’s theirs and I’m finished. They may call me every now and again to say, I don’t know who this guys is, or, Who is this trader?, or, What is it that he really wants to trade? But for the most part, I’m finished. This is one of the beauties of the market. On Friday afternoon, it’s shut.
I don’t expect that to stay for that way for very long. I think it will go to six days a week, because right now the S&P for example trades over 23 hours a day, for 45 minutes total it’s closed.
St. Michael’s Church in Joanna’s Old Town neighborhood (photo by ChicagoGeek via Flickr)
I’m finished at four, so emotionally, I have a lot of room for myself and my personal life. I have the time and can explore things, and when I’m on vacation I’m completely off. I don’t read the news. I don’t look at the markets. Usually I run away to Alaska where I don’t have cell service for that very reason. Right now, I have a very busy personal life. I started culinary school seven weeks ago at night, so I’m in culinary school two to three nights a week. Right now I’m learning how to make sauces. The other day I did a béchamel and we’re gonna do Hollandaise on Monday. I have been involved in a community garden for the last two summers, but things have changed a little bit, so I’m more actively gardening in my own house in my own space.