It's not precisely accurate to say that no one could have predicted what happened on Wall Street in the past twelve months. Many of those who are renowned for their financial acumen -- George Soros, Julian Robertson, John Meriwether and his brace of Nobel brainiacs -- turned out to be wrong, losing hundreds of millions in some cases. But there were others, neophytes in many cases, who happened to hit upon a great Internet idea, or were just a little bit smarter or nervier than the next person, or just happened to be in the right place at the right time, who became newly minted Wall Street legends.
On the following pages, you'll find ten success stories, players who either made big Wall Street reputations or expanded them in the past twelve months. Some have names you know: Bob Pittman, for instance, who decamped from Manhattan to the comparative wilderness of Dulles, Virginia, and swallowed his considerable ego to help CEO Steve Case make American Online the Ma Bell of the Internet; or Abby Joseph Cohen of Goldman, Sachs, whose sangfroid in the face of August's global meltdown looked like genius when the Dow turned around and ended the year right where she predicted it would. But Nick Birbas? He was a waiter in a Greek diner on Ninth Avenue, until his stock-market profits made his job dispensable. Or the founders of the Website Raging Bull, who left college last spring and never went back, having sold their company for millions. Past performance, as the prospectuses say, is no guarantee of future success, but, just to be safe, we've included their thoughts on how to stay profitable in the year to come.
For those who enjoy capitalizing on others' misfortunes (and who, secretly, doesn't?), the editors of the financial Website Motley Fool have supplied a short-selling system that's as risk-free as humanly possible, as well as identifying some likely prospects.
Finally, on the widely held theory that what went down last year is likely to go up in the months ahead, we've included a guide to -- prudently -- shopping the Pacific Rim.