Scientists are studying monkeys for clues on human financial behavior.
The Boston Globe
It was time, I figured, to bite the banana. My brokerage statements from Simian Financial Advisors had been piling up for months and lay on my desk, staring at me in silent reproach. At some point I'd have to actually look at them and see how much I'd lost, on paper at least.
I ripped open the most recent envelope--no need to see the bloody trail of how I got to where I am today. Ouch--down 25% since 2011! While not as bad as some of the chimps I play cards with at my club, it still hurt.
I picked up the phone and called Hairy, who's been handling my money for years.
"Oooo-ooot GREET!" he screamed into the phone. It wasn't a good idea to call him before 4 p.m. when the market closed.
"Hairy--it's me. Or what's left of me," I said grimly.
"Chatta," he boomed over the wire. "Great to hear from you."
Once a saleschimp, always a saleschimp. Guys like Hairy just can't turn it off.
"It's not so great to be talking to you," I said. "I just opened up my account statement--I feel like I just read my own obituary."
"C'mon, it's not that bad," he replied, trying to buck me up. "We've got a hot little tech stock that's ready to take off."
"Tech, schmeck," I said. "I should have opened a Christmas Club account!"
"Now, don't start in with that," he said. "You know, you've built up a little cash in your account."
I was stunned. "I have?"
"Yeah--I don't know if it's dividends or what, but I've got a nice little play for you--assuming your wife hasn't castrated you since we spoke last."
That was always his sales pitch. Whenever he'd call me with a short play against the box on cocoa futures, I'd tell him my wife wouldn't let me.
"Excuse me," he'd say, his voice dripping with testosterone. "Has your wife made any money for you today?"
Well, no, I'd always have to admit. "But I have to give her an end-of-year statement."
"Why?" Hairy would ask. "Is she your bank or something? Did you go public and not tell me about it?"
"It's called trust," I'd say. "And love."
He'd hold the phone at arm's length then, because he'd be laughing at me. This is a guy who always hires a Jane Goodall-lookalike stripper for the holiday parties at his firm.
I swallowed my pride. "Okay--tell me about it," I said, and he launched into his sales pitch.
"It's a banana-backed securitized obligation. Your yield can never be less than 13%."
"Who's the issuer?" I asked. I've learned to ask the tough questions.
I heard him inhale, trying to work up an air of self-righteous umbrage. "Why Simian Financial Advisors, of course," he said, ending on a huffy note.
"Is that the full legal name?" I asked skeptically.
There was silence at his end of the line. "Well, actually," he said after a moment, "it's Simian Financial Advisors IV, S.a.r.l., a Luxembourg special purpose limited liability company."
" . . . with no operating history, and no assets except banana-backed receivables--correct?"
Like a lot of people, I'd started to pay attention to what was on my account statement now that I knew that Barney Frank was flying all over the world on the bankers' dime while pretending to get tough with them whenever a television camera light went on, and his portfolio had mysteriously remained--stable.
"So my yield could be a big fat goose egg if that special purpose vehicle goes belly-up--correct?"
All I could hear was the sound of paper shuffling. "Say, listen, would you like some tickets to a Red Sox game?" Hairy said after a while.
"No, and don't send me one of your chintzy leatherette checkbook covers, either."
He was silent for a moment. "So that cash balance--what do you want to do with it?"
I thought for a moment. "I'm going all in on commodities!" I yelled in a "Eureka" moment. It was the one kind of investment Hairy didn't handle.
"You don't want to get into commodities," he pleaded with naked self-interest. "You don't want a truckful of pork bellies to get dumped on your lawn someday, do you?"
"Who said anything about pork bellies?" I asked derisively. "I'm talking Planet of the Apes Souvenir Drink Cups!"
Available in Kindle format on amazon.com as part of the collection "Wild Animals of Nature!"