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There’s Liffe, but not as they knew it

November 24 2000 was a sad day for Liffe traders. Not because they lost vast sums of money, but because that was the day the trading pits finally closed, leaving those soft commodities traders who were the last to depart facing an uncertain future. Few lifestyles offer the same stress, tension and noise as derivatives or commodities trading. In an article that first appeared at www.euromoney.com, Jules Evans discovers the highs and the lows of life in the pit, and finds out how former traders survive in the real world

       
Liffe: pit traders were beyond their employers'
control, hence the move to electronic trading

The first thing that strikes you about the market is its energy. Traders shout prices over the ringing of mobile phones, barrow boys turn the air blue as they race past you, the name of their firms written across their clothing. A bell rings, announcing the opening of the day's trading, and all hell breaks loose. "Six and an 'alf?" bellows one trader to another. "What you tryin' to do to me, you crook?" "Who you callin' a crook, you dirty beggar?" replies his opponent. Eventually they agree on six and a quarter, and both write it into their tickets and move on to the next deal.


The second thing that strikes you about the market is the smell. The stench of fish is almost unbearable. But that's to be expected, this being Billingsgate Market, provider of fish for London and the south-east of England.


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