Mod note: "Blast from the Past - Best of Eddie" - This one is originally from 11/11
**SPOILER ALERT** This post is going to discuss aspects of the. If you haven't seen the movie and are concerned I might ruin it for you, skip this post.
We had a discussion about the movie Margin Call last week and, while some of you didn't think much of the movie, I really liked it. I think the movie gives you plenty of food for thought, and illustrates a situation very similar to what happened at MF Global over the past week.
One of the most interesting aspects of the movie to me was the impact of the bank'sproblem on the rank and file traders. They came to work that day thinking everything was normal and found out at the meeting that it would be their last day. As if that weren't bad enough, they were instructed to destroy their own careers that day by burying their trusted counterparties in toxic assets. As compensation for destroying what was essentially their life's work to that point, each individual trader was offered a $1.4 million dollar one-off bonus if he achieved a 93% clearance rate (in other words, if he sold 93% or more of the toxic assets he was tasked with selling), and the entire offered an additional $1.3 million bonus apiece if the entire department achieved 93% clearance.
Here's how the options break down as I see it:
- Spend the day burying your book to make the bonus, knowing that at the end of the day you'll be out of work and probably never work on the Street again
- Spend the day looking for a new job, knowing that at the end of the day you'll be out of work and
- You might not find another job or,
- Even if you do find another job, the market going forward is going to be so shitty that you're going to take a massive hit to your income
- You walk out the door without ever picking up the phone
The bottom line is that you're out of work at the end of the day no matter what. So do you refuse to screw the people who trust you and cost yourself the bonus money? Or do you say screw it and sell all the crap on your books, knowing full well that you're hosing people who trust you (and are probably friends of yours on some level) and that doing so is probably going to cost them their jobs (let's face it: banks aren't very forgiving of traders who are taken in and scammed by other traders)?
Is $2.7 million today enough to convince you to screw everyone and walk away from it all? How about $1.4 million (assuming the floor didn't reach its goal, but you reached yours)? Remember: you're out of work at the end of the day no matter what you do.
I'm interested to hear what you guys think. Keep in mind it's not show friends, it's show business. Would $1.4 million in one day be enough to make you throw your career away? If not, how about $2.7 million?
As much as I hate this aspect of my personality, I have to say I'd take the money.