• John (unregistered)

    That's just fabulous - there are enought checks in place, for brad to be able to do this is almost impossible, just unlucky that he happens to work in a prime waterside location...

  • schmitter (unregistered)

    It would have been awesome to take a shovel full and put it in a drawer. Then whenever Brad yelled at you you could take a piece and leave it on his desk.

  • Samsonite (unregistered)

    Don't forget the $8 fee on that trade!

  • frits (unregistered)

    I always thought "black gold" was Texas Tea.

  • Steve (unregistered)
    All that said, it’s almost impossible for traders to actually buy the commodities they are buying. Well, almost impossible.

    That almost makes sense. Well, it almost makes sense.

  • fahadsadah (unregistered)

    SELECT sxith FROM sxith;

  • SR (unregistered)

    Nice comeuppance for an arrogant arsewit! And was it just me reading the name of the Stock Exchange as "What-the-Footsie"?

  • Drew (unregistered)

    News article or it didn't happen.

  • SR (unregistered) in reply to fahadsadah
    fahadsadah:
    SELECT sxith FROM sxith;

    Pointless, irritating and completely irrelevant to the story. Is your name Brad?

  • Brian (unregistered) in reply to frits
    frits:
    I always thought "black gold" was Texas Tea.
    And I thought it was oil, being from West Texas myself. Hmmm...

    Captcha: decet - There were at least a decet of checks that would have prevented this WTF if Brad hadn't been a d-bag.

  • wcw (unregistered)

    I dunno about coal, but this happened to a broker for whom I once worked when he accidentally took delivery of gold. It was apparently surprisingly difficult to deal with even something as compact, valuable and easily monetized as bullion.

    His assistant to this day, I am sure, when asked about trading futures will sonorously intone, "never, ever, ever, ever take delivery."

  • Jeff (unregistered)

    So...where's the WTF?

    The system largely worked, and the final layer (the human review) DID work - the problem was caught and brought to the attention of the purchaser for verification.

    I don't consider it to be a WTF or a worse-than-failure that the minor bugs mentioned made it into production code, especially when there were failsafes in place to prevent them from causing real damage.

    Of course, Brad deactivated the failsafes...

  • too_many_usernames (cs) in reply to John

    How on earth has nobody yet mentioned that TRWTF is futures trading?

    Whoever thought of that scam deserves some kind of prize for convincing people that it's not a scam.

    (Interesting, isn't it, that one of the proposed reforms to commodities trading is that you can only trade if you take physical delivery?)

  • Steve the Cynic (unregistered)

    In real commodity trading systems, there isn't a "physically deliver" option. Traders are supposed to "close" their position (i.e. sell the contracts to someone else or buy opposite-sense contracts) every night. Holding non-zero positions overnight is fantastically dangerous, because you might not be able to shift them in the morning, and then you could be stuck taking delivery of thousands of tons of coal, pork bellies, or whatever.

    The only people who hold positions overnight are the people who want to actually sell or actually buy the commodity. The others, like Brad, do sometimes wind up holding an open position at the delivery date. It usually implies taking a hit of some kind. If you hold a contract-to-deliver, then you have to scurry around on the "spot" market, buying at a premium because you are supposed to be delivering it today, and ffs you're a commodity trader, not a coal mine operator. If you hold a contract-to-accept, you may be in luck, if the spot market is full of sellers, but more likely, you have to sell the commodity at a discount or buy warehouse space at a premium...

    Either way, it is a bad situation to be in, and they try very hard to avoid it, but it does happen, and occasionally to very large firms, like (censored), (censored), and (censored).

  • Doozer (unregistered) in reply to frits

    To a Yorkshireman (and more specifically Sheffield, South Yorkshire, England) Black gold can only mean one thing...

    Hendersons Relish. A far superior alternative to Worcester Sauce.

    http://www.hendersonsrelish.com/home.htm

    I'm not spamming the board. Just honest-to-God basic parochialism. Although Henderson's does make Spam taste delicious.......

    CAPTCHA: Causa. "Why hav i ordered 28,000 tonnes of coal? Causa f**king can alright!!)

  • TS (unregistered)

    The WTF I see is that the trading system had a default of "physically deliver" if the XML was ill-formed. This should have immediately caused the order to become invalid as a whole.

  • Forumtroll (unregistered)

    Oh my god, I actually worked with someone who managed to do this exact facepalm-worthy bummer. He managed during the final phases during the testing of a commodity trade system to set the testing flag to false, then order 350 tonnes of scrap metal.

    2 weeks later, a caravan of long haul trucks pulled up in front of the office complex and offloaded 18 containers of scrap metal in the parking lot. The embarassment was not reduced when the invoice arrived days later.

    But this was not the unfortunate end of it. Our antihero had not managed to place an order for any kind of scrap metal. During the company's attempt to offload this payload onto interested parties, it turned out that the scrap metal shitment was mostly consisting of special metal alloys that had several handling and trade restrictions applying (EPA restrictions).

    Needless to say, said company struggled for years to overcome the negative reputation generated by this.

  • Pete Bassett (unregistered)

    Best WTF in a long time.

  • soft- (unregistered) in reply to too_many_usernames
    too_many_usernames:
    How on earth has nobody yet mentioned that TRWTF is futures trading?

    Whoever thought of that scam deserves some kind of prize for convincing people that it's not a scam.

    hardly a scam if it allows food producers to be able to afford to produce food...

  • Anonymous (unregistered)

    Just as I was starting to think the WTFs were getting a bit similar you go and break this one out. This is an instant classic if ever I saw one (but seriously, don't go and repeat it on Thursday or anything). Normally we see the WTF code and just have to guess at the problems it causes. But today, the WTF code is backed up by 28,000 tons of coal! Just beautiful, thanks very much.

  • md5sum (cs) in reply to TS
    TS:
    The WTF I see is that the trading system had a default of "physically deliver" if the XML was ill-formed. This should have immediately caused the order to become invalid as a whole.
    I agree... I would think with commodities traders, you'd want the default to be "Under NO Circumstances Physically Deliver". Rejecting poorly formed XML is always nice, too...
  • Jon Daniel (unregistered)

    Nice picture too, good old Pittsburgh, PA. Part of me wonders if this actually happened in Pittsburgh, we have plenty of large warehouses that have been converted to office buildings, as well as tons of coal mines along the three rivers. ;)

  • too_many_usernames (cs) in reply to soft-
    soft-:

    hardly a scam if it allows food producers to be able to afford to produce food...

    That's another WTF in itself... if there is demand for food but the producers cannot afford to produce it then there are more fundamental things in the system which are broken.

    But as much as I enjoy digressions into economics, that would take things significantly off-track.

  • md5sum (cs) in reply to soft-
    soft-:
    too_many_usernames:
    How on earth has nobody yet mentioned that TRWTF is futures trading?

    Whoever thought of that scam deserves some kind of prize for convincing people that it's not a scam.

    hardly a scam if it allows food producers to be able to afford to produce food...

    I'll sell you 20,000 copies of a program I haven't written yet... :D

  • Marquess von Hinten (unregistered)

    Coal story!

  • Wolfan (unregistered)

    Wow, just wow. Having known a number of guys like this who were in marketing or trading or selling who always look down on guys like us only to find out one day how much they really need us.

    I agree with an earlier poster TRWTF is how future trading ever got as big as it did.

  • frits (unregistered) in reply to Brian
    Brian:
    frits:
    I always thought "black gold" was Texas Tea.
    And I thought it was oil, being from West Texas myself. Hmmm...

    Captcha: decet - There were at least a decet of checks that would have prevented this WTF if Brad hadn't been a d-bag.

    Huh?! I guess you learn something new everyday.

  • zahlman (unregistered)

    TRWTF, of course, is XML. No type-checking, and attributes aren't extensible (despite the name). It'd be much harder for either end to allow something like this to happen in, say, JSON.

  • Anon (unregistered) in reply to Pete Bassett
    Pete Bassett:
    Best WTF in a long time.

    Seconded. Really quite spectacular!

  • ahf (unregistered) in reply to Pete Bassett
    Pete Bassett:
    Best WTF in a long time.

    ++

    great stuff

  • Your Name (unregistered) in reply to md5sum
    md5sum:
    Rejecting poorly formed XML is always nice, too...

    The XML is well-formed. It fails validation against the schema.

  • Anon (unregistered)

    TRWTF is pork bellies. Everybody knows the best bacon comes from the back. Not that fatty shit from the belly.

    Of course, even bad bacon is still pretty good!

  • Montoya (unregistered)

    TRWTF is using XML.

    I kid! I kid!

  • Doozer (unregistered) in reply to zahlman
    zahlman:
    TRWTF, of course, is XML. No type-checking.

    XSD's anyone?

  • Doozer (unregistered) in reply to Anon
    Anon:
    TRWTF is pork bellies. Everybody knows the best bacon comes from the back. Not that fatty shit from the belly.

    Of course, even bad bacon is still pretty good!

    Sod Bacon! Pork Belly with apple sauce is delicious.

  • Alekz (unregistered) in reply to too_many_usernames
    too_many_usernames:
    soft-:

    hardly a scam if it allows food producers to be able to afford to produce food...

    That's another WTF in itself... if there is demand for food but the producers cannot afford to produce it then there are more fundamental things in the system which are broken.

    But as much as I enjoy digressions into economics, that would take things significantly off-track.

    It works perfectly. Allows the food producer to gain cheap access to the capital he needs in order to produce and make money.

    Gotta love those naïve half-commies who think that anyone who makes money ought to be cheating on those who do physical work.

  • Patrick (unregistered)

    I accidentally 28,000 tons of coal, what should I do?

  • Central Harlem Anonymous (unregistered)

    This story doesn't smell right. Futures contracts are highly standardized, including standardized delivery provisions. They don't deliver to your workplace or home.

    For example, the CME coal contract specifies "Location of Delivery: Delivery Shall be made F.O.B. buyer’s barge at seller’s delivery facility on the Ohio River between Mileposts 306 and 317 or on the Big Sandy River with all duties, entitlements, taxes, fees and other charges imposed prior to delivery on or in respect to the product paid by the seller. Delivery shall be made in accordance with applicable Federal, State and local laws."

    While it is possible for a trader to accidentally allow futures to physically settle, the story would end with a bunch of irate phone calls from the people at the standard delivery location, not a barge showing up outside his office.

    -- Note from Alex: Until recently, my entire knowledge of commodities trading came from Trading Places and Pit (the superfun Milton Bradley game). And yes, it seemed a little unbelievable to me. But, after spending sometime researching commodities... turns out this happens every now and then.

  • Dazed (unregistered)

    I always wondered if this ever happened to commodities traders. I'm delighted to hear that it does - and 28,000 tons exceeds my highest expectations.

  • additional to why it happend. (unregistered) in reply to Central Harlem Anonymous

    Part of the problem was, the company does take a lot of actual delivers (and I mean alot, but actually to where they are needed), the back office systems automaticly send various messages and orders to the shipping and transportation systems once approved by the back office. It's all magic and staff / admin reducing / rules engine based.

    The shipping guys sort out all the duties, shifting around etc etc and then send large bills to the main trading company when the goods are delivered.

    also worth mentioning this was a brand spanking recently moved into office.

  • additional to why it happened. (unregistered) in reply to additional to why it happend.

    And I really should learn to spell check...

  • Pepster (unregistered) in reply to too_many_usernames
    too_many_usernames:

    That's another WTF in itself... if there is demand for food but the producers cannot afford to produce it then there are more fundamental things in the system which are broken.

    I think you're confusing "afford" with "Can bear the risk"

    I might be able to afford $1m in up-front costs if there's a demand for food TODAY, but I have to tie up that money for months before I can make a sale, and who knows what the demand will look like then? Futures allow me to hedge the risk that there will still be profitable prices in 8 months when my stuff is ready for sale.

    Futures are a powerful and all-but-REQUIRED part of making commercial food production viable. Think of them as "production insurance" - without them, all of the risks of producing food (shifts in price, weather, etc) accrue to the farmer.

    Commodities producers could no more afford to finance their operations without futures, than you could afford a mortgage without getting homeowner's insurance.

  • Aaron Priven (unregistered)

    I know what that guy's getting in his stocking...

  • Mith (unregistered) in reply to md5sum
    md5sum:
    soft-:
    too_many_usernames:
    How on earth has nobody yet mentioned that TRWTF is futures trading?

    Whoever thought of that scam deserves some kind of prize for convincing people that it's not a scam.

    hardly a scam if it allows food producers to be able to afford to produce food...

    I'll sell you 20,000 copies of a program I haven't written yet... :D

    Lots of people sell programs or adaptations that haven't been written yet. Not everything is coded, then marketed and then sold.

  • Alcari (unregistered)

    Wow, this beats the old "120 cases of X instead of 120 pieces of X" thing.

    I feel so intelligent now ;)

  • 4merK0d34 (cs)

    Oh, God. Please make this story be true.

  • Anonymous (unregistered) in reply to Central Harlem Anonymous
    Central Harlem Anonymous:
    This story doesn't smell right. Futures contracts are highly standardized, including standardized delivery provisions. They *don't* deliver to your workplace or home.
    Yes, and this was made perfectly clear in the article. It was a one-in-a-million, everything just happened right to allow this supremely rare thing to happen. The process failed, the backup process failed and the backup backup process failed. This sh*t just happens sometimes and that is a verifiable fact (see Alex's link to an actual example).
  • dubbreak (cs) in reply to soft-
    soft-:
    too_many_usernames:
    How on earth has nobody yet mentioned that TRWTF is futures trading?

    Whoever thought of that scam deserves some kind of prize for convincing people that it's not a scam.

    hardly a scam if it allows food producers to be able to afford to produce food...

    If that were true then there wouldn't be a need for government subsidies to food producers...

  • too_many_usernames (cs) in reply to Pepster
    Pepster:
    too_many_usernames:

    That's another WTF in itself... if there is demand for food but the producers cannot afford to produce it then there are more fundamental things in the system which are broken.

    I think you're confusing "afford" with "Can bear the risk"

    I might be able to afford $1m in up-front costs if there's a demand for food TODAY, but I have to tie up that money for months before I can make a sale, and who knows what the demand will look like then? Futures allow me to hedge the risk that there will still be profitable prices in 8 months when my stuff is ready for sale.

    Futures are a powerful and all-but-REQUIRED part of making commercial food production viable. Think of them as "production insurance" - without them, all of the risks of producing food (shifts in price, weather, etc) accrue to the farmer.

    Commodities producers could no more afford to finance their operations without futures, than you could afford a mortgage without getting homeowner's insurance.

    You're actually highlighting my point, especially with homeowner's insurance. One of the reasons mortgages can be as high as they are now, I'd argue, is because homeowner's insurance exists (there are other reasons as well, such as treating a house as an investment instead of as a home). Otherwise nobody would be able to afford the current mortgages so they would have to drop. (Same type of thing with car and health insurance in my opinion.)

    I'm also not sure I understand what futures have to do with making an initial investment or deferring risk. Considering that crops have their own insurance anyway, I don't think I agree that futures are the risk management device you are claiming. A futures contract doesn't pay a farmer anything if the crop fails for instance.

  • Don't hate me Jesus (unregistered) in reply to Mith
    Mith:
    Lots of people sell programs or adaptations that haven't been written yet. Not everything is coded, then marketed and then sold.

    Too true. I worked on a project that was marketed, sold, and then coded.

    Well, that's not strictly true. "Coded" is being generous.

Leave a comment on “Special Delivery”

Log In or post as a guest

Replying to comment #:

« Return to Article