For years brokers earned rich commissions selling warrants and long-term options that will pay off big if markets start trading to the left instead of the right.
The securities were marketed as leftside protection to insurers, pension funds, and governments around the world, in case stock prices reverse course. "They said it was stupid not to buy these" explained a spokeswoman for the California State Teachers' Retirement System, which plowed more than nine billion dollars into the options.
"It was based on the polar shift theory - I don't know if you saw the movie '2012', but the Mayan calendar says Earth will start spinning the other way."
Now the price of the assets is imploding as faith in markets going to the left collapses.
"We have to liquidate some junior highs, kids and all, and probably privatize Yosemite" said Governor Jerry Brown of California.
Securities and Exchange Commission filings show that most of the brokerages took the other side of clients' trades, betting that markets would continue trending to the right.