Merc Stories Chptr 2

The year was 1986 and about a dozen of us from the T-Bill pit had morphed over to the "new" Eurodollar pit. The Exchange had been broadcasting over the PA system and had issued buttons (The floor had a long tradition of handing out buttons for promotion) with the tag line "15 Minutes Please." The call was for members in other pits to devout 15 minutes of their time to the liquidity of this new Eurodollar product.

I came over from my position in the T-Bills spreads. I arb-ed Bills for a rapidly growing debt house named Drexel Burnham. #GIK, they'd become infamous soon. Another switcher was a young lady named Edie M. She was a bright North Sider who got a seat and bid along and offered along in 25 lots. Everyone traded 25's back then and the minimum tick was a whopping basis point, so $625.00 a tick. (I hated 25s and we tended to do round figures fwiw) Well, Edie was engaged to a young marketing guy who landed a position in the White Sox front office. The rest, as they say, is history.

So Edie arranged to have a Merc Night at Old Comiskey Park. Several hundred 20-somethings and 30+ ers grouped up for a night of baseball and camaraderie. After a few hours of tailgating, we all gathered in the outfield picnic area for more beer and food. Around the top of the second inning the mob moved to its section.

A young trader named Tony E., who roomed in college with a promising Golfer named Freddy Couples and star-eyed communications major named James Nance, hand signaled the beer vendor for roughly 48 Old Style tall boys. Some one on the end of the aisle called for 3 (or so) and Tony waved in the rest shouting "Balance!" like he was tidying up odd lot TED Spreads. A veteran trader, Doug S. and I bid up hundred dollar bills with the peanut vendor for his entire stock. Apprehensive at first, he relinquished the salty snacks under our 1 demand that we got to wear the strap. His only squeamish request was we not throw the bags. Sure buddy, we won't throw 'em. What transpired next was 2/3 Animal House food fight and 1/3 Elf snowball fight.

Traders were buying up snacks and hurling them at each other faster than vendors could supply them. Security descended on our section in double digit numbers. Edie tried and quickly aborted an effort to restore decorum. Doug and I were escorted out early on. A steady flow of traders and runners followed us into the parking lot. By the bottom of the 3rd the Merc Section was barely populated.

We all rotated up to Lincoln Park and the Four Farthings for the 4 a.m. last call. By 7 the next morning, we were all back in the Money Pits shouting at each other. They tried another Merc Night but it was heavily guarded and less attended. But we left our mark in the storied history of Old Comiskey back when what would become the biggest futures product of all time was in its infancy.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *