Second-grade traders

Bill Regardie Founder, Regardie's Magazine
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When my son asked if I would like to attend presentation day for his son’s second-grade finance class, I immediately canceled a golf game at Burning Tree. Earlier in the school year, I had served as a judge at their portfolio competition and couldn’t wait to see the little moguls again.

The adults crowded around the back of the classroom as Ms. Higgins called the class to attention, but there was little of the boisterous behavior that you would expect from a bunch of second graders.

Ms. Higgins sensed it immediately.

“Harry, Harry Thomas. Why don’t you start with your report?”

But Harry just sat there.

“Now, Harry, I know you are very upset over Mr. Rajaratnam’s conviction on all 14 insider and conspiracy counts last week, but this is business and you can’t always win. So, please go ahead.”

Harry slowly stood up

“Raj. Raj Rajaratnam, my hero,” he said, “was a thief!”

The other kids cheered for Harry, knowing that though his little heart was broken, they had all learned an important lesson: Always check to see if your pals are wired and never make an insider trade on the phone.

Harry then smiled and finished his report just as he had practiced it all weekend.

Next, Ms. Higgins called on Sally Cohen.

“I was going to report on Mark Zuckerberg’s plans to take Facebook public but as you know he got into some deep doo doo late last week when he tried to smear Google with false allegations. Then, he had to hire a really hot shot New York PR firm on Friday to clean up his mess,” Sally said. “Sometimes, I don’t think Mr. Zuckerberg is very mature.”

Here copy was so polished, you would have thought she ripped it off from CNBC’s Maria Bartiromo. The class thought so too and gave her lots of love.

Next, Ms. Higgins called on Freddy Franks.

“Ms. Higgins, class, I was going to report on the collapse of silver prices but with arrest of the head of the International Monetary Funds for sexual assault, I thought this would be a better topic.”

Every adult was stunned. What would the kid say?

Ms. Higgins rose from her desk, looked over Freddy’s report and then nodded for him to continue.

Freddy smiled. This kid had the nerve of a Goldman Sachs trader.

“The important thing here,” he said, “is that the charges have nothing to do with his job or heading the IMF at this critical time in refinancing Greece, Portugal and much of Europe. What will likely cost him his job is the bad thing he did. The way he treated a lady employee at the fancy hotel where he was staying was wrong.

“Remember last year when Sally’s older sister, Judy, who’s in the fourth grade, had to punch her classmate, Bobby, when he kept trying to kiss her. Then the school board transferred Bobby to another school and made him see a shrink. Well, that’s kind of what happened here except it was much worse, or so my mom said.”

The class gave Freddy the biggest applause of all.

“Thank you, children,” said Ms. Higgins. “Those were wonderful reports.

“Next week, our guest lecturers will be Harvey Pitt, former chairman of the SEC, and Michael Milken, the greediest junk bond trader of all.

“Finally, for all you grandparents, thank you for coming. Here are some pledge cards so we can increase the kids’ real-time trading account from $100,000 to $150,000 for the coming year.”

Bill Regardie is the founder of Regardie Magazine.