The Theorists (1)

1) THE SOLDIER OF FORTUNE

Merce’s mother is Catalan and her father is Andorran. She was born in France, went to school in Switzerland, college in England, is now at grad school in America. She likes espresso with cinnamon, muay thai, and making money.

When she was a girl she was on vacation with her mother in Rio. They were mugged on the street. Nothing big – lost their phones. She insisted on taking self-defense classes. She’s done so ever since.

She works at the investment bank of Silverman, Smith. She works out every morning in her apartment. She gets into work around 830 or 9. She works until 6 PM when she has to break for class. Then she goes back to the office. Before she can sleep she kickboxes, sometimes for hours.

She lives in a bad neighborhood. She bought an entire apartment building, had it gutted, lives in it like a townhouse. She walks home alone, well-dressed, late at night. Someone gave her trouble once. She beat him into a coma. Now she gets left pretty well alone.

After Kahane’s apartment, she goes into the office like usual. But she feels different. Instead of making a trade and then going on to another, she keeps getting ideas about what the trade means. An investment fund in Luxembourg is buying Greek debt: Luxembourg is full of British tax evaders, maybe they know through old school ties that Britain is going to give Greece a bailout package. There’s a coal mine collapse in China. The guy next to her starts selling Chinese coal producers. The guy on the other side smirks and starts buying the company that does rescuing. She stares at her computer for a time, then short-sells a South African pharmaceutical company. She makes a killing. She knows that the pharma company has its drugs made in China by factories controlled by the army, who will be coordinating relief efforts and so the factories will be understaffed. The guys next to her just shake their heads.

She has more trades like these. In one day she makes millions of dollars. She knows she’ll make hundreds of thousands in bonuses for that one day of work. It doesn’t thrill her like she thought it would. It was just too easy. No challenge. It was boring. She boxes for a few minutes, then goes home and just lies in bed.

The next day she turns to the guy next to her. Who’s their biggest rival? Teufelsbrucke, a German investment bank that just bought out a Wall Street trading firm. She goes to the trading floor. She doesn’t trade. She just listens. She tries to figure out from the noise what the Germans are doing. And she makes a plan.

Day three. She pulls together a group of traders, hands them each five grand in cash, and says that for the day they work for her. She gives them their instructions. Lists of stocks to buy and sell, times to sell it, people to sell it to. All the while she sits at her computer and watches the price of one stock: Merchant Microcomputing, then selling at 81 a share.

The price goes up. It breaks 100 before lunch. It’s 1@0 before the close of market, breaks 125 just before the closing bell. At which point Merce dumps a huge option position, the options are exercised and sold, the stock price crashes, and ends the day under where it started.

She goes to her boss and tells him she lost the company four million dollars.

He asks why he shouldn’t fire her right there.

She says because, in doing so, she cost the Germans over a hundred million.

He asks for her proof. She gives it to him. She tells him they’ll see it in the quarterly earnings about to be announced by the Germans. Their stock price will tank. And she has a pretty good idea that it was three or four investment funds which cleaned up on the losses. She’ll target them tomorrow for sales, and get the money back.

She tells her boss that she ran a posse of traders in order to get it done. That with more people and more support, she can do more. That it’s not enough for her to buy and sell and make a buck. They’re a hungry investment bank. She wants to run up the pirate flag, destroy the competition, and be the best.

He says that he’ll get back to her. Once he’s talked to the Board.

She goes out for drinks with the two traders. They both proposition her. She tells them both to fuck themselves and buys them another drink. On the way home someone tries to mug her. She turns, disarms him, hits him one-two, then pins him to the ground. She looks down at him. She sees him. She sees his life. His childhood. His family. His surroundings. No opportunities. Anger. Hate. Self-hate. She sees a pregnant girlfriend who’s the only nice thing in his world. She sees a need for money.

She stands up. Offers him a hand. Talks to him. Offers him a job. He doesn’t believe her. She convinces him. Tells him it’s his choice – he can disappear, or he can show up the next morning and she’ll make something of him. It’s his choice.

He shows up the next day. He clearly can’t believe that he did. She gives him a suit, ties his tie, brings him to the office, and introduces him as the new part of the team.

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~ by davekov on 3 July 2013.

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