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John Lothian: A Futures Trader’s Confession

John Lothian

John Lothian

Executive Chairman and CEO

All the Ways I Have Traded Futures Over the Years

I was brought up as a futures trader and the people I knew were futures traders. The people at my first industry-related job that I listened to on long car rides or on the radio talked about futures. The people I worked for after college graduation wrote about or traded, or brokered, or cleared futures. The people who poured my beer at Chuck’s tavern in Fontana, Wisconsin later traded futures.

I have traded futures for discount futures clients and for a house account. I have traded futures for my own account and for a proprietary trading group. I have traded futures as a full-service broker and as a Commodity Trading Advisor.

I have traded futures on the 8th floor of the CBOT Building, and the 12th, the 13th and the 30th. I have traded futures in the CME Building and down at 216 West Jackson and on Exchange Place from the Brokers Building that smelled of fried fish on Fridays.

I have traded on the 4th floor of the CBOT on the MidAmerica Commodity Exchange as a member. I have traded futures on paper tickets and on cardboard trading cards and on a computer.

I have traded livestock, grain futures.and stock index futures, including ones that are no longer around. I have spread futures and traded futures options and single stock futures.

I have traded futures options on things that traded on a blackboard. For real. They were catastrophe insurance options at the Chicago Board of Trade.

I have traded metals at the COMEX and the CBOT and then at the CME Group when they bought those two exchanges.

I have traded currencies; futures, futures options and EFPs. I have traded softs like coffee, sugar and cocoa – and that is the correct order in which they should be said. I have traded rice, which was supposed to be a sure thing trade and was not. Yet I made money before the collapse.

I have traded energy futures during hurricanes and soybeans and corn futures during droughts. I have traded futures during stock market crashes, too many stock market crashes. I have traded futures when space shuttles exploded and when Chicago mayors have passed away.

I have traded futures products when they were limit-up and when they were limit-down. I have seen futures markets go limit up, limit down and then limit up again all in the same trading session.

I have traded futures from an office and on a trading floor all while in Chicago. I have traded them electronically AND over the internet. I traded futures on a Windows 95 computer, both electronic trading and open outcry.

As a floor messenger, or runner, I have ripped and run orders in from a printer into a trading pit. I have run orders in the old CBOT grain room and into the CBOT South room where there were just bonds and GNMAs. I have run orders into the correct pit and broker and the wrong ones.

I have traded in the CBOT South Room when it was where the MidAm was located. I traded in the MidAm pits and over the changer phone.

I have traded futures during the pre-opening electronic session and during the day session; open outcry and electronic and side by side. I have traded futures in the afterhours session and traded futures overnight. I have traded futures in the overnight open outcry session at the CBOT.

I have day traded, scalped and position traded futures.

I have traded futures in the U.S. and on exchanges based in Europe. I have traded futures from Tokyo.

I have traded futures to hedge soybean, wheat, corn and interest rates and traded futures options to hedge a college student trip abroad program.

I have traded futures for Texas hedging. I have been stopped in and stopped out. I have been liquidated and covered my shorts. I have never been filled on a fill or kill. I have rolled futures forward and traded new crop and old crop contracts.

I have traded futures for experienced traders and for people who were learning. I traded futures for people who thought they knew it all and for people who learned the hard way that they don’t know it all.

I have traded futures for good and for bad gamblers.

I have traded futures for a guy who was on a gurney being removed from his New York City apartment because he had had a heart attack. He wanted to get flat lest he lose his money.

I have traded futures for people I have known and for more people I have never met.

I have traded futures for people who became friends and for people who were great customers and for some who were not so good customers.

I have traded futures for accounts I had and on give-ups for accounts held elsewhere.

I have traded futures off a mechanical trading program and for clients who asked me my opinion and then traded the other way.

I have traded futures for people who made every margin call, until the last one.

I have traded futures for people who made every margin call, including the last one.

I have traded futures for people that wanted to become Commodity Trading Advisors and for people who were Commodity Trading Advisors.I have traded futures for Commodity Pool Operators and traded futures for people who ran hedge funds.

I have traded futures for people who were fined by the CFTC for theft (I turned them in).

I have traded futures for people who always played by the rules and for people who were always trying to get around the rules.

I have traded futures for clients whose accounts I raised and for clients whose accounts were raised by other brokers.

I have traded futures for people who were referred to me and for people who came back to me after being stolen by a former employer. I have traded futures for a doctor who insisted the NOB, or Notes over Bonds, spread could not trade negative. He was wrong.

I have traded futures for people who have sailed across the Atlantic in small sailboats. I have traded futures for people who have biked across Europe.

I have traded futures for people who produce television shows, make soap, sell insurance, take pictures, taught college, invest in real estate, practice law, pass gas (anesthesiologist), drill teeth (dentist), make loans (banker), build houses, make state government work, were retired, who worked and even students.

I have traded futures for people who found my writing on the internet and traded futures for a CTA who had a fish head and was a superhero: Troutman, Defender of Sticks!

I have traded futures for people who have written books about trading.

I have traded futures through Rosenthal, LIT America, Gerald Commodities, First Options of Chicago and their LIT Division. I have traded futures with Man Futures and MF Global and last with ADMIS.

I traded futures for a woman named Marie at First American, Gerald Commodities, LIT Division of First Options, Man Financial, MF Global and ADMIS. And traded them for a man named Don and another named Jim at most if not all of those places.

I have traded futures over the TOPS or Trade Order Processing System and on the first Java based trading platform connected to TOPS. I have traded futures on Rolfe & Nolan’s RAN Order system, Patsystems JTrader, CQG, MTrade from Man Financial and on TT’s X_trader.

I have traded futures on Project A, the a/c/e Alliance, Liffe Connect and CME’s Globex and Globex2. I have traded futures on ICE.

I have traded futures standing up and sitting down.

I have traded futures over the phone, from a cocktail party. Bad idea.

I have traded futures when people were at home, at work, on a plane and in their basements.

I have traded futures for people who went debit and have traded futures for people I stopped from going debit.

I have traded futures for people who made a lot of money trading and for people who lost a lot of money trading.

I have traded futures for people who had their best day ever trading with me and for people who lost $1 million in one day, and that was not their first time doing that.

All in all, I am a futures trader, or I was a futures trader. Until Monday, February 1, 2021, I had never traded an individual name in equities. But I did. I traded a stock. I did it.

I bought shares of US Bank, my bank, in my IRA account using my JP Morgan phone app to place the order.

I have always invested in mutual funds because I had enough risk with my futures trading or brokerage business. Plus, when I was a broker, I wanted to be focused on the customer, not my own trading.

So there you have it. John Lothian; stock trader.

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