Traders: Millions By the Minute, BBC 2 - TV review


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The Independent Culture

Traders: Millions By the Minute wasn't as much like Martin Scorsese's The Wolf of Wall Street as I'm sure we'd all have preferred it to be. BBC2's new two-part documentary about the lives of stock market traders was much more concerned with the motives underlying their behaviour than the cut of their designer suits or the purity of their cocaine.

The other reason is that the business of trading imaginary money has changed since Jordan "The Wolf" Belfort's heyday. Now that around 90 per cent of the market is electronic, Bob and the rest of the growling "pit bears" at the Chicago Board of Trade are soon-to-be-extinct relics. The future is companies like the one Remko operates from Amsterdam, where traders tweak algorithms in deathly silence.

For the time being there's still money to be made by characters like Karen, a Manhattan hedge fund manager who takes the long view, and Scott, a day trader, who can make $8,000 in two minutes, then lose it shortly thereafter. We also met Ben, who was once jailed for his part in Darius Guppy's insurance scam, but is still intent on getting rich(er).

None of the brokers featured quite fit the City Boy stereotype, but all of them were confronting the same psychological challenge – risk. Getting comfortable with risk can make fortunes, ruin marriages, give you a newly Zen perspective or just kill you stone-dead from a heart attack. As Bob said: "It's about money, but it's about everything else too."