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Citigroup's pro-tax trading prodigy: "I was the best f**king trader in the world"

Who was the best trader at Citi in 2011? In 2024 it probably doesn't matter much, but Gary Stevenson, the ex-Citi short term interest rates (STIRT) trader who's become a YouTube sensation with his calls for a wealth tax and condemnation of the super rich, is adamant that it was him. 

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"I am not f**cking Mahatma Gandhi, I am not here to talk about morality, I was the best f**king trader in the f**king world and I am the bloke that called it right every f**king year,” says Stevenson in a recent video titled the 'Secret Economics Destroying Britain.'  "I'm not here because I'm a good person, I'm here because I'm a good f**king economist and I don't want this f**king country I grew up in to go down the f**king toilet," he adds. 

Stevenson left Citi after burning out aged 27, but before he did, he made enough money not to work again. 

He wasn't the only trader to make a fortune on Citi's STIRT desk between 2008 and 2014. "In 2008 if you had a good seat at Citi you saw a lot of franchise flow, and it was easy to make money," says one ex-colleague. Another former Citi trader from that era says the bank's STIRT desk made over $500m in profit in 2008 alone. "Everyone made money that year," confirms another ex-colleague. "It was one way traffic. The Fed were cutting rates to the bone, Citi was getting money from the Fed at zero interest rates, and they were trading it. If you didn't make money you were a monkey." 

It was seeing his colleagues, some of whom he says weren't that good, making money in 2008, that encouraged Stevenson. "If you’re watching the Premier League, and you know you’re better than all these f**king guys, you’re getting on the pitch," he says. His best year was 2011 when colleagues say he made a $35m profit and Stevenson says he made a $2m bonus by betting that the recovery would be less strong than it seemed.

Nonetheless, Stevenson's ex-colleagues say he wasn't Citi's top trader during that era. On the London STIRT desk alone, the best performer was allegedly Rob Lloyd, a trader who multiple insiders claim repeatedly made nine-figure profits for the bank year after year. We haven't spoken to Lloyd for this article. He's thought to have come from humble beginnings, like Stevenson: "He's very talented and didn't get a big head and ego," says one former member of the desk. The FCA Register shows Lloyd leaving Citi in 2015, a year after Gary.

Another figure from Stevenson's time at Citi was Itay Tuchman, who ran the STIRT desk during the first few years of Stevenson's career. Tuchman declined to comment for this article, but sources say that he left the bank to do charity work for a period and that Citi allowed all his stock to vest. Stevenson wanted the same treatment when be burned out, but Citi wouldn't let Stevenson leave with his stock intact, leading to an awkward stand-off. "Gary was a good trader, but the difference between him and Itay was that Itay had spent longer time at the bank and had built a successful business," says one former colleague. "Itay built great structures and hired great people, but Gary's benefit to Citi ended the moment he walked out the door."  Tuchman ultimately returned to Citi as head of FX, before leaving again in 2022. 

While people like Tuchman and Lloyd are now quietly retired, Stevenson is banging the drum for a wealth tax and social change. 

"He’s a strong-willed character," says one ex-Citi-colleague. "He makes interesting points on the extent to which policies like quantitative easing have created asset bubbles, particularly around property prices, but I'm not sure that I agree with his solution. Wealth taxes are possible on paper, but at the top end wealth is more mobile than people think.  We're already seeing an exodus to Italy and the Middle East for the tax benefits on offer there."

"He's not saying anything new or insightful," says another. "But he's saying it from the perspective of someone who's been inside the system."

 Stevenson's analysis of the current decline is focused on asset price inflation and doesn't look at geopolitical shocks that have contributed to rising energy prices. "He was very good at analyzing the profitability curves," says one ex-colleague. "But the people who built the curves thought they should be the ones getting paid."

Now in his late 30s, Stevenson has written a book about his time at Citi. He didn't respond to a request to comment for this article. Citi also declined to comment. In his writing and interviews, Stevenson doesn't decry his former colleagues or trading as a profession. He says the people on the desk with him were a combination of "dysfunctional geniuses" and "rich public school boys", and that trading fulfills a function of facilitating international trade. 

Stevenson adds that he doesn't hate the rich: "I am a rich person," he says. He doesn't want wealth taxes for people with £1m, but for those with £10m+ and family offices. It's the future he's worried about: "It's hard not to be reminded of the early 20th century...if living standards keep falling the centre will collapse and when the centre collapses to be honest anything can f**king happen."

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AUTHORSarah Butcher Global Editor
  • Ot
    OtterBite
    23 February 2024

    I am seeing this guy doing the rounds on the media and I am surprised at the basic lack of due dulligence by journalists. He is FCA registered from June 2010 to October 2012. Yet in the The Times it claims as a trader he earnt 13k bonus in 2009. He was not a trader at that time. You can earn good money trading, even as a junior, but you don't earn multimillions like he claims in just 2 years. Something not right here, this guy seems obsessed with courting media attention.

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