In a series of new reports on MF Global's bankruptcy, Jon Corzine's colleagues are attesting to the former New Jersey governor's deep involvement crafting the strategy that lead to the firm's collapse. Former associates say the former CEO of Goldman Sachs and New Jersey Governor personally made individual trades at the company and called for risky investments outside of the oft-mentioned European bonds. He is not without his apologists but the takeaway from his colleagues is a hard-driving manager who drove traders to take incredible risks.
Much of the focus on Corzine's actions have been on his risky bets on European debt. However, an MF Global trader speaking to The New York Times, says Corzine pushed trader's to take chances on all sorts of trades. “He was instrumental in pushing our firm forward with risk taking in every book, whether it was U.S. government bonds, currencies, or in repos,” said the trader. “Everything was full throttle go." As soon as he arrived at the firm, the Times notes that he had an "insistence on taking more risks, including buying the debt of European countries like Italy and Spain."
In The Washington Post, associates tell the paper he "was known to make trades himself at the firm" and that "they personally warned him about the dangers of acquiring European debt, but that he shrugged them off." The paper adds: "That extreme self-confidence was well known among his peers." Explaining his personal betting splurge, The Wall Street Journal reports that "In late 2010, Mr. Corzine started making big bets on bonds issued by European countries. He sometimes placed orders himself based on a list of prices left with an assistant, according to people familiar with the situation. Mr. Corzine, who made his name and fortune as a Treasury bond trader at Goldman, was convinced that sovereign debt from countries like Italy and Spain with high yields was a steal, these people said." In The Star-Ledger, a source close to Corzine pinned the blamed squarely on him. "If you bet the ranch, sometimes you can lose the ranch."