In a time when precious metals were king, a college student set foot on the floor of the Commodity Exchange in New York, otherwise known as COMEX, and never looked back. The year was 1979 and the infant metal futures were primed for a rally that would take people and the precious metals sector to levels never seen before.
When Dave Stone walked onto the floor of the New York exchange, he thrived on being "in the ring" with brokers and traders and feeling like the business of the world was being transacted in front of him.
"It was very exciting," Stone says. "I always loved the challenge of figuring out patterns and puzzles, and when I was starting to predict market movement early in my career, it was very satisfying and eventually rewarding."
Stone began as a summer clerk at Easton & Co. and quickly advanced to head gold clerk at a time when gold ruled and companies could take a college student from a clerk to a broker just as fast as the markets themselves moved.
The opportunistic market environment catapulted Stone from Easton into his own business trading solely for himself.
But the euphoria that saw $873 an ounce gold in 1980 didn’t last forever. After a brief run-up in 1987, punctuated by the stock market crash in October of that year, the metals markets drifted into a narrow range for most of the 1990s.
"I stood in the silver pit every day waiting for that one volatile day a month where I could actually make expenses. Sometimes it didn’t even come," Stone says, adding that silver would often trade in a 3¢ range for an entire day. In today’s trading environment, silver futures can swing as much as $1 to $2 in a session.
But as the trading environment evolved, Stone adjusted. He soon moved into natural gas and crude oil while waiting out the downtime in metals.
Just as the early 1980s ushered in a new time for gold, the early to mid-2000s led to more changes as commodity markets moved toward electronic trading. "I had to succumb to the computer. [The exchange] had warned us about it in the early 1990s. We were lucky that it went as long as it did," Stone says.