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One Trader's Account Of September 11, 2001

One Trader's Account Of September 11, 2001

It was just another Tuesday at the Detroit office of Bright Trading on Sept. 11, 2001. The office, which was comprised of 25 traders from Michigan and Canada, were going through their pre-market rituals, studying charts and scouring the news to identify potential set-ups for the upcoming day.

CNBC was blaring on the television, as it always was, when the first of two planes crashed into the World Trade Center at 8:46 a.m. We, as well as the late Mark Haynes, assumed it was a wayward pilot who lost his course and had inadvertently flown into the North Tower of the World Trade Center. The office went about its business preparing for the open.

Unfortunately, that was not the case. At 9:03 a.m., hijackers crashed into the South Tower of World Trade Center. Within minutes, it was clear that our country was under attack, and it was announced that the markets would not open. Little did we know, the markets would not reopen until the following Monday, Sept. 17.

Fear Sets In

As the other attacks were carried out, especially the one in Johnstown, Pennsylvania, we became aware that any plane in the air could be used for a similar attack. Being in a large office building in Southfield, Michigan, the traders began nervously looking out the window for any suspicious aircraft heading our way.

Being a parent of two young elementary school children, my first thought was to go and pick them up from school and take them home while the world tried figuring out what was truly happening. However, the school informed me they were on lockdown, and no one was allowed to come in or leave the building. Not a great feeling.

As traders from Canada arrived at the office closer to the open, our office was jammed with other tenants from the building. The reason being, they were aware we closely followed the news and were hoping we had some insight into the world-changing event.

The Canadian contingency began to have other concerns such as questioning whether they would even be able to return home. By this time, U.S. air travel had been suspended, and the Ambassador Bridge and Tunnel to Canada had been closed. One Canadian trader who left the office went to the local gas station to fill up his car and withdrew a $1,000 from the bank. Clearly, he was thinking that we had a worldwide crisis on our hands and gas may become scarce if the worldwide oil supply was interrupted in the case of an all-out war.

Eventually, the bridge and tunnel reopened, but only for Canadian citizens returning home. As the Canadian traders exited to join the long lines at customs before crossing the bridge or entering the tunnel, the rest of the office left to be with their families.

Adjusting Back To Life

As disturbing as those initial moments were, the remainder of the week was especially excruciating for me. While my wife returned to work and my children to school, I had nowhere to go as the markets remained closed. The collapse of the Twin Towers disrupted connections to the exchange that had to be restored. Instead, I spent hours and hours following the tragedy on television and became more and more distraught as the gory details were revealed.

At one point during the week, my 9-year-old daughter, who had never seen me in such a sad state, came to me with her piggy bank and offered its contents to help support our family. Obviously, not being fully cognizant of the scope of the tragedy, she attributed my sadness to not being able to work and help provide for our family.

Surely, everyone remembers where they were and what they were doing at the time 9/11 tragedy. For me, being a trader, my memories of the event are intertwined with the impact it had on the financial markets.

Of course, the implications from the event go well beyond the scope of the financial markets.

As our country commemorates the anniversary of the tragedy, my thoughts and prayers go out to those people who lost friends, loved ones and others who were negatively impacted by this historic event.

This article was originally posted on Sept. 11, 2016.


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