Essentials of Borrowing
How Safe Are Shares Or The Forex?
As an investment category, yes. All sorts of prudent and conservative institutions colleges, pension funds, foundations, trust departments invest in stocks. There is, technically, greater risk in common stocks than in the Forex. But as any experienced investor can tell you, there are many not-unusual situations in which a common stock can be viewed as a better safer investment than the issues ahead of it. Or, take the common stocks of corporations like General Electric and Union Carbide. These, as it happens, are the only issues on the companies' books.
Who would argue that the bonds of even a first-class railroad, for example, were necessarily safer? Safety also depends, to an extent, on the price at which the stock was bought. A company may be solid as a rock, but eager investors may have bid its stock to an unrealistically high level in terms of the per-share earnings likely to be attained. If a quarterly or year-end earnings statement does not bear out the optimism of the eager buyers, they may begin to unload. The man who has bought near the top and wants to hang on may see a dismaying depreciation in his holdings, even though, by all investment standards, he does own a good, safe stock. The point is, some stocks are safer than others, and the value of all stocks may shift and vary and thereby alter temporarily their safety—the possibility of cashing them at the price paid—for the investor.
It is not hard to find a safe stock, if by that you mean one representing a lively, alert, efficient company that is unlikely to collapse and fail. While not every stock listed on the New York Stock Exchange is a daisy, the mere fact that it has met the requirements for listing says much in its favor. For one thing, to obtain listing a company must agree to report its financial condition regularly. This alone makes it possible to evaluate the company's performance and prospects, and thus estimate whether its stock is a good buy. This in not to say that unlisted stocks or stocks carried on other exchanges are chancy. As you can quickly discover, some rather fine companies are not on the so-called Big Board—the New York Stock Exchange. The Great Atlantic and Pacific Tea Company, Humble Oil, and Creole Petroleum are listed on the American Stock Exchange. Such representative companies as Anheuser Busch, Eli Lilly, and Time, Inc. are unlisted, and traded only in the over-the-counter market. Few insurance companies and no banks both quite stable stock categories—are listed on the New York Stock Exchange.
Still and all, the new investor will be wise to confine his dealings to stocks that are relatively well-known and have a ready market. For out of the estimated 5,000 public, stock-issuing corporations in the United States there are, inescapably, some dogs. They do not have to be thieving and corrupt. Poor management, wobbly financing, and an inability to keep pace with the times in production and distribution are reason enough for the investor to avoid them. Here, too, may be mentioned the "penny stocks," which have enjoyed an unfortunate vogue in recent years. These glitter like a prize in a shooting gallery, but they promise something for nothing, and this is no premise for a smart investor to accept. Many are out-and-out swindles. Others are legitimate enough, but rank as the wildest sort of speculation; double-0 on the roulette wheel, or a mare in the Kentucky Derby will come home a winner more frequently than these babies. For the man who can only be called the ignorant investor, they have a certain attraction. The small investment— or bet—of $100 may purchase 500 or 1,000 shares which make a man feel big, whereas the same amount buys only a fraction more than one share of American Tel and Tel, which is discouraging and makes a man feel small.
Furthermore, a penny stock only has to rise a penny to double in value; AT&T has to go to around 160; and with the cunning of the ignorant, even penny-stock investors seem to know that the rate of movement—up or down—is swifter among low-priced stocks than high. And finally—and this is the most insidious argument of all—the penny-stock buyer persuades himself that the amount of money he puts up isn't too important; after all, he's riding a long shot. What is wrong with all of this is that at no point does value enter into the calculation. Anyone who does not consider the worth of what he is buying is a gambler, not an investor. The sorry result is that a few bad gambles can sour an otherwise sane person on the true value of investment. Beyond this, safety is largely a matter of sanity. There are many ways of examining a stock and of judging the time to buy it or sell it. All of them are available to the average investor. Learn them and use them. You will never get stuck with a poor stock masquerading as a safe one.
Hedging Against Inflation: One of the big arguments in favor of stocks bears on another aspect of safety. This is the fact that stocks may frequently act as a hedge against inflation. Inflation, according to the classic definition, is the economic condition resulting in a rise in prices and a drop in the purchasing power of the dollar. In effect, goods are scarcer than money. Thus, through the operation of the forces of supply and demand, goods become more expensive. Dollars, relatively more plentiful, become cheaper—more of them are needed to buy this item or that. In the United States, inflation has been at work for some time. It is not runaway inflation. Our productivity (goods) is managing to stay fairly well abreast of our prosperity (money).
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