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My Book Reviews

Category: Commodities trading, Industry
Published: 1986
Read: 1993
Reviewed: Sep 2009

I read this book back in 1993. I bought it because I was fascinated with floor trading and wanted to hear some stories and get some info about it. The purpose of the book is to teach someone how to get a job on the floor of a commodities exchange, specifically how to become a floor trader (most of whom start of as runners or order takers). This book is broken into two parts. The first part contains profiles of the various exchanges - how to get a membership, the different kinds of jobs available on the floor and how to get them, and which cities are best to work in.

The second part is a brief section within the middle of the book called "Voices of Young Traders", which has interviews with some floor traders about their struggle to become successful. Over the years, there have been many books written by wanna-be traders. These books are mostly written by people who have no real interest in trading and are simply cashing in when they get a chance for a book deal. This book, however, profiles floor traders who have a genuine passion for learning about markets and becoming successful traders. Here are a couple of quotes from them:

On how difficult it is to become a profitable trader . . .

"Construction guys are making $15 an hour. That's 1 tick on a 1 lot. How can I not make one tick on a 1 lot every hour I'm down there? How can I not do that? One tick an hour. How hard is that? It's hard. It doesn't sound hard even to me, but it is."

On the no-bullshit culture of the trading world . . .

"I had an interview with a guy at Shatkin. I walked into his office and he asks me, "What do you know about this business?" I figured I might as well be totally honest with the guy, so I said "Nothin. I have no idea what goes on here." And then he says, "OK. You're hired."

Overall, this book doesn't have much value today. These days, you can get all this information on the internet. Not to mention the open-outcry jobs are becoming extinct. But the 15 or so pages with the floor trader interviews are some of the most inspirational trading stuff I've ever read.

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