Eighteen years ago — long before he was an internationally known hedge fund manager and financial commentator known as “The Capitalist Pig” — Jonathan Hoenig was one of thousands of those meshuggenehs screaming and yelling and waving their arms on the floor of the Chicago Mercantile Exchange.
Electronic trading put an end to the frenzied culture, but vivid memories linger of that strange and storied era in the city’s financial history. Now Hoenig has brought them back to life in a fascinating documentary called “Pit Trading 101.”
The film, available for $2.99 on iTunes, Amazon, Vimeo and at PitTrading101.com, is based on footage shot in 1996 by a documentary crew that was given access to a training class for novice traders at the CME. Among the ambitious young capitalists who were profiled was a 22-year-old Hoenig, who began as a clerk on the trading floor.
The footage sat unused until Hoenig recovered it last year and teamed with award-winning Chicago producer Jamie Ceaser to complete the production. “I produced this film as a way to remember this unique industry that was an intrinsic part of Chicago, the financial markets and thousands of trader’s lives including mine,” Hoenig said.
“The skills I learned as a pit trader were invaluable to my investment career. There’s nothing on earth that can describe what it’s like to stand in a busy Chicago commodities pit and trade. Most of today’s electronic traders wouldn’t last an hour.”
Here’s a trailer of highlights from the documentary: