STREET FREAK: Money and Madness at Lehman Brothers
It’s madness of a very personal sort that Dillan’s writing about here, though at times it’s hard to tell where the insanity of imperial-era Wall Street and late-period Lehman Bros. ends and Dillan’s personal struggle with undiagnosed bipolar and obsessive-compulsive disorders begins. That’s not a flaw in the writing—which is surprisingly gripping, especially for a first effort from a guy who was Lehman’s principal ETF trader—but something intentional, a reminder of what strange days those were just before the onset of the financial crisis.
Street Freak is as vulgar as you would expect from a trader’s memoir. It’s also very micro, its dialogue snappy but full of jargon (“Your batting average has to be close to eighty percent. But you trade piker size.”) Dillan’s rise to the top of the trading heap was fuelled by his mania, which he found grotesquely symbiotic with the demands of the job. “I was attracted to Wall Street because in order to get things done, you have to act irrationally. Only insane people who do insane things make money. Only insane people buy when everyone else is selling. Only insane people do exactly the opposite of what common sense tells you to do.” For every manic peak, though, there’s a deep, deep trough.