Leah McGrath Goodman, 17 September 2020
Robert Mish is not an oil trader. He’s a numismatist — an expert in rare coins, precious metals, and currencies. Growing up in Brooklyn, he began by collecting stamps and playing cards at the age of four. From there, he moved on to coins and, eventually, valuable antiquities, heading out to California to start his own business in Menlo Park, Mish International Monetary. He traveled the world attending coin shows and became an authority on commodities such as gold, silver, platinum, and palladium, writing and contributing to a number of books.
This year, two months after his 73rd birthday, Mish found himself trading U.S. crude oil futures at perhaps their most inopportune moment: On April 20, the price of oil fell to zero — and kept falling. Mish, an expert in commodities, was holding ten oil contracts as the market went over the edge.
After 50 years of inspecting currencies and stores of value from the Americas to Europe to Asia, Mish can also claim another expertise: He is an expert in counterfeit detection. That day, as he watched his oil trades go south, he picked up the phone and called one of the best market-manipulation lawyers in the country.