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 Offbeat reminiscences and observations from a Wall Street pro who appreciates that there's more to life than balance sheets, income statements, and price charts. A champion squash player as well as world-class investor (whose associates include the storied George Soros), Niederhoffer grew up in Brooklyn's Brighton Beach, a bustling Jewish enclave that had a perdurable influence on his values and viewpoints. While unwilling to share whatever real secrets he has for making money in futures or securities, the author offers a series of discursive takes on aspects of a secular-humanist version of the Great Chain of Being, which in the aggregate afford would-be speculators some guidance on playing the markets. In addition to reviewing cost- effective lessons on self-reliance learned from boyhood chums like the neighborhood bookie, Niederhoffer examines what, if anything, links board games (chess, checkers), casino gambling, horse racing, music, sex, sports, and the weather to the capital or commodities markets. The author (who earned a Ph.D. in economics) also delves into financial panics, crashes, cyclical shifts in market trends, and allied issues. Trader Vic even constructs a comprehensive ecology of markets in which he credibly equates fixed-income investors with herbivores, hedge funds with carnivores, and brokers with decomposers (bacteria, crows, et al.). In a concluding chapter, Niederhoffer manages to combine a graceful, heartfelt tribute to his late father with a clutch of antic advisories for those who aspire to quick killings in the market; a highlight of this potpourri is so-called LoBagolo analysis, a plausible surmise that suggests bears may trap bulls along the path that bore the latter upward in much the same way as African villagers snare itinerant elephants on the routes the herd invariably takes to and from its starting point. Edifying pieces of a lively mind whose education has been both broad and deep.

Pub Date: Feb. 7th, 1997
ISBN: 0-471-13747-2
Page count: 464pp
Publisher: Wiley
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15th, 1996