Previous Challenge Entry (Level 1 – Beginner)
Topic: Measure (01/10/13)
TITLE: Calculated Risk
By Vince Martella
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“Good morning, Mr. Price.”
Ignoring the greeting, he barked out a command as he settled into the plush leather seats.
“Step on it.” The first rays of dawn glinted off his diamond studded watch. “The pre-market report starts in 35 minutes.” His driver nodded compliantly. After a quick search on his smart phone he added, “Better take Seventh Avenue, Broadway’s jammed up; you’ll save at least 4 minutes.”
Twenty seven minutes later they pulled up in front of an impressive thirty story building that housed some of the best and brightest Wall Street minds, none brighter than Devlin Price. Devlin was a trader extraordinaire; he had a certain knack for weighing the markets – knowing when to get in and when to get out.
Devlin navigated a chorus of greetings on the way to his executive office. Unlocking his door, he poured himself an espresso, eased into his chair and pointed his remote at the wall. Multiple screens came to life. With steely eyes he studied the information, like a captain studying battlefield intelligence. Then he turned toward his computer, tapped the keyboard and lined up his little soldiers.
A rumbling in Devlin’s stomach broke his concentration as he turned toward his clock. 2pm. He grabbed his coat and headed out into the pit. It was madness. Marty Corman, senior commodities trader, was standing over a desk and barking orders like a rabid dog. He stopped mid sentence as Devlin walked by.
“Devlin…wh..where are you going?”
“I’m going to lunch.” Devlin stared at him coldly. He’d banked three times the profit Marty did last year.
“Lunch?” Marty looked as if he would come out of his skin. “The market’s in free fall. You gotta get out Devlin. You gotta sell. Now.”
“Thanks Marty,” Devlin said, already halfway to the elevator. He stepped in, turning around to face the ensuing panic in front of him. The soothing elevator music playing against the backdrop of chaos was too much. Devlin smiled broadly and pushed the lobby button as the sea of frantic faces slowly faded away.
After lunch, Devlin returned to what looked like a refugee camp. Traders sat zombie-like, staring into their computers. Phones sat silent on their desks. Losses oozed like blood off their screens. Devlin strode into his office, removed his coat and settled into his seat.
Devlin began typing. The screen flashed with symbols and numbers. He checked the time again.
He pressed enter with finality and waited for the results; all trades executed at 3:59:59.
Devlin grabbed his briefcase and headed out. Passing through the pit, he stopped as several senior traders were licking their wounds.
“How’d you do today gentlemen?”
“I lost thirty grand” said Andy Roush.
Pete Brandt blanched. ”Thirty five. What about you Devlin?”
“Fifty.” Devlin hung his head just a second and let the words hang in the air. Then he set his jaw, looked them in the eye and with a smile curling around his lips annunciated each word slowly, “Up, fifty thousand.”
Their mouths hung open as Devlin savored the moment.
“I felt a downturn coming. I liquidated my long positions last week and went short three days ago when the market spiked.” Devlin paused for effect. “The last few days made me sweat a little, but when the market topped yesterday and then rolled over today, I knew I was right. Cashed out just before bell. “ Devlin turned to walk away, leaving the men speechless. “No risk, no reward gentlemen. You’ve got to trust your instincts.”
The air was crisp and clean as Devlin exited. He called for his limo as he headed across the street for a bottle of wine to celebrate. He was the ruler of his universe; the master of his destiny. He grabbed an expensive vintage and headed toward the front.
At the counter a scruffy looking kid stood just staring at the clerk. Devlin checked his watch. His limo was waiting. “Hey, pay the man and let’s go,” Devlin said as he grabbed the kid’s shoulder.
The youth spun around, wide eyed, and the gun went off. Devlin crumpled to the ground, clutching his chest. As his life hung in the balance, he evaluated every trade he had ever made; the carefully constructed set of choices that brought him to this place and time. As his final seconds ticked away Devlin Price realized, instinctively, that he was bankrupt.
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