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Goldman Sachs Group Inc.'s mortgagetraders, under the spotlight because of the U.S. government's fraud lawsuit against the securities firm, made markets in more than just bonds during the real-estate bubble.


美国政府的欺诈指控而曝露在聚光灯下的高盛集团(Goldman Sachs Group Inc.)抵押贷款交易员们在美国房地产泡沫时期交易的不仅仅是债券。



They also cast bets on a White Castle hamburger-eating contest.


他们还在White Castle快餐汉堡比赛上打起了赌。



In December 2007, after the firm distributed multimillion-dollar bonus checks in part thanks to bets on a mortgage meltdown, about 10 Goldman mortgagetraders, surrounded by dozens of cheering colleagues, wolfed down the burgers, according to attendees. Bystanders wagered cash on how many burgers the traders could eat.


2007年12月,在高盛发放了数百万美元的奖金之后──这在某种程度上要得益于押宝贷款市场的崩盘,大约有10名高盛抵押贷款交易员在数十名同事的助威声中,狼吞虎咽地比赛吃汉堡包,参与者说。旁观者对这些交易员能吃掉多少个汉堡下了现金赌注。



The annual event resembled a scene out of 'Liar's Poker,' a book depicting bawdy antics of bond traders at Salomon Brothers in the 1980s. In fact, the 2007 contest was held just a few floors away from where the Salomon traders worked when that firm leased space in the same Manhattan building.


这项一年一度的活动效仿的是《说谎者的扑克牌》(Liar's Poker)中的一幕。这本书描写了上世纪80年代所罗门兄弟公司(Salomon Brothers)债券交易员们的粗俗言行。实际上,2007年这次比赛的举办地距离所罗门交易员们曾经工作过的地方只隔几层楼,当时所罗门曾在同一座曼哈顿大厦里租下办公地。



It was a lower-stakes version of what went on every day in the group: aggressive, take-no-prisoners trading. Mortgage-backed bonds, including complex derivatives that tracked pools of risky loans, were traded for big money in Goldman's 400-person mortgage unit.


吃汉堡比赛和这个团队的日常工作──积极而富有攻击性的交易──相比只能算"小打小闹"。在高盛拥有400名员工的抵押贷款团队里,对抵押担保债券──包括跟踪风险贷款组合的复杂金融衍生品──的交易通常都是大手笔。



In 2007, the group wagered that mortgage prices would plunge, creating a nearly $4 billion windfall, according to people familiar with the matter at the time. Goldman now says losses in other areas left the company with less than $500 million in net revenue from residential-mortgage products.


知情人透露,这个团队在2007年看空抵押贷款价格,并因此大赚近40亿美元。高盛近日表示,其他业务带来的损失让公司在住宅抵押产品上获得的收益只剩下不足5亿美元。



Still, the traders hoped their big returns would lead eventually to a ticket to 'Hitters Row,' the 50th-floor enclave in Goldman's One New York Plaza building where the firm's top securities-business executives worked.


尽管如此,抵押贷款交易员们仍然希望他们能凭借取得的高收益最终跻身"击球手行列"──也就是高盛位于纽约广场一号(One New York Plaza)大楼50层的办公区。那里是公司证券业务高层管理人士工作的地方。



Recently, the group's profile has risen. The financial world is riveted on the Securities and Exchange Commission lawsuit filed earlier this month against Goldman, which is accused with one of its traders in the mortgage group of creating a product secretly designed to fail for the benefit of a favored hedge-fund client.


最近,高盛抵押贷款团队的名气大幅上升。美国证券交易委员会(Securities and Exchange Commission,简称SEC)本月早些时候对高盛的起诉成为金融界的焦点。SEC指控高盛抵押贷款团队的一名交易员偏向一名对冲基金客户,设计出一个明知将使投资者遭受亏损的产品。



Goldman has repeatedly denied any wrongdoing, but the unit will be a focus of testimony this week before the Senate's Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations, which is examining the causes of the financial crisis.


高盛多次否认自己有不当行为,不过,该公司旗下的抵押贷款部门在本周参议院常设调查小组委员会(Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations)的听证会上将成为焦点所在。该委员会正在调查金融危机的起因。



Young traders in Goldman's mortgage unit were told to take a cue from Tom Brady, the New England Patriots quarterback regarded as methodical and cool under pressure, say people who were in the unit. For a group filled with Red Sox and Patriots fans -- and led by a Texas A&M University graduate who traveled back to his alma mater for football games -- the analogy struck a chord.


曾在高盛抵押贷款部门工作过的人士表示,年轻的交易员们被告知要向新英格兰爱国者美式橄榄球队(New England Patriots)枢纽前卫•布兰迪(Tom Brady)学习,因为布兰迪在压力下也能做到有条不紊、沉着冷静。对于满是红袜棒球队(Red Sox)和爱国者队球迷的高盛抵押贷款部门来说──该部门的领导是一名德克萨斯A&M大学(Texas A&M University)毕业生,他曾为了观看橄榄球比赛而不辞辛苦地返回母校──这样的类比引起了他们的共鸣。



But there was little time for watching sports during chaotic 2007, when mortgage bonds melted down and paved the way for 2008's full-blown financial panic. Traders worked punishing hours in a drab office space with long rows of computer terminals and phones.


不过在动荡的2007年,他们可没有时间观看体育比赛,当时抵押贷款债券危机爆发,并且为2008年全面展开的金融恐慌埋下了伏笔。交易员们在单调乏味、摆满一排排电脑终端和电话的办公室里从早忙到晚。



Daniel Sparks, the Houston-born Goldman lifer who ran the mortgage department, usually arrived by 7:30 a.m. Michael Swenson and David Lehman, co-heads of the structured-products group, arrived shortly afterward, say people who were there at the time.


当时在该部门工作的人士说,抵押贷款部门负责人丹尼尔•斯帕克斯(Daniel Sparks)通常在早上7:30之前就来到办公室。斯帕克斯生在休斯敦,一直为高盛效力。结构性产品团队的共同负责人迈克尔•史文森(Michael Swenson)和大卫•莱曼(David Lehman)稍后也会到公司。



Messrs. Sparks, Swenson and Lehman declined to comment for this article.


斯帕克斯、史文森和莱曼均拒绝对本文置评。



Late nights were frequent. 'I'm still stuck at work at 10PM, but it's been six years since I've been functioning on this @!$GBP @!$@$GBP schedule, so who cares,' wrote trader Fabrice Tourre in a Jan. 31, 2007 email to a friend. 'I feel like I'm losing my mind and I'm only 28!!' wrote Mr. Tourre, who is a defendant in the SEC's lawsuit.


加班到很晚是常事。"晚上10点我还在工作,我这么没日没夜地干活已经有六年了,所以谁在乎呢,"交易员法布里斯•图尔(Fabrice Tourre)在2007年1月31日写给朋友的一封电子邮件中写道。"我觉得我就快疯了,可我只有28岁!!"图尔写道,他是SEC诉讼案中的被告。



Mr. Tourre and his lawyers have declined to comment and are fighting the regulatory charges.


图尔和他的律师拒绝置评,他们正在应对监管机构的指控。



Short and bespectacled, the French-born Mr. Tourre, who worked with hedge funds and banks in trading complex bond products, didn't especially stand out, say people who were there at the time. Like other traders, he wore khaki or dark pants and button-down shirts, these people say. His background, which included a master's degree in engineering from Stanford University, was typical of the quantitative leanings of many co-workers.


在法国出生的图尔身材矮小,戴着一副眼镜。他在对复杂债券产品的交易中与对冲基金和银行合作。不过当时在该部门工作的人士表示,图尔在部门里并没有显得特别出众。和其他交易员一样,他穿着卡其色或深色的裤子和领尖有纽扣的衬衫,知情者说。他的背景,包括在斯坦福大学(Stanford University)取得工程学硕士学位,也和许多同事一样侧重于数学。



As the market for risky subprime home loans deteriorated during 2007, some traders were rattled. Many were shocked on April 2, when subprime lender New Century Financial Corp. filed for bankruptcy.


随着高风险的次级住宅贷款市场在2007年不断恶化,一些交易员变得紧张不安。许多人在4月2日大吃一惊,当时次级抵押贷款机构New Century Financial Corp.申请破产。



'Is this the big one?' traders asked, say people who were there at the time, as they watched Mr. Sparks confer with Mr. Swenson, known as 'Swenny,' at his computer terminal.


知情者说,当交易员们看到斯帕克斯和被称为"斯维尼"(Swenny)的史文森在电脑前交换意见时,他们问道:"这是那个大家伙吗?"





在此后的几个月里,随着更多的贷款机构申请破产,加之对冲基金也陷入困境,"大家伙"──也就是能够击垮市场的大事件──这个概念变成了黑色幽默的素材,知情者说。



In the months that followed, as more lenders filed for bankruptcy and hedge funds appeared troubled, the notion of 'the big one' -- a major event that would crack the market -- became fodder for dark humor, say these people.


知情者说,如果一个勉强支撑局面的资产管理人将低质债券用作抵押品以获得即时现金,高盛的交易员们就会将该债券戏称为"危险担保"。他们说,斯帕克斯对于已经在春天的时候卖掉了抵押贷款部门许多风险最高的资产感到如释重负,尽管是亏本售出。



If a struggling asset manager posted a low-quality bond as collateral for quick cash, the Goldman traders would dub it a 'hairy security,' say these people. Mr. Sparks, they say, was relieved to have sold many of his group's riskiest holdings during the spring, albeit at a loss.


尽管有一年一度的White Castle吃汉堡比赛──这项比赛的收入捐献给了慈善机构,实际上许多交易员都很注重健康。许多人吃的是蛋白、水果和火鸡三明治,由该部门助理负责点餐或者直接从楼里的餐厅拿。



Despite the annual White Castle frenzy, in which the proceeds were given to charity, many of the traders were health nuts. Many noshed on egg whites, fruit, and turkey sandwiches, ordered up by the group's assistants or taken from the pantry down the hall.


知情者说,来自加利福尼亚州奥克兰的交易员乔舒亚•伯恩鲍姆(Joshua Birnbaum)在为高盛赚得近40亿美元毛利的看跌交易中扮演了主要角色。知情者说,那年2月,当时35岁的伯恩鲍姆曾一时难以遏制胸中的怒气,砰地一声挂断了电话,当时一名职位更高的债券交易员坚持要伯恩鲍姆退出某些交易以降低风险。



Joshua Birnbaum, a Goldman trader from Oakland, Calif., played a major role in the short, or bearish, bet that led to nearly $4 billion in gross profits for Goldman, these people say. In February, Mr. Birnbaum, then 35 years old, briefly lost his cool and slammed down a phone receiver, say these people, when a more senior bond trader insisted on unwinding some of his trades to cut risk.


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