A Serial Killer and A Stockbroker: Seems A Good Fit To Me



“OMG! I’m short 50,000 shares of National Widget and they just announced the largest quarterly increase in earnings ever!!!”


In American Psycho, the blood spattered novel by Bret Easton Ellis about a serial killer in New York City in the mid-1980s, the protagonist is a stockbroker. Although the character is an institutional broker, he is still a stockbroker. When the movie came out in 2000, all the guys I knew in the brokerage business agreed that the author had made a wise decision by having his main character, a sociopathic murderer, be a Wall Street broker.

The consensus seemed to be that of all the professions in New York, the most likely one to attract guys with the personalities of serial killers is the brokerage business. Not sure if this is a compliment. Nonetheless, the brokerage business is the only business I know of in which the word “kill” is part of a standard market order.

This phrase is used when you are selling a position but you are not open to negotiation. You offer the merchandise to the counterparty, in this case a buyer, and quote the price as “fill or kill at ninety-three” (or whatever the price is). The counter-party either says “fill” or “kill.” Kind of Freudian, isn’t it?

Christian Bale with sun screen all over his face playing the serial killer and stockbroker in American Psycho. He looks as if someone has just told him he has a margin call in his account.

BTW, the best movie portraying the amorality of Wall Street is the magnificent Margin Call starring Kevin Spacey, Paul Bettany, Simon Baker, Stanley Tucci, Jeremy Irons, and Demi Moore. The movie was released at the end of 2011 and somehow didn’t get on the radar screen of moviegoers. But I promise it is worth your while. 5 stars.

[Source: American Psycho by Bret Easton Ellis. Image courtesy of Neoseeker.]

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Charles McCain

Charles McCain is a Washington DC based freelance journalist and novelist. He is the author of "An Honorable German," a World War Two naval epic. You can read more of his work on his website: http://charlesmccain.com/

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