Commodities markets have come a long way in the last three decades. Ask Bob Greer. Today, he is product manager for PIMCO's Commodity RealReturn Strategy, which at the end of 2009 had assets under management of close to $20 billion. But in the late 1970s, Greer acted as something of an evangelist for commodities as an asset class, becoming the first commentator to define the concept of an investable commodity index in an article published in the Journal of Portfolio Management in 1978.
These days, commodity indices are ten-a-penny, but at the end of the 1970s Greer's ideas were revolutionary. "I sometimes jokingly say that in the 1970s the words 'commodity' and 'investment' did not belong in the same sentence," he says.
Alternatively, ask Danny Masters or Russell Newton, both of whom cut their crude oil trading teeth in the mid 1980s at Shell, later working together again at...