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Episode 581: Free Money

Bob Peterson claims to have found the thing people have sought for thousands of years — an investment guaranteed to double in value. He keeps it in this storage locker.
Bob Peterson
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Bob Peterson

Each summer, as college students prepare to leave campus, they get rid of their textbooks, selling them for cheap. And Bob Peterson and Kenny Jacobson are waiting to buy them, and resell them when school is back in session and demand is high. Their scheme sounds simple, and it is. They've noticed a difference in price, and they're turning it into a quick profit.

Arbitrage is a risk-free way to buy low and sell high. Wall Street is full of people with sophisticated computer algorithms searching for arbitrage opportunities everyday. But a good arbitrage is hard to find. It's also fleeting: As soon as you start making money, prices tend to correct, and the opportunity vanishes.

Today on the show, we meet two guys who may have found a golden arbitrage opportunity, and we visit the storage locker in Utah where they keep it.

Music: "That is Funked," and "Low Slung." Find us: Twitter/ Facebook.

Subscribe to our show on Apple Podcasts, PocketCasts and NPR One.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

David Kestenbaum is a correspondent for NPR, covering science, energy issues and, most recently, the global economy for NPR's multimedia project Planet Money. David has been a science correspondent for NPR since 1999. He came to journalism the usual way — by getting a Ph.D. in physics first.
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