No Easy Day

I was a floor broker for Dean Witter when our headquarters was the 92nd floor of the WTC. I had  customers at DKB in the building who were and remain the mentors of my market understanding. The first bombing attempt does not garner much historical value but the experience was invaluable. Those that could manage their way out of the complex in the years after did so. On Sep. 10, (after selling the operation to Carr Futures) we sent a young back office girl to NY for the first time. Anxious to get to her first meeting, she arrived at the office early. A few moments later, the world changed.

On the floor in Chicago, I manned the phones and suggested to those loyal customers that we get permission to buy all the FI futures the senior management would permit. As the carnage unfolded on the big screen over the pit, several of my employees requested to leave. I told them to do what they felt was best, one colleague remained with me. We kept executing orders. I was the last person escorted from the floor by security. I checked trades from the corner of Wacker Drive by cell phone. I traded in Singapore from home land lines and cell service.

Several weeks later an acquaintance asked how Sep. 11 was from the front lines of the market and on the phone with WTC.  When I told him that we continued to do our job, he muttered "Blood money." Nothing could have insulted me more or been further from the truth. We did our job. We had the experience from prior panics to stand tall when younger men wanted to run. The market continued to function right up until they escorted me out. There was no flash crash.  We anxiously awaited the re-open.

September 11 was no easy day. I lost friends up there. There were human beings on both ends of the phone. No algo will ever handle that panic the way we did. No market will ever function as well or recover as quickly as we did. The market drew its strength from the fortitude of the individuals that participated in it. Sep 11 was not our darkest hour, for those of us that lived it, it was our finest.

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