“Tom, your Grandmother is on line one.”
“Thank you Mary, I’ll take it when I get to the desk.”
Tom was a successful stockbroker at a good investment bank, small but they had a solid reputation. He was to be married in 3 weeks and had just got back from lunch with his buddies Chris, Steve, and Ken when his sales assistant Mary told him in passing that his Grandmother was holding on line one. She had been calling him all day, hoping to speak with him about the wedding and to see how he was doing. Tom loved his Grandmother and sped up his calm and collective gait to receive her call.
“Hi Grandma, sorry I missed your calls. I’ve been out all day, visiting the caterer and the reception hall for the wedding. I can’t believe I’m getting married in 3 weeks.”
Grandma, glad to speak to Tom, replied “oh don’t worry about it Tom. Everything is going to work out fine. Did you and Melinda decide where you’re going for your honeymoon yet?”
“As a matter of fact, we did Grandma,” Tom said with a wide smile on his face. He was always in good spirits and people loved Tom for it. “We’re going to Croatia.”
“Croatia!?,” Grandma shot back. “Yes Grandma, it’s supposed to be beautiful — lots of great architecture.”
“But isn’t that where Dracula lived? You know Eastern Europe isn’t always safe. I saw that movie Hostile…”
Tom interjected with a soft laugh “Grandma don’t worry. We’ll be fine. Plus anyway, I think you’re referring to Romania.”
“What’s that Tom?”
“Dracula Grandma — he lived in Romania, not Croatia.”
“Oh that’s nice sweetie. Listen, how is my account doing? I might need some money soon. Every since your Grandpa died I’ve been lonely and I want to take a trip somewhere nice.”
“Your account is doing great. You know I keep a close eye on it.”
“Do you have any good tips for this old Grandma? My friends at the bingo hall always ask me for some tips — because they know you’re a big shot stockbroker in NYC.”
Tom kicked back in his plush chair and said with a grin “as a matter of fact, I do Grandma. I am buying XIV for all of my clients.”
“What’s that sweetie? I could not hear you.”
“XIV Grandma. It’s an ETN that’s tied to the volatility index. It’s down recently, but up more than 400% the past 5 years. Easily, this is my top idea and would bet the ranch on it.”
“Then do it,” shot back Grandma with a sense of boldness in her voice.
“Do you want me to buy you some, Grandma?”
“Yes, put all of my available cash in it and call me in the morning to let me know how it’s doing.”
“But Grandma, that’s $400,000 in cash. I can’t do that.”
“Just do it.” And she hung up the phone.
Tom was buying XIV for all of his best clients. It was an inverse bet on volatility and had been the best performing ETN the past 5 years. Whenever markets went up, volatility got hammered and XIV swam higher. In recent days, markets had gone lower and XIV was on sale, like it had been numerous times the past 5 years. Seeing this dip in price, remembering all the times he missed out on buying XIV on the cheap, Tom acted boldly and bought millions of dollars worth of it. He even put his entire joint account with his soon to be wife Melinda in it.
“What ya doing playa?”
“Hey Chris — just placing an order for my Grandmother. I have to head out soon. Melinda and I are having dinner with some friends and I have to pick up a bottle of wine.”
“BYOB?,” Chris asked while fiddling thru some of Tom’s papers on his desk.
“Say Tom, what are you buying for Grandma? Got a tip for me?”
Tom finished buying Grandma $400,000 worth of XIV and look Chris dead in the eyes and said “XIV, buy it for all your clients, even your Grandmother.”
Chris’s smile dropped and he put Tom’s snow globe down and went back to his desk and started buying XIV.
While at his desk, Chris told everyone sitting next to him what Tom told him and they all started to buy XIV too. See, Tom was a great stock picker and was rarely wrong. Chris told them that Tom had just put his own Grandmother into XIV and his entire joint account with Melinda into it, money that was sacred and was earmarked to be used for their honeymoon trip to Croatia.
It was 3pm and Tom closed his office door and said goodbye to Mary, walking briskly for the elevators when an arm grabbed him from behind with the almost super human strength. Tom turned around quickly and it was Stanley, the often ignored old man of the firm. Stanley was 90 years old and had been a stockbroker his whole life, but now he just walked the halls listlessly, talking to himself while chewing on a cigar that looked like it had been in his mouth since the 50s.
“Listen to me you punk,” Stanley said to Tom while squeezing his arm tight.
“What Stanley? Let go of my arm — you’re hurting me.”
Stanley released Tom’s arm and showed him a stack of papers in his hand, violently shaking them into Tom’s face.
“Look here on page 128 of this prospectus you young punk. Look here I say.”
“Stanley, I love you buddy — but I have to go. We can talk tomorrow,” said Tom with a sincere smile on his face.
“Page 128 you son of a bitch. Read it. Here. Look at it. Read it.”
“Tomorrow Stanley, promise. Page 128.”
As Tom stepped into the elevator — Stanley just stood in front of it — staring at him with a look of death on his face. The doors closed and the elevator made its way down — and he thought he heard Stanley say “you will be dead by tomorrow” — but he wasn’t sure with all the noise the elevator was making.
END OF PART 1Comments »