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Fish Stocks Limited

“Really?” asked Ambrosius. The image of Sunbeam broke to the surface of his
“Really really. They go wild for a man with means.”
“And what exactly do these jobs involve?”
“You buy and sell fish. Only those fish are numbers.”
“I don't understand.”
“Well, say one company brings in a load of fish. They could go round selling
them to loads of little shops, but they're fishermen, not businessmen. They find it
easier just to sell the lot to a single person – the trader. The trader could then go round
selling the fish to lots of little shops – this would take time and expertise, but some
traders do this. However, imagine a trader comes along and buys up a load of fish,
then there's a lull in the amount of fish caught, as happens sometimes. Maybe there's a
storm and the boats can't go out, something like that. Anyway, people are desperate
for fish that way, and they'll pay higher prices. O ur trader can then sell his fish that he
bought on the cheap to another company for more money. He doesn't even have to get
his hands dirty with distribution. Indeed, he doesn't even need to see a fish. He does
all his work on paper and takes a tidy sum. There are other things he can do, as well.
For instance, he could say to a seller, “Look, I'll buy your fish off you and pay you for
them next week at whatever the price is then.” If the seller thinks the price of fish is
about to go up, he might do this deal because he thinks that he's going to get more
money. The buyer is hoping that they'll go down in price, so he'll have to pay less.”
“It sounds like gambling,” said Ambrosius.
“Well, yes and no, sir. With gambling, you normally lose overall. However, if the
economy is growing healthily, the stock market pays out more than you put in. It's
sort of like priming an engine with fuel – you give these companies money and they
use it to make more money, so long as they keep getting that constant input.”
“What happens if it stops?”
“You get a crash. It happens. When one person loses confidence in the system
another person is more likely to lose confidence too. If you get enough people losing
confidence, the effect amplifies itself and you get a massive decrease in investment.
For the investor that means you can lose everything overnight.”
“I don't like the sound of that.”
“It only happens once in a while. Most people just don't think about it.”
“So if I take the money I've made off the loans and play the stock market, I could
make even more money?”
“You've got it, sir,” said Stan.
Ambrosius thought for a little while longer. “In fact, you could say I would be
catching fish, all be it indirectly.”
“You could think about it like that, yes sir.”
Ambrosius smiled. “More fish than anyone could hope to catch with a single
“Yes, sir.”
Ambrosius cut into his steak and thought of Sunbeam's flustered promise. “Then I
might make a fisher after all,” he beamed.
The two acquaintances finished their meals and ordered some hookfruit wine of an
excellent vintage. They drank moderately, enjoying the sophisticated tones o f the
wine, which was much too good for most people to appreciate (which is ironic as