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FX comment: Mustard’s 50th birthday

The great and the good congregated at the Wren suite of St. Paul’s (just off the crypt which was quite fitting considering the vintage of some of the invitees) on Thursday to celebrate the 50th birthday of one of the few true gentlemen of the market, David ‘Mustard’ Caplin, CEO of Martins Brokers. I say ‘the great and the good’ but perhaps more precise would be to say ‘a lot of my old mates from the forward FX market’.

The welcome address was given by Martin ‘Hammer’ Mallett, chief dealer of the Bank of England, in which a fabricated list of Mustard’s regulatory misdemeanours as a junior broker was read out. At least Hammer tried to give the impression that the misdemeanours were made up – I felt sure that I was involved in more than a few of them.

It was said that someone from the ECB was going to give the main speech so a book was made as to whether it would be Trichet or Constancio; as it turned out all bets had to be scrapped when Geoff Miller, national selector of the English Cricket Board, had turned up.

Miller was certainly more entertaining that Trichet would have been. He mentioned something I was already aware of, that Caplin is one of the few CEOs to feature in Wisden but, as Miller pointed out, so does Ijaz Butt.

The market has changed beyond recognition in the 30 years I’ve known Mustard and, particularly in the last few years, the standing of financial market participants has been tarnished (being called a ‘spiv’ by a politician? are you sure?) and their integrity ridiculed. But the folk in the Wren suite were ‘old school’ and the birthday boy their undisputed leader. He gave a small, heartfelt, disjointed, speech at the end of the lunch and a simple closing toast that very few could get away with these days: “Friendship, trust, loyalty, honour”. But get away with it he did because, as ever, he meant it.

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