V.7:1 (13-15): Into the Pit by Joseph Wilson

V.7:1 (13-15): Into the Pit by Joseph Wilson
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Into the Pit by Joseph Wilson

In December 1985, I was approved for membership to the Chicago Mercantile Exchange. I obtained a membership to the Index and Options Market, which gave me the right to trade the S&P 500 futures. Let me digress for a moment. As you may already be aware, the S&P 500 futures have taken the brunt of the heat from the regulators who are looking for a scapegoat for the October 1987 crash in the stock market. I disagree with their criticisms, but that is another story.

The "big guys" trade the futures market in two ways: first, as a hedge for the stock portfolios and second, in arbitrage situations, taking advantage of short-term disparities between the cash and futures prices. The players in this pit are huge, sometimes trading 2,000 to 3,000 contracts at a time. Yes, Virginia, this pit is the big time where millionaires and paupers are created daily. The difference between the first and second can be based on decisions made in a few seconds.

And now to continue: Upon receiving approval for membership I had to pick out a broker's badge to wear on my jacket while on the floor. The badge is about 3 inches by 4 inches and contains no more than three letters. This is your ID for other traders. When you complete a trade it is processed with your floor badge ID on it. I picked DOW (for Dow Jones Industrials) and, because no other member had it, I got it.

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