Subject: It's Sunday and there's a hurricane coming...
From: Ian Grigg <iang at systemics dot com>
Date: Sun, 20 Sep 1998 15:13:53 -0400 (AST)
It's Sunday and there's a hurricane coming. We're prepared with the Pringles and Jamaican ginger beer, and are now just watching the action on screen and out the window.
One of the things about living in the Financial Cryptography Capital of the World is that occasionally we get visited by The Powers That Be, and flattened in the process.
More nuisance than a TLA hate campaign, noisier than professors' mailing list, and more water than a broken pipe in a Cyber. Hurricane Georges is coming to town.
The funny thing is that all along, or at least for many years, we have known how to control hurricanes. It was inevitably one of those cold war US defence contracts, run by the USAF. There was some justification based on annoying naval flotillas at sea, although it wasn't clear whether the fly-boys were intending to annoy the USN or the Ruskies. They kept the whole thing quiet, as nobody needs to know that huge amounts of money can be saved and/or advancing armardas can be sunk without using the other expensive toys developed by the other programs.
Trials did occur, but the technology failed to make it into the commercial market. In order to hide the true potential, the brass hats put a strict 56-miles limit on the application for civilian purposes, thus revealing that you could only move the beast around, you couldn't really tame it.
The real problem with the technology was that hurricanes still wanted to go in roughly the same direction, and all one could do was to pay the fee to the Air Force to get it moved 56 miles up or down the coast. Needless to say, the Generals were surprised to receive competing bids for services in the first live civilian hurricane.
After a lot of confusion and multiple contradictory bids being accepted, the hurricane entered, destroyed, and left. As did the Generals, with the loot. This misuse of what were now public funds was considered sufficient to slap the exec order on the whole deal, conveniently making illegal any class action suits over the misused private funds.
Working on this problem for some time has led to a solution. Using an anonymous cash protocol, we have built an Internet-based solution for setting the market-driven price for a hurricane path. Conveniently, we have also contracted delivery services from the specialists, those very same Generals, who are now living in the islands near here under assumed names and ranks.
Up until now, the whole idea was received with less than religous fervour. Either nobody believed we could do it, or the locals were simply playing on island time. Just as we were about to give it up and retire to banana growing, Georges showed up and contracts started winding in.
Market operators have a duty to track activity and ensure that no insider trading occurs (those pesky Generals). This responsibility has expanded into advice for traders of attractive opportunities for investment, either in the future positions market or in our line of lamps, air-dropped generators, and emergency supplies of Pringles.
We've also been able to track geographical trends for governmental statistical purposes. Georges was nominally slated to cross the islands at Guadeloupe, but heavy market pressure backed by church collections on thursday night purchased a shift north in track. Getting in early was profitable for the Guadeloupians.
St Martins then bought heavily and shifted it back on a close to due east track. Unfortunately the French fluffed it last night by downgrading their alert to a warning, so all the world knows now.
Antigua, being stuck in the middle, then bought in, backed up by Monsterrat (who raised funds by threatening the Brits with another thousand refugees). Since then Georges has been yoyoing across the map and the market has gone to hell in a hand basket.
The Generals had been raking in the delivery contracts, but have posted an aircraft maintainance alert and tripled the premium.
Antiguan alternate government types, engaged in a power play with their legal counterparts, have traded a mammoth contract to have the hurricane move _towards_ them. Unhappy at the Generals' reluctance to fly, they've issued an options contract of another kind on the market operators, that will be 'in the money' if their other contract is not fulfilled.
Meanwhile, a catholic mama in the US virgin islands had a little flutter on the market to help her more easterly daughter.
Failing to spot mama's anonymous currency transaction form, the IRS have declared the area in general and hurricanes in particular to be a major money laundering effort, and have a SWOT team flying in. At least, the men in black will fly in once they complete negotiations with the Generals, who previously contracted all airports for the hurricane season, and are prepared to deal in exchange for an amnesty for previous picadillos.
The market still goes strong, having at this stage traded 10% of the GDP of the East Caribbean. We're prepared for the long run, with defense in depth by redundant UPS and generators, multiple IP and interlocking 50 cal machine guns. If only we could stop our shareholders from killing each other, we could advance our plans to open trading in Florida.
Phew. This Jamaican ginger beer is strong stuff, and we're already out of Pringles. Oh, and there's a hurricane coming.