My first order. I felt thrilled and immediately called the U.S. treasury trader in New York and sold him three million dollars' worth of treasury bonds. Then I shouted over to the London corporate bond trader, “You can do three million of the ATTs,” trying, of course, to sound as if it really weren't that big a deal, just another trade, like going for a walk in the park.
There was in every office of Salomon a systemwide loudspeaker, called the hoot and holler or just the hoot. Apart from money, success at Salomon meant having your name shouted over the hoot. The AT&T trader's voice came loudly over the hoot: “Mike Lewis has just sold three million of our AT and Ts for us, a great trade for the desk, thank you very much, Mike.”
I was flushed with pride. Flushed with pride, you understand. But something didn't quite fit. What did he mean, “Our AT and Ts”? I hadn't realized the AT&T bonds had been on Salomon's trading books. I had thought my trader friend had snapped them up from stupid dealers at other firms. If the bonds were ours to begin with . . .
Dash was staring at me, disbelieving. “You sold those bonds? Why?” he asked.
“Because the trader said it was a great trade,” I said.
“Nooooooo.” Dash put his head in his hands, as if in pain. I could see he was smiling. No, laughing. “What else is a trader going to say?” he said. “He's been sitting on that position for months. It's underwater. He's been dying to get rid of it. Don't tell him I told you this, but you're going to get fucked.”