Presenting The 10 Most Spectacular Financial Speculations Of The Past 300 Years

Tyler Durden's picture

Submitted by Gresham's Law

10 Spectacular Speculations from The Great Financial Adventures of the Past 300 Years

Sometimes it seems like the investment community operates on the assumption that the world started in 1929 – or at least that the financial booms, busts and speculators preceding the 1920s are irrelevant to the modern investor. We think this is misguided. Just consider that this common worldview ignores an age where speculators lived in sprawling mansions on Fifth Avenue (as opposed to apartments in the same place measuring about 1/100th the size)! We imagine that there’s a lot to learn from looking at the past 300 years as opposed to the past 80. With this in mind; here we present what we believe to be the best trades of all time.

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mrdenis's picture

Shut up and take my money ! 

Rubicon's picture

Bend over first please.

tmosley's picture

Bet on levelling off of the trend.  Do this by buying gold now, then selling it for productive assets as the rate of population growth slows.

As the population rises, you can lever your gold into more man-hours of work.  Once it levels off, productive assets will supply the products that all those people want, and are working hard for.

Precious's picture

If you didn't notice yet, not one of these investors got rich either going long or shorting gold.

max2205's picture

They all blew there brains out not too many years later.....

neidermeyer's picture

AFAIK that was just Jesse...

tenpanhandle's picture

"If you didn't notice yet, not one of these investors got rich either going long or shorting gold."


It is a very short list.

neidermeyer's picture

Bernie Smith made a quick 75% buying gold just before FDR's USD devaluation, assuming he was buying with cash and wasn't leveraged.


In addition you can read above where MANY of these people were paid in GOLD as it was the currency of choice at the time and it turned out to be an EXCELLENT store of wealth.  Just try getting anything but collector value for your "tally sticks" today...

spinone's picture

Compare it to energy use and debt, then buy beans, bullets and bullion.

Everything thats unsustainable will end

Exponential functions are unsustainable

Taint Boil's picture



[How do I play this exponential chart:] ...

"Anyone who believes exponential growth can go on forever in a finite world is either a madman or an economist"

Kenneth Boulding 

Silver Bug's picture

The next great play will be made soon enough.

The Monkey's picture

You are missing Gary Shilling who also had a huge speculative bet on long US treasuries and has HELD them for the entire length of the rally!

Certainly one of the finest strategists ever.

Shilling: global recession imminent. Fed is "out of bullets". Deflation, not inflation, looms. Dollar is best horse in the glue factory and it will be decades before another alternative is floated for a viable reserve. China is going to hard land. Yen is getting to the end of it's run as a safe haven. JGBs near the point of a reversal. Short stocks (esp financials), commodities, long dollar index and treasuries. Neutral on gold.

fonzannoon's picture

I'm still pissed they cancelled his show. His opening song was such a catchy jingle.

RafterManFMJ's picture

Man I agree - loved the Gary Schilling show on HBO. I loved it when Warren Zevon was on and they basically told him, 'Play Werewolves of London or GTFO.' Funny stuff.

Muppet of the Universe's picture

Come november, THE SHIT WILL HIT THE FAN, beginning sirs, with U.S. Bond market collapse.

Muppet of the Universe's picture

Come november, THE SHIT WILL HIT THE FAN, beginning sirs, with U.S. Bond market collapse.

disabledvet's picture

time that bitch phucker! become famous!

RafterManFMJ's picture

I truly love stories of Great Americans who produced nothing but just placed a correct bet. Say, how about stories of Great Americans who bet on red and make money in Vegas? What great fun! Fuck that Salk or Jobs guy; my heroes will always be the feckless ticks who shuffle paper and make nice piles of tidy fiat.

God Bless Amerixa.

Daily Bail's picture


HELP GET RID OF DIMON! - Simon Johnson's Petition To Remove Jamie Dimon From The New York Fed Passes 40,000 Signatures


Thanks in advance to anyone who signs the petition to remove the Dimon Cancer from the Board of the NY Fed.

DutchR's picture

Hahahahahaha, He fucks you anyway possible and you want to sign a petition.......


Repeat after me: Mehhhhh



Daily Bail's picture

You're right but you also have to admit that 50,000 signatures calling for Dimon to be removed is not completely useless.

We gotta fight these fuckers with every tool in the arsenal.'s picture

Even though political posturing is unlikely to unseat the oligarchy protests and petitions introduce one to the fray and offer the opportunity for one to become radicalized by the (broken) process thereby opening the door to other possibilities.

spinone's picture

No I don't, because it is completely useless.

Lord Koos's picture

Useless as compared to posting on Zerohedge, I suppose.

DutchR's picture

Yes you do, but.

What amazes me to most after 2+years of ZH that after all the chest thumping and retaliatory brouhaha not a GODDAMD single thing is done, not ONE THING.

Not even one of those boehoe letter to one of those evil banksters that made the news, let alone that someone REALLY "harmed" one.

I mean, between 2008 and 2012 how many big wigs have been in the papers or on tv, not like they are hard to find are they?

So bankers and their ilk are pure evil, right, then why are they stil running the show?


tenpanhandle's picture

I read Zero hedge and pound my chest for my own consumption and amusement. When it comes to my ethnicity, I confess to being about 3/4 cynic, however, the info I get from reading Zero Hedge and the comments does not fall on deaf ears.  I utilize any valuable thought or data in my own selfish desire for knowledge & survival.  I, therefore, am doing something concrete.  I am endeavoring to survive and keep my personal ideals alive in this world of no ideals.  Change begins one person at a time so start with the "man in the mirror"  50K selfdescribed rugged individualist Zero Hedge readers and their 100 camp-follower trolls don't have to sign petitions or put on public displays of patriotism to make a big difference in the future of this world.  If you can keep from being flattened by any of a thousand huge inertia bound dominos then maybe you can be one of the rebuilders, hopefully with friends and family which survived, perhaps by ones own preparedness and truly concrete actions.



Beam Me Up Scotty's picture

I wonder how all of these guys would have done vs. the Algos and all the current market manipulation.  Its hard to beat the house when they take your money if the market goes up or down.

The Monkey's picture

Buy (sell) carefully when sentiment overshoots and prices are at an edge. Hold your position.

Financials cannot levitate forever. Look at the reported revenues for the sector as a whole. Deteriorating ratings quality, low interest rates, low trading volume, economic headwinds, sentiment and regulatory environment make this sector very vulnerable for a correction.

If you don't mark to market, eventually the market will do it for you.

otto skorzeny's picture

BAC is flirting w/ a 6 spot this week and MS could touch single digits

DeadFred's picture

Just remember that coordinated global intervention happened within hours of BAC closing under five last year. It's called Too Big to Fail for a reason. But along with the spirit of this article shorting TBTF will be a major winner some day. Zombie banks, unbacked currencies and negative interest rates are all things that can't last forever.

The Monkey's picture

Then, long / short. There are way better stimulus plays out there.

spinone's picture

As long as OPEC only takes dollars for oil, no worries.

The Monkey's picture

Take a look at Goldman Sachs and contrast with Apple. Both are trading at 14X trailing P/E's. One company has 90% earnings growth with a huge pipeline of cheap stimulus friendly products in it's pipeline. The other has an especially levered business model and shrinking revenues. Apple may be expensive, but valued in banking shares it is as cheap as dirt!

Buffett says the banks are in great shape. Fortunately for Buffett, he owns PREFERRED shares.

hbjork1's picture

I agree Monkey.  And buy tillable land.  Rice land is good if possible.  The family can always vacation productively, wading in the water while planting rice.

disabledvet's picture

that's called "The Government." Business does not succeed in a ZIRP universe by "stealing the customer money." They are...literally...stealing from themselves. Government on the hand doesn't understand this until...well, everyone is dead.

mkkby's picture

Good point.  Before computers and HFT, these guys WERE THE MARKET MANIPULATION.  Livermore explained how in detail, and he could no longer make money when rules were put in place.

Diogenes's picture

It wasn't the rules, it was the market. In the twenties you could swing a big line. Buy or sell 50,000 shares of a popular stock, which could be $100 $200 a share or more. That means a $5,000,000 or $10,000,000 trade in a day or two. Livermore and others did operate that big.

In 1931 the stock market was so dead, brokers played baseball on the floor of the NYSE for something to do. In brokerages around the country, brokers and customers would be dozing in their chairs when suddenly, the ticker started clattering and wake everybody up. Someone would look at the tape, it would be 20 shares of Montgomery Ward at $7. Then the tape would fall silent and everyone would go to sleep for another 20 minutes.

Livermore was still involved in the markets up until his death in 1940. I have his book, How To Trade Stocks, also published in 1940.

The Monkey's picture

In 1932 trading volume picked up.

The Monkey's picture

The boy plunger could have bought the lows and simply held (as a very few did), but, it wasn't in his blood. He could have bought bonds and went fishing. Instead, he lost 100 million and killed himself.

Lots to learn from Livermore including what NOT to do.

I am Jobe's picture

I guess Christmas is gonna be bleak with Bling Blings and Waffle Irons. Can;t wait for the whiny azzz bitchezzz about how miserable Christmas was .



JPM Hater001's picture

Christmas has been cancelled in favor of beatings until moral and the stock market improve.

otto skorzeny's picture

actually "The Big Short" by Michael Lewis had a list of guys in addition to K.Bass that made a ton of $. I hope it works out for him on the Japs. His prepper compound in TX sounds pretty cool also.

RobotTrader's picture

Hands down, without question, the U.S. Fixed Income market is by far the biggest bubble in world history, particularly when "weighted" by the size of the market and the number of dollars invested.


Just look at these charts, they are almost un-natural.

U.S. Treasuries have gone virtually straight up since the AAA downgrade a year ago.

And muni-bonds have had their biggest, fastest rally in history in the 2 years since Meridith Whitney was screaming about a muni-crash.

otto skorzeny's picture

good/scary charts. my favs are the ones that you click on the link at bottom of page about home improvement/paint manufacturers. Sherwin Williams @ $135 a share-WTF. and the HDs by me are like ghost towns-overpriced/shitty sales and all tools can be had for much cheaper on AMZN

disabledvet's picture

It was tough time dealing with that Housing Market in 2008. After I told them to "Paint it Red" however, that just about solved it!

Beam Me Up Scotty's picture

And why are people buying bonds hand over fist?  They are afraid of a stock market crash.  I heard someone on Bloomberg radio talking about a possible 1% ten year by the end of this year.  I'd say S&P sub 1100 or even sub 1000 if that happens.

Also, the Fed is the biggest buyer of the long end with Op Twist.  Will the ballon deflate or pop?