Tuesday, June 06, 2006

The Devil Made Me Do It

Wall Street is heavily populated by many of the superstitious persuasion. Difficult market conditions are especially conducive to turning the most rational of traders into blithering idiots. So on this auspicious day of triple sixes - 06-06-06 - more than a few headed toward the trading floors with a sense of trepidation.

The number 666 is the so-called mark of the beast as described in Revelations. “He also forced everyone, small and great, rich and poor, free and slave, to receive a mark….so that no one could buy or sell unless he had the mark.…”

Depending upon your perspective, it seems we have quite a few of those beasts on Wall Street every trading day. There is the Health South Beast, the Tyco Beast, the WorldCom Beast, or the Enron Beast. No doubt we would find a few others if we asked shareholders who have been left holding worthless stock certificates.

Perhaps the executives of these failed companies should have tried “the devil made me do it” defense instead of pretending to either have no knowledge of fraudulent activities or to have had knowledge of the activities but no understanding that they were fraudulent. The phrase - “the devil made me do it” - rolls off the tongue with such ease. No convoluted logic. No shallow excuse-making. Entirely believable in a superstitious world.

I think the day’s fears might be a bit overdone. It seems to be a business day like any other if history is any indication.

On this Day in History

President Franklin Roosevelt chose this day in 1934 to sign the Securities Exchange Act, which sanctioned a set of regulations designed to curb excessive and illegal trading practices on the NYSE.

Gold hit a record $60 an ounce in London on this day in 1972. Well it was a record then! The price has increased over ten times since then and will likely close over $600 on 06/06/06.

The U.S. Federal gas tax was enacted in 1932. The tax was a penny gallon back then and is now $0.184 per gallon.

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