( Originally Published 1939 )
WALL STREET, which could be more accurately termed, the abused financial mother of the richest and most progressive nation on the face of the earth, has, during the past eight years, due to the depressive cycle through which we have passed, received more than its usual portion of abuse.
Like a forgiving mother, however, the Street has gone serenely on, conscious of the duty imposed; defending itself only when it must, and fighting only when its existence was threatened.
From soap-box orators to the mighty Senate Chambers, the evils of big business, controlled by the privileged capitalists of Wall Street, is a subject which meets with a ready ear. No amount of argument to the contrary convinces the masses. They fail to guard against rejecting what they cannot at once comprehend or under-stand.
While it is true that Wall Street and its market has, in the par-lance of public opinion, "ruined millions," nevertheless, the market itself, more often than not, is merely the manifestation of economic ills which attack the country.
It is more-or-less axiomatic that the buying of stocks afford vast money-making possibilities, but still, I know of no enterprise, profession or vocation, which offers any profitable substitute for knowledge. This you must have if you hope to accomplish much in the stock market.
This book makes no attempt to prescribe a formula for beating the stock market. It is not written for that purpose. It does set-forth, however, certain fundamental and economic principles which are constantly utilized by the successful operator, large and small alike.
To start with, let us abolish for once and all, the omnipotent regard with which inexperienced people hold for the so-called Wall Street manipulators. A big operator or a combination of big operators, cannot by manipulation, raise or lower the general run of standard stocks. Their combined efforts in a concerted attack against some of the pivotal stocks might temporarily move the market a few points, but, as a whole, if the large operators are out of harmony with the influences which exert themselves on "Supply and Demand," they either get in harmony or get out of business. No group has sufficient money to buck facts.
You glean a greater significance of this, when you realize that stocks and bonds listed on the New York Stock Exchange alone, aggregate possibly one hundred billions of dollars.
It cannot be denied that, in years gone by, a great deal of manipulation was inevitable. But the horse and buggy days are gone. Secrecy is the key-note of manipulation, and with telegraph wires, telephones, cables and radios, flashing news into every part of the globe, secrecy is no longer possible. And then again, the public of today is more enlightened. They have learned, or are learning, how to separate the wheat from the chaff. Balance sheets, the eyes with which you can look into any business, are available for all. the interpretation of bank statements is no longer a mystery. The causes behind financial panics are more generally understood and looked for. Every man, whether he lives in the heart of New York, or on the prairies of Wyoming, has, through his daily news-paper and financial journals, the information upon which practically all stock market forecasts are made.
It is to be hoped that this book will point out with an undeniable clarity, some of the many fundamentals which underlie successful investment. Such things as market movements, technical positions, business cycles, business statistics, business barometers, balance sheets, income statements, as well as other economic fundamentals, should be grasped, interpreted and utilized by every investor.
To appreciate the advantage that the present day investor possesses over the investor of old, is merely to compare the method and style of operation. As stated before, manipulation in the olden days, when transportation and news facilities were at a minimum, was inevitable.
No one denies this manipulation, but mixed in the homogenuous mass of right and wrong, the seed was planted and keenly nurtured, which has burst forth and created our great railroads, our banks, telegraph and telephone companies, oil and automobile industries, and in fact, practically every foundation which under-lies the wealth of the greatest nation on earth.
Unquestionably a great deal of this pioneering was done by men and by tactics which would be severely condemned and prohibited today, even criminally prosecuted; nevertheless, their contribution to our present financial structure and economic capital makes us more tolerant than we would be otherwise. These pioneers gambled and fought, matched trickery against trickery, ingenuity against ingenuity, and wealth against wealth. The outcome has been to create for America a standard of living enjoyed by no other nation in the world.
True it is, we have had, and will continue to have, our "ups and downs"; nevertheless, there is a rhythmic law of finance which follows its inevitable flow. Otherwise, we could have never emerged fourteen consecutive times from the financial swamps in which we have been mired.
To better appreciate the Wall Street of today, is to glimpse briefly upon the Wall Street of yester-year.