There is always “year one” for every commodity futures trader. I had mine and made every mistake a trader can make and more. Here’s my story of how I stumbled into the lion’s den, got gored a few times and even made some money. My hope is that beginners will read this and avoid some of the more obvious stuff. Here’s to all new traders!
It all started in the spring of 1979. I was 28 years old. I was in the office of my new retail electronics company. I was going over some paperwork and got a call from a young and excited broker from Boston Commodities, or some name like that. He must have had the list of new businesses and was cold calling the small business owners.
I had no idea, but at the time sugar was in a major bull market trading at around 11 cents and destined to reach 45 cents later in the year. Gold, silver and copper were also making new highs. Bunker Hunt was cornering silver on its way to $50 an ounce. Gold was destined to hit $800. Anyway, this kid from Boston was on fire and told me I was missing the opportunity of a lifetime in sugar futures contracts. He wanted to mail me some hot news off the commodity news wire. He was looking for a $15,000 stake; a lot of money in the late 70’s. He said he would buy me four futures contracts of sugar. I didn’t know anything about commodities at this point, but told him to send over the info anyway.
When it arrived, it was the usual bullish hype about shortages, disease and reasons sugar had nowhere to go but up. Somehow he knew to call the moment I received it. He convinced me I could make an easy double or triple, so I agreed to send him $15K. Now, this part gets interesting. I hadn’t opened an account or sent him money yet. He said he needed to put me on the phone with trading to lock in my four futures contracts for the next day. I was confused, but agreed.
The next thing I knew a guy answers the phone with a gruff voice and yells, “TRADING!!!” I said I didn’t know if I should be talking with him because I didn’t know what to order. I think they had me on a speaker-phone because I heard some guys laughing in the background. He said, “OK, you’re locked in for four Oct sugar commodity futures contracts on tomorrow’s open.” I said, “OK, I guess,” and hung up. By the way, why is it the most aggressive brokers put on a gruff, hoarse voice act, like they’ve been in the trading pit yelling all day? I hear it all the time… ridiculous.
The kid commodity broker called right back to congratulate me on my smart decision. He sent me the commodity account forms by overnight service. I must admit I was excited. I had no idea about the commission rates, risk potential, position sizes… nothing! But I wanted in! I was the perfect sucker. When the account forms arrived I filled them out and was getting ready to send everything back.
By coincidence, I got a call from my CPA on a different matter. I explained to him about this new venture. Somehow he knew something was amiss and told me to let it go. I called the Boston Commodity Kid back and told him my CPA gave it thumbs-down. I had a hard time getting the kid off the phone. He called me spineless; he said I needed to be a real man, and I’d regret missing out. He also said I needed to stop acting like a woman. For the next three days his buddies took turns working me over trying to close the sale. Meanwhile I started reading about commodity futures trading. That was the first right move I made!
Part Two of Four – Next!
There is substantial risk of loss trading futures and options and may not be suitable for all types of investors. Only risk capital should be used.