Daily Speculations

The Web Site of Victor Niederhoffer & Laurel Kenner

Dedicated to the scientific method, free markets, deflating ballyhoo, creating value, and laughter;  a forum for us to use our meager abilities to make the world of specinvestments a better place.



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Trading and Life by J.T.

Today i had the option to exit my bldg., go home and be with wife and kids. Instead i decided to stay put and wait as 14 inches of rain feel on downtown Richmond, VA in 5 hrs. I sat around and watched various people, deep in thought, jockeying for position, trying to reached contacts, looking peering out of windows. Everyone had their own point to which they were going to exit the bldg., jump into their cars and attempt to navigate their way home. I decided to wait, be patient, work on tomorrows tasks today. Anxiety levels got really high, people started smoking indoors as the rain pounded heavily. Women searching for men to guide and escort, men looking at other men thinking and saying things like "well if he goes then I'll go, I only live a couple of blocks away". I just sat there reading, counting, studying and preparing for tomorrow. Peered out and saw water covering cars side doors, people trapped in cars from my 11th floor perch. Little by little though the rain tapered it was pitch dark, power outages and people saying "Well she made it home in 1hr 20min and she's lives 15 min away normally" then it changed to "it is deep as heck and i aint' goin' nowhere". Called wife and she said Stay!, looked and what was long, long, long lines of cars were gone. Nobody in the bldg with me except guess what? Straight out of the Henry Clews novel but a bunch of 70yr older guys and me! They asked me if I was leaving and if I would be so kind as to call back when I got out to Monument Ave. I politely called once I cleared the Arthur Ashe statue. The whole time I am thinking cane investing, cane investing, cane investing! I literally passed mudslides, car after car pulled over, people dumping water out of backseats and floor boards. Complete devastation done by people not being patient and orderly. Pulled up to the house and realized that I had made it home in near record time! What usually is 40 minute track was done in 29 minutes. i just had to wait an extra 3hrs to get it done though. Sound, safe and secure I kissed wife, kids to bed. I am learning tons on this list ya'll. This had everything to do with tradin'

Phil McDonnell Replies:

J. T.'s wonderful post reminds me of the time I was in Cabo San Lucas. We were told it hadn't rained even once in 13 months. Clear blue skies, dry arroyos and desert vegetation on both sides of our villa confirmed the bone dry clime. That night it began to rain. It was the loudest rain I have ever heard. The volume of rain was incredible as it pounded on the tile patio.

Overnight the power failed and the water mysteriously failed. In the morning we ventured out. The first impression was that the sea which was about 100 feet from the cliffs of our villa had surged in overnight. The storm had eaten into the cliffs at least 20 feet and now left our cliff topping patio only 4 feet from the cliff edge. We had nearly fallen into the ocean overnight.

A quick trip down to the beach showed an abandoned boat. My quick estimate showed that the overnight rainfall had filled the boat to an astonishing depth of 29 inches! It hadn't rained here in 13 months and suddenly nature unloads 29 inches on us!

Given that we had no power or water the obvious next step was to make the 1/3 mile hike to the hotel with which we were associated. It was past time for breakfast. After we hiked the mere 200 yards to the top of the hill things became a bit more clear. The arroyo which we had walked through the day before was now a roaring raging turgid brown river. Clearly no way out in this direction. I have been to New Orleans and seen the mile wide Mississippi which is a very brown churning river and America's largest. This overnight river was about a third as wide and far more violent than the Mississippi.

That was south, with the Gulf of California to the east. So we determined to walk inland to the West toward the freeway only a mile away. As we marched in that direction it became clear that the river which we saw was only half of the problem. Within a few hundred yards we learned that the river forked into two roughly equal branches each about a third of a mile wide. It was now clear that we were on a triangular island only a few hundred yards wide with two raging high velocity rivers on either side of us. From the point where the two rivers met we could clearly that the massive 100 foot high concrete pylons which had supported the freeway the day before were no longer present. They had been undermined by the raging river and fallen into it. As we stood there unbelieving, someone told us they had just seen an entire Volkswagen float down into the ocean on one of the rivers.

We realized we were on a triangular island bounded by two raging rivers and the ocean. There was no escape, the only hope was that the rain had stopped. Later that afternoon the river which blocked our access to the hotel, came way down in depth. We forded the previously impassible river and made our way to the hotel. The hotel had emergency power and could cook food but we learned that there was no escape. The freeway was blocked and the only way out was by helicopter. So we waited.

Eventually the previously monstrous river dwindled down to a trickle and the hotel announced that it was closing and evacuating guests in an old school bus. The bus went directly overland through the now trickling river. All of us held our breath as the driver announced that he had to keep going fast or we would become mired in the wet sand. Eventually we arrived at the airport and were only too happy to catch the next flight out. Arriving in Seattle none of our friends had any idea that there had been a storm in Cabo.