My hair is still damp.  One of these days I will grow up and buy a hairdryer.

I place my hand in the scanner, stare sleepy eyed at the eyeball machine.  Hate that thing.  The bullet proof; bomb proof; spying eyes proof doors glide open.  I work on the thirteenth floor of a building with twelve floors.  I work for a company that doesn’t exist if you look for it in its parent company’s accounts.  Its parent company is a huge cornerstone of the American economy; one that owns most of the homes that Americans pay mortgages on and insurance.  One day people in the first world may wake up and see the giant fools errand that is the mortgage, insurance game they aspire to all their lives.  But probably not.  My job is to think of clever ways to quietly keep markets where markets should be for the world order to remain… well, orderly.

Yes all those conspiracy theorists out there are quite right.  There is a Big Brother watching over you and manipulating the world economies and political landscapes.  I smile.  As with all things, life is far more complex and incredible than fiction could ever be, limited as it is by the author’s imagination.

“Give me Dollar Yen in two yards.”

Ah.  Toby is here already.  Must have had a call to come in.  Bet that’s Banjo trading with him.  A yard is a billion.  If you think about it screaming out a million or a billion sounds the same, so we use ‘yard’.  We don’t say million very often, if at all as it’s assumed.  Toby is pointing his index finger to the ground.  Banjo is selling Dollar Yen.  I take a quick look at the screens as I pass by.  They are either green or ticking up.  There’ll be some miserable traders out there this morning when they find the market long a yard of dollar yen first thing today.  It will puke like a newbie on his first bender.

There’s something going on today.

I can feel it.  There’s a different taste to the atmosphere.  Too many senior partners are shuffling in at 5.30am.  They don’t normally make an appearance until after 9am unless there’s something going down; but more than that there is an intense wall of apprehension encompassing my little island of screens.  I sit in the middle of the room opposite the key traders for the markets we operate in.  Their juniors sit behind them, then everybody else in waves around us – all facing the central desk (my bank of desks) and all jammed solid with screens monitoring every newswire, movement and information whether markets or other in their specialist area.  Two phones, with clickers to kill the noise of the room, technology to dampen sound other than the voice of the person speaking and buttons to share or keep the call private, scan for eavesdroppers lie on each desk or are attached to headphones.  Our room is debugged daily.  Our security is tough; being followed, listened to and watched is so much part of my life I barely notice it anymore.

The partners are an interesting ragtag bag of ex-Central Bank Governors, Secretary’s of State, Financial Advisors to Prime Ministers and engineers of the monetary systems of any number of the first world, second world and third world economies.  The partner that runs the show is the most fascinating for me, and the one I respect the most, a Kingmaker who nobody would know or consider important; a name never seen on the wires or known in most halls of power – yet he is undoubtedly the puppet master of so much.  He has a volatile temper not to be ignited out of boredom. Or if you wish to live.

This is my world.  And I love it.

Today is going to be a roller coaster.  I can feel it all the way to my toes.  I smile.  “Coffee Toby?”

“Uh huh” he grunts.

The deal is done.  Booked.  Now the traders will work their position, and kill the poor sods out there who filled their boots with dollar yen on the back of those rumours about the Japanese prime minister and the giant fiasco that is the Japanese economy.  Poor bastards.

The coffee room with all it’s whizz bang latest fab coffee makers is a safe place to catch up.  While the coffee grinder is grinding even the firm’s best eavesdroppers have a hard time listening to us: especially since we speak in our own code.


Kate Gillie

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