With crude oil crossing the $142/record mark on Friday, one newspaper took a close-up look at how oil affects traders, fishermen, pre-school kids, Hummer owners, high school chicks and everyone else in between. My guess is that the dude who owns the Hummer is on suicide watch now.
Eric Bolling (pictured), who many of you know as the tanned Jersey-guy who never wears a tie on Fox Business Channel’s “Money for Breakfast”, is one of the most fascinating characters in this Star Ledger piece about the life of oil prices. Bolling is a 45-year-old commodities trader, family man, and former top minor league baseball prospect.
This strange character of a man refuses to wear ties, even to his own wedding, and always wears mismatched socks as a superstition he’s kept from he days on the baseball diamond. Oh yeah, and whenever he makes a buy or sell order he refers to himself with the baseball moniker, “RBI”. Nice.
But as much as you might hate Bolling if you ever met him on the street, he’s a hot shot trader with a heart of gold. He began trading on the Nymex in 1986 shortly after a rotator cuff injury ended his baseball chances. At the peak of his trading life, he claims he individually accounted for 5% of a day’s oil and energy futures trades on that exchange. He’s scaled back in recent years and says it’s too dangerous to make big bets on oil futures nowadays. But I’m pretty sure his new setup over at Fox Biz has helped out his financial goals a bit.
In the article, Bolling recounts a heart-warming tale of devotion to family that might have drove a lesser man to murder. Behold:
Bolling learned the hard way of not paying close attention to his trades. Six years ago, he took the morning off to read to his son’s preschool class. At the time, he had a big bet that natural gas prices would fall. But the night before had turned unexpectedly frigid. Gas futures were soaring.
As he sat in the class reading, Bolling was bombarded with text messages: “Where are you? You have to get here.” He began to sweat, but finished reading the book. The teacher asked the class: “Any questions?” Twenty-five hands went up, he recalled, but he stayed and answered every one.
When he left, his son looked up and told him, “Dad, it was great.”
By the time he got back to work, he was down $2.1 million, he recalls.
What a guy! This comes in stark contrast with distant memories I have of a friend’s Dad arriving to “show and tell” with 10 beers on his breath and a mouthful of inappropriate comments. I learned a lot that fateful day.
But Bolling isn’t the only one who has suffered from the quest for oil. Due to the rise in diesel fuel costs, a party boat captain checks oil prices each day and doesn’t “unleash the beast” of his engine quite as often.
Also brought to my attention in the day in the life of oil: 1.) Some 17-year-old girl in Edison, NJ is getting a convertible Smart Car as her first vehicle in order to save on gas. 2.) A guy who has bought 5 Hummers over the last few years says he’s on his last one. Smart move, buddy. 3.) A limo company doesn’t calculate trips by the mile or by distance anymore, just by how many gallons it costs to get from pick-up to drop-off. That’s all that’s important in life anyway.
Probably the most disturbing factoid I read in this article: “A survey by the Civil Society Institute and Opinion Research notes three out of four Americans expect gas to cost $5 a gallon by Labor Day.”
I’m attributing the majority of those survey results to panicked and uninformed worry-warts, but with the lack of alternatives out there, what’s really stopping this from coming true?
Got any better ‘day in the life of oil’ horror stories? Let us know in the comments.
StarLedger: Over A Barrel, June 29, 2008