The Trader: Currying up to Jane's man

"SO LET me see if I've got this straight?" I've retreated to Jane's for the evening, and Tom is explaining the stock market to me. Amazingly, I'm enjoying it. Not only does it take my mind off the agonising wait for Jaap to stop being my deputy boss and start being my boyfriend, it also gives me a chance to have a look at my friend's new man. Not that Jane's prepared to admit to them being more than just friends, but from the way she breathes out every time she says his name, it's clear she's enamoured.

The most extraordinary thing about Tom - apart from him being kind, charming and witty, and clearly really liking Jane - is that he's all these things and a stockbroker. Plainly, I've either been wrong about the breed all along or been deeply unlucky and met only the boring ones. Anyway, Tom's explanation of the stock market is the only one I've ever listened to, and it's enlightening after all this time slaving away in my own little world of derivatives. "So let me see if I've got this straight," I tell him. "The price of a share is based on the underlying profitability and prospects of the company."

Tom adds: "Well, some of the time anyway." Oh no, I think, this is just like that part of your first A-level maths class where they tell you everything you learnt in your GCSEs was a bit of a simplification. Tom continues: "That doesn't apply to all situations. My artist mate Gavin says if it hadn't been for his Internet shares, he'd have starved this year. They've gone up loads. It seems the company actually makes a profit, and that's quite rare with Internet stocks."

I ask whether that means everyone has gone completely mad? Tom thinks about it, playing with a lock of hair that keeps flopping over his forehead. "Well," he says at last, "it could be people think it's a rapidly growing industry and the profits will eventually be more than healthy. Or it may just be a bad case of ENC."

Jane and I look at him, baffled. "ENC?" we say, more perplexed.

"Emperor's New Clothes. It's when someone tells you something is great and you believe them, without any proof. There's a lot of it about."

"So much for the church complaining faith is dead," says Jane dryly. "Oh no, it definitely isn't," Tom replies. "It's just they don't have a monopoly on it anymore."

The doorbell rings, and it's the Thai restaurant with our dinner. For a moment, the markets are forgotten as we squeal with pleasure over the cartons. But by the time we've settled down with our plates spilling with coconut rice and green curry, I've another question. "So what was that business the other week when the market dropped 150 points one day and bounced up again almost at once?" I ask. "Fundamentals or expectations?"

"Oh that," says Tom. "Well, actually, the word going round is that it was sheer boredom. Apparently a team at one of the houses thought they'd see if they could knock 100 points of the FTSE just by rumour-mongering. They put out the fake news first thing in the morning, and by lunch-time people were telling it back to them. Worked a treat."

There's a silence. "Well," I say, "perhaps it's better not to understand the stock market after all."

thetrader@hotmail.com

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
PROMOTED VIDEO
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Ashdown Group: Client Services Manager - Relationship Management - London

£30000 - £32000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: A highly successful, int...

Recruitment Genius: Credit Controller / Customer Service

£18000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This rapidly expanding business...

Guru Careers: In-House / Internal Recruiter

£25 - 28k + Bonus: Guru Careers: An In-house / Internal Recruiter is needed to...

Recruitment Genius: Tax Assistant

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A Tax Assistant is required to join a leading ...

Day In a Page

Syria crisis: Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more refugees as one young mother tells of torture by Assad regime

Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more Syrian refugees

One young mother tells of torture by Assad regime
The enemy within: People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back – with promising results

The enemy within

People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back
'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

Survivors of the Nazi concentration camp remember its horror, 70 years on
Autumn/winter menswear 2015: The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore

Autumn/winter menswear 2015

The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore
'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

Army general planning to come out
Iraq invasion 2003: The bloody warnings six wise men gave to Tony Blair as he prepared to launch poorly planned campaign

What the six wise men told Tony Blair

Months before the invasion of Iraq in 2003, experts sought to warn the PM about his plans. Here, four of them recall that day
25 years of The Independent on Sunday: The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century

25 years of The Independent on Sunday

The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century
Homeless Veterans appeal: 'Really caring is a dangerous emotion in this kind of work'

Homeless Veterans appeal

As head of The Soldiers' Charity, Martin Rutledge has to temper compassion with realism. He tells Chris Green how his Army career prepared him
Wu-Tang Clan and The Sexual Objects offer fans a chance to own the only copies of their latest albums

Smash hit go under the hammer

It's nice to pick up a new record once in a while, but the purchasers of two latest releases can go a step further - by buying the only copy
Geeks who rocked the world: Documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry

The geeks who rocked the world

A new documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry
Belle & Sebastian interview: Stuart Murdoch reveals how the band is taking a new direction

Belle & Sebastian is taking a new direction

Twenty years ago, Belle & Sebastian was a fey indie band from Glasgow. It still is – except today, as prime mover Stuart Murdoch admits, it has a global cult following, from Hollywood to South Korea
America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

These days in the US things are pretty much stuck where they are, both in politics and society at large, says Rupert Cornwell
A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

A veteran of the Fifties campaigns is inspiring a new generation of activists
Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

A C Benson called him 'a horrid little fellow', George Orwell would have shot him, but what a giant he seems now, says DJ Taylor
Growing mussels: Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project

Growing mussels

Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project