the corner

Last week’s column covered a little history on John Pierpont Morgan, otherwise known as J.P. Morgan. Here is a little background on his company.

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This month marks the 101st year since the death of John Pierpont Morgan and recently the 2012 mini series “The Men Who Built America” was rerun. The series features a number of late 18th and early 20th century industrialists and financiers including Morgan.

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The typical underwriting arrangement involves the purchase of a security issue from a corporation by an investment banking firm or a group of such firms (called an underwriting syndicate), and the sale of the issue to the general investing public, institutional investors as well as wealthy individuals. This procedure is followed in the case of bond issues of corporations as well as for stock issues which are not required by law or by decision of the board of directors to be offered first to old shareholders.

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Investment banking is the process by which new securities are brought to market in order to raise capital for businesses. In a broad sense, investment banking embraces all the institutions by which capital formation takes place, including: (1) the transfer of ownership of a corporate entity through investment banks which are usually brokerage houses; (2) security substitution, such as is involved in the issuance of securities by investment companies; and (3) security management, or the decision as to where investors’ funds are to be placed.

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On August 3, 2000 this column stated, “Twenty years ago the majority of the American public did not feel a compulsion to invest in the stock market. After nearly 18 years of a generally upbeat market, with the past five years being rip-roaring, Americans have once again ‘fallen in love with the stock market.’ However, Andrew Smithers and Stephen Wright, in their book entitled “Valuing Wall Street,” persuasively argue that stock prices in America are severely over-valued and are set for a serious fall, not unlike those of the past. While Smithers and Wright strongly believe that for most of the time the stock market is the right place to be, they, in a hard-nosed and historical way, understand that there are a few times when the market is not the place to be.”

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One of the traditional advantages of exchange trading like the orders that are executed on the New York Stock Exchange has been the ease of keeping track of information about securities. Keeping track of the price of a security traded over-the-counter by dealers across the country is a much more formidable task.

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When buying and selling stocks there are a number of different types of orders that one can enter with a broker or exchange. Each order has different ramifications as to how it is executed and at what price.

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Two factors to consider when investing in a company is its industry category and life cycle. Industry categories fall into three broad groups: non-cyclical, cyclical and growth. Industry life cycles also fall into three broad groups: pioneering, growth and maturity. Below is a brief definition of industry categories and life cycles.

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As most of you regular readers know, this column focuses on issues pertinent to the markets, investing and Wall Street history. However, unlike most financial columns, I tend to spend much ink on how not to lose your money.

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