Isn't this story Trading Places?

Submitted by Marco on 25 April, 2008 - 20:10

Trading Places

I’ve read the preface, Chapter 1 and Chapter 2 and I’m thinking the plot of this book is very much like the movie with Eddie Murphy and Dan Aykroyd: “Trading Places” (it also features the young Jamie Lee Curtis). Trading Places is a movie from the early 1980's (1983 to be exact) and revolves around a bet, social status, the question of nature vs. nature and trading the commodities market. The movie's plot is as follows:

Louis Winthorpe III is a successful Philadelphia commodity broker with mansion, manservant and girlfriend to match. Billy Ray Valentine is a hustling beggar. Winthorpe's employers, the elderly Duke brothers, make a bet that by switching the lifestyle of the two Billy Ray will make good and their man will take to a life of crime. Suddenly Louis finds himself uncomprehendingly with no job, no home and only a new acquaintance, glamorous hooker Ophelia, prepared to help him. So at least in one way things could actually be worse. -- from IMDB

In the REAL Turtle Trading story as per the "Complete Turtle Trader" By Michael Covel, two rich traders Richard Dennis and William Eckhart have a bet. They want to test whether success in the markets are a result of nature or nurture. Can you train someone to succeed or does the skill come naturally? Which is quite similar to the story in the "Trading Places" movie. In the movie, brothers Mortimer and Randolph Duke argue the same nature vs nurture question. From Wikipedia: "The brothers decide that the best way to resolve the argument is to ruin a successful man's life, dramatically improve the fortunes of a street hustler, and see how they respond. Mortimer believes that regardless of their shifting fortunes, the well-bred subject will rise to the challenge and the riff-raff will fail no matter what opportunities are presented to him. Randolph insists the well-bred subject will unravel in society while the hustler will take full advantage of his new situation and become a changed man. Both satisfied with the plan, the Duke brothers shake hands to seal a wager for their "usual amount"."

In the Turtle Traders story, Dennis and Eckhart didn't go to such extremes as the Duke brothers in Trading Places. What they did was that they posted a job advertisement in a few publications: Wall Street Journal, Barron's and International Herald Tribune. And the job advertisement read:

Richard J Dennis of C&D Commodities is accepting applications for the position of Commodity Futures Trader to expand his established group of traders. Mr. Dennis and his associates will train a small group of applicants in his proprietary training concepts. Successful candidates will then trade solely for Mr. Dennis: they will not be allowed to trade futures for themselves or others. Traders will be paid a percentage of their trading profits, and will be allowed a small draw. Prior experience will be considered, but is not necessary. Applicants should send a brief resume with one sentence giving their reasons to:... Applications must be received by October 1, 1984. No telephone calls will be accepted.

I wonder if Dennis and Eckhart drew the idea for this trading scheme from Trading Places or was it coincidence? Well I guess I'll just have to keep reading to find out. I'll also have to revisit Trading Places to discuss the movie in future.

This is post 1 of a series of “live book review” posts of the Complete Turtle Trader.