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What are the possibilities of profit in stock speculation? That question is frequently asked but it is difficult to answer. James R. Keene is quoted as having said: "Many men come to Wall Street to get rich; they always go broke. Others come to Wall Street to operate intelligently for fair returns; they usually get rich."

While it is true that nearly all stock traders who try to make unusually large profits in a very short time in stock trading lose, yet unusual profits can be made if you exercise good judgment and have patience.

You should sell stocks when the market price is too high. That is a general rule, but it is necessary for you to study all the influences affecting stock prices to be able to decide more accurately when you should sell your stocks. We give you, in future chapters, much more information on judging the markets.

Where do you get your market information? Perhaps most people get it from the daily papers. When you look over the financial news of one of the leading metropolitan papers and see how much there is of it, you can get some idea of the enormous volume of work necessary to get this matter ready for the press in a few hours. There is no time to confirm reports. It is necessary that many of the articles be written from pure imagination, based on rumors.

It is due to the fact that stock prices constantly move up or down that speculation is possible. Sometimes certain stocks remain almost at a standstill for a long period of time, but at least a part of the stocks listed on the Exchanges move either up or down. If one always could tell just what way they were going to move, it would be comparatively easy to make a fortune within a short time.

Success in stock speculation depends upon a few things that are very simple.

If you know what to buy, when to buy, and when to sell, and will act in accordance with that knowledge, your success is assured. You may think it is impossible to know these things, but it is not so difficult as it is supposed to be.

Stock prices move up and down in cycles. These are the major movements in prices, but there may be many minor movements up and down within the major movements. These stock price movements nearly always precede a change in business conditions; that is, an upward movement in stock prices is an indication that business conditions are going to improve, and a downward movement in stock prices is an indication that business conditions are going to get worse.

Perhaps no other one thing influences the movement of stock prices so much, in a large way, as money conditions. It is impossible to have a big bull market without plenty of money. During a bull market nearly all stocks are bought on margin, which is explained in Chapter XVI. This makes it necessary for brokers to borrow large sums of money. When money is tight, it is impossible to get enough to carry on a large movement in stocks.

Gold exports and imports, while not constituting any great part of the activity of the average foreign department, are nevertheless a factor of vital importance in determining the movement of exchange. The loss of gold, in quantity, by some market may bring about money conditions resulting in very violent movements of exchange; or, on the other hand, such movements may be caused by the efforts of the controlling financial interests in some market to attract gold.

On account of the huge fixed investment of foreign money in the United States, on account of Europe's continuous speculative interest in our markets, and the activity of the "arbitrageurs" in both bonds and shares, dealings in securities between ourselves and the Old World are always on a very great scale. Not infrequently, indeed, Europe's position on American securities is an influence of dominating importance.

Interesting as the movement of gold and the international money markets may be, it is in its application to the every-day importing and exporting of merchandise that foreign exchange has its greatest interest for the greatest number of people. Every bale of cotton exported from the country, every pound of coffee brought in, is the basis of an operation in foreign exchange, such operations involving usually the issue of what is known as "commercial credits."

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