Whither the loonie?
I was trying to learn was what was driving our loonie down to where it would soon be threatening Monopoly money. And more serious than that was the rumour that the Russian ruble and Monopoly money will soon be interchangeable.
I got in touch with Vlad Spirnoffkin, a currency speculator who claimed to be a spokesman for George Sorros, the U.S. billionaire, and fellow currency speculator. It's been said Sorros has recently made a half a billion dollars (US) short-selling the Russian ruble and sending world money markets into a spirited crying jag. Sorros along with a small group of high rollers are accused by critics of playing "casino capitalism" and "legal larceny."
Apropos this, when I started working for a stock brokerage firm as a youth, I was shocked when Venables, a customer's man, explained short-selling to me.
"You mean," I asked, "you sell the stock -- and then you buy it?"
"That's right," Venables replied.
"Well, why wouldn't you buy the stock and then sell it? It seems more logical," I said.
"You wouldn't buy the stock," Venables replied, "because you think it's going down."
"You mean you sell something that's not yours?"
"Do the cops know about this?"
"Of course they do! It's a legitimate stock market transaction! You sell first and then you buy. You must replace the stock that you've sold when required. You could lose money. However, many people have made a fortune short-selling."
I liked the idea of selling something I didn't own. Being a poorly paid stock messenger, it appealed to me. I proceeded to short-sell a fledgling gold mining stock which was commonly referred to as "a place where even the moose wouldn't pasture," and it rocketed from 19 cents to $37!
Luckily, I was able to cover my short-sale and escaped over the wall with my poor savings account severely shrunken. I retired from stock market speculation happily, and the brokerage business shortly afterwards.
Back to Vlad. I asked him when Sorros decided to short-sell the ruble.
"As soon as George heard that Boris Yeltsin had said ‘emphatically' that there would be no devaluation of the Russian ruble, he raced to the phones and started to sell the Russian ruble."
"Because as soon as Yeltsin used the word ‘emphatically,' George knew that Yeltsin was trying to sell the public a bill of goods. Also, big-time speculators believe that most politicians are world-class liars."
"Why didn't the U.S. support the ruble and prevent it from collapsing? Wasn't George afraid of that happening?"
"No. George has often said that the U.S. has bought enough Mercedes Benzes for those crooked Russian bureaucrats to last them for the next hundred years. George has said that if you go anywhere near a government building in Moscow you're liable to get run down by one of them. There are rows and rows of them in front of government buildings, and George has often said if you have to ask what money they used to buy the cars, you shouldn't be let out at night. George says Russia's in a mess. It's run by the bureaucrats—the mob and the military."
"What about Yeltsin? Can't he do something?
"Yeltsin is like a referee madly blowing his whistle after the game is over."
"Doesn't George realize that his recent actions have had a very bad effect on world money markets? Other currencies have suffered immensely. Now you take our Canadian loonie—it's down in the low 60s."
"Yeah," said Vlad, unsympathetically. "It seems to me that George remembers your prime minister—John Crouton, isn't it?—saying ‘emphatically' that he would repeal the GST, and nothing happened. George thought the GST had made you the most over-taxed nation in the world with the most inflated currency in the world. And I remember George making his way to a bank of telephones muttering the word ‘emphatically' and something about ‘lying politicians.'"
"What about the charges that you are personally putting people in vulnerable countries into poverty?" I cried.
"I do feel bad about those people," Vlad answered, "but their governments are the ones creating the havoc that we capitalize on. Do winning racing fans care about the losers?"
"China is keeping out the currency speculators," I noted.
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