The Simplest Way to Know Everything About Finance

Twenty years ago, people on trading floors at investment banks worked in silos. Pretend you were the GE trader. You spent all day staring at GE, and not much else. You didn’t know anything about interest rates, commodities, oil, volatility, or anything. You just sat there staring at GE all day. That was a trading floor in 2002.

Things have changed since then. People have gotten smarter, and they do look at cross-asset stuff, but they are still pretty siloed. The one thing that made me unique on the Lehman Brothers equity trading floor is that I looked at everything. And I had to because there were ETFs for everything. There were ETFs for stocks, bonds, commodities, and currencies. I became, without really realizing it, a macro trader.

In particular, I paid a lot of attention to bonds. I liked my fixed income classes the best in business school, and Lehman’s training program was about 80% focused on bonds. And I did very well in those classes, while everyone else was screwing around. Lehman was a bond shop, and I wanted to be a bond trader. It didn’t work out that way. I had a particular affinity for rates, thinking that I might play a role in setting the world’s most important price: the 10-year interest rate. Instead, I got stuck as the snail cleaning the financial markets fish tank.

How I Became a Bond Expert

In 2013, I became an adjunct professor in the business program at Coastal Carolina University. For four years, I taught a class called Financial Institutions & Markets, which had a lot of bond math in it. You know how it is—when you teach something, you learn it really well. So that is how I became an expert on bonds, and that is how I came up with the Bond Masterclass.

What is the Bond Masterclass? Think of it as a semester-long course in bonds, but instead of deriving formulas and crap like that, you learn the concepts behind how bonds work. You learn the relationship between bond prices and interest rates in a way that you never understood before. I am fond of saying that if you only know about stocks, you know nothing about finance. But if you know about bonds and options, you know everything about finance.