Usually, the Friday after Thanksgiving is reserved for analyst and associates. While managing directors and VPs fly home to spend the occasion with their families, banks' most junior staff are left to man the trading desks. This year may be a little different.
We understand that some of Goldman's more senior U.S. traders are planning to come in on Friday specifically to take advantage of the dearth of experienced hands at other banks. "The Friday after Thanksgiving is the only day that every desk is staffed by new analysts and associates," says one insider. "For aggressive hedge funds, it's like shooting fish in a barrel. They can take advantage of the illiquid random prices and run over all the bank newbies. Some funds make their month on the Friday after Thanksgiving."
With this in mind, some of Goldman's senior traders who've had a bad month and need to make up their numbers are said to be coming in on Friday. "It's an opportunity to take advantage of other banks," says the insider.
Banks' trading desks and hedge funds excepted, the rest of the U.S. financial infrastructure will be staffed by juniors until Monday. "The juniors usually have to work a bit on Thanksgiving itself and again on Friday," says one MD. "They don't get the time to go home to their families. - When I was a junior I had Thanksgiving with my boss, who invited me to her family party." One senior M&A banker says works, "as necessary" over Thanksgiving, and that his juniors, "do the heavy lifting." A fund manager said he works a bit from home, but that clients are usually busy anyway.
Last year, an MD at a European bank on Wall Street says a senior colleague invited him to share his private jet, "to avoid the insane traffic. Thankfully I didn't have to pay."
Needless to say, there are some senior bankers who do work hard over the Thanksgiving period - and not just on Goldman's trading floor. In his book, Exile on Wall Street, banking analyst Mike Mayo details Fridays after Thanksgiving spent working alone in the office with his a graduate student, Jackie, after which they'd treat themselves to a "greasy noodle" dinner. Equally, during the 1998 Asian crisis, senior bankers and members of the U.S. Treasury worked throughout Thanksgiving to stave off the bankruptcy of the Indonesian government.
On the whole, however, Thanksgiving is a rare occasion when many people on Wall Street actually stop working. European and Asian markets are still open, but this is by-the-by. "Thanksgiving is important for America because it unites all religions under one nation," says one trader. This year that seems more important than ever.