22 May 2007

What the &%#$! does RBOB stand for?

I currently work a day job, as do most writers I know. I also happen to work in a field that I had never envisioned myself getting anywhere near: commodities trading. The world of big business is not my world, and even after four (or is it five?) years at American National Trading Corp., it still isn't my world. I'm a historian/writer/artist by inclination, and the Allmighty Dollar is only important to me in terms of its ability to purchse books (and pay rent, but that's a necessary evil). However, the job pays well, I get treated fine, the drive is only fifteen minutes with no traffic, and I never have to take work home with me. My time away from work is my time. For a writer, it's a nice deal.

But the operation of the commodities world continually baffles me. And I actually have a Series 3 commodities license, passed the test and all! For example, recently the New York Mercantile Exchange ditched the old commodity of Unleaded Gasoline for a new commodity entitled Gasoline RBOB. The letters are always pronounced as a true acronym, "Our-Bob," which has become the workplace nickname for a guy in the office named Bob. (Yep, we're that creative.) But nobody seemed to know what the letters actually stood for. They didn't make any logical sense. Today I looked it up since a client asked about it, and here's what I learned RBOB means:

Reformulate Blendstock for Oxygenate Blending

Oh, pleeeeze. What desk jockey in NYMEX dreamed that up? I'm sure they thought they were being specific and this improved immensely over the word "Unleaded," but it's this sort of noodling about that makes big U.S. business incomprehensible to anyone who doesn't watch Bloomberg 24/7.

Before I looked the RBOB up, I conjured up some much more interesting possibilities for those four letters. Wouldn't Gasoline RBOB be far more thrilling if it stood for:
  • Rocking Back On the Beat (Dance instructions)
  • Randy Bastards Operating Buses (A bus drivers' union)
  • Robust? Bloated? Often Barfing? (Slogan for a new infomerical product)
  • Radically Bombastic Operas by Bach (An eletronica album)
  • 'R Babes Our Bosses? (A misogynistic organization, and the "R" is kind of cheating)
  • Rolling Basie on the Blues (A cool new Big Band number)
  • Republican Base Or Beelzebub? (A left-wing pamphlet)
  • Roasted Brie on Bread (Menu item)
  • Run, Big Orville Belches! (Simply good advice)

The commodities business needs to loosen up a bit, I think.