Stevieslaw: Betting with Bennie

Stevieslaw: Betting with Benny
At Stevieslaw, we were surprised today to get a call from Jamie Dimon, CEO of JPMorgan Chase. They are trying to replace Ina Drew in their major investments department and Bennie Williams, aka Bennie the Book’s name came up. When I was growing up in the Brownsville-East New York section of Brooklyn (“a great place to be from,” crows the local paper) Bennie made a modest living running the craps game in the local schoolyard. He would also take your bets on the ponies or on the major sports.
“An excellent choice,” I told Jamie, “he has my wholehearted recommendation.” “After all,” I told him, “With Bennie you always knew what you were getting—be it the Knicks and 4 or Our Twig in the 4th at Roosevelt.” “Compare that with derivatives, J (his little known nickname),” I continued. “Even the financial editor of the New York Times doesn’t understand your recent investments in derivatives.” “He can only describe them, again and again, as a complex financial transaction.”
Unfortunately, I couldn’t help Jamie track down my old friend. We lost touch in 1967, when he got shipped to Vietnam and I went off, with guilt and gratitude, to graduate school. It was a time when even poor kids with great math and science skills could catch a break in this country. Who would have ever suspected that we would someday need Bennie as well?

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