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Commodities Trader 'Somewhat Confident' We've Seen The Worst Of Market Fall

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

So that's China's economy and its effect on commodities like Brazilian iron. And, Ari, I understand you actually spoke to a commodities trader here in the U.S.

ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:

I did. His name is Jack Scoville. He's in Chicago, and he trades agricultural products like soybeans and so on. He's with a firm called Price Futures Group. And we wanted to get a feel for the tumult of this chaotic day in real time. So I checked in with him three times, starting this morning when I asked whether he woke up with his heart in his throat.

JACK SCOVILLE: When I woke up this morning, the markets were kind of hanging in there. And last night, when I went to bed, the stock market futures were showing a hundred lower, but nothing like the panic that you saw in the first spot of the day today. So I actually felt pretty good until I came into work today. I - I think they kind of started taking it apart when I got on the train or something to come into town because I didn't see any of this till I got downtown.

SHAPIRO: You sound pretty levelheaded about this whole thing.

SCOVILLE: Well, you know, you have to be able to tell your customers what's going on and do it in a reasonable way. And if you're in a full panic, then you're not going to give your clients the best advice.

SHAPIRO: We're going to be checking in with you a couple times over the course of the day. Describe where the market stands right now around midday.

SCOVILLE: Well, right now we're about 208 points lower in the Dow. So, you know, given the fact that it was, like, 1,100 points lower when we started out this morning, that's really an incredible recovery. Soybeans, which had been 30 cents lower at the start of the - first spot in the morning, anyway - now just 11 or 12 cents lower. Wheat market also down about 10, 12 cents earlier in the day, now up a couple cents as well. So it's been really quite a remarkable recovery for the first part of the morning.

SHAPIRO: Jack Scoville, get back to your day. We'll check back in with you in a little while.

SCOVILLE: OK, well, thank you.

(SOUNDBITE OF PHONE RINGING)

SCOVILLE: Hello, Price Group.

SHAPIRO: Hey, Jack, it's Ari.

SCOVILLE: Hi, how are you?

SHAPIRO: All right. How are you doing is the important question. It's a little after 3:00 p.m. Eastern Time. How's your day been going?

SCOVILLE: Well, it's been pretty crazy to tell you the truth. Watching the markets going up and down while the stock market goes up and down has really made - made for a very wild start to the week, that's for sure.

SHAPIRO: I'm sure you've been having conversations with some of your customers today. What do you hear from farmers - people who grow wheat or people whose lives depend on commodities prices?

SCOVILLE: Well, actually, a lot of them have become buyers. The prices have gotten very cheap, so what you're seeing is the more brave of the bunch coming in and actually buying some corn or some soybeans to cover some previously made cash sales, hoping the market will appreciate to the upside.

SHAPIRO: We're going to check in with you one more time after the markets close. How confident are you that, at that point, you'll be able to say on the whole, despite the drama, this was a good day?

SCOVILLE: Well, I'm kind of almost ready to say that now. Let's see how the Dow actually closes out. It's been up and down, really, over the course of the day, had about a thousand-point swing from the low to the high. And we'll see exactly where we close this thing. And once we have that in, we'll know whether we're - or we'll at least have an idea of whether we're safe or not.

SHAPIRO: All right, Jack Scoville, we'll talk to you soon.

SCOVILLE: I hope so. Thank you.

(SOUNDBITE OF PHONE RINGING)

SCOVILLE: Price Group.

SHAPIRO: Jack, how are you?

SCOVILLE: Great. How are you?

SHAPIRO: OK. The New York Stock Exchange has closed. It is down 3-and-a-half percent. So now that you know how the day ended, how are you feeling?

SCOVILLE: I'm feeling relieved that the day ended. But I'm feeling somewhat confident that we've seen the worst of this thing and we'll start to stabilize as we move forward.

SHAPIRO: Jack, you've been doing this for 30 years or so. How many days have you had that were this chaotic and dramatic?

SCOVILLE: Oh, well, you can count them on one hand, really. These are days that you kind of tend to remember for the rest of your life, and they give you stories to tell your kids and grandkids later on. So it's really been just an incredibly dramatic three days through here.

SHAPIRO: That's Jack Scoville, who's a commodities trader with the Chicago firm Price Futures Group. Jack, thanks for sharing your day with us.

SCOVILLE: Well, thank you. I hope we can do it again. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.


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