Notes from the floor

In 2007, the financial markets crashed. I was working in London, on the trading floor.

Joanna Dunis Finance London

I just watched The Big Short and it all came running back to me: the trading floor, the suits,
the greys, the ties, the blackberries, the smell of Red Bull in the morning,
the freezing meeting rooms, the weekends with women managers taking their newborns to work,
the phones ringing, the shady pricing, my total and complete incompetence,
the total and complete incompetence of more than half the people I met on the trading floor,
the CDSs, the CDOs, the ratings, the first time my boss explained securitization,
the feeling I had when it all seemed a bit vague, the thought that I was just too stupid to understand it,
the realisation that no-one thoroughly understood any of it,
that you just had to run with it and make believe,
the fat old reinsurers in Zurich I talked into buying bonds because I was nice and young and they were bored,
the day I asked why we would only cover risk in the US, Western Europe and Japan when the real shit happens in Bangladesh or the Caribbean,
the anxiety I felt when I was told I was being promoted, the anxiety I felt most of the time,
the times I wept and the times I slept in the toilets,
the stomach ache I had when I told my boss I was leaving,
the eyes glowing with envy when word spread that I resigned,
the blurry end to 2007, the hope of a new life in 2008,
the spring picnics in Primrose Hill with friends starting to get anxious,
the summer picnics in Primrose Hill with friends still believing everything would be fine,
my 25th birthday party on September 14th,
my disappointment when a friend from Lehman couldn’t make it because he had to work late that evening,
my hangover the next morning when I heard that Lehman crashed,
the anxiety exploding everywhere,
the Christmas sale starting before Christmas,
friends waiting all day for their phones to ring,
friends describing entire floors being swept away, but then, quite soon,
friends receiving bonuses again…
I feel sick in my stomach when I think about it all but I hate to admit it: somewhere, deep down, it still gets me high on adrenaline. I am a monster. I am a monster. A sleepless monster.

Photo credits: Joanna Dunis