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certain group of people in the United States tried an experiment. They tried the experiment of making a fortune without working, of making a fortune through the stock exchange. They extended the experiment until it exploded and all went down to earth.  “Aspects of World Trade” Thomas J. Watson Sr. July 31, 1930
Peter Greulich (The World's Greatest Salesman, An IBM Caretaker's Perspective: Looking Back)
Meanwhile, people are busy using fractals to explain any system that has defied other, more reductionist approaches. Since they were successfully applied by IBM's Benoit Mandlebrot to the problem of seemingly random, intermittent interference on the phone lines, fractals have been used to identify underlying patterns in weather systems, computer files, and bacteria cultures. Sometimes fractal enthusiasts go a bit too far, however, using these nonlinear equations to mine for patterns in systems where none exist. Applied to the stock market to consumer behavior, fractals may tell less about those systems than about the people searching for patterns within them. There is a dual nature to fractals: They orient us while at the same time challenging our sense of scale and appropriateness. They offer us access to the underlying patterns of complex systems while at the same time tempting us to look for patterns where none exist. This makes them a terrific icon for the sort of pattern recognition associated with present shock—a syndrome we'll call factalnoia. Like the robots on Mystery Science Theater 3000, we engage by relating one thing to another, even when the relationship is forced or imagined. The tsunami makes sense once it is connected to chemtrails, which make sense when they are connected to HAARP. It's not just conspiracy theorists drawing fractalnoid connections between things. In a world without time, any and all sense making must occur on the fly. Simultaneity often seems like all we have. That's why anyone contending with present shock will have a propensity to make connections between things happening in the same moment—as if there had to be an underlying logic.
Douglas Rushkoff (Present Shock: When Everything Happens Now)
The market's second wild trait-almost-cycles-is prefigured in the story of Joseph. Pharaoh dreamed that seven fat cattle were feeding in the meadows, when seven lean kine rose out of the Nile and ate them. Likewise, seven scraggly ears of corn consumed seven plump ears. Joseph, a Hebrew slave, called the dreams prophetic: Seven years of famine would follow seven years of prosperity. He advised Pharaoh to stockpile grain for bad times to come. And when all passed as prophesied, "Joseph opened all the storehouses, and sold unto the Egyptians...And all countries came into Egypt to Joseph to buy corn; because that the famine was so sore in all lands." Given the profits he and Pharaoh must have made, one might call Joseph the first international arbitrageur. That pattern, familiar from Hurst's work on the Nile, also appears in markets. A big 3 percent change in IBM's stock one day might precede a 2 percent jump another day, then a 1.5 percent change, then a 3.5 percent move-as if the first big jumps were continuing to echo down the succeeding days' trading. Of course, this is not a regular or predictable pattern. But the appearance of one is strong. Behind it is the influence of long-range dependence in an otherwise random process-or, put another way, a long-term memory through which the past continues to influence the random fluctuations of the present.
Benoît B. Mandelbrot (The (Mis)Behavior of Markets)
programmer can fully prepare for in advance. It’s impossible for them to upload every single variable. As you observe the market, in real time, you will see those unpredictable moments and you will profit in them. You must be very strategic with every trade you enter. Never forget that in the equally strategic world of chess, Garry Kasparov did win some of his rounds against IBM’s Deep Blue. More recently, even IBM’s Watson got answer after answer wrong when playing on Jeopardy! You must also remember that any one organization’s powerful “black box” is trading against all of the other
AMS Publishing Group (Intelligent Stock Market Trading and Investment: Quick and Easy Guide to Stock Market Investment for Absolute Beginners)
In 1957, IBM’s weight was two-thirds of the technology sector; in 2013, IBM was only the third largest in a sector that contains 70 firms.
Jeremy J. Siegel (Stocks for the Long Run: The Definitive Guide to Financial Market Returns & Long-Term Investment Strategies)
Say Bank A is holding $10 million in A-minus-rated IBM bonds. It goes to Bank B and makes a deal: we’ll pay you $50,000 a year for five years and in exchange, you agree to pay us $10 million if IBM defaults sometime in the next five years—which of course it won’t, since IBM never defaults. If Bank B agrees, Bank A can then go to the Basel regulators and say, “Hey, we’re insured if something goes wrong with our IBM holdings. So don’t count that as money we have at risk. Let us lend a higher percentage of our capital, now that we’re insured.” It’s a win-win. Bank B makes, basically, a free $250,000. Bank A, meanwhile, gets to lend out another few million more dollars, since its $10 million in IBM bonds is no longer counted as at-risk capital. That was the way it was supposed to work. But two developments helped turn the CDS from a semisensible way for banks to insure themselves against risk into an explosive tool for turbo leverage across the planet. One is that no regulations were created to make sure that at least one of the two parties in the CDS had some kind of stake in the underlying bond. The so-called naked default swap allowed Bank A to take out insurance with Bank B not only on its own IBM holdings, but on, say, the soon-to-be-worthless America Online stock Bank X has in its portfolio. This is sort of like allowing people to buy life insurance on total strangers with late-stage lung cancer—total insanity. The other factor was that there were no regulations that dictated that Bank B had to have any money at all before it offered to sell this CDS insurance.
Matt Taibbi (Griftopia: Bubble Machines, Vampire Squids, and the Long Con That Is Breaking America)
Unlike other financial securities, such as shares of IBM stock or oil futures, a credit derivative is not even some theoretical value of a tangible good. It’s the perceived value of a complete intangible, the perception of the probability of meeting some future obligation.
Antonio García Martínez (Chaos Monkeys: Obscene Fortune and Random Failure in Silicon Valley)
Groupon is a study of the hazards of pursuing scale and valuation at all costs. In 2010, Forbes called it the “fastest growing company ever” after its founders raised $135 million in funding, giving Groupon a valuation of more than $1 billion after just 17 months.5 The company turned down a $6 billion acquisition offer from Google and went public in 2011 with one of the biggest IPOs since Google’s in 2004.6 It was one of the original unicorns. However, the business model had serious problems. Groupon sometimes sold so many Daily Deals that participating businesses were overwhelmed . . . even crippled. Other businesses accused Groupon of strong-arming them to sign up for Daily Deals. Customers started to view the group discount (the company’s bread and butter) as a sign that a participating business was desperate. Businesses stopped signing up. Journalists suggested that Groupon was prioritizing customer acquisition over retention — growth over value — and that it had gone public before it had a solid, proven business model.7 Groupon is still a player, with just over $3 billion in annual revenue in 2015. But its stock has fallen from $26 a share to about $4 today, and it has withdrawn from many international markets. Also revealing is that the company is suing IBM for patent infringement, something that will not create customer value.8 Many promising startups have paid the price for rushing to scale. We can see clues to potential future failures in the recent “down rounds” (stock purchases priced at a lower valuation than those of previous investors) hitting companies like Foursquare, Gilt Group, Jet, Jawbone, and Technorati. In their rush to build scale, executives and founders search for shortcuts to sustainable, long-term revenue growth.
Brian de Haaff (Lovability: How to Build a Business That People Love and Be Happy Doing It)
The imminent arrival of NT had turned the computer industry on its ear. After outsiders took stock of the first beta, expectations for NT grew. While easy to nitpick over flaws, some heralded the program as a grand achievement likely to alter the destinies of scores of computer and software companies. Those rivals most at risk—IBM, Sun Microsystems and Novell, to name the three biggest—girded themselves against the onslaught. First Boston, a securities firm that advised investors on the industry’s outlook, captured the mood on February 15, 1993, calling NT the “most aggressive new piece of software ever.” Eight
G. Pascal Zachary (Showstopper!: The Breakneck Race to Create Windows NT and the Next Generation at Microsoft)
The price investors paid for IBM was just too high. Even though the computer giant trumped Standard Oil on growth, Standard Oil trumped IBM on valuation, and valuation determines investor returns.
Jeremy J. Siegel (Stocks for the Long Run: The Definitive Guide to Financial Market Returns & Long-Term Investment Strategies)
Financial options were systematically mispriced. The market often underestimated the likelihood of extreme moves in prices. The options market also tended to presuppose that the distant future would look more like the present than it usually did. Finally, the price of an option was a function of the volatility of the underlying stock or currency or commodity, and the options market tended to rely on the recent past to determine how volatile a stock or currency or commodity might be. When IBM stock was trading at $34 a share and had been hopping around madly for the past year, an option to buy it for $35 a share anytime soon was seldom underpriced. When gold had been trading around $650 an ounce for the past two years, an option to buy it for $2,000 an ounce anytime during the next ten years might well be badly underpriced. The longer-term the option, the sillier the results generated by the Black-Scholes option pricing model, and the greater the opportunity for people who didn’t use it.
Michael Lewis (The Big Short: Inside the Doomsday Machine)
In Tsai's go‐go years, high‐flying stocks with​ positive momentum were all the rage. Polaroid, Xerox, IBM all traded at price‐to‐earnings ratios of more than 50. These expensive stocks were supported by explosively high growth rates. From 1964 to 1968, IBM, Polaroid, and Xerox grew their earnings per share at 88%, 22%, and 171%, respectively. Others like University Computing, Mohawk Data, and Fairchild Camera traded at several‐hundred times their trailing 12‐month earnings. The latter three and many others like them would go on to lose more than 80% in the 1969–1970 bear market. The Manhattan Fund was up almost 40% in 1967, more than double the Dow. But in 1968, he was down 7% and was ranked 299th out of 305 funds tracked by Arthur Lipper.16 When the market crash came, the people responsible were entirely unprepared. By 1969, half of the salesmen on Wall Street had only come into the business since 196217 and had seen nothing but a rising market. And when stocks turned, the highfliers that went up the fastest also came down the fastest. For example, National Student Marketing, which Tsai bought 122,000 shares for $5 million, crashed from $143 in December 1969 to $3.50 in July 1970.18 Between September and November 1929, $30 billion worth of stock value vanished; in the1969‐1970 crash, the loss was $300 billion!19 The gunslingers of the 1960s were thinking only about return and paid little attention to risk. This carefree attitude was a result of the market they were playing in. From 1950 through the end of 1965, the Dow was within 5% of its highs 66% of the time, and within 10% of its highs 87% of the time. There was virtually no turbulence at all. From 1950 to 1965, the only bear market was “The Kennedy Slide,” which chopped 27% off the S&P 500, and recovered in just over a year.
Michael Batnick (Big Mistakes: The Best Investors and Their Worst Investments (Bloomberg))
Credit” is the third-person singular conjugation of the present tense of the Latin verb credere, “to believe.” It’s the most exceptional and interesting thing in the financial world. Similar leaps of belief underlie every human transaction in life: Your wife might cheat on you, but you hope otherwise. The online store you paid may not ship you your goods, but you trust otherwise. Credit derivatives are just the explicit encapsulations of such beliefs, in financial and contractual form, for corporate entities. Unlike other financial securities, such as shares of IBM stock or oil futures, a credit derivative is not even some theoretical value of a tangible good. It’s the perceived value of a complete intangible, the perception of the probability of meeting some future obligation. People often asked me in the early days of my tech career how I had gone from Wall Street to ads technology. Such a person almost certainly knew nothing about either industry, or the answer would have been obvious. I did the same thing the whole time: putting a price on a human’s perception, be it of a General Motors bond or a pair of shoes coveted on Zappos. It’s the same difference either way; only the scale of the money pile changes.
Antonio García Martínez (Chaos Monkeys: Obscene Fortune and Random Failure in Silicon Valley)
By 1996 Apple’s share of the market had fallen to 4% from a high of 16% in the late 1980s. Michael Spindler, the German-born chief of Apple’s European operations who had replaced Sculley as CEO in 1993, tried to sell the company to Sun, IBM, and Hewlett-Packard. That failed, and he was ousted in February 1996 and replaced by Gil Amelio, a research engineer who was CEO of National Semiconductor. During his first year the company lost $1 billion, and the stock price, which had been $70 in 1991, fell to $14, even as the tech bubble was pushing other stocks into the stratosphere.
Walter Isaacson (Steve Jobs)