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Chapter 3. A diabolical story

Chapter 3. A diabolical story

The very same floor broker who told me the tale of the corn speculator and the fire chief told me this story also. He says he knows it's true because once upon a time (many years ago now), he hired one of the main characters as his clerk—which is how he got to hear the story in the first place. The clerk had an opportunity to join a college buddy of his in San Diego and become a commodity broker. He quickly packed, left Chicago, and moved to the west coast.

The San Diego office he joined produced some business, but nothing spectacular. Customers would come, many would lose and leave, and new ones would come to take their place. One afternoon, as these two characters were staring out of their office window (which looked out over the Pacific Ocean), they spawned an idea. They discussed how just about all of their customers would lose money; in fact, 80% of the trades would ultimately be liquidated as losers. With this thought in mind, the two characters placed an ad in the paper to hire rookie commodity trainees. After interviewing a number of applicants, they hired 10 average Joes. They told these newly hired gentlemen that they would perform the normal duties of a commodity broker, servicing customer accounts and the like, but in addition, they each were going to be given a rare opportunity. The 10 would each be given a no-strings-attached, $50,000 account with the firm to “manage” a portfolio of commodity trades. If they could show profitable performance, they would share in the profits and receive a bonus.


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