From the Trader’s Desk: A Review of Season 1 of Billions – Capturing the Essence of the Hedge Fund World

Hello from the “Trader’s Desk”!

As we get ready to enjoy the second season of Billions, we thought we would introduce our upcoming new series “From the Trader’s Desk” with my review of Season 1.

“From the Trader’s Desk” will be my take on what’s going on in the show (and a little fact checking) from the point of view of a Wall Street trader. I hope you enjoy reading it as much I enjoy writing it! Now, without further ado…

“Those who can, trade; those who can’t, prosecute.”

source: Showtime

That phrase came to mind once I knew the synopsis of Billions. Hedge Fund Titan (Bobby Axelrod) vs. the US Attorney (Chuck Rhodes). It’s a scenario that’s been playing out on Wall Street for some time. The players change, but the song remains the same.

I’ve spent my whole career on Wall Street; working my way up from a back office clerk to finally running my own money. So, I come into this show not only with the knowledge of the terms and situations, but also with the perspective of the hedge fund world. Continue reading “From the Trader’s Desk: A Review of Season 1 of Billions – Capturing the Essence of the Hedge Fund World”

Well, How Did I Get Here? Lady Trader’s Fan Story

And you may ask yourself, well
How did I get here? – Talking Heads

Damianista often visits New York, and when she does, we try and get together to chat and catch up. On one of her Spring visits, on a subway ride home, she asked me how I became a fan of Damian Lewis. I told her the story and her reaction was: “You should post that on the blog!” When I finally wrote up my story, Damianista came up with the brilliant idea of getting stories of how others became fans of Damian Lewis and posting them on the blog. How interesting it would be to read everyone’s stories and to see just how we all became a happy, FUN community! Damianista sent the word out, and the response was amazing!

We will be publishing fan stories right here every Tuesday. Damianista was gracious enough to let my story be the first one to get us rolling, so here it is! Continue reading “Well, How Did I Get Here? Lady Trader’s Fan Story”

Previously on Billions: ‘Magical Thinking’

 

 

Previously on Billions…

Bobby waves Mafee into his office, but Mafee stays where he is. Bobby is perplexed until Wags explains Mafee wishes to talk about BioLance so has sent Wags in to get permission because Bobby told him he would be fired if he brought that up. Mafee thinks that they are about to lose £400+ million and is basically saying Bobby has this one wrong. Since he is executing the trade, Mafee fears if he does not speak up now, he’ll be fired after they lose the $400+ Million. Bobby sees how this could be a sticky one.

Bobby loves Mafee though so permission is granted.

Mafee has been losing sleep over this BioLance trade and he sleeps like a bear. Axe does that thing he does and asks Mafee what type of bear he usually sleeps like.

There is a special announcement call about BioLance in 9 minutes and Mafee is uneasy. Bobby, however, is giving Mafee no leeway when it comes to the actual information as Bobby understands the risks and has done the homework. So, despite the fact that the other analysts agree with Mafee and him being so loveable, Mafee is the one standing in front of Bobby and Mafee is fired.

He tried.

He is still there 9 minutes later when the announcement is made that BioLance has not gotten FDA approval. What does this mean? It means that Mafee would be perfectly entitled to jump up on the desk and scream “I told you so”. However, Mafee looks genuinely disappointed by the announcement. If he is fired, why does he care that Axe just lost $430 Million dollars for being an over confident and dismissive ass? Mafee might just be a team player.

The news has hit Bobby like a ton of bricks, but it is not really the fact that he just lost $430 million that is bothering him or that he really owes Mafee an apology. It is the realisation he has lost his mojo. He was wrong. Him! Bobby Axelrod.

Bobby
Source: Showtime

Continue reading “Previously on Billions: ‘Magical Thinking’”

Value of Loyalty and Bobby Axelrod’s varying degrees

A warning for those just starting to watch Billions in the UK, this blog will contain spoilers for all of season 1.

To know who Bobby Axelrod is means having an understanding of where he has been and how he has gotten to here. At the moment we just have ‘the here’ with a couple of anecdotes thrown in. Granted the 9/11 reveal was fairly big, but in the end just added more questions.

The simple view of Bobby Axelrod is a husband, a father and the owner of Axe Capital. Digging under the surface the clear picture starts to blur.

His wife loves him and is loyal to him yet it is clear there are things she does not know about him or about how he will react in certain circumstances. In Magical thinking Lara tells her sister Lu that she needs Bobby “to give her something” i.e. she needs him to share with her. It probably hurt her knowing he was off sharing his feelings with Wendy. In ‘the Conversation’ we see the first slither of doubts cross her mind even as the words she speaks say the opposite. I found it interesting that Bobby decided to leave all that money in the house rather than return it to the bank. Is this a test for his wife? At this stage I wouldn’t put it past him. Lara did not appreciate the inference of having to up and run soon by keeping the money in the house. Nor did she appreciate the affection with which Bobby spoke of Wendy in the same scene. It seems to me Mr & Mrs Axelrod may be about to hit choppy waters. I hope that boat came with life jackets.

Source: Showtime
Source: Showtime

His boys look up to him but then they are children who still think that dad knows best and are still at the stage where they prefer ‘cool’ dad far better than ‘realistic and responsible’ mum. The reality is that cool dad is not doing himself or his boys any favours. They are childish enough that they thank him for his undermining of whatever their mother says and does. They will grow out of that eventually. Continue reading “Value of Loyalty and Bobby Axelrod’s varying degrees”

Previously on Billions: Boasts and Rails

Previously on Billions…

We open with the FBI raiding Donnie’s house. Donnie tells his partner to go be with the kids and hides an awful lot of pills just as the FBI come charging through the door. Donnie has a lot of pills and we were discussing the possibility that Donnie is very ill and possibly dying.

Bryan instigated this raid as he isn’t happy and wanted Donnie to know how it would feel when they come to take him to prison because he thinks Donnie is stringing them along. Donnie explains about how he is giving them Axe using the data on Kemlot. Bryan shouts him down and tells him he has a week, by the end of which, either Axe is in Federal custody or Donnie is.

Chuck and Kevin arrive at the Big Apple Circus. Kevin spots his favourite baseball player and wants to go over and get an autograph. Chuck isn’t so keen when he sees Bobby talking to him and tries to steer Kevin away, but Bobby spots them and shouts Kevin over. Chuck is less than impressed but Bobby says “never women and the children”. Bobby can’t resist a dig though after Chuck says that Mark is Kevin’s favourite player “he obviously has his mother’s instinct for people”. Ouch! That is how you punch without getting a misdemeanor!

BobbyChuck
Source: Showtime

Wendy arrives clearly stunned to find her husband and Bobby standing next to one another. There is a quick exchange of words between them before Chuck ushers the family away.

Continue reading “Previously on Billions: Boasts and Rails”

Previously on Billions: The Punch

Previously on Billions:

Bobby is swimming hard. Meanwhile Dean and Gordie are with friends and their friends’ dad. We see him clearly drinking alcohol and then driving the kids home. Bobby is clearly frustrated and looking for an out let. When he finds out Mr Layner drove the kids home after drinking, he heads off to confront Mr Layner and Mr Layner gets a good punch for putting Dean and Gordie in danger.

Bobby Swimming
Source: Showtime

I am just going to stop here and highlight this and say thank you to the billions writers for making an issue out of it. I can’t tell you how many TV shows show characters drinking and driving for convenience to get the character somewhere. It infuriates me to see TV programmes being so blasé about it as though this is acceptable. Drink driving is not acceptable and being irresponsible with it on TV isn’t either.

That punch is about to land Bobby in trouble though. Continue reading “Previously on Billions: The Punch”