Playing the Stock Market: the Thrill of fate
10.11.2005

The roller-coaster ride of the stock market is becoming increasingly appealing to Germans, exercising a fascination similar to bungee jumping and white-water rafting. For buying shares is more than just a simple way to earn money. By purchasing stock one buys a share in the fate of a company. One can enthuse, tremble, and experience the ups and downs. The dynamics and dramatics of price movement show that on the stock market - unlike in an everyday culture characterized by a backlog of reforms and protection of ownership nearly everything is possible and nothing is secure.

Thus, the stock exchange is a new playground of a society that wants to get the ultimate "fate kick." People become immersed in the investment game, it takes up all their free time. Like the football tables, the stock exchange index becomes a daily mirror of personal success, shows whether or not one is supporting the right faction in the fight against fate.


In the process, private small investors have a double life. On the one hand, they lead normal, secure everyday lives. On the other hand, their shares are a kind of alter ego whose destiny they fulfil and suffer through. The spectrum of invester types ranges from "Silent Participants" and "Occasional Speculators" to "System Gamblers."

For small investors, the prerequisite for venturing on to the market in the first place and being successful is having financial and emotional limits. If one is not able to set limits and to stick it through, one remains an eternal spectator, like the stock market voyeur who commits himself emotionally, but not financially for fear of entering too far into the haphazard vortex of the market. Or one runs the risk of ruining oneself completely like the person who "gambles with his fate": failure on the stock market becomes existential failure.

© 2015 rheingold