“From The Trader’s Desk”: Guess Who’s Back, Back Again?

Now this looks like a job for me
So everybody just follow me
‘Cause we need a little controversy
‘Cause it feels so empty without me

Without Me -Eminem

Hello and welcome back to the Trader’s Desk. I won’t lie – I didn’t think we would be back here again, sharing our Friday’s discussing Billions, but I am so glad we are!

I will most certainly get back to quoting heavy metal lyrics to begin my posts (as one does) but to start us off, the above lyrics from Eminem just seem so right.

A job needs to be done that only Axe can do, and things just did feel very empty with The Big Man!

There was only one instance of fin-speak this week – Semi-Strong Form Efficiency – which I will talk about to start (and has been added to our  Billions: Glossary )- so just to ease us all back into these weekly posts, I’ll just talk about some observations I had about “The Tower of London“. Think of it almost as a stream of consciousness.

A toasted Mafee spots a trading style he is positive is “Big Red” or as we more commonly know him, Axe. “Fast, aggressive, sure footed” – yep, that certainly does sound like Bobby Axelrod. It’s a Semi-Strong Form Efficiency style of trading. The thought behind this type of trading is that stock prices reflect all public information, and that excess returns cannot be achieved using technical analysis. I would understand why Axe would use this as a flare, but I have two issues with this: 1. I seriously doubt a gambler like Axe is a follower of Fama or Malkiel. The whole point of running a hedge fund is to produce excess returns using technical analysis, fundamental research, and to some extent, gut instincts. This type of trading is basically indexing, and why would anyone pay a fee for that? 2. This type of trading is the opposite of the type of strategies I trade. We look at each individual stock’s historical behavior and each day’s nonsystematic behavior profile is compared to similar historical circumstances to determine trades. We are specifically looking for anomalies to trade on.

And speaking of trading/investing styles I despise ….

I am so glad they are shutting down Taylor’s ESG fund. Not that I don’t like Taylor (any long-timer reader will know how I feel about Taylor) but ESG was always just words and a fad (I would use the term scam, but I can be a bit harsh). Asset managers were touting ESG funds, charging higher fees, and then just mimicking the S&P 500 (and underperforming). They were closet indexing and raking in the dough. Now that 19 state AGs are questioning the biggest abuser of this rouse, Blackrock, I have a feeling that the ESG jig is up. Taylor is too smart to stay in a strategy that is going nowhere. “I just want to keep building my war chest, just keep making money and strengthening my rep” The beauty of those words! If that is what Taylor really wants, ditching ESG is the way to go.


Because I didn’t have the time (or will, to be honest) to watch S6 I had so many questions: Why is Chuck being prosecuted? Who is this new AG? Why is Kate working at MPC? Who is this guy who is trailing Taylor like a puppy? I’m hoping that some of this will become clearer as the season progresses, and that some of it won’t really matter, as I do believe that this final season is going to be focused on the major characters and the storyline going forward.

After throwing a computer through Wendy’s office glass wall, Mike Princes asks:

“What is so fucking wrong about me that you’re sure that I shouldn’t be fucking president?”

I don’t know, but maybe because you just obliterated Wendy’s glass wall with a computer, that might just be one reason! What a psycho! On a side note, there is no way I can un-see Corey Stoll as MODOK, a role he played this summer in Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania. This may be an issue for me going forward.

Corey Stoll as M.O.D.O.K.

Prince asking Wendy to help him find his blind spot? Dude, your whole persona is your blind spot! (A flaw I believe he shares with Chuck.)

“Start by finishing this sentence: Mike Prince is….”

a dick? That’s the first thing I thought of. Thank goodness Wendy was way more diplomatic!

His name may be on the door, but Prince still feels the specter of Axe in the room. Why else would he want to know why it was so “easy” for Wendy to focus Axe into a “targeted missile”? I do love Wendy’s answer that Axe was already a missile, she just tweaked him a bit. I have been saying for so long that Axe was the always the man he was, and that Wendy just got him to focus more.

Prince is genuinely a terrifying character. We have had many villains on Billions over the years, but there is something quite different with this one. From his not giving a flying fig for what “the people” think, to quoting Hitler, he truly is a bad person. I don’t see much grey in him, as we see in most other Billions characters. His ruin is going to be truly fun to watch.

Scenes between Axe and Chuck always had a crackle of electricity, and we loved them. But the scenes between Wendy and Wags are some of the best. They seem to let their guards down with each other, a real trusting friendship. The scene in Wo Hop when they discuss how much they miss Axe and that “Axe is clarity” is the perfect seed planter for what I believe will be the arch of this last season.

Wendy & Wags at Wo Hop

Chuck, Chuck, Chuck. The master manipulator. Only Chuck could turn himself into the “Robin Hood of NYC” by planting his own story. He truly believes he has never done anything wrong (and Wendy has warned us about how dangerous a man who is sure he is never wrong is) and that this crusade he is on is righteous. Truly delusional! I don’t think Robin of Loxley was a trust fund baby (in the original tales, Robin is a yeoman) and anyway, Chuck has always given me Prince John vibes.

Prince John in the Adventures of Robin Hood

Prince buying a paper could be the “Bezos play” but my first thought was the Thomas Jefferson play. Jefferson was notorious for using journalists (famously Philip Freneau) to write hit pieces against his political enemies, even when he was Secretary of State! One of Jefferson’s main targets was John Adams, which coincidentally, was played by Paul Giamatti in the brilliant mini-series “John Adams”.

Paul Giamatti as John Adams

What a sight for sore eyes is the cheapest man in America! Dollar Bill is back, and maybe not in the house (yet) but certainly in the garage! Styx’s “Renegade” is the perfect song to re-introduce us to the man who won’t work in the culture of a “woke fucking pre-school” and whose motto is “you either earn, or you don’t”. I didn’t like seeing MPC on his fleece, but I sure am interested in seeing how he gets on with Taylor’s other employees.

Billions has always made New York City a central character in most episodes. Whether it’s famous restaurants or locations, NYC is featured in all it’s glory. Chuck and Dave’s meeting at the corner of Nassau and Wall Streets made me very nostalgic. Throw in a beautiful shot of Trinity Church down Wall Street, and I was truly transported there. My first 15 years of working in Manhattan I worked downtown in the Financial District and honestly loved it. When I worked at the American Stock Exchange, which was on the back side of Trinity Church at 86 Trinity Place, there were many a days I would have my lunch with Alexander Hamilton in the churchyard at Trinity Church. Now that I work from home, I don’t miss the commute into the city, but sometimes I do miss the energy and buzz of lower Manhattan.

Alexander Hamilton’s grave site at Trinity Church

“A prison, a fortress, a royal residence. For hundreds of years this was the start of a procession to Westminster Abbey for the coronation of a new monarch.”

Is there a more perfect place for the procession of the (renewed) monarch to begin than at the Tower of London? I think not! Even though we all knew this was the spot and scene where we would get to see Axe again, it still was so satisfying. That smile on Wendy’s face as she sees Axe for the first time? I believe most of the fandom of Billions had that same exactly one.

Our Axe hasn’t changed much; still making moves when others see chaos. As he did during the 9/11 terrorist attacks, Axe is making deals during Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. He made the arraignment to get Ukraine the Javelin Missiles they desperately needed (with the help of our favorite murderous Russian, Grigor Andolov?) and it’s won him so much goodwill that he can travel around Europe and meet with Wendy and the rest of the gang. I guess Axe can be called St. Javelin now!

St. Javelin the Protector of Ukraine

Once Wendy convinces Axe that what they built together – the Axe Capital that is still somewhat intact – needs to be protected, he’s on board. With the Fab Four together again, let’s hope they can destroy Mike Prince and his Death Star.

I cannot wait for the day Axe (figuratively) beheads Mike Prince, and I sure hope he doesn’t give him the courtesy of sending for the swordsman from Saint-Omer.

London calling to the faraway towns
Now war is declared, and battle come down

Author: Lady Trader

"Lady Trader" is a Brooklyn girl, and a Wall Street lifer! Recently fought cancer, and won! I love heavy metal, history, sci-fi, oh, and blogging about Billions and it's great lead actor, Damian Lewis!

7 thoughts on ““From The Trader’s Desk”: Guess Who’s Back, Back Again?”

  1. Fantastic post! I’m still giggling about how you fill in the blanks about “Mike Prince is …” Wendy has the perfect poker face of course she plays along but she has already decided he’s dangerous. He’s (your favorite dictator)-level dangerous!

    I visited Monticello and I knew about Jefferson loving good wine and establishing UVA and putting a library and not a chapel at the center of the campus (which was a tradition) but never heard of him buying newspapers. It seems like a pattern. Media control is one of the (I don’t wanna say “best” but…) best strategies if you wanna have power. Putin did that. Erdogan in Turkey did that. I’m teaching this in my classes I really need to look into the founding fathers. And haha we come full circle with Jefferson trying to use media against John Adams. Giamatti was great in that mini-series. And don’t you think they were also love/hate people like our Axe and Chuck?

    And to answer your questions very briefly: Philip (who we see next to Taylor) was hired last year by Prince. Scooter was against it, because Philip is his nephew, and Scooter’s reluctance, I think, was telling about some of MPC or at least Mike Prince’s business practices (later we learnt about his untaxed billions in crypto!) that he didn’t want his nephew in the middle of this. Philip and Taylor clicked later and they now move together.

    Ah and Mike Prince had Chuck fired from his job – State AG – something that Axe never did to Chuck! So think of Chuck’s thirst for revenge against Prince! Chuck had recruited Dave from private sector, I believe, after Kate left State AG office and she was appointed as the State AG when Chuck was sacked.

    Oh and Sacker was enticed by Mike Prince, she has her own political ambitions, and while Chuck had her wait, wait, wait, Prince got Kate by offering her access to power in the short-run. I am not sure at this moment if Kate is with Prince or if she had a secret agreement with Chuck at some point (that we didn’t seee) after seeing the billions in crypto) and is good a poker face as Wendy!

    My one objection to your post: The only Robin Hood has, is, and will be Kevin Costner in Robin Hood: The Prince of Thieves :)))))) Hahahahahaha I had to say this!

    1. Thank you so much for the kind words, and answering all my questions. Are Taylor and Phillip “together” or just co-workers?

      I agree 100% on the Adams mini-series. It touched off my deep dive in the Founding Fathers and the Revolutionary War. The book the series is based on by David McCullough I have read a few times – it’s fabulous. Yes, Jefferson was not a good guy. He may have been smart, but I feel he lacks in character.

      Oh yes! I totally forgot about Kevin being Robin Hood! I’m partial to Errol Flynn, but I just love old, old movies! I can’t imagine what you think about that craziness with his divorce!

      1. Lady Trader – I LOVE Eminem’s music. I know most is controversial, but I’m still a fan. Perfect for Axe “feels so empty without me” LOL Great on you for that! And there’s that Star Wars nod I was expecting in the MVPs 😉 Great post!

        1. Thank you! “Guess who’s back” was in my head from the moment I knew Axe was returning, so I was definitely using that song!
          I’m sorry I kept the Star Wars nod for Friday!

      2. Taylor and Philip are only co-workers.

        Hahaha about Kevin’s crazy divorce. Many friends messaged me saying they thought of me when they saw the news and I was like “if he is getting a divorce for me, it’s too late!” 😀

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