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 May 13, 2011
“When everybody gets to one side of the boat, it usually tips over”

"When everybody gets to one side of the boat, it usually tips over” is an old Wall Street saying of unknown authorship. The saying describes market panics or manias when everyone starts selling or buying (getting on “one side of the boat"). “Crowding on one side of the boat” has been cited in print since 1901; “one side of the boat” appeared in The Magazine of Wall Street in 1923.

The “one side of the boat” Wall Street saying has been used frequently since the 1990s.


1 December 1901, New York (NY) Times, “Conservative Views,” pg. WF4:
Mr. HOWARD K. BURRAS—I am a bull in every sense of the word, both on the market and on our country. We have obtained such a tremendous start since the Spanish war that I do not see how we can have a setback of any consequence, although, like a steamer going up a river, the passengers admiring the beautiful scenery may disturb things a little by crowding too much on one side of the boat. If that be the case, however, it will soon right itself again.

Google Books
The Magazine of Wall Street
Volume 32
1923
Pg. 254:
The position of Stewart-Warner was a good deal like that of an excursion steamer on which the passengers are all suddenly attracted to one side of the boat. The steamer tips over sideways. That is what Stewart-Warner did. A lot of people wanted to get out at the same time.

1 October 1972, New York (NY) Times, “Wall St.—No Place for Jokes” by Vartanig G. Vartan, pg. F4:
But one of the time-honored stratagems if the stock market holds that when too many people crowd over to one side of the boat, it can be smart to do the opposite. That’s known as “contrary opinion.”

10 December 1975, New York (NY) Times, ‘Stocks as Causal Force” by Leonard Silk, pg. 73:
Others thought the explanation was nothing more complicated than “too high multiples,” with, as Robert Stovall of Reynolds Securities put it, “many investors running to one side of the boat, trying to unload stocks they had bought much earlier in anticipation of a market climb once New York City’s financial problems were resolved.”

Google Books
Beating the Dow:
A high-return, low-risk method for investing in the Dow Jones industrial stocks with as little as $5,000

By Michael O’Higgins with John Downes
New York, NY: HarperPerennial
1992
Pg. XIII:
When everybody moves to one side of the boat, I don’t spend a lot of time trying to figure out what they’re looking at; I know to move to the other side to keep dry.

Google Books
Forbes
Volume 156, Issues 1-5
1995
Pg. 311:
“When everyone gets into one side of the boat, it usually tips over,” says Monrad, who for 35 years has run Northeast Investors Trust, a Boston-based junk bond fund (recent assets, S700 million).

Google Books
Management Crisis & Business Revolution
By John Harte
New Brunswick, NJ: Transaction Publishers
1996
Pg. 411:
But whenever everyone behaves alike, they weigh down one side of the boat and tip it over. It is reminiscent of Koestler’s argument that “the collective delusions of the crowd are based, not on individual deviations but on the individual’s tendency to conform.” Whenever a large enough number of people in a society conform by showing loss of confidence in government and the economy, consumers stop buying inessential goods and services. What is uncertain is whether a fall in public conficence is the cause or the effect of economic recession.

Interest Rate Roundup
Monday, August 14, 2006
When everybody’s on one side of the boat ...
Treasury prices and Treasury yields have been largely rangebound these past several weeks.

Google Books
Sentiment in the Forex Market:
Indicators and strategies to profit from crowd behavior and market extremes

By Jamie Saettele
Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons
2008
Pg. 183:
Imagine a boat. When too many people are on one side of the boat, it tips over. Similarly, the market tops when too many traders are long and bottoms when too many traders are short. A market does not reward the majority of its participants.

The Street
Jim Rogers Talks China, Gold, Commodities
By Alix Steel 12/18/10 - 10:55 AM EST
(...)
So if you don’t think it’s going to be there in 10 years, why are you owning it now?
Because last summer everybody got extremely pessimistic, and everybody was dumping the euro as fast as they could, and in my experience when everybody’s on one side of the boat you should go to the other side of the boat, and so I stepped in and bought it and it went up.

MarketWatch
May 12, 2011, 4:30 p.m. EDT
Which-came-first questions surround dollar rally
By Stephen L. Bernard
(...)
“Eventually when everybody is on one side of the boat, it capsizes,” Matt Zeman, chief market strategist at Kingsview Financial, said of the anti-dollar positioning.

NASDAQ
MF Global’s Kevin Grady: ‘The Key Is Managing Your Risk’
Posted 5/13/2011 9:37 AM by Allen Sykora from Kitco in Investing, Commodities
(...)
“There is an old saying on the floor - when everybody gets to one side of the boat, it usually tips over,” he said. “If I find everyone is doing one certain trade and everyone has the certain opinion, sometimes I won’t do the trade. I feel like everybody is (already) in it.”

Posted by Barry Popik
New York CityBanking/Finance/Insurance • (0) Comments • Friday, May 13, 2011 • Permalink