All about Internet stock traders—those weirdo workaholics who make money, lose money, perpetuate scams, uncover scams, spend hours sending endless (often pointless) e-mails, live at their keyboards, and never seem to make enough to retire and get out of the business.
Wall Street Journal reporter Emshwiller profiles some of the major players and their legions of followers in this new cyber-reality. Tokyo Joe, a Korean restaurateur, runs an online investment club (the “Societe Anonyme”) and peppers his e-mails with stories of drunken adventures at Manhattan strip clubs. The Georgia Bard, a south Georgia poet with five self-published volumes, is a skilled practitioner of the “pump and dump” (which Emshwiller defines as the “art of convincing others that a stock is a great investment and then selling your shares when fools start to buy”). At the opposite end of the spectrum are the “short-sellers,” who profit from a fall in stock price. Anthony @ EQuity, a renowned short-seller, specializes in distributing negative material on particular stocks in the hopes of driving the prices down. In order to protect himself from angry investors who are left stuck with stocks he “shorted,” Anthony lives with a German-trained killer guard dog and carries a .40 caliber Smith & Wesson revolver. Through it all, the suits at the Securities and Exchange Commission, who regulate the markets valiantly, struggle against the odds to keep up with the new developments, stymied in part by the general lack of interest in white-collar crime and in part by their own ignorance of this new world. Specially trained volunteers (called the “cyberforce”) help Federal agents keep abreast of suspicious occurrences in trading chat rooms.
Told with wry humor and an insider’s view: one can’t help but wonder how these wildcatters occupied themselves before 1994.