The markets were caroling highah.
He sold, shouting "Boo-yah!
Now sing Halleluia!
To be a contrarian buyah."
For many investors at this time of year, 'tis the season to review portfolio investments that hath been exalted, or laid low. If unto you a gain has been given, shall the government be more upon your shoulder this year, or next?
One man who handled such questions adroitly was George Frideric Handel, according to Jason Zweig of the Wall Street Journal. Mr. Zweig says that the renowned composer "never went Baroque" because he knew when to get into and out of the hot investments of his day. The greatest investment bubble of the early 1700's was the South Sea Co., driven by the mania of colonization. Mr. Handel played the South Sea Co., but acted earlier than contemporaries such as Sir Isaac Newton, buying his shares at lower cost and selling them before the bubble burst. It is estimated that Mr. Handel doubled his South Sea investment, making a £15,000 profit, roughly 2.9 million in today's dollars. At the end of his life, Mr. Handel's estate comprised about £20,000 ($3.8 million today).
As a footnote to this Yuletide tale, we must ask whether the German-born Mr. Handel came to the market with a natural advantage: his name, in his mother tongue, means "trade."