The "Hidden" Billions in the Alibaba IPO

How many times have you been reading about a long-ago historical event - or been watching a documentary about it on the History Channel - and thought to yourself: "Wow, it would've been really cool to have actually been there to see this happen."

I couldn't agree more. As a big history buff myself, I find myself making that statement on a regular basis.

But I'll also make this observation: The same folks who get so turned on about events from the distant past are often the last to recognize current developments - what you and I would refer to as "history in the making."

And one of the best current examples of "history being made" is the looming initial public stock offering (IPO) of Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. (NYSE: BABA), the Chinese Internet heavyweight whose shares are scheduled to begin trading Friday.

If you at first find it tough to characterize a stock offering - no matter how big - as a "historic event," I can certainly understand.

But "historic" it is...

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