Wolfgang slowly wandered into Otto’s office while reading the ICABOD output on suspicious financial transactions. Otto watched him slowly approach and noted the puzzled look on his face.
Finally Wolfgang lifted his gaze from the hardcopy printout and looked directly at Otto as he speculated, “Curious activity happening in Argentina, Otto, if I can believe the research on this topic. Argentina is not financially naïve, but they have never been on the world stage, front and center, when it comes to futures trading, currency arbitrage, and other sophisticated financial products. It wasn’t too long ago that currency devaluation, debt repudiation, and industrial nationalization were Argentina’s financial tools of choice against runaway inflation to prevent financial collapse. How is it that they now are showing a string of impressive trading gains in oil futures and currency arbitrage?”
Otto blinked several times and then offered, “I would expect that they have competent regional commodity traders with a modest track record. But, I hear you saying that they are profiting from every futures trading such that they are now optimizing the market from Buenos Aires? Well, that’s certainly different.”
Wolfgang then explained, “There is a bright star named Mauro, who came from the small town of San Rafael Mendoza, and leads an oil futures trading desk. He has a small team of analysts in Buenos Aires, and one of them is his wife, Luisa. Together they have bet successfully on oil price movements for the last six months. Last month this team started doing the same thing with currency arbitrage bets, only the time horizons are greater than anything I’ve ever seen.
“The farther out you go on futures the less factual information you have, and either you have the world’s best Ouija board, or you have insider knowledge to place your bets. One doesn’t get insider currency and oil futures information for global market price manipulation in Buenos Aires.”
Otto sat looking thoughtful, then suggested, “Then they have the world’s best Ouija board and use it to predict how to bet on currency valuation movement and future oil prices.”
Wolfgang pondered the comment then replied, “I guess that is what I’m saying, Otto. I guess the disconcerting part is that this is a lot like the stock trader that was making a boatload of money in stock futures before he died mysteriously in the U.S. a while back.”
Otto nodded and agreed, “Yes, I remember the case. He was found shot in the back with a rifle. As I recall, the authorities ruled it suicide, though I never heard how that was justified with him shot in the back.
“I recommend that you continue hunting for these one-offs that don’t add up in the normal scheme of things. Hopefully, this Mauro person won’t have the bad luck that Clay Dough had with winning every bet. Good job finding these oddities in the financial network.”
Wolfgang added, “The other odd thing about the research on these financial transactions going on in Argentina is that I didn’t ask ICABOD to run it for me. I didn’t mention it before, but he also did the same thing on the Clay Dough case.”
Otto raised his eyebrows and said, “Extraordinary.”
Wolfgang turned and left rereading the report, stopped short of the door, then turned back, and mused, “Otto, predicting the future is always what human beings profess to want to be able to do. The curious thing about us is that while we can only live in the present, we spend an inordinate amount of time dreaming about the future. Future planning robs us of our present life. Then when the future doesn’t turn out the way we expected, we begin planning the future again. Our obsession with the future robs us of our present, but if you could read the future, then there is a chance that you could live comfortably in the present because you knew what was coming.”
Otto chuckled and asked, “Oh really? Well, I know that I’m going to grow older and then die, but that doesn’t make me happier! But if I could reliably bet on future commodity prices, currency valuations, or elections, then I can make my present much more comfortable because I can steal your future. My knowing the future, and you not, means you now work for me.”
Wolfgang mused, “You bring up an interesting point, Otto, but a flawed one. The time space continuum is not linear or two dimensional. It is multi-dimensional with multiple intersect possibilities. Not knowing the future means that actions drive unknown outcomes. If I know a future event that benefits me, I would not do anything different that might alter that outcome. But what if I don’t like the future outcome? Would I not be tempted to arrange events or alter activity flows so the future does benefit me? Now expand that to include other interested parties who can also see the future and are willing to alter the activity flow so they benefit. You and I now no longer have a future, but we potentially have no present life either.”
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