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?”
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.
“This is some fucked up universe we’ve decided to live in.”
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””
Billions season 2 episode 5 is titled “Currency”, after the main play of the episode which happens to be a highly delicate currency play. Currency, the word, when spoken by Damian Lewis manifest as Bobby Axelrod, is also one among the many rhythmic words you’ll hear from him this episode, pronounced in impeccable New York-ese. We probably shouldn’t keep harping on his believability in this role. After all, that’s why they call it acting, right? Where most acting is a well-developed form of impersonation and most non-native accents are a form of ventriloquism, what Damian does with Bobby, in terms of body and language, is something else entirely. Something that is neither simply impersonation nor just ventriloquism.
How to save a quarter? How to bag a wolf? We learn from the very best in this week’s Billions episode 😀
Wags arrives at Axe Capital in his vintage Mercedes in the opening scene of Currency. He looks GOOD for a change. And he has something important to tell Axe but the other does not let him speak because it is not his turn to speak. While Wags was MIA for the last couple of days “learning the Yaqui way, or how to run like the Tarahumara” Axe has been fighting the “Battle of Thermopylae” frequently cited as an example of a patriotic defense where the small Greek army was able to defend its land against the huge Persian army in a three-day battle. Continue reading “Billions on Showtime, Season 2, Episode 5: Currency”