Pandemic leads COINS students to expand operations and educate each other and the general public about commodity markets

When student members of Virginia Tech’s Commodity Investing by Students, or COINS, group heard that spring break was going to be extended for a week and that classes would then move online, they quickly began to think of ways they could keep operating from a distance.
For some members, that distance was farther than others.

Colburn Hassman, a senior from Kilmarnock, Virginia, was vacationing in Sweden when he heard the news. But as someone who spent his entire sophomore year abroad, Hassman was prepared to finish out the semester in Stockholm, Sweden, where he now lives with friends he met as a sophomore studying abroad.

“Having Colburn in Sweden has allowed us to add an international time zone, which is cool for a trading and investment group because when we’re sleeping, Colburn might be up checking on the markets and thinking of strategies so he’ll send us messages on things we can work while he winds down his day and vice versa,” said Muralidhar. “This is really cool because this is what happens at trading and investment firms in the professional world – they’ve got people sitting in Europe, sitting in Asia, so that when markets close in one area, there are people awake in other areas who are ready to act.”

While the markets have been extremely volatile, COINS members have continued to show their interest by putting in extra time and effort to understand and analyze how societal, agricultural, and political systems are connected and influence commodity markets.

COINS is housed in the Virginia Tech Department of Agricultural and Applied Economics in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, through which Hassman is completing his bachelor’s degree this semester, and manages investments of up to $1 million for the Virginia Tech Foundation.

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