James Allen Smith’s Stock-Doc Floored


Within the past decade or two, just about every profession has switched from analog to digital models and the commodities exchange is no exception. A lament for the pre-1997 days when hundreds of men packed the pits of Chicago’s stock floors, winning and losing thousands of dollars with a single flick of the wrist, then squandering their earnings on blow, booze, and women, Floored profiles a handful of eccentric (read: obnoxious) traders attempting the difficult transition to electronic exchange. James Allen Smith’s stock-doc waxes nostalgic for the good old days, but while it acknowledges the high-pressure stakes that led many traders to addiction and suicide, it posits the old system as an object of wonder, harmful only on the individual level. Smith goes easy on his subjects: A perfunctory mention of the recent financial crisis leaves the commodities exchange and its practitioners untainted. And even putting the meltdown aside, it’s hard to shed too many tears over the prospect of men who dedicated their lives to the relentless pursuit of personal profit suffering dire financial loss or struggling to adapt to the brave new computer-based world. In Floored, the disappearance of the human element from the trading process may be cause for regret, but the system emerges as essentially sound.