In this excerpt from The Asylum: The Renegades Who Hijacked the World's Oil Market, Leah McGrath Goodman witnesses a NYMEX energy trader hazing ritual and watches Bill O'Reilly uncover how those traders set the price of a barrel of oil.
By Leah McGrath Goodman, contributor
It was dawn when I received my first of many after-hours phone calls from Mark Bradley Fisher, otherwise known as the Fish. A self-made millionaire with a Napoleonic sense of his own destiny, Fisher prided himself on his work ethic, his intellectual prowess, and his ability to rise early in the morning and toil late into the night. As a result, he had a habit of calling me almost exclusively at inconvenient times.
It was February 2005, the year Wall Street began to realize something was wrong with the oil market. Fisher, however, was not particularly disturbed. After all, he was one of the wealthiest and most powerful energy traders in the world.
Fumbling in the darkness, I nearly fell out of bed trying to find my cell phone. As I flipped it open, Fisher sounded none too pleased at the five-ring wait.
"What are you doing?" he barked in his trader's rasp, the line crackling softly in the background.
The Fish never identified himself over the phone. You were just supposed to know it was him. Despite his coarseness and affinity for semi-sadistic pranks—often inflicted on the less fortunate of his many admiring acolytes—he was one of the few oil traders off Wall Street who boasted a fistful of Ivy league degrees. Traders in the multitrillion-dollar commodities market had long been aware of his indomitable presence—often acutely so—but, to the rest of the world, the Fish was a virtual unknown.
And he liked it that way. More
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