Bernard Baruch: The Adventures of a Wall Street Legend
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Bernard Baruch was a self-made millionaire, legendary stock trader, and venture investor. For most of the first half of the 20th century, he epitomized the “good side” of Wall Street in the public mind. Celebrated as “Adviser to Presidents” and “The Park Bench Statesman,” he also became known as “The Man Who Sold out before the Crash.” James Grant’s much praised biography draws on a wealth of previously untapped material.
issue yielded about 8½ percent; at the higher price, less than 3½ percent. In the 1890s it could be reasonably assumed that interest rates would continue to fall, and that, according to the mathematics of bond prices, long-term issues would appreciate more than short-term ones. The hapless holders of defaulted railroad debt, having had no choice but to settle for lower annual interest payments, asked for, and often received, as a kind of consolation, longer maturities. Until the reorganizations
vigilance of his enemies and also of the love of his older brother. It happened that, when his name was leaked by the investigating committee, Baruch was aboard ship for a vacation in Europe, which prompted malicious gossip. Harty commented: “It is not true that Bernard M. Baruch, who by the way is not a member of this firm, went to Europe on Saturday to avoid this committee. He is not the kind to run away from anyone or anything.” Harty, in his brother’s eyes, had always been a hero. Coming from
19, the British Prime Minister rebuffed him, but the market declined again. Late the next day, Wednesday, December 20, a rumor circulated that the United States had addressed diplomatic notes to the warring powers. This too sounded bearish, and in the last hour of trading the decline resumed. It came out the next day that the Administration had indeed been in touch with the belligerents in a peaceful vein, but in a separate statement the State Department warned that continued violations of
brokers—Fred Edey & Company, Lansburg Brothers, A. A. Housman & Company, Baruch Brothers, and H. Content & Company. “They are licensed brokers, are they?” a congressman asked. “So they say,” Baruch said dryly. Short selling was in bad odor at the time, not only in Washington but also among the more high-minded type of financier in New York. For his part, Baruch said that he saw nothing wrong with it, and he disagreed with a suggestion of Henry’s that it ought to be abolished. On the contrary,
wayside under the burden of working to feed and clothe themselves. According to Baruch his own finances were straitened. He said that he worked part time as a collection agent and medical bookkeeper for his father and that he walked to school to save the dime he would have spent on the elevated. His allowance was twenty-five cents a week until his senior year, when it was munificently doubled. Possibly this raise reflected the family’s improved economic circumstances. Their address at the time of