Streetwise Professor

March 24, 2014

Abbot and Costello Do Manipulation Enforcement

Filed under: Commodities,Economics,Energy,Politics,Regulation — The Professor @ 7:36 pm

I heard a hilarious story the other day about an incident that occurred when European Commission investigators raided a trading shop in connection with the Brent investigation.  While going through trader emails and documents, one of the crack investigative team came across numerous documents about trading on ICE.  The investigator was puzzled, so he asked the a lawyer for the trading company: “You trade ice?”  Lawyer: “Yes, we trade on ICE.”  Investigator: “You mean you really trade ice?  Frozen water?”  Lawyer: This is my please-tell-me-you’re-sh*tting-me face.

No prizes for figuring out which was Abbot, and which was Costello.

We are in the best of hands.  The best of hands.

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  1. Apparently the team doing the Brent investigation is just whoever felt like signing up for it. Whoever wasn’t busy. It’s a live demonstration of “the tone from the top”, which has clearly resonated right through to the coalface: “I’m not busy today; I guess I’ll go ʞɔnɟ up the energy market.” It could be Bart speaking or it could be a lowly EU competition investigator.

    In some cases their previous assignment was investigating the horse meat scandal ( – admittedly, that kind of experience might be useful should they ever need to investigate the fuel oil market.

    It’s only as stupid as those guys who filed in NY last November against BP, Shell etc for fiddling the settlement price of Brent futures, but who hadn’t bothered to find out how Brent futures settle.

    Comment by Green as Grass — March 25, 2014 @ 3:25 am

  2. @Green. That’s what the person who told me the story said. They put up a sign-up sheet on the bulletin board and those with nothing better to do signed up. Talk about a perverse selection bias.

    The ProfessorComment by The Professor — March 25, 2014 @ 8:24 am

  3. In that situation I’d be desperately tempted to make smartass remarks at the sleuths.

    – Trade ice? No way, the liquidity is terrible
    – Sure we trade ice. Blocks, mostly

    etc etc – which would make my side of the table snigger but would probably only end up making my position worse.

    Comment by Green as Grass — March 25, 2014 @ 8:51 am

  4. @Green. Too effin’ funny. And you are right re the consequences of your jests, especially when they would have been directed at humorless little twits (you could use a different vowel in that word, btw).

    The ProfessorComment by The Professor — March 25, 2014 @ 10:38 am

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