Frontline aired the last part of ‘Money, Power and Wall Street’ last night, and they used one term that piqued the curiosity of many viewers.That term was “F9 Monkey.”
An F9 monkey was “somebody who was simply pricing these structures,” said Desiree Fixler, who had formerly worked at JPMorgan and Deutsche Bank and described job then as “half an F9 monkey.” “You just had to put in a few inputs and press F9 and determine the price of the instruments.”
Although the term may have been new to many of the viewers, the title F9 monkey was first coined during the birth of the credit derivative decades ago. A former head of trading in exotic derivatives described the how the F9 monkey term to be to The Guardian’s banking blog last month—
“… When credit derivatives were still young, the Financial Times called people like us the ‘F9 model monkeys’, after the key you press to get the algorithm to tell you how things are going; what the value is of your portfolio. ‘Monkey’ alluded to the fact that some of us didn’t understand what the algorithms did.
“In the years before, we’d know in our heads to within a few thousand what profit or loss we’d made for the day, then press F9 and have it confirmed by our systems. When the crisis hit we would press F9 and get a number that was totally unexpected. We’d ask: how can we have lost so much money? What happened?