The crushing financial crisis of 2008 left countless laborers stranded on the edge of an uncertain future. For many, that sense of discord in the workforce began years earlier as technological innovations made a series of once lucrative jobs obsolete. The feature-length documentary Floored follows one group of workers that few might expect have also been hit hard by a changing labor landscape: floor traders on the Chicago Mercantile Exchange.
These risk-taking men and women reflected the aggressive personality of the city in which they worked. Cramped 10,000 deep onto an aptly named "pit", they bought and sold soybean and pork belly trades with a shrill frenzy that bordered on demonic possession. These traders lived on the high wire between ecstatic gains and bruising losses; it was the adrenaline of the hunt that united them.
But that was in 2007. Now the playing field has changed, and only 10% of those traders remain. The advent of computerized trading forever altered the nature of the business, and those who failed to adapt were no longer relevant. The film follows several of the old-school traders who were cast aside in the transition.
Having to risk their own money for the promise of untold fortunes, it wasn't uncommon for someone to lose their car, home or financial independence in the span of a minute. It happened to Jeff Ansani, a power trader who lost it all on Valentine's Day. A $150,000 loss left him financially incapacitated, and forced him to relocate his family into his parents' house. He now works as a floor clerk making $400 a week, and he tries to prepare his son on the business of trading in the modern world.
Kenny Ford feels adrift in a trading industry that cherishes computerized algorithms over interpersonal connection. He is filled with wistful nostalgia for a world where he once felt secure of his place. In the realm of digital trading, he feels akin to a fish trying to travel on dry land.
Through their stories and others, Floored evokes a deep sense of empathy for a generation left out in the cold.
Directed by: James Allen Smith