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The Money Game by Adam Smith

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13. BUT WHAT DO THE NUMBERS MEAN?

You can see that there are a lot of numbers floating around Wall Street, that the Game is played with numbers, and that with computers more people can play with more numbers in more combinations than anyone would have dreamed possible in the old, archaic pre-computer days BC in 1960. But what are the base numbers? They are the figures reported by the subject companies as sales and earnings, and earnings, in anybody’s systems, are one of the most important factors.

But what are earnings?

It really ought to be easy. You pick up the paper, and Zilch Consolidated says its net profit for the year just ended was $1 million or $1 a share. When Zilch Consolidated puts out its annual report, the report will say the company ...

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