Veteran Trader Joe Corona Talks Freely In His Open Outcry Traders History Project Interview – Part One

John Lothian

John Lothian

Executive Chairman and CEO

Joe Corona’s Open Outcry Traders History Project story is a frank discussion of someone who stumbled into the markets as a temporary gig on his way to another career that never happened. Joe started a career in the markets after a friend of a friend helped him get a job as a runner at the Cboe in 1980 after he graduated from Northwestern University, and he never looked back. 

By 1982, Corona was trading on a house badge at the Cboe, using an arbitrage strategy of conversions and reversals. He would later buy a Commodity Options Membership, or COM, at the CBOT and then a CBOT Associate Membership. Otherwise, he said, all his exchange memberships were leased. 

Corona found his way to the CBOT when he was hired by Charlie Cottle to trade bond options and to help grow an options trading group. It was at this group that Corona started to look for the street smart, sharp type of people who would make good traders, whether they were PhDs or high school dropouts. 

What Cottle and Corona were looking for was a certain personality type: type A, aggressive, quick on the feet, disciplined and numerate.  

“You were just looking for sharp, street smart, savvy people,” Corona said. 

Corona said he was perpetually sick during his years on the trading floor with “pit crud.” He said he was “sick every day of the year.”

His parents had no idea what he did, but were happy as long as he was happy. However, his trading career was hard on his immediate family with the time-consuming long hours necessary to manage his trading positions and the people under him, and their trading positions. 

At one point, Corona and some partners set up a trading operation in India that required him to travel there and spend weeks at a time away from his family. He said this was not something he would do again if he had a chance to do it over. 

What he really would change, he said, is that he would have been more ruthless in managing himself and managing other people, knowing that the days of open outcry trading were limited.

He left the trading pits of Chicago when he was offered an opportunity to go to London and trade the OTC market as the Euro was coming into being and European countries had to get their balance sheets in order to make it happen. 

Near the end of that experience, the first inkling of electronic trading’s impact occurred as the bunds moved from LIFFE to Eurex, Corona said.

Corona’s favorite memory of the trading floor was the camaraderie. He said there was an honor system in the trading pit and that even if you hated someone, you would not let them harm themselves. If they had bad inputs in their sheets or were doing something else that was just wrong, someone would grab them and stop them. 

If a trader blew out, fellow pit traders would pass the hat to raise the money necessary to get them back in the trading pit, even if that meant they were back standing next to you competing against you the next day, Corona said.

Corona said the biggest differences between the CBOT and CME were the fights. At the CBOT, the fights were like gladiator matches that would go on for 10 minutes or more, Corona said. At the CME, it was more genteel and you would get fined for pushing someone a little too much while leaving the trading pit.

There were also differences in hand signals that could get you in trouble if you forgot which exchange you were trading on, he said.

The economic opportunities in the 1980s were tremendous, Corona said, but there was also lots of risk. 


PredictIt Betting on US Elections Nixed by American Regulators

PredictIt Betting on US Elections Nixed by American Regulators

First Read Hits & Takes John Lothian & JLN Staff The first sign of fall is not a leaf falling from a tree, or a leaf turning color, but instead registration for FIA's EXPO opens. Yes indeed, the FIA EXPO registration is open for the November 14 and 15 event...

We visit more than 100 financial news websites daily (Would YOU do that?)

The Spread

More Trader History Videos

Kenny Polcari – Open Outcry Traders History Project Part 2

Kenny Polcari – Open Outcry Traders History Project Part 2

When Kenny Polcari started out at the New York Stock Exchange, “It was paper and pencil until the turn of the century,” he said. 

The exchange started to introduce handheld computers in the late 1990s, but it was only in beta, not full blown yet.  Everyone was preparing for Y2K. When Y2K happened and the technology didn’t fail, Polcari said, there was a push on the industry to move forward with modernization. They converted all the stocks over to decimals alphabetically, one at a time, over a six-month period, starting with the stocks named A to D. 

Kenny Polcari – Open Outcry Traders History Project Part 1

Kenny Polcari – Open Outcry Traders History Project Part 1

When he was young, Kenny Polcari wanted to be in politics – preferably to eventually be president of the United States. But, he said, “Thank God none of that came true.”

When he was 19, he interned on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange. He knew nothing about the business and was from Boston rather than New York. At first he thought, “Who wants to move to New York City in the summer as a 19-year-old kid?”  He was going to go back to Cape Cod and be a lifeguard.  But he thought about it and did his homework and said, “What’s the worst that can happen?” 

Options Veterans Forge New Path With Tried-And-True Strategy

Options Veterans Forge New Path With Tried-And-True Strategy

As its name suggests, Options Solutions is an options-centric asset-management firm that aims to increase the returns of investors’ portfolios with customized options strategies. JLN’s John Lothian and Suzanne Cosgrove recently interviewed the founders of the new enterprise, described by CEO Michael Brodsky as an early-stage, high-growth company. Team members are led by former CBOE Chairman and CEO Bill Brodsky, as well as Michael, his son, and options industry strategist Steve Sears.

Larry Abrams Part Two: Trader, “New York Jew” and Magician

Larry Abrams Part Two: Trader, “New York Jew” and Magician

Trader Larry Abrams Talks About His Career for the Open Outcry Traders HIstory Project

In part two of the JLN MarketsWiki Education Open Outcry Traders History Project interview with Larry Abrams, he talks about the emotionally draining market openings every day, his rather ugly experience in Kansas City opening a futures trading operation for Cooper Neff, options exercised out of the money, electronic trading, economic opportunity (and small worlds) and being a magician.

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This Story