73Promises, promises
Thirty-ve, thirty-six, thirty-seven. Please Brenda, I was silently
begging, keep your jacket on. Jerry bared his teeth, keeping his
gaze xed on head of compliance. ‘Come on,’ he muttered, ‘it
must be eighty degrees in there.’
Forty seconds. I’d been holding my breath because of the tension.
My maximum exposure was £400, which was £20 multiplied by
twenty seconds. And after that, my upside was unlimited.
Forty-nine seconds in and disaster struck. No! Brenda picked up
a manila le and fanned herself. ‘Looks like you’ll be making a
visit to the cash point soon.’
‘Don’t be so sure, Jerry. In six – no, ve – seconds I’ll be in the
kill zone.’
‘Don’t think so, mate.’ And, immediately he’d nished, Brenda
suddenly stood up and struggled to slip her green jacket from her
bulky shoulders.
‘Stop the clock!’ Jerry shouted out. ‘I make that four seconds. You
owe me eighty quid. Cash only, I’m afraid.’
But I’d stopped listening. A woman with long black hair elegantly
waved her manicured hands in front of her beautiful face. The
rst time I saw Perrine’s face was while I was losing money.
Sad to say, this was to prove an omen.
The time value of money
Perrine had been brought up in Paris, Madrid and Milan. She’d
studied art history in Turin and philosophy at Columbia. From a
purely rational point of view, it wasn’t entirely clear what Perrine
brought to Saiwai in terms of hard business skills. But I – like 90
per cent of Saiwai’s male staff – had fallen head over heels in love.
I smiled every time she mangled English, which was her third
or fourth language. Jerry was playing devil’s avocado with the
market. Old-time risk-averse investors were dinosaurs voting for
Welcome to the jungle74
Jerry – who never missed a trick – teased me mercilessly. But his
cruellest trick was to assign me to be Perrine’s mentor. I blushed
at the very thought of her and stammered in her presence. I
bought a book called The Time Value of Money Made Easy and
prepared our rst lesson.
‘This topic is much easier than you think.’ I imagined that would
be a good opening: it showed I was condent and it was designed
to relax Perrine.
‘No it isn’t,’ she said. You know you’ve got it bad when you nd
a girl’s sulking attractive.
‘All you need to do is imagine you lend €10 to a friend for a year.’
I thought Euros would make me seem more Continental in her
eyes. The currency hadn’t even been invented at this stage so I
thought I’d also look pretty cutting-edge. ‘Why does your friend
need to pay back more than he borrowed?’
‘What’s my friend called?’
‘Eh?’ The question threw me. ‘Anything you like.’
‘Good. I will call him Armin.’
It sounds stupid but I was jealous of this imaginary Armin. In
fact, it sounds really pathetic, doesn’t it?
The promise of money is not worth the same as money today
I went on. ‘There are three reasons why Armin will need to pay
you back more.’
1. Inflation
This erodes the value of money. Suppose ination is very low at
2 per cent. If Armin gives you €10 after a year, you’ll really only
receive €9.80. What’s happened to the 20c? Ination has bitten
off a chunk.
Ination erodes the value of savings and hyper-ination
can destroy a country’s economy. In 2008 ination reached

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