A plaque remaining from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem.

Above, a 1934 plaque from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem. Discarded as trash in 2006.

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Entry from November 08, 2008
“It’s not a stock market, but a market of stocks” (Wall Street saying)

An old Wall Street saying is: “It’s not a stock market, but a market of stocks.” This means that it’s not important if the stock market (such as the Dow Jones Industrial Average) goes up or down—each investor must check his or her own stocks for their individual performance.

The origin of the saying—cited in print from at least 1928—is unknown, although it is sometimes attributed to Wall Street speculator Jesse Livermore (1877-1940).


25 October 1928, New York (NY) Times, “Topics in Wall Street,” pg. 40:
One description of the present stock market which appeals to many minds was made yesterday by the head of a Stock Exchange firm. He expressed the opinion that “this is not a stock market at all, but a market of stocks.” The force of the distinction was recognized by every one who has been impressed with the number of persons encountered every day in Wall Street with good-sized losses on the Stock Exchange staring them in the face, notwithstanding the tremendous up-surge of prices which has occurred.

Google Books
How to Play the Stock Market
By Louis William Lowe
Published by C. De Witt White Co.
1929
Pg. 8:
It is commonly said that it is no longer a stock market but a market of stocks.

24 July 1929, Olean (NY) Times, “Stock Letter,” pg. 8, col. 3:
Remembers (sic) this is a market of stocks and not a stock market.

24 July 1929, New York (NY) Times, “Topics in Wall Street,” pg. 32:
A Market of Stocks.
The recently coined Wall Street axiom that this is a market of stocks rather than a stock market was demonstrated again yesterday and this characteristic has been predominant for many market days.

11 May 1931, Appleton (WI) Post-Crescent, pg. 7, col. 4:
Back in the days of the bull market someone Invented the expression that it was not a stock market but a market of stocks

1 November 1959, Dallas (TX) Morning News, section 4, pg. 1:
W. E. Hutton & Co. suggests that these days it is “more a market of stocks than a stock market, and that certain individual issues are likely to behave fairly well while the list as a whole continues to wait.”

7 December 1961, Dallas (TX) Morning News, section 3, pg. 17:
Although popular averages and market statistics gave a thin verdict of a decline on balance, this was the proverbial “market of stocks” rather than stock market. 

Google Books
Security Analysis:
Principles and Technique

By Benjamin Graham
Published by McGraw-Hill
1962
Pg. 512:
This is no longer a “stock market,” they say, but a “market of stocks” — meaning by that word play that stocks in no sense act as a unit, but that each has ...

5 August 1962, New York (NY) Times, “Selected Stocks Outpace Market” by Richard Butter, pg. 1:
“It’s a market of stocks rather than a stock market.”

That is a time-honored saying that often circulates in Wall Street when the stock market churns around and fails to establish a clear-cut pattern either on the up or downside. SUch has been the case in many recent sessions.

9 June 1963, New York (NY) Times, “The Market’s Up—The Market’s Down,” pg. 144 ad:
Instead of “stock market” we’ve always preferred “market of stocks.”
(Merrill Lynch, Pierce, Fenner & Smith Inc.—ed.)

31 October 1965, New York (NY) Times, “Down Industrials Backed By Many” by Vartanig G. Vartan, pg. F13:
“A Market of Stocks”
Professional investors keep an eye on the progress of the Dow, but they are sophisticated enough to recognize its strangths and weaknesses. “This is not a stock market,” the professionals like to say, “but a market of stocks.”

29 January 1969, Galveston (TX) Daily News, “Businees Jargon Unclear” by John Cunniff (AP Business Analyst), pg. 12, col. 4:
Some critics stoutly maintain in fact that there really is no stock market at all but only a market of stocks the difference being that the first describes a unit, a single entity, and the second is made up of disparate stocks acting in a random manner.

Google Books
Contemporary Economics:
Principles and Issues

By Leonard Solomon Silk
Published by McGraw-Hill
1970
Pg. 72:
Wall Street traders like to say that there is no such thing as the stock market, but rather a “market of stocks.” By this they mean that the stock of each corporation has a market value of its own.

27 July 1971, New York (NY) Times, “Priced Edge Down on Stock Market” by Vartanig G. Vartan, pg. 43:
Wall Street’s old saying—“It’s not a stock market but a market of stocks”—was borne out yesterday by the widely divergent action of individual issues.

Google Books
Wall Street Words:
Over 3600 Investment Terms Explained with Tips from Experts

By David Logan Scott
Published by Houghton Mifflin Co.
1988
Pg. 27:
Remember it’s a market of stocks, not just a stock market. Correct picks and strategies in a bear market can still make money.

Google Books
The Big Board:
A History of the New York Stock Market

By Robert Sobel
Published by Beard Books
2000
Pg. 247:
Livermore differed from his predecessors in his realization that the market as a whole could not be controlled, and that special situations rather than a general rise must be watched for by the speculator. He was the first to indicate what has since become a cliche — that it is a market of stocks and not a stock market.

Google Books
The Stock Market
By Richard Jack Teweles and Edward S. Bradley
Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley and Sons
1998
Pg. 486:
Traders once accepted as articles of faith the old market saws: “You can’t buy the market” and “There’s no such thing as a stock market, only a market of stocks.” These adages indicate that investors must be selective, and in choosing one or perhaps a few individual stocks, they run the risk of choosing incorrectly. The market as a whole may rise, but the investor’s shares may not follow or may even decline.

Posted by Barry Popik
New York CityBanking/Finance/Insurance • (0) Comments • Saturday, November 08, 2008 • Permalink