Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Lefèvre, Edwin (1923): Reminiscences of a Stock Operator

What is it about?

The book is a biography of a stock trader (or speculator), reportedly covering the life Jesse Lauriston Livermore.

The book is set in early 20th century (the book was originally published in 1923), and is organized chronologically and organized around highlight events (often particularly successful or unsuccessful or otherwise "teaching" trading campaigns).

Was it good?

The book is extremely good. Not only is it written in a very entertaining and personal style, but it also dispenses quite poignant observations of the human condition.

Indeed, one could say that the psychological observations of human nature and general psychological tendencies are the most valuable content in the book.

And even if one is not interested in any such observations, the book makes quite entertaining reading nonetheless.

The main take-away for me?

Besides the insights about inherent human psychology, a thought that I constantly kept on having throughout the book is "that wouldn't work today". And, in fact, the author (the narrator) admits in the very last pages of the book that his exploits had become increasingly difficult already in the 1920s: there was more stocks traded, more information to digest (impossibly much already in the 1920s), more stringent regulations on insider trading (a very central phenomenon in Livermore's exploits, though he himself was not an insider) and so on.

In any event, the book illustrates very nicely how the speculators got their name and stereotypical character in the early 1920s: already then the speculators were wholly uninterested in the "real" economy, only looking for how the "stocks acted" for the purpose of turning a profit on stock price developments.

Who should read the book?

If one is at all interested in financial economy and the stock market in particular, reading the book - despite its peculiar historical context - is time most assuredly time well spent.

The book on Reminiscences of a Stock Operator

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