As we approach the ten year anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, the mood in Attain’s office, the financial blogosphere, and much of the world is largely reflective. It’s strange to think that a decade has passed since that date was indelibly etched into our collective memory, though a stroll down any Chicago block today, where the sidewalks are dotted with additional uniformed officers as a measure of heightened security – and a larger than life American flag hung from a few buildings, serves as a poignant reminder of the event’s enduring affects.
Those in the financial industry share a unique experience from that day, where professional concerns over the quantitative impacts of the event intermixed with worries that another financial landmark (such as the CME or CBOT) could be targeted next. Several of the people in our office were working in the exchanges on that Tuesday morning, with emotions of fear, sorrow and panic colliding in the pits. Attain Senior Vice-President of Portfolio Construction Jeff Eizenberg was one of those in the Chicago Board of Trade.
“They were trying to evacuate,” he recalled. “They were yelling at us to get out of the building as we scrambled to get out our positions in the plummeting markets. There was a moment of panic, and then a moment of concern over whether to handle our orders or get out alive. Luckily we were able to do both.”
The unprecedented closing of the exchanges for six days following the attacks and subsequent downward spiral in the markets set off an onslaught of research and writing on the aftermath, replete with considerations of alternate scenarios. What would have happened if the attacks had been launched in the heart of the trading day? Losses of 10% or more without any chance of getting out are what we generally fear.
Though it is easy to dwell on the tragedy of the event, through the darkness, rays of light shine through. Those spectacles of depravity spawned testaments to the goodness in people, as neighbors joined in solidarity. In our corner of the world. Cantor Fitzgerald, the financial services firm that lost 2/3 of their staff in the attacks on the World Trade Center, has not only survived- they’ve thrived. To honor those who were lost, they started a college fund for the children of their fallen co-workers (see more here)
Another of our favorite stories revolves around Gander, Newfoundland in Canada – which took in 1000s of stranded travelers into their homes, feeding them, clothing them, sharing showers and beds. View the story here.
It’s been a decade, but most of us will never forget where we were when those towers fell. Let us also remember those rays of light in the storm, and the resiliency we are capable of as a people, as we move forward.