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This hilarious portrait of everyday Wall Street and its denizens rings as true today as it did when it was first published in 1940. Writing with a rare mixture of wry cynicism and bonhomie reminiscent of Mark Twain and H. L. Mencken, Fred Schwed, Jr., skewers ...
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This hilarious portrait of everyday Wall Street and its denizens rings as true today as it did when it was first published in 1940. Writing with a rare mixture of wry cynicism and bonhomie reminiscent of Mark Twain and H. L. Mencken, Fred Schwed, Jr., skewers everyone including himself in his brilliant send-ups of bankers, brokers, traders, investors, analysts, and hapless customers.
"How great to have a reissue of a hilarious classic that proves the more things change the more they stay the same. Only the names have been changed to protect the innocent." -Michael Bloomberg President, Bloomberg, LP
". . . one of the funniest books ever written about Wall Street."-Jane Bryant Quinn, The Washington Post
"It's amazing how well Schwed's book is holding up after 55 years. About the only thing that's changed on Wall Street is that computers have replaced pencils and graph paper. Otherwise, the basics are the same. The investor's need to believe somebody is matched by the financial advisor's need to make a nice living. If one of them has to be disappointed, it's bound to be the former."-John Rothchild, Author, A Fool and His Money Financial Columnist, Time magazine
"A delightful classic and reminder of excesses past and how little things change." -Bob Farrell, Senior Vice President, Merrill Lynch
Customers-That Hardy Breed.
Investment Trusts-Promises and Performance.
The Short Seller-He of the Black Heart.
Puts, Calls, Straddles, and Gabble.
The &'grave;Good'' Old Days and the &'grave;Great'' Captains.
Investment-Many Questions and a Few Answers.
Reform-Some Yeas and Nays.
Posted March 21, 2014
Excellent book but bear in mind it covers Wall Street prior to and after the creation of the SEC. But the principles are still the same.
If you want to involve yourself as a player in the market you need to absorb the lessons communicated in this book. Terminology has changed over the years. Don't cry if you get your fingers burned. Expect it every so often. If you want an education this book is good medicine humorously delivered!
- An ol' Kentucky Curmudgeon
Posted March 31, 2001
This book clearly deserves more than five stars for exposing the folly of Wall Street in the most humorous possible terms. This book's fame far exceeds the number of people who have read it. Almost every experienced stock investor will cite examples from the book, without even knowing their source. The title refers to an ancient story (which the author finds is probably at least 100 years old by now) about a visitor to New York who admired the yachts that the bankers and brokers had in the harbor. Naively, he then asked where the customers' yachts were. Naturally, there were no customers' yachts. Let me set the stage. The author spent two years on Wall Street in the 20s, but knew it better than that and continued to invest in stocks. He wrote the book in 1940 after the horrible bear years of 1929-1940. The memories of the 1920s were still fresh. Then he updated the book in 1955 in the midst of the 50s bull market with a new introduction in which he explained that the book did not need updating. Although commissions are no longer fixed, and few spend the day sitting in a broker's office, many of the other observations in the book remain as timely as those in The Madness of Crowds. Human nature doesn't change. Behind all of the hype about getting rich with stock investments is a sad reality. Over a lifetime, the vast majority of people get poor results from their stock investing. Around 90 percent of professionals will also underperform the market averages over their careers. But the desire to 'outsmart' everyone else is almost universal. Raging bull markets, like the one we had until March 2000 on the NASDAQ, only tend to reinforce these ultimately expensive urges. I have been around professional investors for over thirty years and all the big scores I remember involving stocks came after someone who was a founder or worked for a company that went public cashed in their stock and stock options after many years of service. These are not stock-investing events, they are entrepreneurial compensation. In the Money Game, Adam Smith pointed that out, and it remains as true today as it was then. One of the classic stories in this book is about what would happen if 4000 people started flipping coins against each other. You are eliminated from the competition after one loss. Although by definition, half would win and half with lose with each flip, those who had won ten times in a row (as must happen for some in this format) would soon start to give lessons in coin flipping techniques. That story nicely captures the folly of Wall Street. Even though some may win, it usually doesn't mean anything. The book contains other investment classic stories that you must have in your repertoire. The book is brilliantly illustrated by the classy cartoons of Peter Arno. It is worth acquiring the book just for those. The subjects covered include Wall Street's passion for prophecy, financiers and seers, customers (or the sheep to be shorn), mutual funds, short sellers, options, speculators and the bull market of the 20s, and the excuses handed out to those who are relieved of their money. The writing style is urbane and witty. For example, there is the usual disclaimer on not following the advice in the book in the beginning. Except, it is illustrated by two hands with fingers crossed. And, the warnings are a just little different. The information in this book 'while not guaranteed by us, has been obtained from sources which have not in the past proved particularly reliable.' The author had discovered that titles cannot be copyrighted, and he 'had planned to have my book appear under a good title, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.' The author's favorite review of the book contained this phrase, 'If I were J.P. Morgan, and I have no reason to suspect that I am not . . . .', and was signed by the author of the review, Mr. Frank Sullivan. The subsequent witty correspondence between them is included in theWas this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.