There is not any book which is of especial value in aiding one to an understanding of the many intricate expressions and terms of the financial world. Most attempts in this line have either been by some "insider" who had an "axe to grind" and, therefore, desirous of selling his own wares, or, if not that, then some book or pamphlet which treats of investments and money matters from the standpoint of supposing the reader already to have a fair knowledge of finance, which has resulted in the use of terms and expressions not comprehensible to many. I am not aware of the existence of any reference book treating of matters relating to money, and the handling and investment thereof, in an elementary way; in a fashion to which those entirely untrained in its management may turn and find facts needful to their understanding plainly set forth. Such simple information as to the correct way to draw a check, indorse the same, open a bank account, and a thousand and one details of every-day life, are things often not clear to many.
It has long been my belief that there is need of some publication in which a mere beginner in the handling of money may seek for assistance in unravelling the mysteries of the expressions of Wall and State Streets, and giving in a concise form such instruction as above suggested. I wonder if the financial writer of the average newspaper realizes what a tremendous amount of financial slang1 he uses, and how he has come to depend upon such words as "gunning," "pyramiding," "scalping," etc., to convey his meaning. No less a newspaper than one of the leading New York dailies recently published a long detailed statement of the earnings of the " Clover Leaf " Road, without anywhere giving the real title of the company. Do the banking houses which issue circulars offering bonds and other investments, or the stock exchange houses which publish market letters, ever think what a hopeless mass of matter this all is to the uninitiated? Necessarily all this information has to be put in a condensed form, and must be issued on the supposition that such common expressions as " selling short," " bull market," " legal for savings banks of New York State," " net debt," etc., are understood by the readers, and it may be said that the last ten years has been an era of education to the investing public, and that most of the matter sent out is understood by the large majority. The monthly circulars of the bond selling houses, especially, have been mailed so broadcast of late that a great deal of information must have been absorbed, even by the most obtuse. But there is still much to be desired. Women, in particular, who are unexpectedly called upon to handle money, are generally puzzled to understand the meaning of the words and phrases in common use by all financiers. Many a man makes the mistake of telling his wife little or nothing of his financial affairs during his lifetime, or in any way preparing her for the care of his property, be it ever so little, in case of his death. A woman so left with a modest fortune may have to start at the very A B C of investing, and needs knowledge sorely.
1 Examples of financial slang:
"The market is in a much overbought condition; things have been sky-rocketing until there begins to be an evidence of pressure upon the long side. Fancy stocks have advanced, deals have been in evidence, off which Wall Street has been scalping points. Stock pyramiding is noticeable everywhere; in fact, they have been jack-screwing the market." "The shorts will probably now begin to get in their work, for the wise ones are beginning to act a little bearish. The old lady of Thread-needle Street must be considered."
It will be my aim to explain in language as little technical as possible the many most commonly used terms and expressions in relation to investment matters. In order to avoid, to a great extent, the use of one financial term in the explanation of another, it will be necessary to treat each subject at some, I fear perhaps too great, length. To the financier I am aware it will appear unnecessarily detailed and elementary and some of the definitions almost ludicrously simple, but I can perceive no injury likely to result from erring in that direction. There are many things which the beginner should
" The mills where tips are manufactured were accordingly put on two shifts, and pools went to work with zeal."
" Stocks went both ways to-day. There was some selling short, apparently, some going long, some supporting of the cliqued stocks. The cliqued stocks were strongest. London came firm, and New York started the same way; then came reaction and recovery.
"Great laundry establishments are now running night and day, and unscrupulous manipulators of good, bad and indifferent corporations are working overtime." know: the ordinary rules to safeguard one's investing which the experienced man applies almost unconsciously in making his investments. To the latter it hardly occurs that there are thousands who do not even know the desirability of a sinking fund, or that it is generally considered better to have a bond payable in gold than in lawful money, etc. I have known a banker to spend more than an hour in explaining the meaning of "accrued interest " to a woman, and a school teacher at that. Such instances are by no means rare.
A book which will help to educate the investors will be not only, I hope, of value to them, but also to the bankers, who are necessarily busy men, by having made it possible to do business with a greater dispatch with such as may have received some benefit from its use.
Many investment bankers doubt the wisdom of doing business at all with the average woman from the fact that so much time is consumed in explanation of details, and often from the lack of knowledge which many women have of the most common business rules, and which, either from courtesy or charitableness, the banker often allows her to break, to his own pecuniary loss. There must be necessarily more women who can find need for the book than men, yet it is hoped that there will be among the latter many who will find here and there in its contents something previously not clear to them.