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 13, 2008
“The public is right during the trends, but wrong at both ends” (Wall Street adage)

Humphrey Bancroft Neill (1895-1977), the “Vermont ruminator,” was a stock market contrarian, as expressed in his book, The Art of Contrary Thinking (1954). He wrote: “The public is right during the trends but wrong at both ends.”

In other words, the public joins the momentum going up or going down, but fails to see when the stock market stops going up or stops going down.


Google Books
The Art of Contrary Thinking:
It Pays to be Contrary

By Humphrey Bancroft Neill
Caldwell, ID: Caxton Press
2007 (Originally published 1954)
Pg. 44:
Let me put it this way: Is the public wrong all the time?

The answer is, decidedly, “No.” The public is perhaps right more of the time than not. In stock-market parlance, the public is right during the trends but wrong at both ends!

One can assert that the public is usually wrong at junctures of events and at terminals of trends.

So, to be cyncial, you might say, “Yes, the public is always wrong when it pays to be right—but is far from wrong in the meantime.”

14 June 1970, Pasadena (CA) Star-News, “Some Adages Survive: Reassuring Words Weak As a Stock Market Prop” by Gerald M. Loeb, pg. 8, col. 6:
Humphrey Neill is widely known for his views on “contrary opinion.” There are those who incorrectly think all one need do to succeed is to copper the crowd! I agree with Neill, the leading “contrarian,” when he says that the public is decidedly not wrong all the time. he even goes further and says the public is perhaps right more of the time than not.

In stock market parlance, he points out that the public is right during the trends, but wrong at both ends. He enlarges this to say that the public is usually wrong at junctures of events and at terminals of trends.

Google Books
Contrary Investing for the 1990s:
The Insider’s Guide to Buying Low and Selling High

By Richard E. Band
Published by KCI Communications
1989
Pg. 67:
As Humphrey Neill, the “Vermont ruminator,” used to say, “The public is right about the trends, but wrong at both ends.”

Google Books
The Option Advisor:
Wealth-building Techniques Using Equity & Index Options

By Bernie Schaeffer
Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley and Sons
1997
Pg. 9:
As Neill states: “The public is perhaps right more of the time than not. In stock market parlance, the public is right during the trends but wrong at both ends.”

Disciplined Approach to Investing
Thursday, July 24, 2008
Bullish Sentiment Inches Higher
The American Association of Individual Investors’ Sentiment Survey released this week shows a continued increase in bullish investor sentiment. The bullish sentiment level increased to 35.8% versus last week’s reading of 25%. The bull/bear spread narrowed to -8% from last week’s spread of 33%.

Why pay attention to sentiment indicators? An old Wall Street saying goes something like:

“the crowd is right in the trends and wrong at the ends”

Posted by Barry Popik
New York CityBanking/Finance/Insurance • (0) Comments • Thursday, November 13, 2008 • Permalink