We appreciated FuturesMag giving us a shout out last month for being the impetus behind their best trading movie of all time post, which followed our top trading movies post last year. And it turns out, their movie post was a bit of a plug for the ‘online premiere’ of FLOORED through FuturesMag’s site. FLOORED is a documentary on, you guessed it, the trading floors – originally released in theaters in 2010 (funny, I don’t recall seeing it at the local AMC)
For over 150 years, the Chicago trading floors have been home to the most primal method of buying and selling.
In 1997, 10,000 people traded on the floors…today, about 10% remain.
Later that year, computer trading emerged.
Sure sounded interesting, seeing as how we’re movie buffs and partners Walter Gallwas and Jeff Malec cut their teeth on Chicago’s famed trading floors (pits). So we grabbed a bag of popcorn and sat down to enjoy what we hoped would be a sophisticated look at how former floor traders were supplanted by computers in the world’s derivative markets. Unfortunately, that was an hour of our lives we’ll never get back!
The documentary is somewhere between boring and depressing, but with none of the interesting parts which might come with being depressing. Beyond the first opening scenes with a lot of footage of the CME’s S&P 500 pit, and a great old fashioned film reel on how futures work at the seven minute mark – the filmmaker looks as if his goal was to find the biggest losers he could find on the trading floor and show their numerous human flaws.
There’s the guy who has his bare feet propped up on a pool table chugging wine during his interview, in which he drunkenly slurs so badly they have to use captions on the screen so you know what is being said. There’s the guy who they decide to interview while he’s playing golf (in Chicago, in the winter, in the snow – likely because it is free). Then there’s our favorite – the guy who thinks computers are devious, and everyone using them is ‘cheating on the computer”. When pressed by his friend who says the computer is neutral, it has no soul, no conscious – he disagrees, saying they are ‘evil’.
So, if you want to see some broken men complaining about computers – it’s worth watching. If that sounds like torture, take a pass. We know firsthand that most former floor traders are nothing like what was depicted in the film. We just wish it had aimed a little higher. We wish they chose to highlight the positive stories of those who successfully moved off the trading floor and are continuing to run businesses in the futures industry. We wish they talked of how the CME is a technology leader and one of the most respected companies in the world. We wish they had talked about how the move to electronic trading has helped the end investors.
But mostly, we wish we had that hour of our lives back.