Raw footage for the award-winning series The 90's. Tom Weinberg interviews Pat Arbor, chairman of the Chicago Board of Trade, who talks about his two main pastimes: mountain climbing and soybean trading. "When I was new in the business I had lots of feelings; I also had lots of troubles...The secret to life is discipline." He recounts the story about how he began mountain climbing -- he read that Robert MacNamara had climbed the Matterhorn and decided to do it himself.
00:00Copy video clip URL The tape starts in an elevator with a glass wall inside the Board of Trade, and the tape cuts as they exit the elevator.
00:39Copy video clip URL Tape cuts to Weinberg talking about bingo in Pat Arbor’s office, and he asks about trading soybeans. Arbor’s voice is very quiet as he talks about how he would trade soybeans safely. He compares trading safely to mountain climbing safely, by researching and using a guide.
02:40Copy video clip URL Weinberg asks about his most successful climb, and Arbor says he most recently climbed the Eiger in Switzerland, and was scared by the ridge, but went with a guide. He tried to climb another mountain, and got to 19,000 feet but high winds prevented him from reaching the summit.
04:11Copy video clip URL Weinberg returns to the subject of soybeans, and wants to know at what scale Arbor trades. Arbor trades large amounts of soybeans but makes small amounts of money, because he doesn’t want to risk too much. He compares success in trading to success in mountain climbing, and says it is very rare that people can climb certain mountains without oxygen.
06:10Copy video clip URL Weinberg asks if Richard Dennis (a famously successful trader) is the exception, and Arbor agrees, saying that Richard Dennis is to commodity trading what Reinhold Messner is to mountain climbing. Arbor says of himself, “I just try to hit singles, I don’t try to hit home runs.”
06:48Copy video clip URL Arbor has been trading for 25 years, and Weinberg asks if it is safe to say he’s made more than 25 million, but Arbor says no. They do some math to figure out profits, and the audio and visual cuts out for a few seconds. Arbor says he is not concerned with profits, but with liquidity in the market.
08:33Copy video clip URL The two discuss risks and profit motives. Then Weinberg asks about getting “feelings” about profitable trades, but Arbor says that they haven’t benefited him in the past, and he tries to ignore them. Arbor says the secret to both trading and to climbing mountains is “discipline.”
10:24Copy video clip URL Weinberg asks how fun Arbor finds trading, and Arbor says that the Chicago Board of Trade is a “wonderful institution.” They talk about discipline helping people to succeed rather than the “level of fun.”
11:56Copy video clip URL Weinberg introduces a scenario where they play cards, and whether it matters how high the stakes are. Arbor says, “It would be just a question of matching my wits against your wits” and the amount of money that is bet does not matter. He says that if the money matters to you, “you’re going to have trouble.”
13:30Copy video clip URL Weinberg asks who the best trader Arbor knows is, and Arbor answers Henry Shatkin, who had discipline, and “can take losses and trade according to his means.”
14:36Copy video clip URL Weinberg wants to know about the people involved in trading, specifically in big trades or failed trades. Arbor sees the people who go after huge trades and failed trades as having a “flaw somewhere in their personality.” On the other hand, he respects those who have been trading for 20 years, and approach trading like a business.
16:15Copy video clip URL The tape cuts and Weinberg and Arbor are talking about trading commodities. “The risks that we underwrite here at the Board of Trade are different… than risks in Las Vegas.” “As soon as the farmer plants a grain, a risk is created.” Trading commodities is different than playing cards, according to Arbor.
18:59Copy video clip URL The tape cuts and Weinberg asserts that Arbor, in being careful and analytical, is the opposite of the public perception of traders. Arbor says he is “representative of the average Board of Trade” member, and has the “same philosophy… They’re conservative, they try to measure their risk, they don’t try to live flamboyant lifestyles.” He says that the odd people who make the news have created the perception of flashy riskiness.
21:17Copy video clip URL Arbor is asked about mountain climbing, and he says he started 15 years ago when he read that Robert McNamara climbed the Matterhorn. It took him three tries, but he became hooked and now he climbs 2 or 3 mountains a year. “It’s not quite as dangerous as people make it out to be.” He recommends having a good local guide, “who understands the terrain quite well.”
23:29Copy video clip URL Weinberg compares trading and climbing, and Arbor talks about safe planning and taking one’s time.
24:26Copy video clip URL Arbor shows off photos on his wall of him climbing mountains. There are pictures of him on Mt. Whitney, Mt. Eiger, Mt. Elbrus, Mt. Blanc and Mt. Matterhorn, Mt. Kilamanjaro, and Mt. Rainier.
27:50Copy video clip URL End of tape.