Part 086

Eighty Six

Jenny’s father seemed to shut down entirely at her question.  The way his snifter started to slide out of his hand, she wondered if he was going to fall over in his overstuffed chair.

“Well,” he finally replied, gripping his drink, “I guess I should have thought this through better.”

“How so?” she asked.

“When I started to look for you, I probably should have come up with what to say to you if I got the chance.  Even after I heard you were here and on your way over, and I said yes, you should come on over, I should have spent more time on how to, to…

“You know, I suppose this is a great example of that.  Show, don’t tell.”

“What the…?”

He took another gulp from his snifter.  “The way I made it in life, I spent a lot of my time planning, covering all the options, getting things in place so that there’s as little room for surprises as possible.  I have always done that, and more often than not it all works according to plan.

“But now and then something comes up, and I don’t use my head when I should, and then it all goes wrong, badly.  And after it goes wrong, there’s a lot of work I have to put into fixing the mistake.”

There was a long pause before Jenny asked, “And this is showing, not telling, how?”

“Right about the time I met your mother, a few years after getting my broker license, that’s when a lot of what ended up happening became a certainty, too likely to just assume it would be a long shot.  Too many bad trends, a few too many bad occurrences, and suddenly the good money didn’t look so safe where the wisdom of the street said I should have gone.  Even before you were born, the trends were there, that things were going to change, and not for the better.

“There wasn’t enough capital flowing where it should have back then, which was a sign that investors with better modeling and insight also saw that disaster was coming.  I did some further research on my own, and put my own money in places that were going to come out ahead.  Some of it was luck, like getting out of China in time and going into Korea, but anyone who really read the climate model reports and compared insurance and agricultural data, anyone back then paying attention would have done what I did, and made investments that flew in the face of the common wisdom.

“But you see, the ‘common wisdom’ was less and less about experience as to how things had been, and more and more hope that things could stay the same.  And when things couldn’t stay the same, when they kept changing, not for the better, then it was time to wake up and realize that even if it meant that it was all over, that it was time to say goodbye to what you knew and get ready for a new normal.

“So I kept myself from dismissing the idea that things were changing, keeping a close eye and ear on everything.  I divested out of US agribusiness, moved to make contacts that could allow me to invest in companies traded in Seoul, Sao Paulo, Mumbai, and Toronto while moving away from those doing trades strictly in New York and London.  I minimized insurance underwriting liabilities; I made a lot of decisions based on what I was seeing, that stable economic growth wasn’t going to be seen where it had before.  I had to rethink and relearn everything, and be ready for what came next.”

“And were you ready?” Jenny asked.

“Crap no,” he replied as he took a drink…

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All content Copyright © 2012 James Ryan


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