Thursday, February 03, 2005

Bond traders behaving badly

It's a shame that this Wall Street Journal story is subscription only because it's a hilarious account (to the extent that these things can be funny) of how a group of Citibank bond traders in London tried to manipulate the market in European government bonds last summer. Besides wanting to make a ton of money, it seems that the traders had an understandable fixation with Austin Powers films, something we have ourselves (such as in this most recent reference).

Basically the traders put in huge bids in the bond futures market to drive up the price in the spot market, and then dumped a huge bond holding into the latter at the artifically high price. European regulators have since decided that this was market manipulation. So where's the laughter? The traders named the overall strategy "Dr. Evil," and the sub-component where they built up the initial futures postiion was called Mini-me.

And the sums of money involved would have lent themselves to repeated Dr. Evil style pronunciations of million and billion, complete with his trademark little-finger-to-lip motion. One wonders, when Dubya's moronic budgeteers are coming up with their lunatic Social Security "reform" plan, do they engage in the same high-jinks behind the scenes?

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