The Psychology of Commerce – Part Seven

The Shareholder Activist - The Psychology of CommerceTHE PROMINENCE OF “WALL STREET” IN OUR CULTURE

Money has also always been a component of man’s proclivity to wage war on his fellow man. War debts had been created and the shares of these banks plus treasury bonds issued under Alexander Hamilton were utilized to finance the war debts of the Continental Congress and the Colonies.

As a result, a supply of securities was created and the first securities exchange was formed in Philadelphia in 1790—and the precursor to the New York Stock Exchange was born.

This brings us to Wall Street, the epicenter of the relationship between money and the mind, named as such because it ran along a wall that had been built by the Dutch to protect New York.

At that point in time, Wall Street was also a popular place to buy and sell furs, tobacco, spices, molasses and gunpowder. It has come to symbolize so much more.

This small group revolutionized the country: like all markets, the stock exchange grew to meet the need of buyers and sellers of certain commodities to keep in close contact with each other. The sellers wanted to convert securities into money, and the buyers wanted to purchase particular securities.

Interestingly, at first securities represented money loaned to governments. With the huge rise of American business corporations in the 19th century, commercial securities came to dominate the volume of business transacted.

It costs more to buy a new car today in the United States than it cost Christopher Columbus to equip and undertake three voyages to and from the New World.

The Shareholder Activist - The Psychology of CommerceIn 1776, a man who made $4,000 a year was considered very wealthy. A worker earning $5,000 per year in 1978 would be making an adjusted equivalent of nearly $5,000 an hour in 2078.

In 1914, the first year income tax was collected, Americans paid a per capita average tax of 41 cents, and only 1% of the population was obligated to pay taxes at all.

I hope this brief history lesson has served to skew your perception of market development, enough so you have a better understanding of why we are the way we are and we do the things we do.

Ultimately, because money is so intertwined in our culture, our proclivity for consumption has in turn consumed us on many levels. Understanding these historical cycles is the first step to extricating yourself from the equation.

As best you can, that is.

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