Mike walsh trader
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The biotechnology industry is commonly synonymous with venture capital and isn’t often mentioned as a good place for hedge funds to invest. Kilkenny Capital, based in Chicago, has made a living by following a long/short trading strategy focused on biotechnology stocks. Kilkenny, which was established in 1995 by Michael P. Walsh and Bessmer Venture Partners, now has over $200 million under management (it started with just $2.5 million) and bases its investment approach on a proprietary valuation model that uses probabilities to determine whether or not biotech companies can succeed. It currently manages three funds and two independently managed accounts, and believes that its plan will handle another $300 million before having to shut down.
Unlike VCs, Kilkenny is investing in publicly traded biotech firms, and sees the biotech sector’s extreme uncertainty, combined with the substantial fundamental value development it provides, as ideal for a long/short strategy. “In a rational sense, you need information,” Walsh says. “There is no equal pricing process in private markets. You get a more liquid market and a clearer understanding of what one can pay for creativity in public markets.”
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James Allen Smith attempts to untangle the knots of shouting men on the floor of the Chicago Board of Trade in this revealing documentary about the commodities industry. He interviews big swinging dicks who are happy to brag about their high-risk, high-adrenaline lifestyle (“I call the market a whore—out it’s to fuck as many people as it can”) However, Smith also demonstrates how computerized trading marked the end of an era for these sharp-elbowed traders: there were 10,000 open-outcry traders on the floor in 1997, but that number has since shrunk to about a thousand. Many old-timers struggled to adjust to spending all day staring at a phone, and they look back on the move with bitterness and bewilderment. Smith appears unsure what to make of the financial crisis of September 2008, and the book ends soon after, but before then, it’s a memorable portrait of men with no experience buying and selling futures.
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Enter a world where chaos reigns and reckless ambition reigns supreme: the trading floors of Chicago’s financial canyons. Men here use odd hand signals to buy and sell everything from pork belly to soybeans while carrying the weight of our complex economy – along with their neon jackets – on their shoulders.
It’s a rough, physical environment where a small benefit can transform into heroes with fortunes well beyond what their high school educations will ever provide. However, making the wrong decision on the wrong day can be fatal. “Floored” is an authentic peek behind the curtain of the trading floor that few have ever seen, at a time when millions have lost billions in the fickle stock market and uncertainty abounds about the faltering financial system.
Floored captured this seismic shift that turned many people’s lives upside down, particularly those who had been extremely effective on the floor but couldn’t or didn’t want to make the switch to computerized trading. There are many success stories, but this is not one of them.
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Since the initial release of this film was in late 2009, you’re probably wondering what happened to the Floored traders. While the film finished, these people’s lives did not. We discovered where some of the more lively characters have gone with the aid of Director James Allen Smith.
Jeff Ansani, a winter golfer and former floor trader who suffered a major financial setback and returned to the floor as a clerk, is still working on the floor. It’s in their blood for some people.
Rob Prosniewski: The young trader who went to the floor in search of his fortune and found he couldn’t make it made it on a much larger and riskier playing field: Afghanistan.
Rob went on to become a medical specialist in the United States Army and worked as a field medic for the 10th Mountain Division in Afghanistan. The confusion on the floor undoubtedly helped him prepare for battle. He is currently stationed in Hawaii, where he is undergoing Special Forces training.
Kenny Ford, a long-time floor trader who believed the machine was “evil,” seems to have changed his mind. He left the floor in October 2011 and relocated to New York, where he now works upstairs at Coastal Trade, a proprietary trading company that uses computers.