Friday, January 12, 2018

Boy Plunger

I can't figure out why so many people quote Jesse Livermore. So it was with that in mind that I read Jesse Livermore - Boy Plunger: The Man Who Sold America Short in 1929.

Livermore was a speculator. He had no problem risking everything on gut feelings and guesses. He managed to make a fortune four times, using massive amounts of margin in order to wield a big stick. But he also managed to lose that fortune every single time, with the exact same method.

Sure, his escapades may have been exciting. But following his approach is likely a recipe for disaster.

The worst part is the lack of recognition for this disastrous method of speculating. The book makes it sound like when he lost money, it was because he didn't stick to his methods enough, or he went against his system. I call BS. Livermore likely got lucky a few times, and unlucky other times, but I'm not sure the word luck is even mentioned once in the book.

Boy Plunger is useful for learning about some market history through the eyes of this famous American entrepreneur, but I highly recommend against taking this guy's methods to heart.


Anonymous said...

I also never understood why people like the other book so much 'reminiscences of a stick operator'. Wasn't Livermore essentially gambling, using margin and very poor risk management?

Senta said...

Agree - though he did say the following,
"After spending many years in Wall Street and after making and losing millions of dollars I want to tell you this: It never was my thinking that made the big money for me. It always was my sitting. Got that? My sitting tight!”
This is similar to what buffett and munger do minus the value part.