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Where Are the Customers' Yachts?: or A Good Hard Look at Wall Street

Fred Schwed, Jr., Peter Arno (Illustrator), Jason Zweig (Introduction)
ISBN: 978-0-471-77089-3
208 pages
January 2006
Where Are the Customers
"Once I picked it up I did not put it down until I finished. . . . What Schwed has done is capture fully-in deceptively clean language-the lunacy at the heart of the investment business."
-- From the Foreword by Michael Lewis, Bestselling author of Liar's Poker

". . . one of the funniest books ever written about Wall Street."
-- Jane Bryant Quinn, The Washington Post

"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

"It's amazing how well Schwed's book is holding up after fifty-five 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

Humorous and entertaining, this book exposes the folly and hypocrisy of Wall Street. The title refers to a story about a visitor to New York who admired the yachts of the bankers and brokers. Naively, he asked where all the customers' yachts were? Of course, none of the customers could afford yachts, even though they dutifully followed the advice of their bankers and brokers. Full of wise contrarian advice and offering a true look at the world of investing, in which brokers get rich while their customers go broke, this book continues to open the eyes of investors to the reality of Wall Street.

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Introduction
Jason Zweig xiii

Foreword to the 1995 Edition
Michael Lewis xxi

Introduction to the 1955 Bull Market Edition xxv

I. Introduction—“The Modest Cough of a Minor Poet” 3

The validity of financial predictions

The passion for prophecy

When the bull jumped over the moon

II. Financiers and seers 23

Big banking—nice work if you can get it

Some assistant tycoons

The fruit on the blossom of thought

Wall street semantics

Chartists

The pay

The difficulties of “earning” money

An art without a muse

A little aptitude test

III. Customers—That Hardy Breed 49

Varieties of customers

How to get customers

Margin

What to do when the dam bursts

Some case histories and a diagnosis

Churning money as a career

IV. Investment Trusts—Promises and Performance 67

Stop making your own mistakes

Where is the catch?

The hell-paving construction company

The trouble with the “best” securities

The $750,000 bird

By way of apology

The magical investment corporation

V. The Short Seller—He of the Black Heart 87

For the defense

A different defense

With and without bears

Bear raiding

VI. Puts, Calls, Straddles, and Gabble 105

What options are (more or less)

In defense of the pure gamble

The catch

VII. The “Good” Old Days and the “Great” Captains 117

The i.q. Of a big shot

Speculation on speculation

A brief excursion into probabilities

Down will come baby

“they”

Manipulators

A bowl of nickels

VIII. Investment—Many Questions and a Few Answers 135

Headaches of the wealthy

A little wonderful advice

Price and value—our special market letter

Cash as a long-term investment

Your way of life and the basis book

IX. Reform—Some Yeas and Nays 153

Was it stolen or did you lose it?

Nobody loves a specialist

Horizons and limits of regulation

Inconclusions

About the Author 171

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Fred Schwed Jr. was a professional trader who got out of the market after losing a bundle in the 1929 stock market crash. Years later, he published a bestselling children's book entitled Wacky, the Small Boy, and then went on to write Where Are the Customers' Yachts?
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