Mar 26, 2011

Commodore Vanderbilt on the nature of financial panics and the dangers of credit

I'll tell you what's the matter-- people undertake to do about four times as much business as they can legitimately undertake... There are a great many worthless railroads started in this country without any means to carry them through. Respectable banking houses in New York, so called, make themselves agents for sale of the bonds of the railroads in question and give a kind of moral guarantee of their genuineness. The bonds soon reach Europe and the markets of their commercial entres, from the character of the endorsers, are soon flooded with them...

When I have some money I buy railroad stock or something else, but I don't buy on credit. I pay for what I get. People who live too much on credit generally get brought up with a round turn in the long run. The Wall street averages ruin many a man there, and is like faro.

~"Commodore" Cornelius Vanderbilt, railroad tycoon, stock speculator and corporate titan, commenting on the Wall Street panic of 1873, as quoted in "The First Tycoon", by TJ Stiles

No comments: