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Sunday, 3 November 2013

Playing the money markets

So that's it, BVI yacht sales have received our money for the final settlement of our purchase of Picaroon.
One to four days was what the banks website said and we expected it to take at least four, but no, we hit the send button on Wednesday and on Thursday we had an email saying that they had received our payment in full.

Have you ever sent a shed load of cash across currency zones, it's not without its heart stopping moments. Our money is held in a UK bank account and of course is in sterling, good old fashioned pounds to us and we had to pay the sellers in Dollars.

Now all this finance stuff is way beyond my brain but luckily Mrs W is a bit of a whiz at numbers. She somehow seems to understand stuff like spreadsheets, for instance, which baffle me beyond words, so I leave all this to her, which is how we ended up with an account with World First Bank. Now as far as I can understand they are in the business of moving money around the globe in unimaginable amounts everyday. At the top of their website it tots up the money it has moved about that day. The day we were transferring our money the ticker at the head of the page read something like £15,769,566,201,578,330.164. or some ridiculous  figure that was a bit like how far it is in light years to get to the edge of the known universe.

Somewhere lost in this enormous number is our meager contribution, which is a might disappointing as it's our life savings, which will hardly cause a ripple on the global transactions of the day which I read somewhere amounts to about three trillion dollars a day. Luckily this doesn't have to be counted or carried about by men with big sacks and vans with those blacked out slits for windows, no it's all done by computers talking to other computers, linked to other computers across the globe by fibre optic cables. Satellites whizzing above the planet about a couple of hundred miles up travelling at upwards of 20,000 miles an hour, spewing out data in a mind bogglingly endless race towards the end of the days trading on the money markets.

So here we are after Mrs W has cracked the esoteric codes, checked and rechecked the SWIFT code settings, rechecked and rechecked the three accounts that our funds have to be passed to. First our money will fly off to Wells fargo in New York where it is put on a stage coach, pulled by six white horses and at breakneck speed they get it to a bloke somewhere in a bank called First Caribbean, which I suppose is an ex cruise liner floating somewhere off the Cayman Islands, I suppose they catch a ferry from Miami to do that. Then he gets on a helecopter and takes our sack to Tortola in the BVI. Once they've counted it in the BVI bank the manager will telegraph our broker to say that our payment for that boat Picaroon has finally arrived

Maybe not, not in the 21st century.

The World First website shows us in Real Time what the going rate is for the exchange of one pound for the equivalent in Dollars. This particular day we'll get 1.6075 dollars for a pound, no wait, less than a second has gone by and we can now get 1.6077. A second later and it's 1.5987, and then 1.5998. Wizz wizz wizz go the numbers, up, up, down down all happening at the speed of light, or in this case electricity, I suppose to be wholly accurate. Then its had a sudden slide and it looks as the British  economy is pants but then you realise that the graph is split into 1000ths and that that big slide represents just less than half a cent.

Now all this matters because our funds are locked into the starting stalls of the money market race day. Our mouse hovers over the continue button. Once we click that button we get the exchange rate at that particular nanosecond. It could be the difference of £200 if we click at the wrong moment, so this is serious! After about a half hour of this mesmerising dance of numbers we give up on the idea that the rate will make so little difference in the end and we quit the game and press continue.

Thank you for choosing world First, is the next page displayed. Your money has now been sent to our Russian Mafia boss in Monte Carlo who will try to double it before sending off what remains to the recipient named below.


Somehow miraculously Karen at BVI emails the next day to say they've received our final payment and they are preparing the final paperwork which will be shipped next week by Fed Ex. A man in a van will call at our apartment in the Dominican Republic with the ownership papers for our yacht.

Funny old world.