Saturday, February 4, 2012

Book Review: Where Are the Customers' Yachts?

Where Are the Customers' Yachts? (1940) by Fred Schwed, Jr.

In this humorous book, the author takes "a good hard look at Wall Street" after his experiences as a trader during a time that included the Great Crash of 1929. With a laid-back writing style highlighted by witty comments and observations, he addresses topics such as the folly of financial predictions, speculation, the excessive use of margin, the problems with investment trusts (now known as mutual funds), short selling, options, and the various kinds of people involved in the business (customers, fund managers, bankers, traders, etc.). Even though the book was written over 70 years ago, many of its central points are as relevant today as they were back then, which I guess goes to show that some things never change. In case you are wondering, the title of the book refers to the following old story:
One day an out-of-town visitor was being shown the wonders of the New York financial district. When the party arrived at the Battery, one of his guides indicated some handsome ships riding at anchor. "Look, those are the bankers' and brokers' yachts," he said. The naive visitor then asked: "Where are the customers' yachts?"
Note: I read this book in January 2012.


  1. I'll have to add this to my reading list. A few other books you might enjoy not only for the content, but the historical perspective are, The Intelligent Investor, Common Stocks and Uncommon Profits, and The Battle For Investment Survival. All three offer a different apporach to investing, but I think this helps to make a well rounded investor. Happy reading...

  2. Hi stoicinvestor,

    Thanks for your comment. The first two books you mentioned are already on my reading list; I have now added the third one. I agree that reading about different approaches helps to make a person a well-rounded investor. At the very least, it stimulates critical thinking about different strategies and helps to refine one's own strategy.