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Where Are the Customers' Yachts: or A Good Hard Look at Wall Street Paperback – Jan 10 2006


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Where Are the Customers' Yachts: or A Good Hard Look at Wall Street + The Intelligent Asset Allocator: How to Build Your Portfolio to Maximize Returns and Minimize Risk + The Four Pillars of Investing: Lessons for Building a Winning Portfolio
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 208 pages
  • Publisher: Wiley; 1 edition (Jan. 10 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0471770892
  • ISBN-13: 978-0471770893
  • Product Dimensions: 21.6 x 14 x 1.5 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 240 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (20 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #40,346 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents


Inside This Book (Learn More)
First Sentence
"WALL street," reads the sinister old gag, "is a street with a river at one end and a graveyard at the other." Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

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Format: Paperback
"The more things change, the more they stay the same." That's how Fred Schwed, Jr. introduces this gem, if my translation of the French is correct. The book is timely, even though it was first published in 1940. The author shares his observations of Wall Street with wit and humor.
"The chief concern of this book", he states, "will be with an examination of the nonsense ... ." One example is this excerpt from a paragraph he takes out of The Wall Street Journal: "the action of the market was regarded as in the nature of a technical recovery, with little thought of the imminence of dynamic action." Nonsense was apparently well articulated before the bull market of the '90s. Another example is his explanation of why people buy high and sell low when they go to the stock market. They mistakenly believe that once prices are rising (or falling), they'll continue to rise (or fall). "But it is not a fair thing to say of the stock market," he claims,"which, not being a physical thing, is not subject to Newton's laws of propulsion or inertia."
There's more than "an examination of the nonsense" here. Readers may take "A Little Aptitude Test" to see if finance is their calling and consider "A Little Wonderful Advice" on getting rich. If Schwed's advice doesn't make you rich, his hilarious insight will at least make you laugh.
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Format: Paperback
Put down that ugly brokerage statement from the busted, dot-gone Bear market. Skip that news report of the latest bankruptcy filing and spend a couple of whimsical hours with author Fred Schwed, Jr. WHERE ARE THE CUSTOMERS' YACHTS? is a rejoinder to Wall Street's inflated self-confidence that begins with that classic question. Schwed's conversational style makes this a quick read. His style is 'wry', 'dead-pan', 'droll' - a bit of Andy Rooney, maybe a bit of 18th Century novelist Lawrence Sterne. Schwed looks back to the 1920's (published 1940, republished 1955) as "one of the great universal delusions of history" a period of "supreme miscalculation". It was a kind of grand "nonsense" we can relate to in our own post-internet bubble period. Schwed is more humorist than moralist. Misdoings on Wall Street are "overrated" often a mix of "bad luck and bad brains". Advisors are "romantics" who genuinely believe that the market's movements can be predicted. Often they become victims of their own "confused sincerity". Technical analysts are "pathetic", persuading themselves of predictive patterns in stock charts and statistical data. In the end market activity may repeat itself, but often "ponderously, with an infinite number of variations." Schwed takes the side of short sellers, an unpopular bunch who weigh against the general herd to profit when the market declines. He notes that such professional cynicism is never tolerated in an un-free society. Years before the Wall Street Journal began 'testing' the efficient market theory (EMT) selecting stocks with darts, Schwed relates the apocryphal story of a bank trust officer's relative success selecting stocks from his pen's random ink spots.Read more ›
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By kfer on Nov. 27 2002
Format: Paperback
If you think reading Investment books is a rather dry and serious affair, then you'll be pleasantly surprised by this one.
I found it funny but also bearing a ring of truth.
The short story relating to the title was I thought the most funny of all.
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By A Customer on Nov. 22 2002
Format: Hardcover
A friend of mine gave me this book to read to help me understand a bit about why the economy is in the dumps and why all my investments are in the toilet. While I laughed a lot and learned a lot, my investments are still in the toilet. I guess I'll never know how wall street really works, but this book is a great introduction and has some good (humorous) insights for outsiders like me.
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Format: Paperback
although written in the 1940's this tells you many of the difficulties of investing today. His comparison of investing and speculating to love and passion is a classic explanation of the problems of investing. Do not miss this classic, and trust your own inner voice, instead of those so called professionals.
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Format: Paperback
In the current gloomy environment -- with scandals and investigations ("shocked, shocked, I say, to hear...") at every turn -- this book is a LOL reminder of the constancy of human behavior in the face of temptation.
As the other reviewers note, Schwed worked as a broker in the early 1920's. He then wrote this book -- the "Liar's Poker" of its time -- in the 1940's, with the wry perspective that only a crash and ten years of stagnation can bring. Ancient history? Au contraire. What makes this book such a must-read is two things.
First, the things that firms and brokers do to separate customers from their money haven't really changed. Touting low quality underwritings, cramming unwanted inventory down customers' throats at inflated prices, using fancy phrases to flog dogs were as prevalent then as now.
But this is not a one-sided bashing of the Street and its techniques. Schwed gives equal time to customers' susceptability, even eagerness, to play their part in the game. Schwed's fundamental point is that people -- clients and brokers alike -- are forever led astray by their wanting to earn outsized returns without having to take any risk.
But the thing that really sets the book apart is Schwed's lucid yet highly entertaining style. You'll walk away with fresh insights into industry practices and market structures that you can apply to today's events. And even when you realize the target is you -- the ever-hopeful investor -- you'll be laughing so hard you won't mind.
If you even mildly liked Liar's Poker, you'll love "Yachts."
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