Sep 11 from the Eurodollar Pit

The morning started off like any other. The bell rang at 7:20CT and the 1 minute opening range was established. (History point: the market originally opened at 7:30CT but as data releases came at same moment opens became disasters) Just prior to 7:46 the Barclays filling broker began to frantically bid through the offerings buying several thousand 2nd configuration contracts, these were EDH02 based on the way the pit rolled. Roughly 8 ticks higher, and out of line with other contracts now, locals and arb customers flocked to SELL to the aggressive buyer. The price quickly plunged back to where it was. (Reconstructed timelines show over an hour of monitored flight oddities that could have been observed, or conspiratorially an Arab account, we don't know but it would not be difficult to find out.)
After a few seconds of calm FTQ buying came in from multiple areas. Quickly, after the 7:46:30 first impact, news, rumor and panic began to flow into the money market. The massive digital TV screen in the corner over the pit switched to the WTC live feed. (The Ramzi Yousef 1993 truck bombing had a lasting imprint. Carr Futures [my former employer] and Cantor remained but other shops had moved to midtown after 1993)A young girl from our back office in Chicago was on her first trip to NY to see the Headquarters, she was never found. The market was intense but functioning. The early surge by Barclays had caught counter-parties short with only seconds to offset. Bid/Ask spreads widened to 5bp then 10bp as more carnage unfolded on the screens.
The panic had an intensity that was far more serious than Continental Illinois, 1987, or LTCM prior. Announcements of possible trading halts morphed into a complete stoppage coming soon. This action increased the activity for the time remaining as participants wondered when the market might open again. Workers began to leave to be with their families. Myself and a few others were buried in fills and remained on the floor until security had cleared everyone out. The guard locked the trading floor doors behind me.17 years years earlier I had walked onto the floor, this wasn't how I wanted to leave it. My partner and I sorted trades on the corner of Wacker and Monroe outside. I was still confirming trades in NY, London and Italy hours later from my home when Singapore re-opened. I brokered transactions with customers on my cell and an open land line to Singapore.
What we did that day pales in comparison to the heroics of hundreds of others elsewhere. But what we did do was our job. For as long as they were open, the markets functioned. Human beings were the key input. I often wonder what would happen today?
Never Forget

One thought on “Sep 11 from the Eurodollar Pit

  1. Shrek

    I occasionally mention to people that pit trading is very old and when mistakes were made it got better. Elecetronic markets should be held with more skepticism than most acknowlef

    Reply

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