Today is April 1st or for those of us who love jokes, practical or otherwise, it’s April Fools’ Day. This special day dates back to 1392 when Geoffrey Chaucer made reference to it in one of his Canterbury Tales. For me it has always had special meaning because I almost got into huge trouble for the prank I played on my sixth grade teacher. I’m not about to encourage the youth of today by recounting this foolishness but, rest assured, spending the day in the principal’s office made a lasting impression on me and I have never been that foolish again.
As I have finally grown up and out of my youthful penchant for tomfoolery it has become clear to me that April Fools’ Day is alive and well and living comfortably on Wall Street. I have only been tempted by the market twice in my life. The first time I made a risky bet on a poorly managed company and made a nice profit. The second time I bought stock in a well-run profitable company and lost my shirt. It was only then that I realized how foolish I was to believe anything being said by the dealers in this huge casino. I haven’t been back since I read this grossly understated headline from the Wall Street Journal published the day after the crash of 1929, “Stocks steady after decline.”
The market’s recent climb has brought thousands of uninformed investors into a self-perpetuating system that is so ridiculously rigged in favor of the investment companies, brokers and analysts that it makes me think I’m better off in Vegas. At least there you know the odds are against you. I can think of no other industry where the people who control the market also forecast the market, regulate the market and get paid whether the rest of us win or lose. Somewhere in my fading memory, I seem to recall a long-lost ethical standard known as conflict of interest.
So, in honor of April Fools’ Day and my ignominious part in its long history, I have decided to share some pearls of wisdom from people far smarter than I am when it comes to Wall Street. Here goes.
“October. This is one of the peculiarly dangerous months to speculate in stocks. The others are July, January, September, April, November, May, March, June, December, August and February.” Mark Twain
“With an evening coat and a white tie…anybody, even a stockbroker, can gain a reputation for being civilized.” Oscar Wilde
“When countries have had a string of boom years, megalomania sets in and their governments and large investors come to feel that ordinary economic rules that apply to others do not apply to them.” Lester C. Thurow
“Wall Street indexes predicted nine out of the last five recessions.” Paul A. Samuelson
“Every time you think you’ve got the key to the market, some SOB changes the lock.” G.M. Loeb
“I like to buy a company any fool can manage because eventually one will.” Peter Lynch
“Wisdom says you can make 1,000 percent on your investment, but only lose 100 percent.” Gershon Evans
“Financial genius consists almost entirely of avarice and a rising market.” John Kenneth Galbraith
“The stock market seems to have a way of finding news appropriate to its frame of mind.” Albert Haas Jr.
“A banker is a person who is willing to make a loan if you can provide sufficient evidence to show you don’t need it.” Herbert Prochnow
“These capitalists generally act harmoniously, and in concert, to fleece the people.” Abraham Lincoln
“I recently made a killing on Wall Street. I shot my broker.” Groucho Marx
“A banker is a fellow who lends his umbrella when the sun is shining and wants it back the minute it begins to rain.” Mark Twain.
And last but not least here’s one more suggestion from Mark Twain, “Let us be thankful for the fools. But for them the rest of us could not succeed.” Therein lies the essence of Wall Street.
©Guy R. Horst and grhgraph.wordpress.com, 2013. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Guy R. Horst and grhgraph.wordpress.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.