Fred Schwed Jr.’s classic, Where are the Customers’ Yachts? was first published in 1940. The title was borrowed from a quip William Travers made in the late 1800s.
As the story goes, Travers was with some friends in Newport to watch a boat race. After learning several boats were owned by Wall Street brokers, he asked, “Where’s the customer’s yachts?”
Schwed’s book was one of the first to mix humor with finance to warn people of Wall Street’s shortcomings…starting with the title. Wall Street has a history of enriching itself at the customer’s expense. But he didn’t stop there. He knocked Wall Streeters for their continual need to predict the future — and continuously getting it wrong.
However, the book wasn’t the first time Schwed blasted Wall Street for its shortcomings. A short piece, he wrote, in the March 1939 issue of Forum and Century magazine offered a glimpse of what was to come.
Schwed went after Wall Street for the endless confidence in knowing what happens next, the ignorance of uncertainty, the endless search for patterns in the market, CEOs playing the blame game, and the customers for being gullible. Continue Reading…