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Biggs on Finance, Economics, and the Stock Market: Barton's Market Chronicles from the Morgan Stanley Years by Barton Biggs

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Introduction

The untimely passing of Barton Biggs in 2012 created a void for many who never wanted to imagine a world devoid of his uniquely illuminating voice. It was a loss widely felt, and we were inundated with requests for old essays. Seekers would rarely recall dates or titles but would easily refer to a phrase like “the one where he is overfed and maximum bullish.” Our team would happily search through the (mostly paper) archives, losing themselves in the guilty pleasure of reading Barton's lucid and often prescient prose of one of Wall Street's truly wise men.

Biggs was a world apart from the cacophony of 21st century infotainment pundits of the twenty-first century; now shouting at us via every medium. The commentaries in this collection span the roughly two decades between 1980–2000 that corresponded with a great bull market in stocks. It was a market that made people rich on paper through their IRAs and 401(k)s; it also broke their hearts. This was a cycle that Barton knew well. He understood that knowledge of human psychology and philosophy was more essential than any quantitative numbers crunching to truly insightful analysis. He was fond of personifying “Mr. Market” as an ingenious sadist or a manic-depressive. Like a therapist, Biggs sought to understand and accept his seemingly irrational companion instead of futilely attempting to change or control him. Along the way, he helped us discover that “the market” is really a mirror into the self and ultimately a foil ...

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