Futures versus options - at work and in marriage

Finance-iconSandra Mills can't decide if marriage is a financial transaction or a romantic partnership.

Perhaps I've been hanging out with accountants for too long but have you ever noticed how neatly financial jargon lends itself to a descriptive jaunt about the nature of marriage and adultery?

Marriage is meant to be a true and fair, long term prospect, where a couple agree to share futures together. It is entered into with goodwill and both parties agree to have a fixed interest only in each other. With this compliance in place, the wedding ceremony legitimises cum rights between the two as an ethical investment. At this point the white knight usually begins to whisper numbers about setting up a mutual fund, with equal access schemes, so that when it comes to paying for joint living expenses the couple have exchangeable notes. Marriage is a deed of trust with a firm 'no solicitation' clause attached. It is not designed to be an adjustable bond.

However, the honeymoon is not a reliable indicator of future performance. Sadly it is often followed by a cooling off period and can deteriorate into a no talk scenario. Gradually the return on investment decreases, supply no longer meets demand and the miserable law of diminishing returns sets in. The exchange rate shifts subtly from variable to fixed. One might even be left with all-or-none offerings.

Adding to these woes is that fact that both parties are probably yielding to maturity with an unrealised gain of body mass. As they are grossing up, they simultaneously lose face value. Teeth tend to decay and need capped options or, if one is very unlucky, they fall out altogether and one is left with perpetual debentures, which one has to remove at night and place in a glass of Steradent next to one's bed. Furthermore, areas of endowment warrant concern. Twin peaks tend to lose their uplift factor and a man's fungible commodity may develop the dreaded dead cat bounce.

Almost imperceptibly a married asset morphs into a current liability. And so it is that many find themselves, despite due diligence, open to unsolicited, unconditional offers and susceptible to friendly takeovers. Faced with this conflict of interest, they develop a contrarian approach to marriage and may succumb to a spot of insider trading.

Once one of you has lost your general reserve and started gambling futures by sliding down the slippery slope of diversification, there are choices as to the types of company you can keep. Initial public offerings may include friendly societies where glamour stocks, junk bonds and misleading figures are available for a quick pump and dump. But this is a false market with no intrinsic value. In such places, common stock are only available on a buy and hold basis and your covered interest is there purely to relieve you of your unsecured notes before moving on to other visitor trade.

Of course, if you are not afraid of a cost blowout, you can hive off some funds and move upmarket by trying out the ultrashort bond top performers known as escorts. Here the call rate is exorbitant but the talent pool often includes exotic foreign depository interests or even some American-style options. Such people are working capital cities all over the world.

In this modern day and age, many adulterers prefer the free option and seek out their former love interest on Facebook. The old flames exchange carefully edited, concise reports before adding contact details to their record keeping BlackBerry smartphones. Unlike the old school "little black book", the BlackBerry has the advantage of a controlled entity - the password. In most cases the ex's phone number sits there merely as a contingency reserve but sometimes contact results in an extraordinary general meeting. This can either end in a feeling of unrealised loss or give a therapeutic sense of relief that moving on was the correct decision after all.

I Bear Stearn warning before you risk your reputation and dive from the secure future of marriage into the volatile world of the affair. You just might catch something really nasty.

You could, for example, develop a dreadful case of greenback from which there seems to be no recovery at the moment.

Or you might develop a sore throat and governments are currently issuing warnings on packages of honey and Lehman throat lozenges that they offer no relief and may indeed lead to a total collapse of your system.

Worst of all, you might be infected with an incurable disease such as Enronitis in your   euro- genous zones and heaven knows that AIDS to this kind of predicament are not going to be handed out for much longer.

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