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The Oyster Farmer of Wall Street

The Oyster Farmer of Wall Street


I’m Michael Osinski. I’m an oyster farmer. My wife, my two kids and I farm oysters here in Greenport. 1985, I came to New York to see the big city. I eventually got a job at Lehman Brothers working for mortgage-backed securities. and I eventually wrote what’s called a structuring tool for them. That’s the piece of software that takes bundles of mortgages and can make mortgage-backed securities. You take chicken and you put it into the grinder and out comes sirloin. That’s what mortgage-backed securities are. As a software developer, you write software that makes human beings’ jobs easier not harder. I can teach any idiot to construct a CMO in a half a hour, things that would take a days, you know, weeks to build these CMOs. A few presses of the right button and there you go. Voila! There’s your CMO. If you remember 2003, 2004, 2005, we were at war, this country was at war and the economy wasn’t doing well except for housing. Nobody was really questioning why they were issuing so many interest-only loans, why there’s so much subprime mortgage origination. No one was really checking because everyone was making money off of it. It became such a gigantic industry. It was so profitable and you know, all the software was set up and you had all these salesmen and traders. You pay them that much — $10-20 million — they assume they are gods. Everything they think of is correct and right and they don’t question themselves. You know, I got out of the whole business in 2000. So, we came here and started growing oysters. No one gave a damn about software that securitized mortgages 10 years ago, and I had a hard time explaining how I could retire at 40. Then after the crisis people were interested because it affected them. There were some people that had some negative views about us. Now, of course I’m 64 now. I’m much more concerned about ocean acidification than the financial crisis. You see that green stuff floating. We shouldn’t have that. That’s people fertilizing their yards and road runoff. Over nitrification. I love seeing people order my oysters. My wife and I will sit there, “Look there goes a dozen, there goes a half a dozen.” And, I had a similar feeling on Wall Street when I would go to a trading floor and there’s my software and these guys are using it, you know. That feeling, yes, to create something out of nothing and people use it or in this case eat it, that’s a real pleasure. This is the French method of opening oysters. You go in the side. c’est bon You know we wrote a good piece of software that we sold in the marketplace. How people use that software, you know, you really can’t control that. So, I don’t sit around regretting my life per se or the software I wrote, no.

Comments (5)

  1. And that's exact same thing that people are saying when they're watering their yards and all the road run off they don't sit back and worry about it you didn't have a problem with it at all just so you could retire at 40 maybe some of that runoff and pollution is making somebody else get to retire it 40 50 60th they're lucky so why should they have to worry about it if you didn't life is a circle

  2. This is absolutely amazing, you all should do more documentaries!

  3. The Collateralized Mortgages Obligations PER SE — ARE NEITHER GOOD NOR EVIL. If you load them up with fraudulent mortgages then they're evil; if they are loaded with good mortgages they're good. This guy did nothing wrong — a CMO is like a gun, or tv, or car — IT IN AND OF ITSELF IS NEITHER GOOD OR EVIL, it just depends on what it is used for. The FRAUDULANT mortgages originated had nothing to do with him; so, he has no fault or responsibility anymore than a television manufacture is responsible for evil content or a gun manufacturer is responsible for a crime. He created something that could be used for good or evil. You can use a car to give grandma a ride or run over somebody !!!!

  4. Now I know…. thanks

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