Archive for the 'Library' Category

Excerpt from Reminiscences of a Stock Operator

The following is an excerpt from Jesse Livermore’s “Reminiscensces of a Stock Operator,” which is available in our public domain library.

There I was on the morning of May ninth with nearly fifty thousand dollars in cash and no stocks. As I told you, I had been very bearish for some days, and here was my chance at last.

I knew what would happen — an awful break and then some wonderful bargains. There would be a quick recovery and big profits for those who had picked up the bargains. It didn’t take a Sherlock Holmes to figure this out. We were going to have an opportunity to catch them coming and going, not only for big money but for sure money.

Everything happened as I had foreseen. I was dead right and I lost every cent I had! I was wiped out by something that was
unusual. If the unusual never happened there would be no difference in people and then there wouldn’t be any fun in life. The game would become merely a matter of addition and subtraction. It would make of us a race of bookkeepers with plodding minds. It’s the guessing that develops a man’s brainpower. Just consider what you have to do to guess right. The market fairly boiled, as I had expected. The transactions were enormous and the fluctuations unprecedented in extent. I put in a lot of selling orders at the market. When I saw the opening prices I had a fit, the breaks were so awful. My brokers were on the job. They were as competent and conscientious as any; but by the time they executed my orders the stocks had broken twenty points more. The tape was way behind the market and reports were slow in coming in by reason of the awful rush of business. When I found out that the stocks I had ordered sold when the tape said the price was, say, 100 and they got mine off at 80, making a total decline of thirty or forty points from the previous night’s close, it seemed to me that I was putting out shorts at a level that made the stocks I sold the very bargains I had planned to buy. The market was not going to drop right through to China. So I decided instantly to cover my shorts and go long.

My brokers bought; not at the level that had made me turn, but at the prices prevailing in the Stock Exchange when their floor man got my orders. They paid an average of fifteen points more than I had figured on. A loss of thirty-five points in one day was more than anybody could stand. The ticker beat me by lagging so far behind the market. I was accustomed to regarding the tape as the best little friend I had because I bet according to what it told me. But this time the tape double-crossed me. The divergence between the printed and the actual prices undid me. It was the sublimation of my previous unsuccess, the selfsame thing that had beaten me before. It seems so obvious now that tape reading is not enough, irrespective of the brokers’ execution, that I wonder why I didn’t then see both my trouble and the remedy for it.

I did worse than not see it; I kept on trading, in and out, regardless of the execution.

Posted on 14th April 2007
Under: Library | No Comments »

Excerpt from Reminiscences of a Stock Operator

The following is an excerpt from Jesse Livermore’s “Reminiscensces of a Stock Operator,” which is available in our public domain library.

Everybody was making money. The steel crowd came to town, a horde of millionaires with no more regard for money than drunken
sailors. The only game that satisfied them was the stock market. We had some of the biggest high rollers the Street ever saw:
John W. Gates, of `Bet-you-a-million’ fame, and his friends, like John A. Drake, Loyal Smith, and the rest; the Reid-Leeds-Moore crowd, who sold part of their Steel holdings and with the proceeds bought in the open market the actual majority of the stock of the great Rock Island system; and Schwab and Frick and Phipps and the Pittsburgh coterie; to say nothing of scores of men who were lost in the shuffle but would have been called great plungers at any other time. A fellow could buy and sell all the stock there was. Keene made a market for the U. S. Steel shares. A broker sold one hundred thousand shares in a few minutes. A wonderful time! And there were some wonderful winnings. And no taxes to pay on stock sales! And no day of reckoning in sight.

Of course, after a while, I heard a lot of calamity howling and the old stagers said everybody — except themselves — had gone crazy: But everybody except themselves was making money. I knew, of course, there must be a limit to the advances and an end to the crazy buying of A. O. T.– Any Old Thing and I got bearish. But every time I sold I lost money, and if it hadn’t been that I ran darn quick I’d have lost a heap more. I looked for a break, but I was playing safe — making money when I bought and chipping it out when I sold short so that I wasn’t profiting by the boom as much as you’d think when you consider how heavily I used to trade, even as a boy.

There was one stock that I wasn’t short of, and that was Northern Pacific. My tape reading came in handy. I thought most stocks had been bought to a standstill, but Little Nipper behaved as if it were going still higher. We know now that both the common and the preferred were being steadily absorbed by the Kuhn-Loeb-Harriman combination. Well, I was long a thousand shares of Northern Pacific common, and held it against the advice of everybody in the office. When it got to about 110 I had thirty points profit, and I grabbed it. It made my balance at my brokers’ nearly fifty thousand dollars, the greatest amount of money I had been able to accumulate up to that time. It wasn’t so bad for a chap who had lost every cent trading in that selfsame office a few months before.

If you remember, the Harriman crowd notified Morgan and Hill of their intention to be represented in the Burlington-Great Northern-Northern Pacific combination, and then the Morgan people at first instructed Keene to buy fifty thousand shares of N. P. to keep the control in their possession. I have heard that Keene told Robert Bacon to make the order one hundred and fifty thousand shares and the bankers did. At all events, Keene sent one of his brokers, Eddie Norton, into the N. P, crowd and he bought one hundred thousand shares of the stock. This was followed by another order, I think, of fifty thousand shares additional, and the famous corner followed. After the market closed on May 8, 1901, the whole world knew that a battle of financial giants was on. No two such combinations of capital had ever opposed each other in this country. Harriman against Morgan; an irresistible force meeting an immovable object.

Posted on 7th April 2007
Under: Library | No Comments »

Excerpt from Reminiscences of a Stock Operator

The following is an excerpt from Jesse Livermore’s “Reminiscensces of a Stock Operator,” which is available in our public domain library.

It takes a man a long time to learn all the lessons of all his mistakes. They say there are two sides to everything. But there is only one side to the stock market; and it is not the bull side or the bear side, but the right side. It took me longer to get that general principle fixed firmly in my mind than it did most of the more technical phases of the game of stock speculation.

I have heard of people who amuse themselves conducting imaginary operations in the stock market to prove with imaginary dollars how right they are. Sometimes these ghost gamblers make millions. It is very easy to be a plunger that way. It is like the old story of the man who was going to fight a duel the next day.

His second asked him, “Are you a good shot?”

“Well,” said the duelist, “I can snap the stem of a wineglass at twenty paces,” and he looked modest.

“That’s all very well,” said the unimpressed second. “But can you snap the stem of the wineglass while the wineglass is pointing a loaded pistol straight at your heart?”

With me I must back my opinions with my money. My losses have taught me that I must not begin to advance until I am sure I shall not have to retreat. But if I cannot advance I do not move at all. I do not mean by this that a man should not limit his losses when he is wrong. He should. But that should not breed indecision. All my life I have made mistakes, but in losing money I have gained experience and accumulated a lot of valuable don’ts. I have been flat broke several times, but my loss has never been a total loss. Otherwise, I wouldn’t be here now. I always knew I would have another chance and that I would not make the same mistake a second time. I believed in myself.

A man must believe in himself and his judgment if he expects to make a living at this game. That is why I don’t believe in tips. If I buy stocks on Smith’s tip I must sell those same stocks on Smith’s tip. I am depending on him. Suppose Smith is away on a holiday when the selling time comes around? No, sir, nobody can make big money on what someone else tells him to do. I know from experience that nobody can give me a tip or a series of tips that will make more money for me than my own judgment. It took me five years to learn to play the game intelligently enough to make big money when I was right.

Posted on 31st March 2007
Under: Library | No Comments »

Excerpt from Reminiscences of a Stock Operator

The following is an excerpt from Jesse Livermore’s “Reminiscensces of a Stock Operator,” which is available in our public domain library.

At all events, what was a perfect system for trading in bucket shops didn’t work in Fullerton’s office. There I was actually buying and selling stocks. The price of Sugar on the tape might be 105 and I could see a three-point drop coming. As a matter of fact, at the very moment the ticker was printing 105 on the tape the real price on the floor of the Exchange might be io4 or 103. By the time my order to sell a thousand shares got to Fullerton’s floor man to execute, the price might be still lower. I couldn’t tell at what price I had put out my thousand shares until I got a report from the clerk. When I surely would have made three thousand on the same transaction in a bucket shop I might not make a cent in a Stock Exchange house. Of course, I have taken an extreme case, but the fact remains that in A. R. Fullerton’s office the tape always talked ancient history to me, as far as my system of trading went, and I didn’t realize it.

And then, too, if my order was fairly big my own sale would tend further to depress the price. In the bucket shop I didn’t have to figure on the effect of my own trading. I lost in New York because the game was altogether different. It was not that I now was playing it legitimately that made me lose, but that I was playing it ignorantly. I have been told that I am a good reader of the tape. But reading the tape like an expert did not save me. I might have made out a great deal better if I had been on the floor myself, a room trader. In a particular crowd perhaps I might have adapted my system to the conditions immediately before me. But, of course, if I had got to operating on such a scale as I do now, for instance, the system would have equally failed me, on account of the effect of my own trading on prices.

In short, I did not know the game of stock speculation. I knew a part of it, a rather important part, which has been very valuable to me at all times. But if with all I had I still lost, what chance does the green outsider have of winning, or, rather, of cashing in?
It didn’t take me long to realise that there was something wrong with my play, but I couldn’t spot the exact trouble. There were times when my system worked beautifully, and then, all of a sudden, nothing but one swat after another. I was only twenty-two, remember; not that I was so stuck on myself that I didn’t want to know just where I was at fault, but that at that age nobody knows much of anything.

The people in the office were very nice to me. I couldn’t plunge as I wanted to because of their margin requirements, but old A. R. Fullerton and the rest of the firm were so kind to me that after six months of active trading I not only lost all I had brought and all that I had made there but I even owed the firm a few hundreds. There I was, a mere kid, who had never before been away from home, flat broke; but I knew there wasn’t anything wrong with me; only with my play. I don’t know whether I make myself plain, but I never lose my temper over the stock market. I never argue with the tape. Getting sore at the market doesn’t get you anywhere.

Posted on 17th March 2007
Under: Library | No Comments »

Excerpt from Reminiscences of a Stock Operator

The following is an excerpt from Jesse Livermore’s “Reminiscensces of a Stock Operator,” which is available in our public domain library.

I told you I had ten thousand dollars when I was twenty, and my margin on that Sugar deal was over ten thousand. But I didn’t always win. My plan of trading was sound enough and won oftener than it lost. If I had stuck to it I’d have been right perhaps as often as seven out of ten times. In fact, I always made money when I was sure I was right before I began. What beat me was not having brains enough to stick to my own game — that is, to play the market only when I was satisfied that precedents favored my play. There is a time for all things, but I didn’t know it. And that is precisely what beats so many men in Wall Street who are very far from being in the main sucker class. There is the plain fool, who does the wrong thing at all times everywhere, but there is the Wall Street fool, who thinks he must trade all the time. No man can always have adequate reasons for buying or selling stocks daily or sufficient knowledge to make his play an intelligent play.

I proved it. Whenever I read the tape by the light of experience I made money, but when I made a plain fool play I had to lose. I was no exception, was I? There was the huge quotation board staring me in the face, and the ticker going on, and people trading and watching their tickets turn into cash or into waste paper. Of course I let the craving for excitement get the better of my judgment. In a bucket shop where your margin is a shoestring you don’t play for long pulls. You are wiped too easily and quickly. The desire for constant action irrespective of underlying conditions is responsible for many losses in Wall Street even among the professionals, who feel that they must take home some money every day, as though they were working for regular wages.

Posted on 10th March 2007
Under: Library | No Comments »

Excerpt from Reminiscences of a Stock Operator

The following is an excerpt from Jesse Livermore’s “Reminiscensces of a Stock Operator,” which is available in our public domain library.

One day one of the office boys — he was older than I came to me where I was eating my lunch and asked me on the quiet if I
had any money.
“Why do you want to know?” I said.
“Well,” he said, “I’ve got a dandy tip on Burlington. I’m going to play it if I can get somebody to go in with me.”
“How do you mean, play it?” I asked. To me the only people who played or could play tips were the customers old jiggers with oodles of dough. Why, it cost hundreds, even thousands of dollars, to get into the game. It was like owning your private carriage and having a coachman who wore a silk hat.
“That’s what I mean; play it 1″ he said. “How much you got.
“How much you need?”
“Well, I can trade in five shares by putting up $5.”
“How are you going to play it?”
“I’m going to buy all the Burlington the bucket shop will let me carry with the money I give him for margin,” he said.
“It’s going up sure. It’s like picking up money. We’ll double ours in a jiffy.”
“Hold on!” I said to him, and pulled out my little dope book. I wasn’t interested in doubling my money, but in his saying that Burlington was going up. If it was, my notebook ought to show it. I looked. Sure enough, Burlington, according to my figuring, was acting as it usually did before it went up. I had never bought or sold anything in my life, and I never gambled with the other boys. But all I could see was that this was a grand chance to test the accuracy of my work, of my hobby. It struck me at once that if my dope didn’t work in practice there was nothing in the theory of it to interest anybody. So I gave him all I had, and with our pooled resources he went to one of the nearby bucket shops and bought some Burlington. Two days later we cashed in. I made a profit Of $3.12.

Posted on 3rd March 2007
Under: Library | No Comments »

Reminiscences of A Stock Operator

The following is an excerpt from Jesse Livermore’s “Reminiscensces of a Stock Operator,” which is available in our public domain library.

Another lesson I learned early is that there is nothing new in Wall Street. There can’t be because speculation is as old as the hills. Whatever happens in the stock market today has happened before and will happen again. I’ve never forgotten that. I suppose I really manage to remember when and how it happened. The fact that I remember that way is my way of capitalizing experience.
I got so interested in my game and so anxious to anticipate advances and declines in all the active stocks that I got a little book. I put down my observations in it. It was not a record of imaginary transactions such as so many people keep merely to make or lose millions of dollars without getting the swelled head or going to the poorhouse. It was rather a sort of record of my hits and misses, and next to the determination of probable movements I was most interested in verifying whether I had observed accurately; in other words, whether I was right.
Say that after studying every fluctuation of the day in an active stock I would conclude that it was behaving as it always did before it broke eight or ten points. Well, I would jot down the stock and the price on Monday, and remembering past performances I would write down what it ought to do on Tuesday and Wednesday. Later I would check up with actual transcriptions from the tape.
That is how I first came to take an interest in the message of the tape. The fluctuations were from the first associated in my mind with upward or downward movements. Of course there is always a reason for fluctuations, but the tape does not concern itself with the why and wherefore. It doesn’t go into explanations. I didn’t ask the tape why when I was fourteen, and I don’t ask it today, at forty. The reason for what a certain stock does today may not be known for two or three days, or weeks, or months. But what the dickens does that matter? Your business with the tape is now — not tomorrow. The reason can wait. But you must act instantly or be left. Time and again I see this happen. You’ll remember that Hollow Tube went down three points the other day while the rest of the market rallied sharply. That was the fact. On the following Monday you saw that the directors passed the dividend. That was the reason. They knew what they were going to do, and even if they didn’t sell the stock themselves they at least didn’t buy it. There was no inside buying; no reason why it should not break.

Posted on 25th February 2007
Under: Library | No Comments »