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Intradepartmental War

December 16, 2016

Chapter 43 in the exclusive series for Dynamic Commodities- becoming a commodities trader

Sid Gold and his direct boss, John Gruen, were not fond of each other. On the very first day John promoted me to the trading area, he told me that I should come to him if I had a problem since Sid would be difficult. In addition, Sid told me on that same day that if he saw me talking to John, he would fire me. John told me it was his decision to promote me and Sid told me it was his.

I am not sure where the problem between the two traders started. I heard a rumor that on Sid’s first day at Philipp Brothers, John took him out for a drink after work to one of his favorite haunts. In the early to mid-1980s, the Times Square area was far from the Disneyland it is today. The Bunch of Grapes was a nondescript bar in the heart of Manhattan where John liked to take unsuspecting guests for a drink and watch their reaction.

John loved to push people’s buttons. The smoky, dark bar, although populated mostly with women, were not ordinary women.  Rather, they were transvestites. The story goes that Sid sat down at the bar and an attractive tranny approached him. “Hi, I’m Sid,” the trader said. The answer, “My name is Linda,” in a baritone voice, was a giveaway. Linda was a man. According to the unnamed source who told me this tale, Sid ran out of the establishment. He never forgave John who found the episode more than humorous.

However, it was not just the transvestite adventure that caused friction between the two men. John loved to argue and challenge anyone who crossed his path. I assume that Sid felt disrespected and belittled by Gruen constantly. Perhaps, therein were the roots of disdain between the two. As kids, John was probably a bit of a bully while Sid probably experienced bullying.

Consequently, things got pretty bad. For example, if John said, “Up.” Sid would say, “Down.” If John was bullish, Sid was bearish. It got to a point where these two managers, both on the same team, rooted for the other to lose money. They would each bend the ears of the Philipp Brother’s bosses, Marty and Henry.

Both men had one thing in common, each demanded loyalty from their direct reports. Therefore, Ralph and I had to stand with Sid and the gold. Silver and all other traders in the department stood with John. It was ugly. The intradepartmental war went on for almost two years while each battle escalated and each manager schemed against the other. As a result, politics became a focus in the department. It was not helping anyone achieve the true goal, which was making money for the company.

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Post Series: Origin Of A Commodities Trader

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