A day in the Liffe – a brokers memories

I read the news today, oh boy
About a lucky man who made the grade
And though the news was rather sad
Well, I just had to laugh

 

A day in the Liffe – a broker’s memories

Over the last weekend I watched a good, not great but good Gangster movie called Sexy Beast which features Ben Kingsley playing a foul mouthed London criminal called Don Logan . Don Logan has difficulty uttering a sentence without swearing often using multiple repetitions of words in dialogue such as  “Not this time, Gal. Not this time. Not this fucking time. No. No no no no no no no no no! No! No no no no no no no no no no no no no! No! Not this fucking time! No fucking way! No fucking way, no fucking way, no fucking way! You’ve made me look a right cunt!”. Oddly enough this dialogue transported me back to my days on the Financial Futures floor as a broker and in particular one client on one day .

The day in particular was the day that Britain was ushered out of the ERM in disgrace and the client in question was the Euro Dollar  Dealer at a British Clearing Bank . Peter , known to all and sundry as Nosher ,was a huge trader and afraid of no one and no institution in London , Chicago or Tokyo . .At the time the London clearing Banks were just starting to realise that their ability to dominate the London markets had come to end with the growing influence of the large American trading houses such as Salomans , Goldmans, Lehman .  Nosher didn’t care and  would get on the phone and scream a torrent of abuse at whoever had the misfortune to answer the phone, normally me , and growl a buy or sell order out . Somewhere I have an old cassette of him screaming a string of abuse at me . It may seem odd that I have kept this old recording for 25 odd years but it always reminds of what a day on the floor encompassed.

I would normally wake at 5.30 in the morning, amazingly I often still do , to catch up on the news . In 1992 it was a different world as there were no 24 hour news channels and so I would rely on the fax that our office in New York, with the closing rates, had sent over and listen to a BBC news programme called “Dawn Traders”. This would be followed by a call to the Tokyo office of the Prebon Yamane where a friend would give me a feel for the market. After digesting this and 3 cups of black coffee with the dog walked I would answer the knock on the door where the driver would be with my partner Bunker and off we would go. Now I should just explain the driver. At the time the Government were running a scheme called YTS (youth training scheme) to get kids off the dole queue and into work. My partner Bunker and I decided to employ one whose main job was to drive us into work and then take the car back and collect us at the end of the day. This served two purposes it got us to work  and more importantly avoided mini cabs and for me the embarrassment of the banter with the driver when occasionally  my partner would claim “ I’ve got suits in my wardrobe worth more than this car mate “.

Having arrived on the trading floor at about 7.30, after a delicious Bacon Bagel from Birleys next to the exchange , we would check our position for out-trades and errors and start working out where the market would open . How were the opening prices calculated back then? We would call the FRA (Forward Rate Agreement on interest rates ) and Swap desks of a money broker who would give us a run-down of the prices that they were trading  and we would then calculate where the markets would open taking into account whether the yield curve had changed and if so whether the spreads between months would have widened or tightened . Having done this we would hit the phones to our clients and tell them our views and try and pick their brains on how they saw the market opening. Our clients ranged from our overseas offices, to banks and finally locals (an independent trader) and other floor companies who may wish to disguise their orders by using us . After 25 years I can still see the dealing board and remember the codes for our clients. For example button 4 was Kop ….who was Kop? Kop was a Hedge Fund in Bermuda whose dealer was Jerry Peele and as any upstanding Brit knows the first police were formed by Robert Peele and known as Peelers but this of course may draw attention to who we had on the other end of the phone so we were amazingly inventive and change this to Kop which of course is modern slang for police!

By the time the first pits opened at 8.20 we had all our buy and sell orders ready and our pit trader knew them. Danny, (Danny The Rot, so called because at 18 he was as aggressive as a Rottweiler), was ready with his cards and the junior trader behind him was using his hands to communicate the pre-market orders . In the booth 3 of us were on two phones each to our biggest clients whilst a junior also had two phones one to our overseas offices and one to Prebons, the money broker. At the time a voice commentary was quicker than the screens and also could add in colour such as the size of the order and who was buying. I must say it was one of the most awful jobs going as the money brokers would be dealing off the prices and if he or she gave a wrong quote the would have a telephone launched at them . It sounds awful behaviour and it was but I still see my old yellow jacket (Junior traders and Runners had to wear a yellow jacket ), David , at Football matches and he holds no grudges. Well apart from the motorbike story which I may well expand on in the next column!

The market erupts as the bell goes into a cacophony of noise, numbers and colour with what seems likes bodies flying around as traders are physically pulled from the pit, hand signals flashed in and fills shouted back. As each fill or part fill is given as few words as possible were screamed down the clients squawk box often using cockney slang. The client would just hear something like “monkey at 48 done “which translated to “You’ve sold 500 lots at 8548”. Or possibly a part fill “Ayrton done working 90 “ meaning you’ve done 10 lots ( Ayrton short for Ayrton Senna meaning Tenner ) and I am still trying on the other 90 .

All day long this seemingly chaotic madness would go on and I can only liken it to music such as when the Beatles were at the most experimental or the primal noise and aggression of The Who, not being a great classical expert perhaps Shostakovich mirrors it as well. Whilst the noise was like The Who the colour was like Kandinsky at his wildest – just a blur of jackets with each colour representing a company and a role on the floor. Buying and Selling often multiple times for the same client within minutes as the news or rumours of news changed the feel of the market until at last the closing bells start chiming from 4.00 . No lunch breaks, no coffee breaks anything but standing shouting, gesturing and screaming for 8 and a bit hours. By the close of business you were too tired to eat and just want to make sure that all your trades match up and either get home or get to the Jam Pot for a few pints. At this point I must come back to why I still have a cassette after all the years.

It is not that I hold Nosher’s verbal garbage in particular high regard; although he could be a very funny man out of the market over dinner it is because it reminds me of what it took to be a floor broker. At the end of the day with Britain’s withdrawal still up in the air we were reading back to the clients what they had bought and sold to make sure that there had been no errors and no unwanted positions . All the phone calls were taped so that any dispute could be settled by the evidence that tape revealed. This particular tape had maybe 30 uses of a particular F word and a dozen or so where various people are described as useless C***s including myself , Norman Lamont and John Major and probably my father for fathering me!  During this string of expletives there is an order of “ Buy 50 at 48 “  and a couple of seconds later the response “filled” from me . Peter thought he had bought 50 lots when in fact I had heard only 50 at 48 which meant sell in our terminology. (We were very strict and a client had to say paid for and sold at).Having listened to the tape I was wheeled down to see the chief dealer to explain the error who, thank god, accepted that we were right and that the order had been given incorrectly. That was about £60,000 pounds saved.

By 9.00 we were still sorting and matching orders but it seemed clear that we had had a record day in terms of volumes traded and had only a few errors .Bunker and I got into the car and went home hardly able to speak just ready for a TV dinner and bed with prayers that our punt came good .

There is nothing new about fake news. Rumour, fact and revisions.

If you want to know ’bout the bishop and the actress
If you want to know how to be a star
If you want to know ’bout the stains on the mattress
You can read it in the Sunday papers
Sunday papers

Joe Jackson

It occurred to me that many of you , my dear readers , will have no idea of how news was gathered and disseminated in previous eras and as information played such an important role in the day that I last described I would like  to share a few more memories revolving around its gathering , use and importance .

News has been the lifeblood of the financial markets since time immemorial. Despite appearances my experiences only go back to the mid-1970s. Even in that, to me, short period of time the way news has been gathered, presented and disseminated has radically changed. Late last year I attended the funeral of my first City boss. William Romney Cooper Dyson. Even the name now seems reminiscent of a bygone era. After the funeral I was sharing a glass or two with some old colleagues from what seemed another life. I will not embarrass myself with describing some of their memories of the shy and callow youth that I was, but I will share a memory of one of William (Bill) Dyson’s great pontifications –which I will always remember him saying , as he looked at a newly installed monitor ‘This is the day the market died’.

What was Bill referring to? None other than the introduction of the first Reuters screens displaying prices from other brokers and banks  .This innovation occurred in the mid 1970’s and up to that point Reuters had been purely a news service and the pricing of financial instruments from overnight funds through to bonds and gilts had been the preserve of each individual broker . To clarify this, which may seem shocking these days, we kept a book in front of us and made the prices from the buying and selling orders that our colleagues gleaned. We were in fact blind and our equivalent to the now ubiquitous price screens was an old blackboard which the juniors kept up to date with price movements. I was one of these “board boys “and I can assure you it was amongst the worst jobs that I have had. When the market was slow you were the buck of all jokes as well as being the general errand boy. That was bad enough, but when the market was busy you were constantly chalking up changing prices and remember this was a “held “market. A held market was where the broker had to justify and deal on the price he made …or pay the difference between the prices quoted and those dealt at  .I can still hear the shout of “ difference “ or “cheque book “ when things went wrong . The reason Bill was so anti the screens was the all of a sudden our knowledge was shared outside of the environs of the dealing room and the other market participants had price transparency .Knowledge was then, and still is, power.

News and pricing, as I have described, started to make quantum leaps forward with the innovation of small fast hand held computers and radically changed the financial markets. However some institutions were reluctant to change and even in the late eighties and early nineties The Bank of England relied heavily on the nods and whispers of the top hatted discount house brokers (The Discount Houses acted as the Bank of England’s money market intermediaries, until 1996, and their dealers wore Top Hats whilst out of the office on business). The days of the Minimum Lending Rate (precursor to Base rate, the UK’s headline interest rate) for the following week being displayed in a window in the bank of England every Thursday, having had curtains dramatically drawn back, lasted till the late seventies. In those days the city was awash with runners and messengers who would dash back from the bank of England to their offices with the news .Obviously those situated closest to the bank had the edge and it is no coincidence that all the Discount Houses and The Stock Exchange floor were located within about 100 yards of the Bank of England.

Gradually as the internet became more reliable and powerful computers shrank in cost and size not only the markets changed but also its participants. But let us stay back in time for a while and loiter in the late 1980s. The worldwide futures markets were in their ascendency and the colourful chaos was in full voice .Then, as now, there were two distinct types of news which I call the predicted, such as Non-Farm payrolls which the market geared itself up for and the random walk events such as a resignation or unexpected government change of policy. The atmosphere on the floor pre the release of an important economic figure was part fear, part humour and part excitement. All your buy and sell orders were ready in ascending and descending price order, hand signals agreed , throats cleared and sightlines readied and then , from nowhere the murmuring of the tune to “ The Twilight Zone “ would start to be heard until it seemed the whole floor was humming and then , suddenly an eruption of noise as the figures broke . I genuinely don’t think anyone ever got information on the markets really early but you would occasionally see the big houses buying or selling a split second early but was that because they had better latency ? I like to think so.

The random walk of a sudden and unexpected news event is harder to describe, partly as they always seem to happen whilst I was either having breakfast or, believe it or not, afternoon tea. The look on the poor runners face as they found me sipping a cup was often of sheer panic, tea mugs and sandwiches were left as we sprinted back to the trading pits where the action was .Hard to believe now but mobile phones were in their early stages, as well as being the size of bricks, so we relied on the juniors literally to run. As a floor broker the interpretation of the flow of orders and the implication of the event needed to be immediate .Only the briefest of overviews was possible and again the feelings of exhilaration and fear overwhelmed everything.

Now the markets are automated and pricing movements are analysed instantaneously. Floor traders are no more and the last vestige of voice brokers just about hang on in the money markets with the sale and merger of the last two to become TP ICAP and as some observers have said this was a smart way of Michael Spencer ( CEO of ICAP)avoiding the redundancy claims of his brokers. Despite all this innovation there is one truism that overrides. From the days of the Rothschilds knowing that Wellington had won the Battle of Waterloo a full two days before the rest of England to thinking that you have an edge because you have non-farm payrolls first remember one thing. Wait.

There is a wide spread assumption that the Rothschild’s greatly increased their fortune by acting on the key political news that Wellington had triumphed in 1815. They had got the news days before the rest of the world first they told King George III and then waited a full two days before they acted, and then a further 18 months before realising their 40% profit. So what relevance does an act over 200 years ago have? The lesson to remember is that even in these days of 24 hour rolling news, instant analysis and rapid execution always wait for the news to sink in and be wary of the revision of the revision of the headline number .Indeed I remember on the day Great Britain left the ERM a rumour hit the market the signal went into the pit for my trader, aptly named as Nuts (he was the mutts nuts not mad!), to buy everything. In the furore that followed Nuts had his glasses knocked off and being blind as a bat had to scrabble around on the floor to retrieve them and in doing so missed the market …by the time he was back bespectacled the rumour had been denied and our buy order had changed to a sell and as such his semi blindness had saved the client a fortune!

Just remember there is no such thing as fake news just fake reactions.

West Bromwich and Scotland .Wheres the link

what a totally disastrous show by Arsenal over the weekend , yet again showing how if one is not accountable for your actions rubbish ensues . Neither the players or the manager, who get paid , are held responsible only the poor fans who pay actually suffer the burden of defeat .

Too many time have we seen this truism repeated in the markets from bankers not being held responsible for their trades where the traders can execute Rio trades through to collusion and price fixing . Until management is held responsible this behaviour will inevitably carry on.

Politicians are exactly the same they can carry on promising all sorts of myriad dreams with only the scantiest of justification . Take Scotland for example , and one could pick on virtually all politicians going back through the ages . How does Nicola Sturgeon think that Scotland will share a currency ? Nice idea but totally impractical . Perhaps we could have Scottish pounds back by the Scottish banks which the English Government have bailed out …oops that could be fun ? Perhaps backed by oil revenues …. oops they’ve gone . Oh well there is always the European Union that she is going to join, except one has to adopt the Euro which of course with a cold and rain soaked Greece joining will only strengthen.

Sturgeon can lie and lie and in the end the electorate will decide what to do at which point she can walk away having either broken the Union and her Country or broken the SNP . Tough call .

random walk

It is actually too rainy to walk anywhere be it random or otherwise so let me just mention that as its my Birthday I am going to sit and eat a lovely Maltloaf I have made and say thanks to the eating tree for the recipe !

Doris

Well I could say that the is the strongest blow iv had from a Doris since I was a drunken reprobate of a floor broker but I better not ! It is blowing a serious hooley outside as I listen to Animals by Pink Floyd – why am I listening to that …well the Pig on the cover went walkabout after the cover shot was taken and caused all types of chaos in the sky.

Talking of pigs flying ….how much longer can these markets defy logic and stay at the level they are . It does look like they are fixated purely on the strength of Amazon, Apple and the Banks . Hey Ho we will see !

I don’t care about the price – just get me out !

As we head inexorably for the day that all romantics hold dear to their hearts another event associated to that date, The St Valentine’s day massacre, has sprung to mind. The massacre in legend is when Al Capone brutally murdered 7 of Bugs Moran gang, but in my memory a date earlier in February started a financial massacre,February 4th 1994 . I can remember the unearthly, almost primal, scream that emanated from trading floors across the globe when the Federal Reserve unexpectedly moved rates upwards that day back then.

That rise was the first that the market had seen for nearly 6 years whilst the authorities had tried to waken the sleeping economy and housing market in America with artificially low rates. All of sudden the cheap financing of long dated bonds went and there was a mad dash for the exit. As always in a panic some didn’t make the door in time, great names such as Kidder Peabody and the hedge fund Askin failed to.

People argue that it can’t happen again and 1994 was prehistoric when traders relied on little green numbers on a screen and the sophistication of computers , derivatives and rocket scientists will these days save the world . Well, here’s a thing, none of these saved Lehman Bros or many of the other casualties of the last crash in 2008. Being prehistoric myself I almost felt safer in a world where complex derivatives structures were normally the basis bad Breakfast cereals not instruments constructed to bamboozle those seemingly less bright .

As a humble commentator it appears to me that the world is set for yet another severe shock to the system where we discover that the masters of the universe are really just Emperors with no clothes. Whatever your political views it seems clear that President Trump is embarking on a massive building and rebuilding project across America. I am not just referring to the proposed wall but the more important reconstruction of America’s heartlands where infrastructure has declined for many years. Whether you agree with the policy or not two things are certain there will be an inflationary push to not only wash but also raw materials .As night follows day inflation equals higher interest rates which must lead to higher bond yields.

As in 1994 this is not just a problem in America. Japan has its own problems but the disaster that is Europe as well as The UK’s withdrawal brings a whole new dimension of worry. Italian Bonds have been edging up in the last few months and are now back at levels that were last seen around July 2015 , at the height of the Greek debt crisis or should I say the nadir ? This time though things are slightly different as there is more political uncertainty in Italy than in 2015, with elections soon as well as the looming reawakening of Greece’s well documented troubles.

The United Kingdom also faces some difficult choices as imported inflation, mainly due to the drop in the Pound’s value, must push rates up. Having grown up in the markets when Interest rates would often be in double digits, to control inflation, I fail to understand how The Bank of England thinks that it will control inflation with interest rates at 1% or 1 1/4%. I think maybe 3% or 4% would be in order and although the markets are run, rightly so, by much cleverer and younger people than I it’s hard to find someone who disagrees with this logic.

It seems somehow fitting that I am writing this on a miserable February morning when, almost 23 years to the day of the first major shock. Of course one cannot predict or probably even dream of the event that in the future people will inexorably link with the upcoming massacre but I, and many of my peers, are convinced that we have seen the highs of Bonds for many years to come.

One memory sticks in my mind above all others about February 1994. I was sitting in a beautiful French fishing village called Honfleur, on the Sunday after the Fed rise, enjoying a winter’s evening. I out of the bluegot a call from a client in Bermuda to give me instructions for the next morning .He sold coldly and calmly “Just get me out, I don’t care about the price, just get me out “. They say history repeats itself; now guess where I am taking my wife on Valentine ’s Day this year?

Brexit,Black wednesday and a Thursday letter to Norman Lamont

Brexit, Black Wednesday and a Thursday letter to Norman Lamont – Part One

By Richard Matthews, London

Live Squawk News, 3 February 2016

While there’s much uncertainty about Britain’s exit from the European Union, it might help to recall that we have been in similar situations many times. In the City and trading, I’ve witnessed the last vote on Europe in 1973 when Harold Wilson was too canny a politician to lose. Then in 1979, when the UK joined the Exchange Rate Mechanism or ERM that aimed for a more stable monetary and exchange rate system and laid the groundwork for the single euro currency. Then, there was the UK’s unseemly exit from the ERM in 1992, which felt anything but stable that day – Black Wednesday.

When Sir Geoffrey Howe, at the time Chancellor of the Exchequer, refused to take Britain into the ERM in 1979, it was considered to be somewhat of a risk since the U.K still had a very weak economy. But the real damage came when the Chancellor, now Nigel Lawson, decided that instead the British pound sterling was to shadow the Deutsche Mark in a futile attempt to replicate Germany’s low inflation and employment. Eventually, John Major (later to be Prime Minister) replaced Lawson and took Britain into the ERM on 8 October 1990. Membership of the ERM guaranteed that the pound would not deviate more than 6% from its entry level of DM 2.95. Little did we realize at the time that this would set the country on course for the perfect currency market storm, which would quickly gather force over the coming months.

By the early 1990’s, the ERM itself was already under significant stresses due to the cost of German reunification after the Berlin Wall came down, while Britain, Italy and France brought their own particular problems to the party. Great Britain’s economy was being savaged by a weak US dollar, and our feelings of national prestige and fear of Europe started to rise over the summer months. Indeed, I remember the feeling of fear that pervaded the country as house prices tumbled and people were forced into negative equity. When Denmark voted against the Maastricht treaty that aimed at further European Integration, the markets started to smell blood as Europe suddenly looked weak.

It is widely claimed that George Soros was the man who broke the Bank of England, but throughout the summer 1992 large short positions of sterling, as well as French francs and Italian lira, were being built as well as significant shorts of the interest rate contracts. Actually, a lot of traders may have been quite happy for Soros to take the publicity, and become the scapegoat. In the afternoon of Tuesday, 15 September 1992, enormous sell orders were being seen across the futures market the size of which were previously unheard of. The phrase brokers loved to hear was: “your amount is my amount.” In other words, unlimited sell orders were being received.

When the market opened on the Wednesday, the 16th, it became obvious that there was only one buyer and that entity didn’t have the resources to take the heat out of the market. So the markets in sterling, including interest rates, were sold — and sold again — until the government started to panic. The Bank of England (BOE) first raised interest rates to 12% from 10%, and then at the close of the day hiked them to 15% in a last-ditch effort to save the pound. Neither the BOE nor the UK Treasury realised that buy orders of £300m were just a drop in the ocean in the brave new world of derivatives. By the close of business, having had the most thrilling day of our lives, my partner and I decided that interest rates of 15% were unsustainable and put on the largest trade we ever did: we bought short sterling. Don’t ask me how much.

At the end of that day, my first reactions were relief and fear — not fear that our trade would go wrong, but that we hadn’t correctly matched all our trades. With days of extreme market volatility and working on the floor where you were literally screaming to be heard, fear was always the overriding emotion. My business partner and I travelled home together in silence, exhausted. As he got out the car, we just looked at each other knowing the no one else would understand what we had gone through that day — or worse what we may now be facing due to an error.

By 7:00 o’clock that evening, the BOE announced that Britain would leave the ERM and cut interest rates to 12%. This was to be followed the next day with another cut back to 10%.

I can’t imagine that we’ll see another day when the currency remains trapped going down a one-way street, the wrong way, during our protracted exit from Europe over the next few years. We are free of the yoke of an exchange rate mechanism and it is hard to pinpoint a particular incident that could lead to a few months or days of concerted movement.

However, the risks remain and a small point that should be taken from the preceding paragraph’s history lesson is the power of the almighty dollar. Look at the movement of sterling against the dollar between 1981 and 1985 when its value effectively halved. Although we collectively blamed all our ills on the ERM, the influence of the dollar stayed strong. Why, one may ask, did this massive prolonged drop occur? Was it to do with UK interest rates below U.S. interest rates for a long period? There is strong evidence to suggest that this was the case, and I’m sure you are aware that is the case again, this time brought on by Brexit fears.

Maybe that was the day that Britain really started its exit from Europe, without an Article 50. Britain prospered and Europe lurched towards the Euro, while the UK could never quite commit to that.

My trading partner and I survived. There is an old maxim: “Don’t bet the farm.” Well, we did, and that day certainly gave me option money – a floor term for I-don’t-care money but said in language I can’t print here. One of my options  was to write Chancellor Norman Lamont, thanking him for giving me the finances to buy the beautiful Red Dino Ferrari 246 that was about to appear in my drive. Vintage Ferrari? That was my first ‘options’ trade. There had to be some compensation for constantly being over-worked, still single and hoarse.

Twitter @dickiematthews5

 

This column is the opinion of the author and does not necessarily reflect the opinion of Live Squawk.

 

Donald Trump as The Jokerman

Standing on the waters casting your bread
While the eyes of the idol with the iron head are glowing
Distant ships sailing into the mist
You were born with a snake in both of your fists while a hurricane was blowing
Freedom just around the corner for you
But with the truth so far off, what good will it do?

Jokerman dance to the nightingale tune
Bird fly high by the light of the moon
Oh, oh, oh, Jokerman

Bob Dylan

Live Squawk, London, 18 January 2017

Eight years ago on January 20th, I was lying in hospital waiting for a charming surgeon to repair some arthritic damage to my neck. Scalpels and sawbones were scheduled at lunchtime, but due to delays I ended up watching all of the Obamas’ hope-filled Inauguration and so the date of both events are firmly implanted in my brain, which is still very much attached to my neck.

President Obama was to oversee an extremely deep recession, verging on depression, and by pumping money into the economy managed to create an asset bubble the likes of which has probably never been seen before. One now feels the storm clouds are gathering and surely the fool’s gold of central bank QE policy will shortly go ‘pop’. Can Donald Trump be able to carry the economy forward, despite a pop, especially coming into office with social media and its unerring ability to spread hate, rumours and ‘fake news’ at lightening speed.

Conventional wisdom on the 45th president seems to be a mix of Ronald Reagan and Jimmy Carter when they both assumed office. Those with memories as long as mine remember the contempt held for James Earl “Jimmy” Carter Jr., as well as the fear that Ronald Reagan engendered with his Russian rhetoric. However, neither of them had Twitter accounts, and Trump has already shown strength, albeit an unorthodox manner, in his treatment of car manufacturers as well against the entrenched interests of the  ‘Deep State’ that wants to renew the Cold War. Rather, Trump isn’t afraid to express a wish to build bridges with Russia and support a UK trade deal post-Brexit, yet shows toughness to China.

While the world’s elite and their wives attend the self-congratulatory love-fest at Davos, Trump did not send a delegate or representative to the World Economic Forum. There is a slight wringing of hands over this in Davos, and possibly for reason. Trump may just turn out to be the most important President in the Post War World. His authority and leadership could pave the way for other populist leaders, such as Marie Le Pen in France. With the world seemingly in a perilous state, one prays that the more unlikeable traits and impetuousness of Trump will be subdued and a stronger leader emerges. (( I didn’t fully understand: However prayers are really answered and one must fear that he is receiving an economic hospital pass reminiscent of Blair’s to Brown in 2007 and that the world’s economies and Europe’s in particular are in a rickety state.)))

Back to January 20, 2009, the hopes were for a reforming liberal president (and a ‘reformed’ neck). Gold then stood at $854.60 an ounce, the Dow Industrials were at 7949 and crude oil at $38.47 a barrel. Flash forwards eight years, and QE is in full bloom. The Dow is knocking on 20,000, also on optimism for jobs returning to the US. Gold though at $1,185.50 possibly reflects a slight fear factor, while oil above $50 a barrel is nudging back towards levels where fracking becomes profitable. It’s all sunny in the playground that is the market at the moment, quite different to expectations after the election in November.

My gut tells me to buckle in for a bumpy ride, with a possible ‘pop’ and yet more examples of markets not exactly moving according to expectations. But as we well know, uncertainty and unpredictability increase volatility and lead to market opportunities. Just be careful of trying to read Trump, or anyone else for that matter.

This column is the opinion of the author and does not necessarily reflect the opinion of Live Squawk.