Gorbachev tear down this wall but i did want to see

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on the Mount or “Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!” but I did want to see some conviction behind what he was lecturing us on. What happened to the Daffey that I traded with through the New York blackout of 2003? After the session, as he was walking up the aisle, I called out his name. He turned around. “Hey, buddy—welcome,” he said. His mood changed, he was now animated. He shook my hand with a smile. Since an American MD was also standing there, the three of us talked about NCAA basketball for a few minutes. Then Daffey was gone, back to his inner sanctum. ——— My very first week in London, a junior associate, twenty-four or twenty-five years old, was telling me about a piece of business he had just done. I had only met the guy a minute earlier. “My muppet client didn’t put me in comp on the trade we just printed. We made an extra $1.5 million off of him.” What he meant was that the client was trusting and hadn’t checked the price with any other brokers. So the salesperson had effectively overcharged him. This wasn’t some rogue associate who’d gone off the reservation. His boss was sitting right next to him, smiling and nodding along. Times had changed. When I was an associate, you would have been called into a partner’s office and severely reprimanded for this type of callousness. You could have even been fired. It would have been seen as counter to the firm’s long-held principle that if you don’t have the clients’ long-term interests at heart, they won’t do business with you for very long. Muppet was a word that, for me, had once evoked childhood memories of cute puppets such as Kermit the Frog. But the way it was used in the London office had nothing to do with cuteness. Being a muppet meant being an idiot, a fool, manipulated by someone else. Within days of arriving in London, I was shocked at how many times I heard people—both very senior and very junior, refer to their clients as muppets. Where, I wondered, had this adversarial viewpoint come from—the idea of the client as someone much less smart than you, someone you could try to take advantage of? Over the first few months, I heard clients called that name over and over again. One client was deemed a muppet because he didn’t pay the very expensive rates Bloomberg Market Data charged for real-time pricing. So when the client’s Goldman salesperson was executing a trade, he would give the client a price that had been good fifteen minutes earlier—in other words, the price the client was seeing on his technologically inferior data stream. The salesperson, of course, was looking at real- time data on his Bloomberg as he executed the trade. The difference between the real-time price and the price the client was seeing was, naturally, highly advantageous to the firm, sometimes adding
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more than a million dollars to the GC on the trade.
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