Book Review: Where Are The Customers’ Yachts

I heard about the book Where Are The Customers’ Yachts a long time ago but I’ve never read it. Perhaps the title did the job too well. It came from an old joke that goes like this:

An out-of-town guest was given a tour in New York. The guide pointed out the beautiful yachts in the harbor and said “Look, those are the bankers’ and brokers’ yachts.” The guest asked “Where are the customers’ yachts?”

I thought the book was about bashing bankers and brokers. I was wrong. There is some bashing but it’s way more than that.

This is an old book. It was first published in 1940(!). The author Fred Schweb, Jr. was a professional trader on Wall Street in the 1920s. He experienced the bull market leading to the Great Depression, the crash, and the slow recovery. The subtitle of the book is “Or a Good Look at Wall Street.” He wrote about his observations in good humor. There’s no lecturing, just observations. It’s amazing how things don’t change on Wall Street. In 1955, the author wanted to update the book. After adding a new introduction and a few footnotes, he realized the book didn’t need updating because nothing changed. Today, more than 60 years after the book was published, what he wrote is still true.

It’s a short, small book, just 200 pages. The language is amusing. The funny cartoons are a bonus. There is never a dull moment. I had good laughs. And I learned. I won’t spoil it for you. I think if you read the book, it will become quite clear where the customers’ yachts are.

Rating: ***** (Excellent). Highly recommended for light-hearted reading of astute observations of how the investment world works.

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  1. Jonathan says

    “After adding a new introduction and a few footnotes, he realized the book didn’t need updating because nothing changed”

    I wish the textbook companies would follow the same reasoning…

    Sounds interesting, I’ll have to see if I there is a copy at my library.

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