Some things never change. Wall Street’s script was written long ago—long before behavioral finance came on the scene—it was written and memorialized in Fred Schwed’s amusing 1940 classic about Wall Street’s insatiable greed. The message rings as true today as back then, when America was still smarting from Wall Street’s disastrous 1929 Crash and a long Depression. Schwed charms us from the start in “An Ancient Story,” his explanation of the origin of his title: “Once in the dear dead days beyond recall, an out-of-town visitor was being shown the wonders of the New York financial district. When the party arrived at the Battery, one of his guides indicated some handsome ships riding at anchor. ‘Look, those are the bankers’ and brokers’ yachts.’ ‘Where are all the customers’ yachts?’ asked the naïve visitor.
“Once in the dear dead days beyond recall” is the first line of the enduring popular tune, “Love’s Old Sweet Song,” by James Malloy back in 1884. And with that bit of historical context, let’s flash forward to the present and consider why Schwed’s book is so relevant in today’s Wall Street war against Main Street. A couple years ago I was reminded of Schwed’s challenging question while flipping through Fortune magazine when my eyes locked on a photo of “Utopia,” the aptly-named new mega-yacht built for legendary fund manager Bill Miller. (More)