Trading Places

Posted: May 12, 2012 12:01 AM

Randolph and Mortimer, the Duke brothers, thought they had it all figured out.  They knew, or at least thought they knew, that the orange crop would be a failure and prices on the futures market would skyrocket. 

Obviously, they had inside information. 

The instructions to their floor trader were to buy on the opening and keep buying no matter the price!  A killing was to be made; it was going to be the Duke’s day.  What they weren’t aware of is that Louis and Billy Ray had other plans. 

As Robert Burns once said “the best laid plans of mice and man often go astray.”  The scenario, of course, is from the classic 1983 film Trading Places staring Dan Aykroyd, Eddie Murphy, Ralph Bellamy, and Don Ameche. 
Almost thirty years later, the film is as viewable and enjoyable as it was then. 

Oscar Wilde once said “life imitates art far more than art imitates life.”  So it is today.  As the world implodes, growth becomes a thing of the past that is merely created by bureaucrats’ false data. 

However, high frequency traders, hedge funds, and even the PPT (Plunge Protection Team) believe that with inside information, computerized trading, and an unlimited checkbook, they can manipulate the markets to their advantage, quite similar to the Dukes. 

Daily, the clarion call is buy, buy, buy! 

Regardless of the economics surrounding the markets, such as nationalism, socialism, recession, depression, unemployment, and even suicides, the call continues to be buy, buy, buy! 

Every dip is a buying opportunity, every setback a chance to get in, so it goes as the “powers that be” smile smugly since they, like the Dukes, know the outcome. 

Yes, it seems the authorities are in agreement that huge profits are going to be made and those that are not in will live to regret it. 

Ask the robots on CNBC and the kids on Bloomberg if the problems of Spain, Greece, China, and even India mean anything. 

Most likely, their answer will be “no, it doesn’t matter, we know the outcome, buy, buy, buy!” 

However, economic cycles cannot be contained and both truth and reality always come to the surface, regardless of the powers trying to contain them. 

Randolph and Mortimer watched aghast as their information turned out to be inaccurate and the futures contracts plummeted. 

The Dukes were last heard to say “sell, sell, sell!” 

Remembering Wilde’s quote, will “sell, sell, sell” also be the last words of the bulls?