Jim’s Mailbox

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Courtesy of CIGA David

Jim

‘A common feature of all these earlier troubles was that, having happened, they were over. The worst was reasonably recognizable as such. The singular feature of the great crash of 1929 was that the worst continued to worsen.

‘What looked one day like the end proved on the next day to have been only the beginning. Nothing could have been more ingeniously designed to maximize the suffering, and also to ensure that as few as possible escaped the common misfortune.

‘The fortunate speculator who had funds to answer the first margin call presently got another and equally urgent one, and if he met that, there would still be another. In the end all the money he had was extracted from him and lost.

‘The man with the smart money, who was safely out of the market when the first crash came, naturally went back in to pick up bargains. (Not only were a record 12,894,650 shares sold on 24 October; precisely the same number were bought.) The bargains then suffered a ruinous fall.

‘Even the man who waited out all of October and all of November, who saw the volume of trading return to normal and saw Wall Street become as placid as a produce market, and who then bought common stocks would see their value drop to a third or a fourth of the purchase price in the next twenty-four months.

‘The Coolidge bull market was a remarkable phenomenon. The ruthlessness of its liquidation was, in its own way, equally remarkable.’ John Kenneth Galbraith, (1908-2006), The Great Crash: 1929.