Roger W. Babson
Babson in 1918
|Died||March 5, 1967 (aged 91)|
Lake Wales, Florida, U.S.
|Education||Massachusetts Institute of Technology (SB) (1898)|
|Occupation||Entrepreneur, businessman, economist, writer, philanthropist|
|Known for||Business forecasting, founding of universities, predicting Wall Street Crash of 1929|
|Political party||Prohibition Party|
|Spouse(s)||Grace Margaret Knight (m. 1900 – d. 1956)|
Nona M. Dougherty (m. 1957 – d. 1963)
Roger Ward Babson (July 6, 1875 – March 5, 1967) was an American entrepreneur, economist, and business theorist in the first half of the 20th century. He is best remembered for founding Babson College. He also founded Webber College, now Webber International University, in Babson Park, Florida, and the defunct Utopia College, in Eureka, Kansas.
Babson was born to Nathaniel Babson and his wife Ellen Stearns as part of the 10th generation of Babsons to live in Gloucester, Massachusetts. Roger attended Massachusetts Institute of Technology and worked for investment firms before founding Babson's Statistical Organization (1904), which analyzed stocks and business reports; it continues today as Babson-United, Inc..
On March 29, 1900, Babson married his first wife Grace Margaret Knight, who died in 1956. In 1957 he remarried to Nona M. Dougherty, who died in 1963. Babson died in 1967.
Work on financial theory
Babson's success as an investor was based on unorthodox views of the operation of markets. According to biographer John Mulkern, Babson attributed the business cycle "to Sir Isaac Newton's law of action and reaction... (with a) pseudoscientific notion that gravity can be used to explain movement in the stock markets." His market forecasting techniques are expounded in articles in Traders World Magazine and the Gravity Research Foundation he founded.
While attending MIT he received a degree in Engineering. He lobbied the dean to include a business course, which resulted in a course known as "Business Engineering." Eventually, the business engineering program was expanded and it is now seen as the forerunner of the MBA degree.
Babson authored more than 40 books on economic and social problems, the most widely read being Business Barometers (eight editions) and Business Barometers for Profits, Security, Income (10 editions). Babson also wrote hundreds of magazine articles and newspaper columns. He was a popular lecturer on business and financial trends.
Babson was an investor and sometimes director of many corporations, including some traded on the New York Stock Exchange. He established the investment advisory company Babson's Reports, which published one of the first investment newsletters in the U.S.
Babson's Ten Commandments of Investing
Babson had "Ten Commandments" he followed in investing and encouraged his readers to do the same. These were:
- Keep speculation and investments separate.
- Don't be fooled by a name.
- Be wary of new promotions.
- Give due consideration to market ability.
- Don't buy without proper facts.
- Safeguard purchases through diversification.
- Don't try to diversify by buying different securities of the same company.
- Small companies should be carefully scrutinized.
- Buy adequate security, not super abundance.
- Choose your dealer and buy outright (don't buy on margin).
On September 5, 1929, he gave a speech saying, "Sooner or later a crash is coming, and it may be terrific." Later that day the stock market declined by about 3%. This became known as the "Babson Break." The Wall Street Crash of 1929 and the Great Depression soon followed.
Role in development of Andrews Pitchfork
Babson learned to draw a nominal line through zigzagging market action on charts from George F. Swain, a Professor of Engineering, when he worked with him, and he later taught this technique to Alan H. Andrews, who further refined it into "Andrews Pitchfork," a now-commonly used trendline indicator.
Babson was the Prohibition Party's candidate for President of the United States in 1940. Election was won by incumbent President Franklin Delano Roosevelt of the Democratic Party. Babson was surpassed by two other unsuccessful candidates:
- Wendell Lewis Willkie of the Republican Party.
- Norman Mattoon Thomas of the Socialist Party of America.
Role in development of the parking meter
In the late 1920s, Babson filed several patents for a parking meter. The meters were suggested to operate on power from the battery of the parking vehicle and required a connection from the vehicle to the meter. In 1932, Carl Magee began to work on the parking meter and since his parking meter was the first to be installed for actual use on July 1935 in Oklahoma City, Magee is known as the inventor of the parking meter.
Establishment of the Gravity Research Foundation
Babson founded the Gravity Research Foundation in 1948. The Foundation established a research facility in the town of New Boston, New Hampshire after Babson determined that this location was far enough away from the city of Boston, Massachusetts to survive a nuclear attack.
The "Babson Boulders" of Dogtown, Massachusetts
Babson was interested in the history of an abandoned settlement in Gloucester known as Dogtown. To provide charitable assistance to unemployed stonecutters in Gloucester during the Great Depression, Babson commissioned them to carve inspirational inscriptions on approximately two dozen boulders in the area surrounding Dogtown Common. The Babson Boulder Trail exists today as a well-known hiking and mountain-biking trail. The inscriptions are clearly visible. The boulders are scattered, not all are on the trail, and not all of the inscriptions face it, making finding them something of a challenge. Samples of some of the two dozen inscriptions include "Help Mother," "Spiritual Power," "Get A Job," "Keep Out Of Debt," and "Loyalty."
- Babson-United, Inc. "Babson-United". Babson-United, Inc. Archived from the original on May 23, 2007. Retrieved May 22, 2007.: A Short History of Roger L. Babson's firm
- http://gravityresearchfoundation.org/pdf/awarded/2005/Jaenisch_Jaenisch_2005.pdf Archived 2012-07-11 at the Wayback Machine
- John Mulkern (1994). "Continuity and Change: Babson College, 1919-1994". Babson College Archives and Special Collections. Archived from the original on October 11, 2006. Retrieved September 25, 2006.
- Fisher, Ken (2007). 100 Minds That Made the Market. Wiley. pp. 129–132.
- Galbraith, John Kenneth (1997). The Great Crash, 1929. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. p. 84. ISBN 0-395-85999-9.
- "Babson's Warning". International Man. September 15, 2014. Retrieved January 4, 2019.
- "The Man Who Predicted the Crash of "˜29". www.newswise.com. Retrieved January 4, 2019.
- Neil A. Costa. "Dr. Alan H. Andrews - Market Master". Archived from the original on May 26, 2014.
- US patent 1,731,839[permanent dead link]
- Jon Mooallem (2007, October). A curious attraction. Harper's Magazine, 315(1889), pp. 84-91.
- Eric Bickernicks. "The Babson Boulders". Eric Bickernicks. Archived from the original on September 29, 2007. Retrieved September 25, 2006.: Photos of boulders, downloadable PDF map of boulders with GPS coordinates, image of Roger Babson
- "The Babson Boulders at Dogtown". Cape Ann Web. Archived from the original on January 11, 2006. Retrieved September 25, 2006.
- Babson, Roger Ward (1949), Actions and reactions : an autobiography of Roger W. Babson (Rev. ed.), Harper and Brothers Publishers, retrieved August 12, 2018
- Nate DiMeo (October 15, 2012). "The Rise and Fall of Rising and Falling (Ep. 47)". thememorypalace.us (Podcast). Maximum Fun.