Bond Traders Are Fading Away

The industry shrinks, the young flee, and veterans shuffle jobs

In the 1980s bonds were the center of action on Wall Street, and traders—like the fictional Sherman McCoy in The Bonfire of the Vanities—were “masters of the universe.” The excitement in the trading room, with hundreds of people talking on the phone, was palpable, like a sporting event, says Kerry Stein, head of credit trading at Lloyds Securities. Those days are gone. “It’s surprising how quiet a place could be compared to what I had known,” says Stein, 56, who began trading bonds in 1985 at Drexel Burnham Lambert, the house of Michael Milken, who was nicknamed the junk-bond king.

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