Rodham had no experience in such financial instruments. Bill Clinton's salary as Arkansas Attorney General and then Governor of Arkansas was modest and Rodham was interested in building a financial cushion for the future (the ill-fated Whitewater Development Corporation would be another such effort from this time.) Starting in October 1978, when Bill Clinton was Attorney General and on the verge of being elected Governor, she was guided by James Blair, a friend, lawyer, outside counsel to Tyson Foods, Arkansas' largest employer, and, since 1977, a futures trader who was doing so well he encouraged friends and family to enter the commodity markets as well.
Rodham later wrote that she educated herself about the market and followed it closely, winning and losing money. By January 1979, she was up $26,000; but later, she would lose $16,000 in a single trade. At one point she owed in excess of $100,000 to Refco as part of covering losses, but no margin calls were made by Refco against her. Near the end of the trading, Blair correctly sold short and gave her a $40,000 gain in one afternoon.In July 1979, once she became pregnant with Chelsea Clinton, "I lost my nerve for gambling [and] walked away from the table $100,000 ahead."