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Once a Trader, Always a Trader – Lloyd Blankfein

Once a Trader, Always a Trader

Lloyd Blankfein just can NOT stop his day trading.

Every day, the 67-year-old former Goldman Sachs CEO conducts multiple transactions in his own account, mostly in equities and commodities, but also in currencies on occasion.

 

Anyone who has worked on an institutional trading desk may readily identify this behavior: Once a trader, always a trader.

 

A pickle cannot revert to its original form. It’s ingrained in your DNA and shapes your worldview. Each circumstance contains an opportunity or does not have one. There is always an opportunity to earn money. You cannot quit working just because you have reached retirement age.

 

“Investing is a kind of addiction. It has a strong resemblance to gambling, despite the fact that experienced traders say that it is not “Jared Dillian contributes to the article.

Blankfein asserts that he awakens in the middle of the night to monitor foreign markets and conduct business. Whether it’s stocks, roulette, horses, or cryptocurrency, some individuals just cannot feel alive until they’re taking calculated risks.

 

Lloyd Blankfein Proves Once a Trader, Always a Trader

We discovered this week that former Goldman Sachs Group Inc. Chief Executive Officer Lloyd Blankfein had some free time on his hands after failing to move into a policymaking post in Washington, as so many other former Goldman Sachs executives have done. What is he doing with his time? Trading. Blankfein, 67, told Bloomberg News that he trades in his own account multiple times a day, often equities and commodities but sometimes currencies.

Anyone who has worked on an institutional trading desk is well aware of this behavior: Once a trader, always a trader. A pickle cannot revert to becoming a cucumber. It’s ingrained in your DNA and has an effect on how you see the world. Every scenario, whether favorable or unfavorable, has an opportunity. There is always somewhere where money can be produced. You cannot stop working just because you are retired.

 

Trading is a kind of addiction.

It has many similarities with gambling, despite the fact that professional traders assert that it is not gambling. However, once you’ve purchased a financial instrument and seen its value vary, it’s difficult to resist the excitement of putting money at risk. Blankfein asserts that he rises in the middle of the night to monitor overseas markets and do business. I did the same thing at one time in my career. It’s enjoyable, but not for everyone. Whether it’s stocks, roulette, horses, or cryptocurrency, many individuals just do not feel alive until they’re taking risks.

For someone who earns a career by taking calculated risks in their work lives, it might be difficult to turn that risk off in their personal lives. Traders are often libertines, succumbing to a range of irrational emotions. This was more prevalent 20 years ago, prior to Wall Street’s cultural transformation as a consequence of the financial crisis. However, I don’t see many risk takers who are terribly uninteresting individuals these days. In your personal life, taking a risk often entails doing something you should not, coupled by the excitement of the chance of being caught. This action is not wrong in my opinion; it just comes with the territory.

My first exposure to finance occurred in 1999 on the Pacific Coast Options Exchange’s open-outcry trading floor. I scheduled an informal meeting with one of the market makers who was actively trading options on Sun Microsystems stock. I entered a dim, musty room filled with computer displays displaying colorful figures. Everyone was dressed in trading smocks and shoes, shouting at one another and scattering scraps of paper. I had no clue what, but I adored the setting.

One thing you’ll notice about rookie traders is that they begin speaking in what seems to be a foreign language after a few months. They say stuff like “I’m out for lunch” or “I’m bidding on that watch in my size.” They had lunch at Del Frisco’s restaurant and begin donning silly vests. Although vests were not popular when I was a trader, the equally ridiculous $200 ties were. Trading is not a 9-to-5 profession with a lunch pail and thermos; it becomes a part of who you are and immerses you in a culture that the majority of people find weird.

A Dunkin’ Donuts was just across the street from my office at Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc. in the early 2000s. There was no doubt about it: the lady who worked at the cash register was outstanding. She was capable of serving five clients simultaneously, speaking three languages, and making change in less than a second. She was one of the fastest mathematicians I’ve ever seen. The Lehman traders admired her and even considered recruiting her! She would have been an excellent coworker. She was quick to make decisions, determined, and brutally efficient. And she seemed to be blessed with a competitive spirit that might have elevated her to great heights on Wall Street.

I’m still trading thirteen years after leaving Wall Street, but at a considerably reduced frequency. Even yet, my broker is aware that I will continue to argue over the conditions of executing a deal. And I can’t help but reflect on how fortunate I have been to work in the financial markets. For the majority of individuals, the stock market is a vast mystery that beyond human comprehension. I had an excellent education on Wall Street and have been gifted with the ability to profit from market fluctuations – a gift that will last a lifetime.

To be honest, of all the conceivable career routes taken by former Goldman Sachs executives in public service, I’m much more jealous of Blankfein and his day trading (and his philanthropy). That is what I want to be doing when I am 67 — trading up a storm and enjoying my best life — and avoiding politics by a thousand miles. Jon Corzine, Hank Paulson, Gary Cohn, Steve Mnuchin, and Robert Kaplan all joined public service and undoubtedly received more than they bargained for. Trading is a rewarding way to live, and it is not a meaningless way of life.

This column does not necessarily represent the editorial board’s or Bloomberg LP’s or its owners’ views.

Jared Dillian is the editor and publisher of The Daily Dirtnap, a Mauldin Economics investment analyst, and the author of “Street Freak” and “All the Evil in the World.” He may have a financial interest in the subjects he writes about.

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