Casino Royale

The scent and stink and sweat of a trading floor are nauseating at eight in the morning.  Bacon sandwiches and lashings of hot black coffee on top of the previous evening's excess are sufficient to blow an ill wind through even the most iron of constitutions, and in the close quarters of a trading desk there is a palpable atmosphere of discomfort.   Then the soul-erosion produced by trading- a compost of greed and fear and nervous tension- becomes almost unbearable as the senses awake and attempt to revolt from it.

James Bond sat at his desk and looked at the bank of multi-coloured numbers flashing merrily on his trading screens.  He told himself to stay focused, to not get distracted by his neighbour exhaling heavily and fanning himself with a folded tabloid newspaper.  Instinct told him that danger lurked below the quiet surface of the market like a barracuda in search of prey.

Bond glanced at his watch.   The burnished steel hands on the black lacquered face of his Rolex Submariner read 8.09 on the first Friday of the month.  Ninety minutes earlier he had been behind the wheel of his Bentley Continental GT Speed, harnessing each of its 645 horses as he made a racing change onto Park Avenue and sped towards midtown at ninety.

The memory of the Bentley's throbbing engine brought the hint of a smile to .his face.  As a young man Bond had been introduced to the marque by his first Chief, M3, that grizzled relic of an earlier era.  Under the old man's direction Bond had been to Hell and back, but regarded him with the special affection that the most successful young traders feel for a tough but fair mentor who pushes them to their limits.

As the world became more complicated, however, M3's ability to influence policy decisions waned, and he had finally been put out to pasture for good in 2006. Bond still missed the days when the red phone would ring with an order from M3 that would put him in positions of almost unbelievable danger.  For much of the past several years, however, he had had to navigate an environment of seemingly perpetual crisis, including a series of harrowing adventures aboard the QE2 and her sister ships.

He returned his gaze to the screen.  The prices seemed hesitant, unsure, almost as if they were awaiting the orders of a higher authority.  Bond sighed and sat back in his chair.  He caught a movement out of the corner of his eye and swiveled his head.   Miss Moneypenny, the delectable team secretary, was walking down the aisle with a sheaf of papers in her hand.  She gave him a winsome smile as she dropped them on his desk.  "From Research Section, James."

"Moneypenny, is tonight the night?   Champagne and caviar after the close?"   He gave her a huge wink.

"Oh James, don't tempt me," she said breathlessly, and with a swirl of her just-long-enough skirts marched back to her desk in the corner of the trading floor.

Bond grinned and glanced at the papers.  Most of them were routine dockets which he ticked off quickly and put in a pile destined for the shredder.  One, however, labeled "Most Immediate: Le Chiffre" caught his eye.  He picked it up and read.

To:  All personnel

From: Research Section

Station W has learned that an agent known  as Le Chiffre is likely to be operating in financial markets at approximately 8.30 am on the morning of Friday, 1 August.  Mr. Le Chiffre (alias The Number, The Cypher, Nicolas-Francois Parolle) is believed to be a member of an organization known as SMERKT, the name of which derives from the Russian smert' k torgam, 'death to trading.'  It is our view, along with the American BLS and FOMC, that this organization is dedicated to the destruction of the trading profits of Western financial institutions.   Our Board believe that it could prove as inimical to our interests as SMERSH and SPECTRE were several years ago.

Le Chiffre is thought to be an erratic adversary who may not be what he seems at first glance.  All agents are ordered to keep an immediate watch out for Le Chiffre, to notify headquarters if he is located, and to take appropriate action to neutralize the impact of his scheme on our interests.

Bond put the report down and leaned forward into his desk, wincing his eyes and concentrating.  Le Chiffre....Le Chiffre.   Bond couldn't quite dispel the notion that he knew that name.   But from where?

He picked up the paper and studied the list of aliases carefully.   "The Number"....he was sure that he had encountered something like that before, and that it hadn't been a pleasant experience.  Absent-mindedly, Bond slipped his hand into his pocket and fingered the miniature laminated Warwick PPE degree that he liked to keep hidden.  The PPE had gotten him out of tight spots before....would he need it again today?

His eyes flicked to his watch again.   8.25, the dial told him silently.  Almost time for Le Chiffre to make his appearance.  Bond cursed silently and told himself to think harder, to penetrate this shadowy figure that represented "death to trading."

On his Bloomberg terminal from IT Branch, Bond punched in the letters "ECO US" and hit enter.  Scrolling backwards, he noticed an entry entitled "ADP" for Wednesday, with a tiny "215" next to it.  Something about this line didn't look right.  What government agency releases something called an ADP?

Bond found himself reaching for the red phone button that connected directly to Headquarters.   Slipping on his wireless headset, he hunched over his desk and covered the mouthpiece with his hand to avoid being overheard.

"Bill?  It's me,  Bond.   I think I have a lead on Le Chiffre.  I found a suspicious entry when reviewing the US economic calendar.  Something called ADP.  It doesn't fit with the rest of the data releases, and I'm sure it will give us a line into what Le Chiffre is going to do.   How good of a line I don't know, but it's all I have to go on now, other than the general profile of how Le Chiffre has behaved in the past."

"Okay, keep following that trail and see if it leads to Le Chiffre," said the dry voice at the other end of the line.  "If you find him, at this point you won't have much time to counteract him.   Use your instincts and do the best you can.  And 007," the voice said, almost as an afterthought.  "Be careful."

Bond had earned the coveted 00 prefix, which gave him license to trade any asset that caught his fancy.   Most of the agents on the desk were specialists; there were only three of them that had won the right to join the 00 section.

Bond scrolled forward on his ECO US screen until the day's date- August 1- appeared.   His eyes scanned the entries, then stopped at one line.   He felt his blood turn cold.  "Non-farm payrolls."   NFP.   Nicolas-Francois Parolle.  The Number.  Le Chiffre.

In his mind's eye he could see himself seated at a table with Le Chiffre and other indistinct figures, his hands on the green baize of the table's surface.    He could hear the riffle of the cards, his voice saying "Banco", receiving a good hand.  Bond then imagined a slow smile on the face of Le Chiffre, the dispassionate voice of the croupier saying "Neuf a la banque.   Monsieur Le Chiffre gagne."

Bond shook his head to clear the vision and tried to forget the imaginary defeat.   The digital clock on his screen said 8.29:55.   He took a deep breath and got ready to enter the Casino Royale.

Who will win?   Bond or Le Chiffre? Watch your screens at 8.30 am EDT to find out. 




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Anonymous
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August 1, 2014 at 8:28 AM ×

Brilliant !

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Anonymous
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August 1, 2014 at 8:32 AM ×

Really good one, ejoyed it and already looking for part 2 after the NFP :-)

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Anonymous
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August 1, 2014 at 8:43 AM ×

Excellent! Thanks very much for this one and all the rest.

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Anonymous
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August 1, 2014 at 9:31 AM ×

haha excellent

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CV
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August 1, 2014 at 9:47 AM ×

Brillian MM, I think Le Chiffre will get the better of our dear hero today. It has been a pretty poor week already, and that DAX chart is just too ugly for me too look at right now. Luckily, the cash pile is healthy at my end (call option on vol and all that), but I am not inclined to catch any of this. As for BES, the main risk for me is exactly that it is bailed out which really means that equity holders, at least, will get bailed in and thus taken out.

Best call it an early weekend for me, but best of luck to all of you on the NFP number and play safe!

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Anonymous
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August 1, 2014 at 10:02 AM ×

Brilliant!

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amplitudeinthehouse
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August 1, 2014 at 10:08 AM ×

Enjoyed that! but it should mention that James may be swinging @ the wrong person.....

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amplitudeinthehouse
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August 1, 2014 at 10:17 AM ×

Let's face it , James has been around long enough to know who's who in the Zoo, as for the other guy , his still a pup.

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Anonymous
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August 1, 2014 at 10:36 AM ×

Love it!

Hmm Warwick PPE? Shurely shome mishtake? Oxford, natch.

Also - both will lose, some HFT sponsored news agency with access to the lock-in will release the data through their own direct microwave towers :) to the trading firm in machine readable format and be trading milliseconds ahead of everyone else. Humans are toast, or lunch...

All the same, good luck all.
JL

As an aside I dont think 10s break the 2.44/66 summer range, and look like edu5 & z5 false breaks.
Bigger aside: labour mkt issues are the big elephants (prod & wage growth/share), as Stan calls it "the piketty effect", and CB don't really have the levers but they seem to think they do.

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Anonymous
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August 1, 2014 at 1:29 PM ×

Bravissimo dude...

ciao f

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Anonymous
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August 1, 2014 at 4:26 PM ×

Brilliant! And we are looking forward to next week, ECB and BOE and RBA and ...Bond

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Anonymous
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August 2, 2014 at 12:45 AM ×

joining the other anoms, excellent!

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