Adventures of a Currency Trader

02/01/2007 12:00 am EST

Focus:

Rob Booker

Author, Man Vs. Market: Lessons from Trading on the Road

Unlike most of the trading books that I have read, “Adventures of a Currency Trader,” by Rob Booker, is a work of fiction. However, this doesn’t mean that its trading lessons are any less worthwhile. The author follows his fictional character, Harry Banes, on his path from a job as a NY law firm file clerk to an independent currency trader. Along the way, Harry makes almost every rookie trading mistake possible, but with the help of mentors learns through his failures.

His interest in trading currencies begins after viewing an infomercial; what a perfect place to start as he begins with a totally skewed view of currency trading and is saddled with very unreasonable expectations! These misconceptions are reinforced when his first trade is profitable because he mistakenly does the opposite of what his new “trading system” recommends. Of course, Harry has a wife and family, so when he loses his job, the pressure to succeed at trading is magnified. One of the many important lessons taught time and time again in this book is that if you focus on money when you trade you are doomed to failure. This point was illustrated when Harry is told the story of a how the book’s fictional hedge fund manager named George Sisler rode a 100 million dollar profit to a 27% loss. Sisler’s trading disaster in the British Pound is also used as a way to teach the importance of money management.

Most of the lessons from this book are conveyed through encounters with experienced traders who gradually get Harry headed in the right direction. Harvey Winklestein plays a pivotal role, by not only providing his own sage advice gained from years as a successful bank currency trader, but also through his introductions to other successful traders like George Sisler, who overcomes his previous mistakes to manage a 3 billion dollar hedge fund. Finally, after an especially disastrous loss, Harvey convinces Harry to stop trading, at least for awhile, and ask for his old job back. This gives him a break from trading which allows him to discover back testing and he works on developing a disciplined trading approach. I won’t spoil the rest for those who’d like to enjoy the narrative aspects of this book, but will say there are a few more surprises ahead for Harry.

This book is perfect for someone who has just been bitten by the FX fever (although hopefully not from watching an infomercial), as it will help them avoid many of the common pitfalls. Those who have traded a bit will find that they also share many common experiences with Harry, and may find themselves cringing in the face of past errors. In the end, it was an enjoyable, though occasionally painful, read.

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