The Croesus Chronicles
07.17.08, 8:53 AM ET
Wealth destruction took a day off Wednesday as illiquidity surfaced as a top issue at a major investment bank.
The market rallied in the wake of a lower oil price, Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke promised that Fannie Mae (nyse: FNM - news - people ) and Freddie Mac (nyse: FRE - news - people ) were solvent, and new rules began to lean against avaricious short-sellers of bank shares.
Undoubtedly, this spike in bank shares was due in large part to hedge funds, which began covering some of the massive short positions they've built up over the past 18 months. For example, billionaire George Soros--Croesus was told--has covered much of his shorts in financial stocks. Why chance another public policy move by regulators to shut off this automatic feeding trough?
Soros finally shorted oil at $137 a barrel and put on a long position in gold; he expects to see gold hold its ground even if oil continues to decline. In fact, the gold bug clique believes in a consistent 10-to-1 ratio for gold and oil. It holds that either gold will rise to 10 times a barrel of oil ($1,350 an ounce) or oil will fall to $96 a barrel--one-tenth the present market price of gold. Croesus was told Tuesday that statistics spanning many decades support, on average, this 10-to-1 ratio.