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In DS9 Season 4 Episode "Body Parts", Quark believes he's going to die, and is preoccupied with settling his debts. That means he has more debt than liquid assets. However - we know Ferengi, and Quark in particular, collect Latinum, so that a lot / most of Quark's assets are in money form. Moreover, even if his assets were non-liquid, there is a future's exchange, and the possibility of a sale, even at a loss - which Quark does not seem to consider to be relevant.

So, is Quark really supposed to have a negative asset balance at that time?

  • 1
    I'm pretty sure he wants to leave assets for his family. Forcing the sale of his major asset (the bar) would mean that they have significantly less – Valorum May 22 at 9:41
  • 2
    I really like how having Latinum means you have liquid assets. – Angew is no longer proud of SO May 23 at 8:52
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In short: Yes.

Quark had a major setback in the past which left him broke

QUARK: Listen, son. When I was a young man, no older than you, I had an apprentice position with the District Sub-Nagus. I licked his boots like you couldn't believe. He loved me. I was his golden boy. I was on the high road to the top of the Ferengi business world, and then it all fell apart.
ARJIN: How?
QUARK: Rule of Acquisition one twelve. Never have sex with the boss's sister. I was fired, broke. It was quite a setback to my ambitions.
ARJIN: How'd you recover?
QUARK: Never did. Look at me. Tending bar out here in Wormhole Junction while the big boys fly past me at warp speed. You only get one shot at the latinum stairway. If you miss it, you miss it. Welcome to the club, son.

(DS9: Playing God)

Quark runs his business in a way that does not always bring him a maximum of profit

This is one of the key accusations made by Brunt in the episode in question - that Quark does not all he can to maximize his profit:

QUARK: Why? What have I ever done to you?
BRUNT: Done to me? And you call your brother an idiot? Nothing you've ever done to me has been more than a minor inconvenience. No. Protecting your mother from an FCA audit, and secretly settling with your striking employees were nothing more than symptoms of a vile and insidious weakness. A weakness that makes me loath you, not for what you've done but for who you are, what you are.
QUARK: A bartender?
BRUNT: A philanthropist.
QUARK: I am not!
BRUNT: You give your customers credit at the bar. You only take a thirty percent kickback from your employees' tips, and you sold food and medicine to Bajoran refugees at cost!

(DS9: Body Parts)

Similarily, he did not take an opportunity that really would have extended his profit. He loaned his cousin Gaila latinum, and in return, he was promised a shuttle. Gaila invested in weapons and advised Quark to do the same - he didn't, and while Gaila earned enough to buy himself a moon, Quark was less fortunate:

QUARK: I should've listened to my cousin Gaila. He said to me, Quark, I've got one word for you. Weapons. No one ever went broke selling weapons. But did I take his advice? No. And why not? Because I'm a people person. I like interacting with my customers. Like you and I are doing right now. Talking to each other, getting to know one another
GARAK: I can see the attraction for you.
QUARK: But when you're dealing in weapons, buyers aren't interested in casual conversation. They just want their merchandise, no questions asked. It's so impersonal.
GARAK: Your charms would be wasted.
QUARK: Exactly. So now Gaila owns his own moon, and I'm staring into the abyss. And the worst part is, my only hope for salvation is the Federation.

(DS9: The Way of the Warrior)

This incident really bugs him, he even tells Odo about it:

QUARK: No. He warned me never to leave home. He said there were plenty of business opportunities right outside my door. But no, I had to follow the seventy fifth Rule of Acquisition. Home is where the heart is but the stars are made of latinum. A lifetime of scheming and plotting, wheeling and dealing, and what has it got me? One measly little bar. My uncle Frin owns thirty and my cousin Gaila...
ODO: I know. He owns a moon.

(DS9: Civil Defense)

There are occasions where he actually has no liquid assets

This is referenced in the quote above, and it's a major plot point in DS9: "Bar Association" :

QUARK: I have an announcement to make. I've just been going over today's receipts and it's not good. The only thing this Bajoran Cleansing Ritual has cleansed is my profit margin. So, starting tomorrow, everyone's salary gets cut by a third.
ROM: No, no, it's not fair. I'll talk to him.
LEETA: It's ridiculous.
QUARK: It was either that or fire half the staff. Don't bother thanking me.
LEETA: I can't afford a pay cut.
QUARK: It's either a pay cut or a layoff. You decide. All right everyone, get back to work. I want this place cleaned up and the lights off in ten minutes.

(DS9: Bar Association)

(It's up to you whether or not you believe him, in my opinion the plot would make a lot less sense if Quark would actually have the money and therefore the opportunity to end the strike)

Other Ferengi think that he is not very successful

Other than Brunt, we see other Ferengi calling him "lobeless" (as in, not having the lobes for Business)

ZEK: No, my mind's made up. I've already chosen my successor. A leader whose vision, imagination, and avarice will oversee Ferengi ventures in the Gamma Quadrant. The new Grand Nagus. Quark!
(General disbelief and consternation)
GRAL: He's a lobeless amateur!
KRAX: Father, have you lost your mind?
NAVA: I won't stand for this!
(The business men storm out, overturning chairs)

(DS9: The Nagus)

| improve this answer | |
  • 3
    1. Quark's rhetoric in "Bar Association" is typical employer hard-ball'ing when faced with a unionization drive (I should know, I've experienced this both myself and helping others). 2. Not squeezing every possible bit of profit from the bar doesn't mean it isn't very profitable. Remember - that bar pays no rent and no utilities - and the employment costs are low both before the strike and after it (as Quark decides how to set the new employment conditions himself essentially). 3. "Broke" and "in debt" are two different things. Also, that was in the early 2350s... – einpoklum May 22 at 11:57
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    ... and 10 years later, it was Quark who loaned Gaila the Latinum to start his weapons venture. – einpoklum May 22 at 11:58
  • 1
    It's very much feast and famine with Quark. He has big scores that seem to fund him and his family through their various rough patches. Additionally he seems to have money tied up in various ventures and stock that he's constantly trying to offload – Valorum May 22 at 12:01
  • 1
    I am a bit confused, @einpoklum . Yes, you can interpret Quark's rethoric that way, yes, he could secretly have been profitable, yes, you could assume that "broke" does not mean "needs to take on debts to open a bar", or assume that the fact that he loaned the equivalent of a shuttle to Gaila means that he was not in debt at that point - I wonder about what kind of answer you would find acceptable? There seems to be no definite proof that he had a debt other than the fact that it has been clearly stated in "Body Parts", nor is there definitive proof that he was rich and this is a plot hole. – Philipp Flenker May 22 at 12:50
  • 2
    @einpoklum "typical employer hard-ball'ing [sic]" Not really. One of the major plot points of the episode is that Quark actually does not have sufficient funds. Also, he starts the paycuts before the unionization drive, not afterwards. – The Daleks May 23 at 20:39

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