The ending of “An armchair for two”, explained – Il Post

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It will be broadcast tonight on Italia 1 at 21:35 Armchair for two, a 1983 film directed by John Landis and starring Eddie Murphy and Dan Aykroyd. Although it is not really a Christmas film (there are many others that are decidedly more thematic), in Italy it is often associated with this festive season, since since 1997 it has been broadcast every year on Italia 1 on the evening of Christmas Eve: it has now become a tradition and always scores a good rating. In 2022, the film registered one on Italia 1 share higher than Rai 1 in the same time period.

Story about Armchair for two takes place in Philadelphia, United States during Christmas. Aykroyd plays Louis Winthorpe, a wealthy stockbroker who is shallow and rather unpleasant. Murphy is again Billy Valentine, a homeless man who has nothing but is smart and very nice.

Winthorpe works for a financial company duke and duke, led by two brothers who one day decide to make a bizarre bet: they want to swap the roles of Winthorpe and Valentine in order to understand whether the propensity for crime is a genetic factor or whether it depends on the social context in which a person finds himself. They offer a token price of one dollar.

The two duke brothers then organize a plan to arrest Winthorpe and offer their position to Valentine, who knows nothing about finance. However, Valentine learns quickly and becomes an excellent investor, while Winthorpe proves unable to adapt to the change that destroyed the life he was used to, is desperate and ends up crashing the company’s Christmas party, making a terrible impression.

At that point, the outcome of the bet is clear, and the Dukes agree that crime is caused by social context and has nothing to do with genetics. However, Valentine sees them exchanging the dollar they gave as a prize and understands everything: he therefore decides to team up with Winthorpe to get revenge. At this point, the story gets a little more complicated, especially if you don’t know the mechanisms of finance and especially the so-called futures.

THE futures these are specific types of contracts that are very widespread in the financial sector, especially for the purchase and sale of raw materials (so-called commodities, in English), such as minerals or food products, but also energy sources such as natural gas, oil and so on. Basically i futures they are contracts that allow you to sell or buy something not immediately, but at some point in the future, which could be next month, next quarter, or even several years from today. Usually, the further the date of the contract is from the present, the more it enters the realm of financial speculation: nobody really buys something today because they are interested in having it in, say, 2027 or 2028.

Since the actual exchange of goods will take place in the future, the seller does not necessarily own the goods he has agreed to sell at the time of the contract, but bets that between now and the agreed time when the price drops, he will be able to buy at a bargain price and sell it at a higher price than it is now set at a profit. On the contrary, the buyer is betting that the price of the good will rise, so he buys it now at what he considers to be a good price, and then he can possibly sell it again at the new market price, making a profit.

in Armchair for twoWinthorpe and Valentine use this mechanism. The two manage to get a sneak peek report on the trend in the orange market and find that the harvest went very well that year. However, they create a fake report saying that the harvest has gone badly and deliver it to the Duke brothers, who immediately predict that the price of oranges will rise in the future: it is the law of supply and demand that if a commodity is very scarce, its value will increase increases.

The Dukes therefore decided to buy a large quantity of oranges at once, thinking of taking advantage of the current prices before they began to rise. Their example is followed by other investors who really drove the price up. Instead, Winthorpe and Valentine begin to establish gods futures as sellers: that is, they undertake to sell oranges in the future at a price that at that time other investors consider very favorable because they believe that the harvest will be bad.

Shortly afterwards, however, the official results of the report are released and everyone discovers that the orange harvest did in fact go well. The investors, including the Dukes, realize that they have bought a huge amount of oranges at an unreasonable price and start selling them at the necessarily low price. At that point, Valentine and Winthorpe become buyers and buy the oranges at a lower price than they had agreed to sell for shortly before. Basically, they made money: first they sold at a very high price and then they bought at a very low price. However, the dukes squandered their wealth by buying at a price significantly higher than the actual price.

Winthorpe and Valentine carried out stock market operations using confidential information that had not yet become public: a practice known as insider trading, which is illegal today. Specifically, what happens in the film, running speculative operations based on confidential government sources, was not illegal in the 1980s: it was made illegal in 2010 by a law known as the “Eddie Murphy Rule”.

Even the final scene of the film, the one in which we see chaotic trading on the stock market, would be completely different today. You will see a lot in the movie merchants, that is, stock traders, gathered in a crowded room, shouted, telephoned, and made direct deals among themselves, orally or by means of simple paper tickets, printed or handwritten. Today, however, all exchanges take place automatically, through special digital platforms.

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