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the totally weird subculture of 1980s mortgage traders 

From Liar’s Poker by Michael Lewis, pg 149:

Their culture was based on food, and as strange as that sounds, it was stranger still to those who watched mortgage traders eat. “You don’t diet on Christmas Day,” says a former trader, “and you didn’t diet in the mortgage department. Every day was a holiday. We made money no matter what we looked like.” They began with a round of onion cheeseburgers, fetched by a trainee from the Trinity Deli at eight a.m. “I mean you didn’t really want to eat them,” recalls trader Gary Kilberg who joined the trading desk in 1985. “You were hung over. You were sipping coffee. But you’d get wind of that smell. Everyone else was eating them. So you grabbed one of the suckers.” The traders performed astonishing feats of gluttony never before seen at Salomon. Mortara made enormous cartons of malted milk balls disappear in two gulps. D’Antona sent trainees to buy twenty dollars worth of candy for him every afternoon. Haupt, Jesselson and Arnold swallowed small pizzas whole. Each Friday was “Food Frenzy” day, during which all trading ceased, and eating commenced. “We’d order four hundred dollars of Mexican food,” says a former trader. “ You can’t buy four hundred dollars of Mexican food . But we’d try – guacamole in five- gallon drums, for a start. A customer would call in and ask us to bid or offer bonds and you’d have to say, ‘I’m sorry but we’re in the middle of the feeding frenzy, I’ll have to call you back.’” And the fatter they became, the more they seemed to loathe skinny people. No hypocrisy here! We are proud to look precisely as we are! They joked how the thin government traders who ran triathlons on weekends still couldn’t make any more money during the week, which wasn’t entirely accurate.

Categories: Corporate Culture, Elites and Their Self-Understandings

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