According to a variety of press reports, fortysomething London-based copper trader Liu Qibing has mysteriously disappeared, after allegedly gambling $800m in the last few months that the price of copper would fall. Naturally, the cooper price per tonne was at a record high on Monday. The price has risen some 30% this year.
Qibing was a cooper dealer with the Chinese State Reserve Bureau (SRB), although ominously the SRB earlier this week denied any knowledge of him. A spokesperson said that 'I've never heard of this person. Neither have I heard about the SRB selling short in London. I'm not clear if he is our staff. The SRB has no traders'. The smart money says that Qibing has been sent back to China and told to keep a low profile.
UBS base metals analyst Robin Bhar is quoted in the press, saying that 'I have met him. He is not fictitious....It appears the SRB is now disowning a trader that I think had been very successful and had made a lot of money'.
Even if true, it could have been worse. In 1996 Sumitomo copper trader Yasuo Hamanaka cost his firm $2.6bn because of his trading in the copper market over a period of several years.