(2-3-11) In the spring of 2000, I began a three-year stint on Citigroup's corporate-derivatives team. I was just months past my twentieth birthday, with no work experience to speak of, in a world beyond my imagination.
As my boss summed me up after a day of interviews, I was "fucking unpolished."
The credit-derivatives group, then just three or four people I sat next to, soon spawned an ever-expanding team managing ever-more complex creations: credit-default swaps, collateralized debt obligations, and the myriad other structures built with black boxes and shrouded by acronyms.
Meanwhile, my group continued to peddle mostly the forbears of these recent menaces, the more mundane interest-rate swaps and Treasury-rate locks. The newer derivatives, though hardly identical to their predecessors, nonetheless evolved in similar environments, were likewise designed to manipulate risk, and were also customized on a trade-by-trade basis.
Our clients were non-financial corporations, the Deltas and Verizons of the world, which relied on us for advice and education.