Goldman Sachs: 21 Days of Trading Losses in the Quarter

Nov 9, 2011
J. Webster
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They put the blindfolds on and we started to walk up the back stairs of the building. It was clear where we were going. Although I was relatively new to the firm, I had heard in the past what they did when traders lost money. And in this case, having had one of the worst trading quarters in the history of the firm, I new something like this was coming.

We stepped outside and the cold wind hit me immediately in the face. We were told to step on top of the edge, where only a short six months ago we were resting our cocktails and elbows and celebrating a huge trading day. Some refused right there. This outer edge was sort of a border about four feet high – a cement wall more or less around the top. The last barrier to the below.

It was only for a few moments that people hesitated. We had all come way too far too quick now to turn back. There was too much money riding on it. Too much to be made. Too much to give up. Those that refused would be pointed to the door if they wouldn’t stand on top of the edge. This was how they cleaned house so to speak. The fear gauge they called it. Nobody left since they new they couldn’t come back if they did. You just got up on the edge like you were told.

I got a visceral feeling of utter fear as I stood on the edge. They told us to remove the blindfolds. I wasn’t afraid of heights in a general sense but my body was telling me something was terribly wrong. I want to throw up but if I did I’d be doing it while I was falling through the air and rushing toward the asphalt. We were 43 stories up and now standing on the outer edge of the building and told to inch out further. I could make out small boats in the Hudson below. The skyline was beautiful yet the fear didn’t subside in the least. I felt like I might go over if the wind picked up. It was quiet up at this height.

This was the feeling I had when I took off the trade last week that would have been a windfall for our team of traders. I couldn’t take the pain anymore. I got out when I should have stayed in. Suffered. Endured. I was afraid and couldn’t sleep. I couldn’t hack it. (DealBook)

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