Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Jobless Ralph: Guru Pushed Out By Chart Ubiquity

Sometimes, people do stupid things.

Like Prudential did on Tuesday:
Prudential (PRU) has shuttered its technical research group, laying off Wall Street veteran Ralph Acampora, who has been with the firm for 15 years. Prudential said Tuesday the move to close the department was due to cost cuts.

Acampora has been in the business for 40 years and was called the dean of technical analysis by many colleagues. He was most well-known for being the first analyst to say, in June 1997, that the Dow Jones Industrial Average would hit 10,000.

Acampora's departure comes roughly seven months after Citigroup Inc.'s Smith Barney unit fired its U.S. technical analysis team.

We think it's sad to see how the Net cannibalized Ralph's metier.

The events at PRU are a clear case of disintermediation, the term used by cultural anthropologists and economists to describe the removal of the middleman.

Disintermediation happens whenever markets become too transparent and intermediaries within a given supply chain have to get axed.

As good as Ralph was at his job, the stark reality is this: today charts are ubiquitously placed on the Web for every investor to see, scale, or reconfigure to his or her liking.

Disintermediation is the dark side of the Web, and even Wall Street isn't immune to it.

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