Cahnman's routine seems extreme in today's world. But it may offer a sense of the future for the networked global worker. Cahnman's workweek starts at 5 p.m. on Sunday, when the Eurodollar market opens overseas. On weekdays, from 7:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., he joins other traders at the Chicago offices of his company, TransMarket Group. When the U.S. markets are open, he never takes time for lunch and has few bathroom breaks. He gets a little downtime with his wife, Susan, and 17-month-old son, Oliver, over supper, but he's never away from a cell phone.
Cahnman's life changed completely with the rise of globally interlinked electronic markets. Until 2000, when he "went upstairs," as the saying goes, to trade by computer, Cahnman shouted out a livelihood 6 1/2 hours a day in the pits at the Chicago Board of Trade. As computers began to turn the investment world upside down, Cahnman realized old techniques on the floor were doomed. "I would write a card for every trade, so I could trade only as fast as I could write," he says.
Now Cahnman averages 50,000 trades a day, or more than 10 times what he used to handle, and he has been approaching 100,000 on hectic days. Where he once swapped contracts for one product in a single Chicago market, he and his 200 traders do business on both Chicago futures exchanges—which recently merged—as well as the NYSE Euronext (NYX
) and Eurex exchanges, plus bourses as far away as Sydney and Mumbai.
For Cahnman, the time lost traveling between his office screens and his home trading pod is money. To shorten the trip, he uses a specially designed single-gear bike, one built for speed. By Joseph Weber