Why pick the stock market? Is everyone’s memory so short that 1929 has been forgotten? Do these innocents want to get taken to the cleaners, playing an expert’s game?
No. Times have changed here and the word is getting around. Millions of people had their first investment experience with war bonds, and found it good. The bonds were issued in denominations small enough for people to handle easily. There was no fluctuation in their price, so you could put them away and forget them. They grew in value steadily, and could be cashed without fuss or trouble. If these conditions could be duplicated in the stock market, investment might make very good sense.
Of course, in the market, price fluctuation was inevitable. Common stock could never have the stability of a Government obligation like the E-bond. Still, it had become a very respectable piece of merchandise. Workers learned that their union pension funds included large blocks of sound common stocks. And frequently the company they worked for offered them an opportunity to acquire its stock through one sort of monthly purchase plan or another. Various state commissions took a fresh look and decided that common stocks were safe enough to be incorporated in widows’ and orphans’ trust funds, traditionally the most conservative type of portfolio.
And, on top of everything else, common stocks in the rising post war market were paying off well. Interest on savings accounts was no more than 3—3¼ per cent. Stocks were paying at least 4, often 5, and in some instances 6 and 7. When they paid less than that, it was usually because their price had appreciated, which reduced the yield but pleasantly increased value. Nothing wrong with that either. There were nuts and raisins in the cake, as well: splits, stock dividends, extra cash returns.
Furthermore, the market was coming within the reach of the person of modest means. By monthly payments to a mu¬tual fund one could acquire a pro rata share of a massive stock portfolio whose individual items would have been far too expensive to buy. And in 1954, the New York Stock Exchange pioneered the revolutionary Monthly Investment Plan (See Chapter 11) which permits purchase of fractions of shares of stock, regardless of price, on a regular, cumulative basis. Brokers awakened to the great untapped army of potential investors, smilingly invited the small account, and
spent thousands of man hours educating anyone who would listen in the essentials of common-stock investment.
But all of this would have had no effect if people had not begun to trust the market. This trust was a long time coming. The exchanges actually had been laboring mightily since the 1929 debacle to put their house in order and to persuade people of the honesty and sobriety of their operation.
But few listened except the professionals, the sophisticated traders, and the institutional buyers who didn’t need to be told. Still, the effort went on. Federal and state regulations went into effect; floor procedures were tightened by the exchanges themselves to outlaw manipulation and sharp practice by insiders. By the time the postwar horde descended, the market had been swept clean and was ready to do business.
The people had cash. The merchandise was attractive. And the market place was open, aboveboard, and bright with sunlight. By this sequence, it appears, some 12,500,000 Americans have become investors.
This could be mirrored in Forex, where it is possible to obtain free software that can help predict future price movements with great accuracy, reducing risks for all investors.