Bond Traders in Europe Deal in High Expectations, and Fear

Bond Traders in Europe Deal in High Expectations, and Fear James Konrad, a bookish 27-year-old with a polite manner, used to make a living at a sports betting company, weighing the odds of muddy terrain affecting the sure-footedness of racehorses. These days, he takes bets on the muddy terrain that is European politics.

Mr. Konrad trades up to £3 billion, or $4.7 billion, worth of euro zone bonds a day for Royal Bank of Scotland. The bets are just as uncertain in both fields, but the sums are vastly larger in his current job, amounts that seem to stagger even him. “How do you make someone understand that you’ve traded a billion worth in bonds?” Mr. Konrad said. “A billion. It’s easy to get lost in the zeros.”

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