The Public Attitude Towards Speculation

Reprint from The Pitfalls of Speculation by Thomas Gibson 1906 Ed.

THE PUBLIC ATTITUDE TOWARD SPECULATION

THE public attitude toward speculation is generally hostile. Even those who venture frequently are prone to speak discouragingly of speculative possibilities, and to point warningly to the fact that an overwhelming majority of speculative commitments result in loss, while those who venture not at all, and consequently are incompetent to judge, dismiss the subject with the statement that marginal trading is gambling, pure and simple, and is therefore pernicious.

Those who enter into the subject a little farther, and attempt to adduce more specific argument against speculative possibilities, lay stress upon the statement that manipulation, trickery and wholesale deception render it impossible for the outsider to enter the field safely or intelligently. These statements, usually unsupported, and frequently insupportable, are accepted by the prejudiced multitude as gospel truth, without any attempt being made to examine their foundation or correctness.

So far as the question of gambling is concerned, it would be entering a very large field to attempt to define just what is and what is not gambling.

The idea that the man who buys a certain stock outright invests, while he who buys on margin gambles, is a popular fallacy. The speculator purchases in the hope of an advance, and if two purchases are made for parallel reasons, one for cash, and one on margins, both purchases are speculative.

That speculative fluctuations are largely used as a basis for gambling operations, is unquestionably true, and possibly an acceptable dividing line may be drawn on the following hypothesis: gambling, in the general acceptance of the term, is founded upon blind chance, the equal possibility of certain events occurring or not occurring; this is modified in some cases by the exercise of superior skill in such games as admit of skill; but fundamentally, gambling is wholly dependent upon the equal chances of two or more opposed individuals.

The trader, therefore, who takes “flyers” with no knowledge of his subject or the properties in which he deals merely gambles on the ultimate rise and fall of the market; but the trader who after careful investigation and study purchases a property either outright or on margins because he has reasons for believing it to be cheap and that it will enhance in value is a speculator.

Those composing the gambling element are in the majority and it is, needless to say are the greatest losers; in fact their losses foot up almost the sum total of speculative deficiency and consequently the sum total of the gains reaped by the real speculator.

The statement that most public commitments are made on no better foundation than a mere guess may seem a trifle bold and the counter statement may be made that few people purchase a stock without some reason for so doing. This is admitted on the same basis that the man who bets on a certain number at roulette because it has not recently appeared or in hope of an immediate repetition considers that he has a reason for his action.   Thus a great number of amateur or semiprofessional traders buy a certain commodity for no better reason than that the stock has declined or more frequently from a participation in a period of speculative intoxication.  They can give reasons for their ventures, but they are without foundation, and are no more worthy of consideration than the reasons given by the roulette player for “staking” upon a certain number.

On the other hand, the speculator, with a carefully acquired knowledge of the normal value of certain properties, fully posted on conditions in general, and those affecting, or liable to affect his favorite property in particular, patiently waits the opportunity to buy, not at a normal price, but at a price far below the actual value of his property.  He knows that speculative prices move in cycles, more or less pronounced and prolonged, and in the revolution of this cycle he will be given an opportunity not only to purchase at a price far below a normal valuation, but to sell at a price far above it.

This looks simple enough in the telling, and is merely the operation of Anselm Rothschild’s famous advice, “buy cheap and sell dear.” But when the statement is made that over 90% of public purchases are made at the approximate high tide of a market and about the same percentage of sales at the approximate low tide, in short, that the most simple and reasonable methods of making money are not only disregarded, but actually reversed, a great field for analysis and discussion presents itself.

Manipulation and trickery are vastly overestimated: popular prejudice continually accords to such causes events which were brought about almost wholly by the composite folly of public participators in speculative affairs, and which could not possibly have been effected by any individual interests.

That these stages of undue depression and inflation are to some extent assisted by the shrewd minority is true; but the great work is that of the public itself.

That the money-making minorities foresee, and take advantage of these extremes, is unquestionable.  They are the cause of all speculative movements of importance, and through the errors and losses of the lambs the accumulations of successful operators are made possible.

After a careful examination, covering a period of ten years, and a study of the methods of successful and unsuccessful traders as shown in some thousands of speculative accounts, the following facts are adduced:

1st – The greatest causes of loss in speculation are ignorance, over-speculation, and carelessness, of importance in the order named.

2nd – The popular fallacy that business methods are not applicable to speculation is wholly erroneous.

3rd – Not one speculator in a thousand applies ordinary business precautions to his trades, nor founds his ventures upon knowledge of any value.

4th – The correct trader has little to fear, and much to gain from manipulative tactics.

5th – While extremes of prices move in irregular cycles, no “system” for judging changes is possible, or tenable, as such mechanical attempts to forecast price changes do not contemplate changed conditions, or provide for accident. The advocates of the “Chart System” are legion, and yet it is impossible to find a single permanent and substantial gain made by this method.

6th – The general idea that the actual value, and probable future of a property cannot be intelligently based, is erroneous.

7th – The greatest speculative profits are made in stocks, and the greatest speculative losses, in staples: wheat, corn, cotton, etc.

8th – There are certain technical stages, or conditions of markets which are followed by certain invariable results, the study and recognition of which is valuable, and not difficult. These “ear-marks” are in some cases very plain, and do not in any way smack of the “systems” deprecated above, but are more or less visible signs of effects following certain causes.

9th -Almost every general idea of speculation is the exact reverse of the truth. Sometimes this is caused by false reasoning, but most frequently by the innate false appearance of the market quotations. For example, greatest activity and interest in a market occurs around top prices; while dullness and stagnation are invariable when properties are unreasonably low in price.

10th – Persistent short selling of stocks is fashionable in a certain class of semi-professional traders, and almost invariably results in loss.

11th – Tips are illogical. Any wide-spread dissemination of advance information as to a projected movement would defeat its own object.  The so-called “tip'” is usually mere guess work. The general consensus of public opinion on this subject is correct, i. e., tips are valueless; and yet the public continues to use them largely as a basis of trading.

12th – Too great facilities for obtaining information and executing orders, is, to the ordinary trader, of no advantage, and is frequently a source of loss. (The accounts mentioned above show the most intelligent trading to have been done by traders who were without facilities to interfere with their own original plans through fright or confusion.)

13th – Speculation is a safe business when business methods are applied to it. The changes in prices of standard properties offer yearly greater opportunities for profit than any other field. That is to say, for reasonable profits, not for the amassing of fortunes on small capital, in a brief period, but for steady accumulation of money and valuable knowledge. So great are the opportunities offered by speculative changes that with proper methods and self-control, the poor man cannot afford to overlook them.

To make these rather radical statements ill a general way is wholly insufficient; each statement must be supported by the presentation of convincing precedent and clear reasoning, and it is the purpose of these articles to point out the reasons for the failure of the majority, as well as the methods by which the minority succeed. This done, the knowledge so gained must be insulated into useful channels, and combined into flexible rules, and inflexible laws.

It is not claimed that it is possible to set down in print a formula for speculative success: much depends upon the individual. A man is not a machine, and will be frequently swerved into paths which he, himself, knows to be dangerous, and an individual incapable of clear thinking and correct application of accrued knowledge, would not succeed at this, or any other business.

The most that may be hoped for, consequently, is to point out certain facts which will lead to a correct line of thinking, or open the way to profitable discussion. To this end, the various causes of loss mentioned will be discussed in turn.

IGNORANCE, OVER-SPECULATION, ETC.

IGNORANCE, over-speculation, and the innate false appearance of market stages are the principal causes of speculative loss, and are, in truth, the principal causes of the great cycles of speculative extremes. These extremes are variously attributed to specific causes, affecting certain securities, to good or bad business conditions, or to accident or manipulation; but the fact of the matter is that the wide swings of the market are brought about almost wholly by the errors and ignorance of the great body of traders known as the public.

Conditions change, accidents occur, and manipulation exists, and all have their effect; but unless these factors were supplemented by alternate waves of general over-confidence, and subsequent undue depression, the fluctuations in market quotations for standard properties would be confined to such narrow limits that the repeated opportunities to purchase such properties at prices far below, and to sell them at prices far above a normal value, would be eliminated.

Almost all the commitments made by public traders are made on faith, or on misleading surface appearances. The advice of people absolutely incapable of passing intelligent opinions, is eagerly listened to and frequently acted upon; large dividends on low-priced stocks are made the basis of optimistic views and shallow arguments; the fact that a certain stock has dragged back in a generally strong market,—usually the best evidence in the world of something radically wrong with that particular stock,—incites what may be very undesirable purchases. The development of certain long-heralded events, such as the payment, or increase of a dividend, is considered a good reason for the purchase of the security affected, when in fact it is no reason at all, as Wall Street always anticipates and discounts probable good news.  These and a hundred and one other reasons, mostly ill-founded, are the groundwork of the great bulk of public ventures, and the individuals who operate on these unreliable signs, with full knowledge of the fact that the public has been misled by them time and again, seldom attempt to investigate the intrinsic value of the property in which they have assumed and paid cash for a proprietary interest. Such an investigation is usually considered useless or impossible. If this were true any participation whatever in speculative affairs would be folly, but fortunately this common opinion is itself the result of ignorance.

Over-speculation, the composite result of ignorance, greed, and false appearances, may be classed as the primary cause of wide variations in prices, for as much too high as a market is carried by rash participation at high prices, just as much too low will it sink in the ensuing decline. The ill-advised traders who rush in at high prices with inadequate capital are the first to suffer; their overthrow topples over other weak accounts, and so on down the line, until the last of the wobbly row of bricks has fallen.

It might be contended that when this process of elimination had brought prices of good properties to a fair valuation, purchasers would be easily found, and such might be the case, were it not for the fact that the great lights of speculative finance know full well that the technical position of the market is still bad; that many venturers, already financially weakened by the decline from abnormal to normal prices, are in a position which they can be forced to abandon; that the pendulum of prices Will swing to the other extreme, and they refrain from buying at normal prices for the good and simple reason that they know they can eventually buy at prices that are very low. Perhaps these low prices will come about unaided, through the internal rottenness of the technical situation; perhaps the desirable consummation will require a little assistance, such as the passing of a dividend or two, the closing of a few mills or the laying off of a few men, all of which actions can in the future be pointed out as good and conservative business moves, but which will be received by the public with anger and disgust; for so dense is general ignorance on this one subject that the payment of a dividend is always considered good, and the reduction or passing of a dividend is always considered bad; a bond issue, for whatever purpose, is an unmixed evil, and so following.

The professional bear element also assists in the final downfall of prices. They will be well aware of the assailable condition of the weakened long interest, and will attack the market for the purpose of reaching stop-loss orders or forcing crippled speculators to sell. These same bears may later be hoist with their own petard, for a chronic bear is a chronic loser, but meanwhile they assist the successful campaigners materially by forcing a temporarily lower level of prices and supplanting weak long accounts with a short interest, which is in itself a great advantage to the bull element.

So familiar is the experienced speculator with public weakness that he is usually found operating in direct reversion to prevailing sentiment.  He knows by careful and clear-headed investigation the normal value of the property or properties in which he trades, and at such time as he finds the current quotations far below this fixed point and the public inveighing bitterly against his favorite issues, he begins his purchases.  It does not require much shrewdness to deduce, the fact that if a certain standard security has passed out of public, or weak hands, it has of necessity been concentrated in the strong hands of the giants of finance, and that the purchaser at such periods is at least in good company. He has no fear of any abnormal shrinkage in the value of his holdings, as such sudden shrinkages are the result of panic or financial necessity, to which the present holders are not subject. He also knows that any manipulation must now be for the purpose of creating higher prices as the next great speculative move will be to resell the cheaply purchased properties at high prices and the public being absent there is no one to manipulate against. He is certain that unless all precedents fail he will at some future time see high prices and general good feeling supplant the present depression.

As has been stated the innate false appearance of speculative surroundings does much to influence public participation at the wrong period. When stocks are low in price the brokerage offices are deserted, the newspapers say little of speculative affairs, transactions are limited, and those who have been worsted in the preceding decline speak in pessimistic terms of the future.  A long period of dullness almost invariably follows a severe decline. New lambs must be born and the old ones suffered to grow a new fleece and dullness is always unattractive. But at the crest of a great movement all is activity. Excited groups gather about the tickers and predict future events founded principally on illusions or hope, and stories of quickly acquired gains are heard on every hand. A fever of speculation fills the air and men who had no thought of venturing during the time of depression and low prices, now purchase anything and everything at prices that are very high.

The mistakes discussed above—ignorance; the belief that speculative riches are the result of luck rather than of judgment, over-speculation and misleading surface appearances, combine to make it possible for the shrewd and successful minority to buy and sell periodically to great advantage by an almost exact reversal of public methods and beliefs. Their operations are not founded on such reversion, but on study and knowledge of past precedent, present conditions and future probabilities. The fact that public opinion is diametrically opposed to

their views may be cheerfully considered as excellent proof of the correctness of their deductions, as the public is usually wrong.

If the statements made above are admitted to be correct the lesson they teach is obvious.  To result successfully, speculative ventures must be based on sound reasoning and a knowledge of correct normal values; on a willingness to confine operations to reasonable limits and upon emancipation from the moving influences of general exhilaration or depression.  The individual who begins or pursues his operations on these great fundamental principles has taken a great step toward the goal of success.

Reprint from The Pitfalls of Speculation by Thomas Gibson 1906 Ed.

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Guarea guidonia

Recipe

5 Per Cent Alcohol 8-24 Grain – Heroin Hydrochloride 120 Minims – Tincture Euphorbia Pilulifera 120 Minims – Syrup Wild Lettuce 40 Minims – Tincture Cocillana 24 Minims – Syrup Squill Compound 8 Gram – Ca(s)ecarin (P, D, & Co.) 8-100 Grain Menthol

Dose – One-half to one fluidrams (2 to [...] Read more →

Artist Methods

Como dome facade – Pliny the Elder – Photo by Wolfgang Sauber

Work in Progress…

THE VARNISHES.

Every substance may be considered as a varnish, which, when applied to the surface of a solid body, gives it a permanent lustre. Drying oil, thickened by exposure to the sun’s heat or [...] Read more →

The Racing Knockabout Gosling

The Racing Knockabout Gosling.

Gosling was the winning yacht of 1897 in one of the best racing classes now existing in this country, the Roston knockabout class. The origin of this class dates back about six years, when Carl, a small keel cutter, was built for C. H. [...] Read more →

Audubon’s Art Method and Techniques

Audubon started to develop a special technique for drawing birds in 1806 a Mill Grove, Pennsylvania. He perfected it during the long river trip from Cincinnati to New Orleans and in New Orleans, 1821.

Home Top of [...] Read more →

Books of Use to the International Art Collector

Hebborn Piranesi

Before meeting with an untimely death at the hand of an unknown assassin in Rome on January 11th, 1996, master forger Eric Hebborn put down on paper a wealth of knowledge about the art of forgery. In a book published posthumously in 1997, titled The Art Forger’s Handbook, Hebborn suggests [...] Read more →

Palermo Wine

Take to every quart of water one pound of Malaga raisins, rub and cut the raisins small, and put them to the water, and let them stand ten days, stirring once or twice a day. You may boil the water an hour before you put it to the raisins, and let it [...] Read more →

Country Cabbage and Pea Soup

Add the following ingredients to a four or six quart crock pot, salt & pepper to taste keeping in mind that salt pork is just that, cover with water and cook on high till it boils, then cut back to low for four or five hours. A slow cooker works well, I [...] Read more →

A Couple of Classic Tennessee Squirrel Recipes

FRIED SQUIRREL & BISCUIT GRAVY

3-4 Young Squirrels, dressed and cleaned 1 tsp. Morton Salt or to taste 1 tsp. McCormick Black Pepper or to taste 1 Cup Martha White All Purpose Flour 1 Cup Hog Lard – Preferably fresh from hog killing, or barbecue table

Cut up three to [...] Read more →

Peach Brandy

PEACH BRANDY

2 gallons + 3 quarts boiled water 3 qts. peaches, extremely ripe 3 lemons, cut into sections 2 sm. pkgs. yeast 10 lbs. sugar 4 lbs. dark raisins

Place peaches, lemons and sugar in crock. Dissolve yeast in water (must NOT be to hot). Stir thoroughly. Stir daily for 7 days. Keep [...] Read more →

Method of Restoration for Ancient Bronzes and other Alloys

Cannone nel castello di Haut-Koenigsbourg, photo by Gita Colmar

Without any preliminary cleaning the bronze object to be treated is hung as cathode into the 2 per cent. caustic soda solution and a low amperage direct current is applied. The object is suspended with soft copper wires and is completely immersed into [...] Read more →

Clairvoyance – Methods of Development

CLAIRVOYANCE

by C. W. Leadbeater

Adyar, Madras, India: Theosophical Pub. House

[1899]

CHAPTER IX – METHODS OF DEVELOPMENT

When a men becomes convinced of the reality of the valuable power of clairvoyance, his first question usually is, “How can [...] Read more →

The Snipe

THE SNIPE, from the Shooter’s Guide by B. Thomas – 1811

AFTER having given a particular description of the woodcock, it will only. be necessary to observe, that the plumage and shape of the snipe is much the same ; and indeed its habits and manners sets bear a great [...] Read more →

U.S. Plant Variety Protection Act – Full Text

WIPO HQ Geneva

UNITED STATES PLANT VARIETY PROTECTION ACT

TITLE I – PLANT VARIETY PROTECTION OFFICE Chapter Section 1. Organization and Publications . 1 2. Legal Provisions as to the Plant Variety Protection Office . 21 3. Plant Variety Protection Fees . 31

CHAPTER 1.-ORGANIZATION AND PUBLICATIONS Section [...] Read more →

The Flying Saucers are Real by Donald Keyhoe

It was a strange assignment. I picked up the telegram from desk and read it a third time.

NEW YORK, N.Y., MAY 9, 1949

HAVE BEEN INVESTIGATING FLYING SAUCER MYSTERY. FIRST TIP HINTED GIGANTIC HOAX TO COVER UP OFFICIAL SECRET. BELIEVE IT MAY HAVE BEEN PLANTED TO HIDE [...] Read more →

Salmon Caviar

Salmon and Sturgeon Caviar – Photo by Thor

Salmon caviar was originated about 1910 by a fisherman in the Maritime Provinces of Siberia, and the preparation is a modification of the sturgeon caviar method (Cobb 1919). Salomon caviar has found a good market in the U.S.S.R. and other European countries where it [...] Read more →

Making Apple Cider Vinegar

The greatest cause of failure in vinegar making is carelessness on the part of the operator. Intelligent separation should be made of the process into its various steps from the beginning to end.

PRESSING THE JUICE

The apples should be clean and ripe. If not clean, undesirable fermentations [...] Read more →

English Fig Wine

Take the large blue figs when pretty ripe, and steep them in white wine, having made some slits in them, that they may swell and gather in the substance of the wine.

Then slice some other figs and let them simmer over a fire in water until they are reduced [...] Read more →

A Summer Memory

 

Here, where these low lush meadows lie, We wandered in the summer weather, When earth and air and arching sky, Blazed grandly, goldenly together.

And oft, in that same summertime, We sought and roamed these self-same meadows, When evening brought the curfew chime, And peopled field and fold with shadows.

I mind me [...] Read more →

Carpet Cleaner Formulae

The Ardabil Carpet – Made in the town of Ardabil in north-west Iran, the burial place of Shaykh Safi al-Din Ardabili, who died in 1334. The Shaykh was a Sufi leader, ancestor of Shah Ismail, founder of the Safavid dynasty (1501-1722). While the exact origins of the carpet are unclear, it’s believed to have [...] Read more →

The Perfect Salad Dressing

The following recipes are from a small booklet entitled 500 Delicious Salads that was published for the Culinary Arts Institute in 1940 by Consolidated Book Publishers, Inc. 153 N. Michigan Ave., Chicago, Ill.

If you have been looking for a way to lighten up your salads and be free of [...] Read more →

JP Morgan’s Digital Currency Patent Application

J.P. Morgan Patent #8,452,703

Method and system for processing internet payments using the electronic funds transfer network.

Abstract

Embodiments of the invention include a method and system for conducting financial transactions over a payment network. The method may include associating a payment address of an account [...] Read more →

A History of the Use of Arsenicals in Man

The arsenicals (compounds which contain the heavy metal element arsenic, As) have a long history of use in man – with both benevolent and malevolent intent. The name ‘arsenic’ is derived from the Greek word ‘arsenikon’ which means ‘potent'”. As early as 2000 BC, arsenic trioxide, obtained from smelting copper, was used [...] Read more →

King William III on Horseback by Sir Godfrey Kneller

Reprint from The Royal Collection Trust website:

Kneller was born in Lubeck, studied with Rembrandt in Amsterdam and by 1676 was working in England as a fashionable portrait painter. He painted seven British monarchs (Charles II, James II, William III, Mary II, Anne, George I and George II), though his [...] Read more →

The Charge of the Light Brigade

Half a league, half a league, Half a league onward, All in the valley of Death Rode the six hundred. “Forward, the Light Brigade! Charge for the guns!” he said. Into the valley of Death Rode the six hundred. Home Top of [...] Read more →

Here’s Many a Year to You

” Here’s many a year to you ! Sportsmen who’ve ridden life straight. Here’s all good cheer to you ! Luck to you early and late.

Here’s to the best of you ! You with the blood and the nerve. Here’s to the rest of you ! What of a weak moment’s swerve ? [...] Read more →

On Bernini’s Bust of a Stewart King

As reported in the The Colac Herald on Friday July 17, 1903 Pg. 8 under Art Appreciation as a reprint from the Westminster Gazette

ART APPRECIATION IN THE COMMONS.

The appreciation of art as well as of history which is entertained by the average member of the [...] Read more →

The Effect of Magnetic Fields on Wound Healing

The Effect of Magnetic Fields on Wound Healing Experimental Study and Review of the Literature

Steven L. Henry, MD, Matthew J. Concannon, MD, and Gloria J. Yee, MD Division of Plastic Surgery, University of Missouri Hospital & Clinics, Columbia, MO Published July 25, 2008

Objective: Magnets [...] Read more →

The Crime of the Congo by Arthur Conan Doyle

 

Man looks at severed hand and foot….for refusing to climb a tree to cut rubber for King Leopold

Click here to read The Crime of the Congo by Arthur Conan Doyle

Victim of King Leopold of Belgium

Click on the link below for faster download.

The [...] Read more →

Cup of Tea? To be or not to be

Twinings London – photo by Elisa.rolle

Is the tea in your cup genuine?

The fact is, had one been living in the early 19th Century, one might occasionally encounter a counterfeit cup of tea. Food adulterations to include added poisonings and suspect substitutions were a common problem in Europe at [...] Read more →

The Master of Hounds

Photo Caption: The Marquis of Zetland, KC, PC – otherwise known as Lawrence Dundas Son of: John Charles Dundas and: Margaret Matilda Talbot born: Friday 16 August 1844 died: Monday 11 March 1929 at Aske Hall Occupation: M.P. for Richmond Viceroy of Ireland Vice Lord Lieutenant of North Yorkshire Lord – in – Waiting [...] Read more →

Slaughter in Bombay

From Allen’s Indian Mail, December 3rd, 1851

BOMBAY. MUSULMAN FANATICISM.

On the evening of November 15th, the little village of Mahim was the scene of a murder, perhaps the most determined which has ever stained the annals of Bombay. Three men were massacred in cold blood, in a house used [...] Read more →

The First Christian Man Cremated in America

Laurens’ portrait as painted during his time spent imprisoned in the Tower of London, where he was kept for over a year after being captured at sea while serving as the United States minister to the Netherlands during the Revolutionary War.

The first Christian white man to be cremated in America was [...] Read more →

Naval Stores – Distilling Turpentine

Chipping a Turpentine Tree

DISTILLING TURPENTINE One of the Most Important Industries of the State of Georgia Injuring the Magnificent Trees Spirits, Resin, Tar, Pitch, and Crude Turpentine all from the Long Leaved Pine – “Naval Stores” So Called.

Dublin, Ga., May 8. – One of the most important industries [...] Read more →

Herbal Psychedelics – Rhododendron ponticum and Mad Honey Disease

Toxicity of Rhododendron From Countrysideinfo.co.UK

“Potentially toxic chemicals, particularly ‘free’ phenols, and diterpenes, occur in significant quantities in the tissues of plants of Rhododendron species. Diterpenes, known as grayanotoxins, occur in the leaves, flowers and nectar of Rhododendrons. These differ from species to species. Not all species produce them, although Rhododendron ponticum [...] Read more →