It's no secret that Wall Street has long been in willful denial George Santayana's aphorism, "Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it." Repeat the past they must, forever buying stocks when they're at their peaks and selling when they're crashing. There's another aphorism that, perhaps, might come from the much-ballyhooed criticism face off between John Stewart and Jim Cramer, says Thomas Frank in today's Wall Street Journal: the stock market is not the friend of the small investor.
Cramer and CNBC, the network on which his energetic show appeared, are just a few of the hundreds of "thought leaders" who have gone on depicting the stock market as a place in which anyone, not just the moneyed elite, can make a buck, and have fun doing so; despite every evidence to the contrary. Remember the great crash of 1929? For the most part, the extremely wealthy survived that fine. Not so the small investor, caught up in the fervor. As Frank says, if the "world of financial infotainment can itself be described as a "market," it is a market where accountability does not seem to exist, where the heaviest of incentives seems to carry no weight, and where consumers, to judge by what they get, seem constantly to choose the lousy over the good."