Capitalising on a Time Loop

I recently just watched "The Edge of Tomorrow (2014)" starring Tom Cruise.

Its major plot device of a timeloop really got me thinking for a story/plotline. Say we have good old average Joe. He one day gets this magical ability to continuously die and resurrect back to a point a in time before hand (~1 day usually, but this can be twisted a little bit but no going back to the GFC or something very far down the road). He also retains all information of the day he just lived and all previous things, except that the whole world is reset back to then.

So, Joe being a devious, poor person, wants to make the most money possible. By any means, because he really wants it. It took me a while to think of potential ways but I surprisingly found it hard to find a very short-term investment that would spike hugely in price. He could perfect any sale, by simply dying and trying again over and over, but what would he sell and would he be able to posses something that expensive? He has a moderate amount of money (say \$1,000,000 AUD, or \$767,800 USD immediately available), but he can borrow more.

NOTE : THE LOTTERY IS NOT ALLOWED - I thought of this idea and I didn't like it due to it being too simple/straightforward and it doesn't really make for a very exciting plot in my opinion.

• If this 'ability' is continuous, wouldn't he simply die, resurrect, die, resurrect, etc. until he arrived at, and eventually passed, the Big Bang? – Frostfyre Feb 2 '17 at 12:50

You have already ruled out the lottery, though it is the real first answer. I agree it is probably a more common plot for this kind of thing, but there's a reason for that - it's what everyone would do. The current PowerBall lottery payout in the USA is more than 200,000,000 right now, and for $2 it could be Joe's. Picturing another option seems difficult in comparison, but I suppose we can try something. Option B - Gambling I think this is a fun area for a plot, because it has so many major flaws that your Average Joe wouldn't be thinking about. If you know the outcome, gambling in a casino is a great way to multiply money quickly, which you could then use to fund other ventures. There are some major complications though. Such as: • Let's say the character remembers the first 5 places a roulette wheel will land on after 11am - 12, 17, 8, 24, 1. They come up to the table with a thousand dollars in chips and put them all on #12 confidently. But the number 15 comes up instead. Why? Because the people monitoring the table took an extra few seconds to make sure the time traveler's pile was properly set up, affecting the ball spin. • Games like Craps would similarly be affected. As would card games, assuming that the position "Joe" takes would otherwise have been vacant (dealing cards out faster). • Slot machines are based on random variables, and just because a machine payed out when a player pulled the lever at 12:01:12pm does not mean it would if Joe did (because the first player pulled eat at 12:01:12.001 and Joe pulled it at 12:01:12.052, and microsecond time is probably used as a randomization component). • When Joe finally did find a game that worked for a time traveller, the Casino would assume the game is rigged and shut it down pretty quickly. • Oh, and once Joe has been kicked out of another casino after a streak of luck that defies odds, he would probably be blacklisted from all other casinos in the area and be invited to the police station for a chat. He wouldn't ultimately be charged with anything, but still questioned. • Even things like horse racing - where Joe wouldn't seem to be able to affect the outcome - aren't immune. Once a jockey hears that someone has dropped a HUGE pile of money on the outcome of their race (and they would though word of mouth) they may become nervous and end up losing their concentration and the race. Option C - Take it Slow After the fiasco with "get rich quick" schemes (what was described above and many others), "Joe" realizes something - he has all the time in the world. Once you can restart days and you can't seem to die, time itself takes on a very different meaning. You don't really need a trillion dollars now - all you need is what you can spend, and you have all the time in the world to get more. So "Joe" can take the bit of money he has built up through the get-rich-quick schemes and put it into the stock market only when something big happens. It won't be every day, but it doesn't need to be. Even if Joe invests only 4-5 times in a year, he can still comfortably make more than he can spend. All without having to go back in time repeatedly for a bunch of smaller gains. An agency similar to the SEC would undoubtedly investigate "Joe" and he would be audited yearly, but provided that he continues not to hobnob with company executives he should be fine. To keep things really clean he could continue to live in Australia and only invest in companies that keep all of their operations in England, France, the United States, or Canada. Taking out subscriptions to local papers and magazines in all those countries (which he would, of course, discard unread) would also help spread the idea that he is just plain smarter about the stock market than everyone else. It seems like he doesn't really need money at all. He simply goes to the bank (or a loan shark if needed) spends the money on whatever luxuries he wanted to try and then resets time to before the loan after having his fun. Beyond that look for "big events" with unexpected outcomes. For example a minor sports team winning, or a horse race with a long-odds winner, or even things like political events where the predictions are wrong. He can then go bet on those and rapidly increase his starting stake - odds of ten to one are easily possible so doing this two or three times in one day would let you increase 100$ to 10 thousand dollars in just one or two days.

Once you get a larger starting capital then move to the stock markets. Look for any large shifts and then go back in time and either short or long the relevant stock just before the shift. Doing that would then let you steadily increase your cash until you were able to switch to more conventional investments and let the money just increase by itself.

Note that a string of such investments would draw attention, allegations of insider trading, etc. You'd want to remain completely clear from any contact with people from companies you are investing in to help protect you from that.

...skipping over the obvious Groundhog Day Reference... try to imagine spending a million dollars in a day in a way that satisfies you deeply... there are a limitless number of ways to spend it - investment is pointless, as tomorrow purchase and cash are back where they started. If you want to "Capitalize", point that work ( thank you Bill Murray) to self-improvement... i.e., every day, take walk-in foreign language classes, learn cooking from world class chefs , take cash guitar lessons from Eddie Van Halen...etc make "Average Joe" much more than average.

The stock market

If the world is completely reset, any money he gained since that time should go back to wherever it came from, so unfortunately he can't exploit time loop logic to gain infinite money easily. But if he retains information, then he could simply check the tickers when he wakes up and when he goes to sleep, then go back a day and invest appropriately.

The safe thing to do seems to be to sell at the end of the day, but he can safely carry this trend overnight, too, by working on a 23 hour cycle. If he checks the tickers 23 hours after the last time he went to the past from, and discovers he should have sold then, he can simply go back 24 hours and will have time to save.

This actually has a small advantage over the lottery in that it can be done more times without gathering suspicion. But of course you only need to win a lottery once. (I did say small advantage.)

Risk management

Say, Deepwater Horizon oil spill or similar dreadful accident does occur. The costs of it are billions. Thus the corporations spend a lot to not have such accidents. But with your Average Joe they can remove some of their expensive safety procedures and increase the operational risk significantly above optimal. Savings would be probably some percents. Scale that to GDP and your Average Joe has an effect of hundreds of billions. Even if your Average Joe only takes few percentages, he would soon end up as the richest person in the world.

• This is an interesting thought, but can you flesh it out a bit more? For example, if an average guy off the street came in and told an oil companies receptionist that he had knowledge that within the next 20 hours a refinery would explode, he would be either laughed out or arrested (probably the latter). If his employers knew he had this power though, how would they ever be SURE he was really stopping accidents? – GrinningX Feb 2 '17 at 16:02
• It would be much easier just to short their stocks the day of the spill. – Jnani Jenny Hale Feb 3 '17 at 5:10
• @GrinningX For a first time it is unbelievable, but you can do it once and give so detailed report about what is going to happen, that they will be extremely interested, although they could suspect that he caused it, but with multiple times they will simply accept it as a truth. – user3644640 Feb 3 '17 at 8:14
• @Jnani Jelly Hale: Selling pure (no account) short actually requires nowadays you to be a bank or similar institution. Also the idea is to give a new answer to simple do stocks. In risk management the impact of Average Joe with a time machine is actually creating value instead of exploiting uncertainty. – user3644640 Feb 3 '17 at 8:14
• @user3644640 - I am not sure why a company would believe that he was not causing accidents after he predicted more of them, and offered to help them stop for money. That's a criminal racket today - you pay the gang "protection" money or something bad happens to you or your business (which they cause). But if you keep paying up, no accidents! Besides which, how many large environmental disasters does any given large oil company have in 10 years? I want to go with "fewer than 1". – GrinningX Feb 3 '17 at 13:23

If you have a million dollars and a margin account, you can short sell securities. Look at what stocks are going to lose value during the day and short those. Wait until the price falls and then cover the sale. Pick a different security and short that. Because there are usually more stocks experiencing a large decrease in price in a day than a large increase, this gives more profit potential. Also because shorting means selling. Shorting increases your stake immediately with the risk of a large loss later. The only question is how much they'll let you sell.

With naked shorts, you don't even need the stock to lose money for the day. You just need it to lose money from when you sell to when you buy. Because you're looping, you can find better and better short combinations as you go. There is some chaos worry. Your investments could conceivably change the stock's trajectory. But you can improve the loop. So keep looping until things stabilize the way that you want.

Short sales work with your twenty-four hour window better than long purchases. They magnify small, quick changes where long positions take more time to realize.