How Bad Are the Politics at Your Shop?

Mod Note (Andy): Best of Eddie, this was originally posted in October 2013.

Like many of you I'm sure, I was a bit shocked to hear of Simon Warshaw's retirement from UBS on the heels of the massive Vodaphone deal. Part of me says he's just going out on top after 27 years, but another part of me thinks it doesn't add up. I mean, why leave months before bonus season when you've just closed a monster deal?

Evidently I'm not the only one to think that. According to Sarah Butcher, it may have been office politics that drove him out, and she goes on to wonder if UBS has become the most political bank on the street. That got me thinking about office politics and how it affects all of us on some level.

I'll be the first to admit that I'm not much of a team player. Well, let me back up a minute. If my team is comprised of intelligent, driven individuals like myself, then I imagine I could pull it off. I just haven't encountered that scenario in the corporate environment. And because I don't always play well with others, I've often borne the brunt of office politics.

Do the Rich Work Harder?

"Blast from the past - Best of Eddie" - This one is originally from December 2010. If there's an old post from Eddie you'd like to see up again shoot me a message.

Sorry for the delay this morning, guys. I'm back in the States and writing this from a CC's coffee shop in New Orleans. It's good to be back in the ol' U.S. of A. Anyway, this is a conversation I've been wanting to have on the site for awhile. Do the rich work harder than the poor in America, or are they just lucky? This Journal article from late September lays out the case.

According to Virgin's Richard Branson, luck has more to do with it than hard work. I can't really say for sure, as I've done fairly well in life and I've worked very hard (at times), but I'm also the luckiest bastard I know. If past is truly prologue (and I believe it is) then being rescued as an infant from a London orphanage by an American family had more to do with my success in life than anything that happened after that. And no one, least of all me, could ever claim that wasn't anything but a giant stroke of unbelievable luck.

Who Is Rich?

Mod Note (Andy): Best of Eddie, this was originally posted in September 2010. To see all of our top content from the past, click here. If there's an old post from Eddie you'd like to see up again, shoot me a message.

Who is rich? This is the perennial question in any progressive tax scheme. Where you draw the line makes a big difference to a lot of people. With the sun about to set on the Bush tax cuts, the debate is raging online, and I wanted to find out what you guys think. First, the preliminaries:

Those people making $250,000 a year or more seem to be the targeted income level to be considered "rich" in America. But they'd be the first to tell you that they're not. Two recent news pieces have the debate raging. The first was written by a Chicago law professor. I guess it was so incendiary that the original piece was taken down, but you get the gist from the above link. Even at $455,000, the good prof is barely making ends meet.

Meat on the Street

Mod Note (Andy): Best of Eddie, this was originally posted in October 2010. To see all of our top content from the past, click here.

The worst trading error of my career (if you don't count my second marriage) was in Natural Gas, and it was a doozy. I don't remember the exact circumstances, but I screwed the pooch somehow and before I knew it the loss to the firm (for which I was personally liable) was well into the five figures. This wasn't me being wrong about the direction of the market, mind you, because that happened all the time. This was a bona fide, fat finger trading error - which almost never happened. I got called into the big man's office and he sent me home while he decided my fate.

He called me later that day and told me to meet him for dinner at Morton's, where we would discuss "my future with the firm". When I arrived at the restaurant I saw him, his second-in-command toady, and our research director out of Miami, a truly gigantic specimen who went almost 400 pounds. Whatever. I sat down and ordered a Mount Gay on the rocks, some bacon-wrapped scallops, a rare prime rib, garlic mashed potatoes, and a very nice Meritage to wash it all down. If I was about to get the ax, at least I'd have a full belly and a decent buzz.

Academia Sinks Its Hooks In Young

Mod Note (Andy): Best of Eddie, this was originally posted on 7/30/12. To see all of our top content from the past, click here.

I think you guys will get a kick out of this because I sure did. My boys are home for summer vacation. They're 7 and 9 years old, and they're about to enter second and fourth grade, respectively. We were walking home from lunch today when, out of the blue, my 9-year old asks me, "Dad, did you go to college?"

Now, I suspect he knew the answer because I'm sure we've talked about it at some point, but maybe he couldn't get his head around it. So I answered, "No, I didn't go to college." After a moment of silence, my 7-year old speaks up:

"So you're a dirtbag?"

5 Things a Dog Can Teach You About Trading

Mod Note (Andy): Best of Eddie, this was originally posted in March 2011. To see all of our top content from the past, click here.

That handsome guy to the left is my boy Hudson. As you can probably tell, he's a pretty cool customer. We rescued him after Hurricane Katrina, and he'd been living on his own for a month in the flooded city. When I found him, he was about two-thirds dead; he was starving, dehydrated, and somewhere along the way he'd been shot in the leg. He didn't trust me at first so I had to trap him, which is always a risky thing with a wild and desperate dog. I guess he just didn't have any fight left in him though, because he just sort of collapsed in my arms and let me carry him to the truck. He's been by my side ever since.

At one point in the movie Wall Street, Gordon Gekko advises Bud, "If you want a friend, get a dog." Truer words were never spoken. But dogs aren't just great for companionship, as I've learned from hanging out with Hudson the past several years. Dogs have innate instincts that would make them successful traders if only they had opposable thumbs. Let's face it: open outcry pits sound like a dog pound most days. Here are 5 things a dog can teach you about trading:

How To Become a Search Ninja

Mod Note (Andy): Best of Eddie, this was originally posted on 7/23/12. To see all of our top content from the past, click here.

I came across this about a month ago and I've been meaning to share it with you guys ever since. In our Internet-driven modern world, the ability to effectively search the web has become increasingly important. Sure, anyone can type something into Google and click on the first couple links, but what about real search? How do you go about using the awesome power of Google to answer seemingly impossible questions?

For example:

How Much Do You Drink?

Mod Note (Andy): Best of Eddie, this was originally posted on 5/7/12. To see all of our top content from the past, click here.

"If you took all the heavy drinkers out of finance, you'd be left with like two bond analysts and an ATM machine."

I actually laughed out loud when I heard the above quote on last week's episode of Blue Bloods (great show, by the way). Detective Danny Reagan was questioning a couple of BSD's at what appeared to be a pseudo-boiler room over the ring death of a young associate in a boxing match they'd set up. He asked if the kid was a heavy drinker and that's what they told him.

It was certainly true in my day. We even had a semi-rigid drinking schedule worked out: Monday through Thursday you'd have a few drinks to calm down at get to sleep at night. I'd like to say a couple of glasses of wine with dinner, but we were always in the office for dinner. Friday was always a big day. Friday was the day you got annihilated after the close. The market closed at 1 in the afternoon in California, and we were in the bar by 1:30. Friday afternoons were all about blowing off steam by power drinking until you blacked out.

Trailer for The Big Short

Mod Note (Andy): I'm posting this up again as the movie is coming out this Friday, can't wait!

Why You're So Easy to Replace

Mod Note (Andy): Best of Eddie, this was originally posted in 2010. To see all of our top content from the past, click here.

"The meek shall inherit the earth, but not its mineral rights." - John Paul Getty

After a particularly brutal day at the office, you might go home feeling like you're nothing more than a tiny cog in a vast investment banking machine. Hours of mundane labor leave you feeling like your contribution will never be recognized. You wonder if you've made the right career decision, and you wonder how much longer you can stand being just a cog in the machine.

You need to take a deep breath, relax, and quit flattering yourself. Even on your best day, you're not a cog in the machine. When a cog breaks down, people actually notice. You're more like the sandy bit of grease that gets squeezed out between the cogs. Completely expendable, and wiped away with as much thought as any other industrial nuisance.

Get ready, because I'm fixin' to lay some ugly truth on you.

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