From Menakhem-Mendl in Odessa to his wife Sheyne-Sheyndl in Karilevke
"To my wise, esteemed, & virtuous wife Sheyne-Sheyndl, may you have a long life! Firstly, rest assured that I am, praise God, in the best of health. God grant that we hear from each other only good and pleasing news, amen. Secondly, the market has been hitting fearsome lows. I've bought another batch of Londons and covered myself with 8 orders for 17 shorts. If I can shave a few points, I'll buy more. If only you understood, my dearest, how business is done on a man's word alone, you would know all there is to know about Odessa. A nod is as good as a signature. I walk down Greek Street, drop into a cafe, sit at a table, order tea or coffee, and wait for the brokers to come by. There's no need for a contract or written agreement. Each broker carries a pad in which he writes, say, that I've bought two shorts. I hand over the cash and that's it--its a pleasure how easy it is! A few hours go by, the Berlin closings arrive, and back comes the broker with 25 smackers. The next morning the openings arrive and he has 50 more--and don't think God can't make it 100. 300 is no big deal either. Why should it be? We're talking about the market! Its a game, like roulette...And as for your not believing in Uncle Manashe's promissory notes, I have news: I've made a tidy sum from them already. Where else would I get the money to buy so many futures on spot? The market is not, as you seem to think, a place that sells fruit and vegetables. You're only called on futures when they're due. That means, you're a free agent. If you want to buy, you buy, and if you want to sell, you sell. Now do you understand what playing the market is? If God is out to boost Londons, he starts a war scare in the papers, the ruble drops, and Londons shoot up faster than bean stalks. Just this week there were rumors that the Queen of England was ailing: the ruble plunged again, and whoever bought short made a killing. Now the papers say she's better, so the ruble has rallied and its time to buy long. In short, my dearest, never fear! Everything will be "tip-top," as they say in Odessa....Give my greetings to the children and my fondest wishes to everyone. Your husband, Menakhem -Mendl.
And, wait for it, five minutes later:
"To my wise, esteemed, & virtuous wife, Sheyne-Shenyndl, may you have a long life! Firstly, rest assured that I am, praise God, in the best of health...Secondly, the market has crashed just as futures, God help us, were being called. I'll see the Messiah before I see my money again. Bismarck, they say, caught a bad cold and all politics went into a panic. No one knows what tomorrow will bring. Londons are worth more than gold, the ruble has hit rock bottom, and futures have fallen through the floor. But where, you ask, are the shorts I bought. that's just it: the shorts aren't short, the futures have no future, and call me a monkey's uncle! The small-time operators I entrusted my shares with have been wiped out. Odessa has been hit by a whirlwind...
And, wait for it, five minutes later:
From Menakhem-Mendl in Yehupetz to his wife Sheyne-Sheyndl in Kasrilevke
To my dear, esteemed, and virtuous wife Sheyne-Sheyndl, may you have a long life!
Firstly, rest assured that I am, praise God, in the best of health. God grant that we hear from each other only good and pleasing news, amen.
Secondly, stocks and bonds are not what you think. They come from Petersburg. Putivil, Transport, Volga, Maltzev, etc.., are manufacturers. They deal in rolling and floating stock--that is, railroads and 100---ruble shares that go for 300--. That's because of the dividends. The more dividends, the more they're worth. But since nobody knows how many there'll be, you buy blind. That's called a bull market; all the Jews are cashing in on it and so am I. You would not believe, my dear wife, how small-time investors have become millionaires! They live in huge dachas, travel to Europinian spas, drape their women in silks and satins, speak French, play the piano, eat jam, and drink jewlips all day long. Their children have governors and ride icicles. A ruble means nothing to them. They live high and the sky is the limit. And it's all from stocks & bonds!