Whipped by crisis, mortgage traders turn to rock

Fri Oct 31, 2008 10:07am EDT
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By Al Yoon

NEW YORK (Reuters Life!) - Roughed up by the global credit crunch and Wall Street layoffs, dozens of mortgage bond traders turned their talents to music in a Halloween rock concert that raised about $50,000 for charity.

The bond pros, more accustomed to the vagaries of trading floors, hit the stage at a New York club for "Refi Rock," a fundraiser with a name dear -- or menacing -- to Wall Street traders who spend countless hours poring over mortgage refinancing statistics.

Russell Middleton, of JPMorgan Chase & Co., organized the third annual concert that displayed the hidden talents on guitar, horns and vocals of traders more accustomed to flipping millions in esoteric mortgage-backed securities.

"2008 handed out more tricks than treats" for the financial markets, said Middleton, who has organized fundraisers for more than 16 years.

But that came to an end for the night, he added.

The Halloween concert distracted the traders, bankers and bond salesmen from one of the most volatile years on Wall Street as the housing slump wreaked havoc on markets, and sent values of even the best-quality bonds to shockingly low levels.

More than eight bands representing JPMorgan, Goldman Sachs Group Inc., Credit Suisse and others belted out hits from U2, the Rolling Stones and Bruce Springsteen at the sold-out B.B. King Blues Club & Grill club.

They raised money for the H.G.I. Foundation, which supports children's charities, and the Boomer Esiason Foundation for cystic fibrosis research.   Continued...