Dear Dagen: 10 Millennial Moments That Would Have Changed Finance

Let's play 'what if' for a moment.
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Everyone is busy putting together lists of the greatest people and events of the last 1,000 years. (See ours:

The Basics of Business History: 100 Events That Shaped a Century.)

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Dear Dagen board.

I'd rather take advantage of this end-of-the-millennium moment to speculate about events that, if they had happened, would have changed financial history.

It's not hard to come up with a few 20th-century twists that could have altered the course of investments and finance:

  • After being fired from Wellington Management in the mid-1970s, Jack Bogle moves to sunny Los Angeles to start Vanguard. The fund company fails after Bogle leaves to devote his life to Werner Erhard's est movement.
  • Professor and money manager Ben Graham's class at Columbia University fills up. Warren Buffett decides to sign up for marketing instead. Buffett joins Avon (AVP) - Get Report after graduation and takes Skin-So-Soft to glory.
  • Upon completing their paper on options pricing, junior professors Fischer Black and Myron Scholes adjourn to a nearby saloon. The paper is left in the bar and never recovered.
  • After backing Paul Tsongas in the 1992 presidential race, former Goldman Sachs (GS) - Get Report Chairman Robert Rubin spends the rest of the decade as a Vermont innkeeper.
  • A hotel union strike wreaks havoc on Michael Milken's first Predators' Ball. Corporate raiders get egged. Junk-bond business dries up.
  • Charles Schwab abandons his discount brokerage business early when the original telephone reps are wooed by Fruit of the Month Club.
  • Peter Lynch develops inexplicable rash while testing L'eggs pantyhose investment. Fidelity moves to him to a muni-bond fund. (FMAGX) - Get Report Magellan stalls.
  • Long Term Capital Management bailout collapses when John Meriwether asks Wall Street consortium members to throw in Knicks season tickets.
  • Sandy Weill decides against Citibank merger after ATM eats his card -- twice.
  • George Soros rethinks macro-trading strategy when a speculative short on the French franc leads to the loss of his holiday reservation at the Riviera's Hotel du Cap.

Stocks Go Up, Stocks Go Down


Al Pancari

doesn't have much use for Tuesday's

Lessons From Readers Biggest Investing Regrets.

"Showing both sides of the coin is virtually useless," Pancari writes. "You might as well say, 'Sometimes, things work and sometimes they don't. Hey, I'm no genius. I rode too many stocks down. ... The stock market is nothing but a casino without the free drinks. It takes time to master. I'll let you know when I get there."

But in this kind of market, showing the downside can be useful -- just to remind investors that there is such a thing as a downside.

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