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Two-Ton Tony: A Golden Tale

Two-Ton Tony: A Golden Tale

November 29, 2016

Chapter 30 in the exclusive series for Dynamic Commodities- becoming a commodities trader

There was always so much going on the precious metals business that it was hard to keep track of all of the happenings. After Rafe had moved to trading, I became involved in almost every aspect of the business. I was Elias’s unofficial deputy manager.

The department did some really interesting and fun transactions. In one deal, they leased a few tons of gold to the Johnny Carson show. The late night show host had a skit that required 400-ounce bars of stacked gold ingots. If you have ever seen a ton of gold, it contains 80 of those bars. The sight is quite impressive!

Elias and I arranged for the gold to fly to Los Angeles and for delivery to the studio. Armed guards accompanied the shipment at all times. After the show, we shipped the gold back to its home in New York or London; I forget now where we had dispatched the metal. While this particular trade did not make much money for the firm, it was fun and high profile. After all, it was Philipp Brother’s gold on the Tonight Show! I doubt that anyone outside of our department cared but it was remarkable to me, nonetheless.

At the same time, Ray was preparing to enter into another business that was very profitable for the firm. New tax laws in Puerto Rico would create profitable opportunities for the company to set up a trading business and hold gold locally in the U.S. territory. I would find out later that the profitability came not from trading but from the tax incentives of just holding gold on the island.

Tony Rodriguez, a corpulent fellow, worked in the accounting department at the company. He handled precious metals and given his ethnic background, Ray gave him the job as manager and chief trader of the Puerto Rican gold trading desk. Elias and I arranged for the shipment of two tons of gold to Tony who took up residence in Hato Rey.  Tony played a lot of golf, made nice with the local government and the Precious Metals Department made lots of money.

The gold stored in the bank in Puerto Rico became a cash machine at the company. Over time, we shipped more of the yellow metal; the more the merrier as the incentives and profits were a function of the total value of the metal. The traders began calling Tony, Two-Ton Tony, a reference to both his weight and the initial gold shipment. While in Puerto Rico, Tony lived the good life and with more tonnage arriving each month, he became four, five and eventually ten-ton Tony.

Consequently, the trade that made Philipp Brothers a nice return would cost Ray Nessim his job. Meanwhile, I would run into Tony once again in the future, towards the end of my career with the company.

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Post Series: Origin Of A Commodities Trader

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