For despite massive and pervasive theft, corruption, self-interest, finger-pointing, red tape, and regulatory ineptitude at every MF Global turn, we simply wouldn’t back down. And we won.
For this trader, the MF Global saga – with all of its twists and turns over the past 11 months – is over … and with a more than acceptable ending as by this time on Monday I will have completed the sale of my remaining MF Global claims and passed the risk of the last few pennies to the bond market. And I hope the buyer profits from the purchase, as – borrowing from an old professional trader adage – it’s always good to leave some for the other guy.
And yes, I said pennies, as for all intents and purposes, bond market prices are screaming that MF Global customers will essentially get all their money back, and I was more than willing to “hit the bid” and give up a few cents to gain immediate access to the capital and grow it faster and farther than it ever would if it simply sat mired in bankruptcy red-tape. Heck, percentage-wise, it doesn’t even rank among my largest trading losses.
Yes, we won.
Many months ago, I mentioned in these pages that it would be incredibly wrong to underestimate the conviction of those who were harmed, whether traders, investors, hedgers or farmers. And for traders … if the world hasn’t noticed, we get knocked down every day in our business … BUT … we keep getting up.
We won because of people like James Koutoulas, John Roe, Trace Schmeltz, Greg Collett, and the entire Commodity Customer Coalition team, who when they saw the incredible ineptitude in dealing with this incredible wrong, stepped to the plate big-time. We won because there were some in the press that didn’t listen to the JP Morgan and Louis Freeh spin machines, and instead listened to our individual plights and granted interviews to help get our story out.
I could go on.
On a personal level, the last year has had a profound impact on how I’ve viewed life, both solidifying the incredible good and evil that are at work and in constant conflict in this world.
Before I go further, let me say that I’m extremely fortunate in that my accounts could have been transferred to PFG Best as some were, where lightning literally struck twice. So my thoughts and prayers continue to go out to those still stuck in the mire.
I suppose the greatest effect has been a stark reminder that we’re simply stewards of whatever assets God has given us during our brief time here, and that our true security lies in far greater places than a bank account.
For me, I still don’t know why I was so richly blessed with industry-leading performance in the late 2000s … just as I don’t know why much of the last year transpired the way it did where my capital and incredible passion for this business were temporarily stolen. But what I do know is that both instances are reminders not to get too high or too low as we travel life’s roller-coaster, and that we should keep our eyes fixed on our true destination.
Another little-known tidbit in my personal story is that about a month prior to the MF Global Halloween fiasco, I was asked to help a growing international corporation (not at all related to the markets) develop their 2012 budget. It was an interim effort which relied on past skills and relationships, with potential upside in terms of opportunity. The downside? It would temporarily take my mind and focus off the markets and, as a result, result in lower total income. Yet I thought the change of pace would be good and accepted.
Looking back, it was as if the Master plan went something like, “OK, you’re heading for some incredible crap … but I’ve got a safe place in mind for you over here while that gets worked out. Just hang on tight and stay the course.”
Many have said over the years that my writing skills are strong … yet, even if true, I could never have crafted such a plot. And even if I had, no one would have believed it.
The final moral?
Life happens. It just does.
As I told my daughter the other day after she was questioning a recent decision to split with her boyfriend, there are no bad decisions. Except that the only bad decision is no decision. For every decision either teaches, reinforces, or redirects us to where we need to go.
And my previous decision to rely on the dozens of protective mechanisms in place to safeguard customer futures funds when choosing where to deploy my capital? Well, suffice it to say that I’m now substantially diversified, and have added trading leveraged ETFs to my portfolio. And yes, I still trade and love trading the futures!
So another page turns … but the book remains the same.
For at the end of the story, right trumps wrong, and good overcomes evil. It always has and always will.
It’s just that sometimes good has to stand up for itself to overcome the deafening roar coming from the other side.
And while much work remains to fully restore confidence and rebuild this great industry, at this end – like Rob Petrie in the opening to the Dick Van Dyke show – I don’t plan on tripping over the ottoman a second time.