In over a decade of market commentary, no single piece has generated more positive reaction than Of Wall Street, The Titanic, and the Britanic. I thank all of you who have written to me and phoned me. I truly appreciate the feedback, and it lets me know that my scribblings are of some consequence.
The Asymmetrical Warfare of Wall Street
Wall Street is too often a battlefield on which asymmetrical warfare occurs. Major, powerful financial interests (wirehouses, international banks, hedge funds) take to the field with overwhelming firepower in the form of their sheer numbers, their influence, and a more pernicious weaponry: regulators who act as their proxies and politicians who are purchased and stored in their pockets. Smaller firms (namely, regional/independent) and individual registered persons are cannon fodder in such a battle.
Small firms have devastated the investing public with boilerroom and pennystock fraud. Individual RRs have besmirched our industry's reputation through fraudulent practices that harmed the most vulnerable of investors. Nonetheless, I am angered when I do not see equal condemnation of the misconduct of larger firms.
My reference to the Titanic in my last blog was designed to be thought provoking. I hoped to raise the consciousness of our industry and the public investor by drawing a parallel. The finest minds designed that famed ship. Still, it sunk. And in its aftermath, its younger sister ship was refitted and submerged within 55 minutes after striking a mine. The point? Well, for me it is a stark warning. Do not believe that ships or markets are designed to be impervious to danger. Do not go back to the folks who designed a failed vessel and rely upon their input to protect future ships. Do not be lulled into a false security that because we know what caused a problem that we can always avoid its recurrence. Perhaps, the most subtle of all points I saw was this: that too often we set a dangerous course with the speed of reckless abandon into a pack of icebergs because we feel unsinkable.