On The Money Game

I recently finished reading The Money Game by George Goodman (pseudonym Adam Smith).

This is a classic about the stock market and investing. George covers a breadth of topics in that area based on his insider experience. This includes the psychology of the investor (“you”), IT systems and their impact on the investing field, the professional money managers and their role in the Game etc. The concepts are introduced in an accessible, and often humorous style. While the author does not offer direct investing advice, he does expose what he calls “the biases” that exist in the market – that are essential to take into account to be successful together with good judgment.

George is very successful at immersing the reader into the culture, the psychology and way of thinking that dominates the financial markets and its participants. While this book is dated, most of the concepts discussed still apply to the financial industry today. A recommended read for anyone looking to gain more insight into the Stock Market.

Below are excerpts from the book that I found particularly insightful:

1) “If you are a successful Game player, it can be a fascinating, consuming, totally absorbing experience, in fact it has to be. It it is not totally absorbing, you are not likely to be among the most successful, because you are competing with those who do find it absorbing.”

2) “The irony is that this is a money game and money is the way we keep score. But the real object of the Game is not money, it is the playing of the Game itself. For the true players, you could take all the trophies away and substitute plastic beads or whale’s teeth; as long as there is a way to keep score, they will play.”

3) “In short, if you really know what’s going on, you don’t even have to know what’s going on to know what’s going on.”

4) “You must use your emotions in a useful way…Your emotions must support the goal you’re after…You must operate without anxiety.”

5) “The strongest emotions in the marketplace are greed and fear. In rising markets, you can almost feel the greed tide begin…the greed itch begins when you see stocks move that you don’t own.”

6) “If you know that the stock doesn’t know you own it, you are ahead of the game. You are ahead because you can change your mind and your actions without regard to what you did or thought yesterday.”

7) “Who makes the really big money? The inside stockholders of a company do, when the market capitalizes the earnings of that company.”

8) “What you want is the company which is about to do that (compounding earnings) over the next couple of years. And to do that, you not only have to know that the company is doing something right, but what it is doing right, and why these earnings are compounding.”

9) “What I have told you is a set of biases so you can make your own judgement.”

10) “It is an informal thesis of charting that there are roughly four stages of stock movement. These four are: 1) Accumulation: To make a perfect case, let us say the stock has been asleep for a long time, inactively trade. Then the volume picks up and probably so does the price. 2) Mark-up…Now the supply may be a bit thinner, and the stock is more pursued by buyers, so it moves up more steeply. 3) Distribution. The Smart People who bought the stock early are busy selling it to the Dumb People who are buying it late, and the result is more or less a standoff, depending on whose enthusiasm is greater. 4) Panic Liquidation. Everybody gets the hell out, Smart People, Dumb People, “everybody.” Since there is “no one” left to buy, the stock goes down.”

11) “Does this mean that charts can be ignored? Perhaps charts can be a useful tool even without inherent predictive qualities. A chart can give you an instant portrait of the character of a stock, whether it follows a minuet, a waltz, a twist, or the latest rock gyration. The chart can also sometimes tell you whether the character of the dancer seems to have changed.”

12) “The computer is going to sanctify charting. The Chartists are on their way.”

13) “The characteristics of performance are concentration and turnover. By concentration, as I said before, I mean limiting the number of issues. Limiting the number of issues means that attention is focused sharply on them, and the ones that do not perform well virtually beg to be dropped off…Furthermore, you are going to be scouting for the best six ideas, because if you find a really good one it may bump one of your other ones off the list. Turnover means how long you hold the stocks…All that turover has doubled the volume in the last couple of years, and the brokers are getting very rich.”

14) “The further we come along, the more apparent becomes the wisdom of the Master in describing the market as a game of musical chairs. The most brilliant and perceptive analysis you can do may sit there until someone else believes it too, for the object of the game is not to own some stock, like a faithful dog, which you have chosen, but to get to the piece of paper ahead of the crowd. Value is not only inherent in the stock, it has to be value that is appreciated by others…It follows that some sort of sense timing is necessary, and you either develop it, or you don’t.”

15) “The aspiration of the people are a noble thing and no one is against jobs. But it does seem easy to produce them with currency rather than productivity. Central governments soon learn the utility of a deficit. It is convenient to take the views of the economists who followed Keynes and spend money during recessions. There are even problems on that side of the equation, because even with the breadth of statistical reporting and with computer, speed, this kind of economics is still inexact, and the central government can find itself pressing the wrong lever at the wrong time.”

16) “The love of money as a possession – as distinguished from love of money as a means to the enjoyments and realities of life – will be recognized for what it is, a somewhat disgusting morbidity, one of those semi-criminal, semi-pathological propensities which one hands over with a shudder to the specialists in mental disease.”


Omar Halabieh

The Money Game

The Money Game


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