“From the Trader’s Desk” What does Axe have in common with Kings, Caesars and Mob Dons?

“So passes the Empire”

Source: Showtime

Kings, Caesars, Mob Dons. When we think of these titles we may think of power, wealth, and loyalty. To a certain extent that is true. However, what they also have in common is the struggle to keep their place at the top, how they get there and how they fall. Kings, Caesars and Mob Dons all get to the top through violence, and usually end their reigns that way as well. Through the course of their reign, they often become distrustful of even their most loyal subjects and become deceitful in order to keep everyone off balance. In the end, they are paranoid, isolated, and alone.

What does that have to do with Billions? The titles and events of the previous two episodes “The Kingmaker” and “Sic Transit Imperium”, made me think of Axe in that light. He got to the top through violence; as we learn in “Boasts and Rails” his actions during the murder and devastation of 9/11 made Axe a lot of money, and the destruction of his former company lead to the opening of Axe Capital (I write about that here). He also has wealth, power, and from many of his employees, loyalty. However, he too is constantly fighting to stay at the top. He sees the Visigoths coming, whether in the form of the government (and Chuck in particular) or other fund managers, and he will fight them all. The Axe we see in “Sic Transit Imperium” is a tired, isolated, and reflective King, wondering if it is all worth it. Continue reading ““From the Trader’s Desk” What does Axe have in common with Kings, Caesars and Mob Dons?”

Billions on Showtime 2.06: Indian Four

Nearly midpoint to Billions Season 2, and tables are turning in Episode 5, “Indian Four”. We start the show geared up to go thru all the machinations, ebb and flow, tit for tat, cat and mouse that has been the hallmark of the series so far. And there is plenty of that rapid-fire tennis match back and forth to watch, but, there’s also something quite new this episode. It feels sort of homey, much less technical, more touchy-feely, dare I say, more human.

Continue reading “Billions on Showtime 2.06: Indian Four”

From the Trader’s Desk: S2E5 “Currency”

“This is some fucked up universe we’ve decided to live in.”
source: Showtime

And with that, I welcome you to “From the Trader’s Desk” and my take on Episode 5, “Currency”.

There was a lot going on in this episode: currency plays, rising interest rates, 15 bips on the 10 yr.  Things that I don’t think twice about, but may need a bit of explaining to some of our readers. I’ll do my best. As always, if there is something I don’t cover, just ask! Currency trading is not something I do at all. I stick with domestic equities. However, I do have to know a little about it, since currency, and interest rates can (and do) effect the overall markets.

This was a unfamiliar Axe in “Currency“. He was taking risks he wouldn’t normally take, all because he didn’t want to have a down quarter. It clouded his vision, and his outlook in my opinion. He was willing to risk so much, just to not have one misstep. It reminded me of a classic mistake gamblers on a losing streak make: doubling down. I have it seen firsthand: down $500 on the 1:00 PM NFL bets, you try to recoup that and more by placing bigger bets on the 4:00 PM games. If you win, you can get even or maybe pull ahead; but if you lose, now you’re down $1,100 (when you bet with a bookie, you have to pay a “vig” of $5 on every $50 you lose). It’s a risk, and that is what gambling is, but it’s not a smart risk. As Axe says “Who makes a bet if they don’t know the outcome? Suckers!” Continue reading “From the Trader’s Desk: S2E5 “Currency””

From the Trader’s Desk: 2 for 1 Special!

Happy Friday from the Trader’s Desk!

This week, I’m giving you a 2 for 1 special! As the “fin speak” in “Optimal Play” and “The Oath” was at a minimum, I’ll be giving you my thoughts and observations on both today.

Optimal Play

I was so happy that basically an entire episode was dedicated to my sister Damianista’s specialty of game theory. If you haven’t, read her recap. It will give you a professional’s take, and it’s great.

I don’t know much about game theory (a reason I need to sit in on a game theory class, taught at a major university; know anyone that can help?), but I do know what is and isn’t insider trading. And, it’s a shame that poor flight attendant McKayla didn’t. I guess she didn’t know you are supposed to do a Dollar Bill when you are talking to ADA’s and just keep saying “Lawyer! Lawyer! Lawyer!” Continue reading “From the Trader’s Desk: 2 for 1 Special!”

“From the Trader’s Desk” Ep. 2: Dead Cat Bounce

Welcome to “From the Trader’s Desk” and my recap of “Dead Cat Bounce”. (I’m just going to say this upfront: I hate that term, but only because I’m a cat momma!)

We open up at the Spartan-Ives sponsored “Thought Leaders” conference, which costs $3,000 to attend. These types of conferences are common, and can be market movers. Certain managers will mention a stock they like (or don’t) and it will move the stock price as they are speaking.

Source: Showtime

Continue reading ““From the Trader’s Desk” Ep. 2: Dead Cat Bounce”

From the Trader’s Desk: “Risk Management”, Episode 1 Season 2 of Billions

Welcome to “From the Trader’s Desk” for the 2nd Season of Billions! The original concept of these posts was to recap of 2-3 episodes from my point of view as a trader, and to help with any confusion with “fin speak”. However, “Risk Management” was so meaty; I had to dive right in. So now, without further ado….

”Trading is gambling, legalized gambling.”

source: Showtime

Damianista will tell you that I told her that on one of our first meetings. I think she asked me how I got into the financial industry, and I told her I loved to gamble, and this was a way to do it legally.

How fitting then is it that we open Season 2 with Axe sitting at a racetrack! Now, I’ll admit, I didn’t know it was Yonkers Raceway. I thought it was Belmont Park, a place my grandfather would take me to as a kid. Axe tells Bach “this place made me”, and I totally get why. Continue reading “From the Trader’s Desk: “Risk Management”, Episode 1 Season 2 of Billions”