Bruno Huber


The Dow Jones was in an apparently endless ascension into the financial stratosphere driven mostly by - and this is the real oxymoron - ordinary people like you and me. Klare and i had a bit of money and were conveniently linked into the big casino by way of the internet and on-line trading. In other words: Throw your money away without even the benefit of playing a game or going to the race track or any other of the fun ways of loosing money. Just point and click and listen to the whoosh of money leaving. I stood in line at the grocery store behind two woman engaged in intense conspirational whispering, obviously exited about something. There were only two possibilities for their behaviour. Either men or money. While clandestinely leaving through a magazine I eavesdropped on their conversation and picked up an invaluable hot tip about this fail safe stock of a local high-tech company on the apex of a revolutionary development bound to send the shares into dreamland, right next to the lottery and jackpot bonanzas. I thought myself rather clever having stumbled onto such a golden opportunity, at the grocery store of all places. “Opportunities like that come once or twice a lifetime,” I argued vehemently with Klare who was quietly shaking her head with her new short cropped boy cut. “It’s more comfortable”, she said, after my shocked outcry at the loss of her long, unruly hair. “You’ll get used to it.” I now was defending my decision to invest some of our hard earned savings into the stock market. Klare looked at me with a mixture of pity and contempt and stomped out of the room. I felt like you know what and was going to prove her wrong. She’ll thank me later, when I buy her that European washing machine, from the profits, I proclaimed in my addled mind. Not to loose another precious minute, I immediately dialled up my Internet broker on the computer and in the time it took me to highlight the stock and the amount of money I wanted to invest I had whisked away a tidy sum of honest cash. Instead I was now the proud owner of 3000 shares of this up and coming New Age company. This was in the summer of 2000, a year before the apocalyptic 9/11, when the world was still ordinarily screwed up. It was also in the wake of the millennium scare that was supposed to drop planes out of the sky, implode computers and make bank machines loose their moorings. High-tech .com companies were springing up like mushrooms, building paper fortunes out of nothing and turning silicon valley into a frenzied boom town populated by sharply dressed young hustlers who arrived at their glass bubble offices in sleek new sports cars before they buried themselves in front of their computer screens for twenty-two hours every day. What for ? To make us all rich I surmised but only if we jumped on the money train that was leaving the station at any moment. “If you really believe that, you’re an idiot !” I was told in no uncertain terms. “Let me quote you a guy in the know, Warren Buffet”, Klare said: “When everybody else gets in the stock market, it’s time to get out.” “What does that tequila head from Margarita Ville know about the stock market ?” I retorted. No need here to explain why Klare’s mouth wouldn’t close for lack of air. I was confusing Warren and Jimmy. Like millions of others I was caught up by the lure of money for nothing or put more succinctly: by unadulterated, naked, stupid greed. It needs to be pointed out here that all of our money we had honestly earned by the hour, working for wages, and diligently saved over the years. I felt so smug and so smart and bedazzled by the whole hype and circus around the ‘free market’. It completely escaped me that maybe somebody, somewhere will have to pay for all this tomfoolery, and sometime somebody would pierce the dream bubble with a needle of reality but for the moment I felt rich, part of that exalted 3% of human beings with an investment portfolio. I checked my portfolio every day, sometimes twice or three times a day and triggered by the initial ‘upticks’ I felt a righteous greed pride come over me, spurning me on to ever increasing optimistic projections. I employed the same logic as a drug addict buoyed by the euphoric fix of the moment. In the semi-lucid state just before falling asleep I would feel a peaceful feeling washing over me, knowing that I was making money in my sleep and I would drift into dreamland in golden carriages and on glass wings. Talking to other idiots over the course of the summer I quickly learned a few new hardcore rules and also added to my vocabulary. Catch phrases like: ‘sell your initial investment when the stock doubles and let the rest ride’. But why sell when the stock is going up ? That sounded to me like giving money away. It never even dawned on me that I was speculating in phantom dollars. Then I became prone to random anxiety attacks and I would wake up drenched in sweat because I dreamed that I undersold and then had to watch immobilised and in agony as the stock multiplied unimpeded into the double digits. I couldn’t handle the pressure and I turned into a nervous wreck. couldn’t eat, couldn’t sleep and couldn’t get it up. Klare thought I had gone totally bananas and suggested I talk to a psychologist. “I can’t believe what I’m hearing,” she said when she caught me mumbling to myself in front of the screen in my skivvies at 5AM, when the markets back east were just opening up. “You worry about money you haven’t even got and you fret about imaginary profits and reality slips right by you.” She reached over and to my horror turned off the computer. “Get real and take out the garbage will you.” Needless to say this was a very unromantic time in our house and looking back now that’s were the biggest losses occurred. Money can be replaced, at least in theory, but lost time, missed candle light dinners and Sunday morning loveings will never come back. Within a couple of month the stratospheric trend reversed and plunged. I suddenly had to worry about real money or the loss thereof. After having almost doubled, the stock suddenly dipped, along with every other stock except some banks and utilities. Instead of selling I held on. Sort of like holding on to a rock while drowning. Of course I couldn’t sell at a loss. That was like loosing face along with the money, inconceivable, unspeakable not to say stupid. In direct proportion to the stock’s downward descent my own body disintegrated. I simply forgot to eat, watching our hard earned money turning into confetti. I quickly learned how to ‘double down’ - buy more when the stock is going south to water down the price of the shares. I did exactly that, it seemed like such a slick manoeuvre at the time and as a consequence I lost even more money. The whole adventure in investing came to a anticlimactic end when one day I couldn’t find my stock anywhere in the fine print of the TSE quotes. “It must be a mistake,” I mumbled to myself, beads of sweat forming on my forehead. I frantically flipped through the financial pages searching desperately for the elusive stock. I still harboured fantastical visions of a magical rebound. Weren't they just on the verge of a miraculous development ? What ever happened to two ladies at the super market ? When the stock’s symbol didn’t show up the next day or the day after I had to finally admit to myself that the stock and with it all my money had simply disappeared. Vanished, gonzo, vamoose, evaporated. I felt like crying but I kept my grim poker face, not letting on that I had been duped and made a fool of. I wanted to get up and put on my dunce’s cap and stand in the corner for all to see and pity. “Never again !” I swore to myself and hang doggedly admitted my idiotic behaviour to my wife who was the only who pitied me and then forgave me not for the loss of money but for the loss of my sanity as she so bluntly put it: :”Even if you behave like the perfect idiot, I can’t help it, I still love you.” Which makes me the luckiest - not the richest - man in the universe.


Todos los derechos pertenecen a su autor. Ha sido publicado en a solicitud de Bruno Huber.
Publicado en el 21.06.2006.


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