I have started reading “A Random Walk Down Wall Street” over this July 4 long weekend after reading about it on Joel On Software book reviews. Very enjoyable read. My personal experience has been with the dot-gone bubble of late 90s and may be the present bubble or froth as quoted by Alan Greenspan in the real estate markets. Some of the excerpts from the chapter “Madness of Crowds” are so relevant that I am surprised we never seem to learn from old mistakes.

Consider this when Burton G. Malkiel talks about the tulip craze and the call-options which happened in Holland in 1630s

“Part of the genius of financial markets is that when there is a real demand for a method to enhance speculative opportunities, the market will surely provide it”

Isn’t what markets did when every mom-and-pop dot.com company went IPO in the 90s or the interest only loans and adjustable ARMs of today.

I am equally amazed at reading the story British South Sea Company and the South Sea Bubble. Can’t imagine its share between 1717-1722 went from 100 pounds to 1000 pounds and then back to nothing. Or how about the RCA shares back in America rose from $94.25 to $505 from March 3, 1928 to September 3, 1929; a cool 434.5% growth in 18 months. I think this beats the growth of modern day darling Google. That too when we are in correction mode after the 90s.

This last paragraph of the chapter is what is most intriguing to me. I have read something to the same effect in quite a few articles. But it still beats me how this can be so simple. The business of making more money from existing money or investing

It is not hard, really, to make money in the market. As we shall see later, investors who select a portfolio of stock listings in the Wall Street Journal can make fairly handsome long-run returns. What is hard to avoid is the alluring temptation to throw your money away on short, get-rich-quick speculative binges.

Notice the “really”. Do you think so.