From the June 01, 2012 issue of Futures Magazine • Subscribe!

The Greatest Trades of All Time – Top Traders Making Big Profits from the Crash of 1929 to Today

Book Review

By Vincent W. Veneziani
John Wiley & Sons, Inc., 2011; $45.00; 166 pages

In “The Greatest Trades of All Time,” professional trader, writer and TV commentator Vincent W. Veneziani dedicates a chapter each to 10 individuals who have been game-changers in modern financial markets, reaping extraordinary profits for their clients and themselves.  Four more are highlighted in the final chapter. Is it luck, skill, acumen, genius, hard work, timing or a combination of all these attributes that allowed them to position themselves to excel while a majority around them failed?  Readers will enjoy finding out.

This lively and well written book is an enjoyable read. The book offers a valuable insight into the lives and times of traders who have scored big in global financial markets. John Chanos made a fortune out of the collapse of Enron; Paul Tudor Jones II is a self-styled macro trader; John Templeton is a legendary mutual fund manager and George Soros famously took a winning bet against the British pound before becoming a philanthropist. John Arnold, a guru of energy markets, made a fortune from natural gas trades. David Einhorn shorted Allied Bank and then the now-extinct Lehman Brothers. Martin Schwartz embraced technical analysis, stuck to S&P 500 futures and rode the rollercoaster to success.

Three featured traders shorted the subprime mortgage crisis that enveloped the United States in the first decade of the 2000s.  J. Kyle Bass, a man who “is as shrewd as hedge funders come” was sufficiently prescient and plugged into the market to foresee the 2006 U.S. housing crisis and positioned himself to profit from it.

Another was John Paulson, who, the author writes, made the greatest trade of all time.  He shorted the subprime mortgage underpinning the U.S. housing bubble. Greg Lippmann shorted the subprime market because it was unsustainable.

Readers of this book will appreciate insights offered into the ways in which, given high intelligence, energy, focus, nerves of steel, hard work and solid detective work, people can make a bundle on financial futures.  

As a sound financial journalist, Veneziani explains the terminology of financial markets, including a definition of subprime mortgages. A glossary of terms appears on pages 149 and 150 that, with the aid of chapter-by-chapter references and pages on helpful websites, will enable readers to identify and cross-reference information easily.

I liked the tips on trading strategy. The author offers these tips at the end of each trader’s profile and outlines the top traits exhibited by each of the 14 successful traders to make them stand apart from the pack.

One take-away from this book is that being in the right place at the right time is an adage that applies to these titans of the financial markets.

Patrick Kelly is a freelance writer with a background in commodity market reporting.

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