Thursday, November 4, 1999

The Man with the Magnifying Glass

By 2LateTF

(This tale is an allegory and any similarity to actual persons is purely intentional.)

There was a man with a magnifying glass (hereinafter 2LateTF) studying a tapestry on the wall. This tapestry was called "The World of Finance and Markets." 2LateTF wanted desperately to understand this tapestry in all its intricacies and detail. He peered endlessly at the fibers of commerce, seeking to uncover the secrets of its operation and evolution.

This search was not without purpose, for 2LateTF wished to profit from his exercise. Others had participated in the development of this tapestry and had been handsomely rewarded. 2LateTF therefore set about to learn all he could of this tapestry, that he too might enjoy the rewards both financial and personal. He therefore studied the market and its gyrations with great attention, as well as companies both great and small. Surely, there must be some common theme among all these fibers. There were companies that added color and vibrancy to this tapestry, while others paled into the background or were completely removed from its borders.

There were many things to view through the magnifying glass: P/E ratios, earnings reports, market capitalization, sales figures, and on and on. Also there was timing to consider, when to buy, when to sell, and what of the latest news stories. Viewing all the fibers that made up this tapestry, 2LateTF was sure he could make no sense of it and deferred to art experts called fund managers. They had studied this tapestry in great detail and were willing impart their knowledge and expertise for a small fee. 2LateTF continued looking through his magnifying glass, but paid the art experts to be his guide.

At this time two brothers, Tom and David Gardner, happened along. They tapped 2LateTF on the shoulder and said to him, "Put the magnifying glass in your pocket. We may use that later, but for now step back from the tapestry and tell us what you see." 2LateTF was astonished to see that the tapestry was actually a graph continually rising except for a few downward spikes of short duration. "If only I had followed the graph I would have already been richly rewarded," thought 2LateTF aloud. "Exactly," said the brothers, "and knowing this you no longer need the art experts to guide you. What's more, if you wish to use the magnifying glass there are ways to rise above the graph, should you so desire."

"What do you call yourselves?" asked 2LateTF. Their reply both enriched and amused, "We are called Fools and our knowledge is free to all on the Internet at The Motley Fool."

Postscript: I had this tale in my head for a while, wanting to thank the brothers Gardner for giving me the answer I had sought for so long. What made me finally sit down to write was that now my two cents is actually worth two cents to charity (see TMF 1999 Charity Drive Launches on October 14, 1999). Come on Fools, let's all contribute to the charity of our choice by posting messages and checks this holiday season!


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