Skip to main content

Thoughts on Human Nature and Speculation - Humphrey B. Neil

Marketplace Books has posted an excerpt from Humphrey B. Neil's Tape Reading & Market Tactics.

The chapter entitled, "More Thoughts on Human Nature and Speculation", includes some classic thinking on aspects of human psychology which prevent us from operating profitably in the markets. A passage from Neil on the dangers of greed follows this line of thought:

"...I have watched traders in brokers’ offices with deep interest, and have tried to learn the traits that crippled their profits. The desire to “make a killing”—greed—has impressed me particularly.

Perhaps this desire to squeeze the last point out of a trade is the most difficult to fight against. It is also the most dangerous. How often has it happened in your own case that you have entered a commitment with a conservatively set goal, which your judgment has told you was reasonable, only to throw over your resolutions when your stock has reached that point, because you thought “there were four more points in the move?”

The irony of it is that seemingly nine times out of ten (I know, for it has happened with me) the stock does not reach your hoped-for objective; then—to add humiliation to lost profits—it goes against you for another number of points; and, like as not, you end up with no profit at all, or a loss.

Maybe it would help you if I told you what I have done to keep me in my traces: I have opened a simple set of books, just as if I were operating with money belonging to someone else. I have set down what would be considered a fair return on speculative capital, and have opened an account for losses as well as for gains, knowing that the real secret of speculative success lies in taking losses quickly when I think my judgment has been wrong.

When a commitment is earning fair profits, and is acting as I had judged it should act, I let my profits run. But, so soon as I think that my opinion has been erroneous, I endeavor to get out quickly and not to allow my greed to force me to hold for those ephemeral, hoped-for points. Nor do I allow my pride to prevent an admission of error. I had rather, by far, accept the fact that I have been wrong than accept large losses..."

This looks like worthwhile study material, so read on and don't mind the fact that most of the references date back to 1930. Time honored wisdom is the best, and sound practices are applicable in any age.

Popular posts from this blog

New! Finance Trends now at FinanceTrendsLetter.com

Update for our readers: Finance Trends has a new URL!  Please bookmark our new web address at Financetrendsletter.com Readers sticking with RSS updates should point your feed readers to our new Finance Trends feedburner .   Thank you to all of our loyal readers who have been with us since the early days. Exciting stuff to come in the weeks ahead! As a quick reminder, you can subscribe to our free email list to receive the Finance Trends Newsletter . You'll receive email updates about once every 4-8 weeks (about 2-3 times per quarter).  Stay up to date with our real-time insights and updates on Twitter .

Moneyball: How the Red Sox Win Championships

Welcome, readers . T o get the first look at brand new posts (like the following piece) and to receive our exclusive email list updates, please subscribe to the Finance Trends Newsletter .   The Boston Red Sox won their fourth World Series title of t he 21st century this we ek. Having won their first Se ries in 86 years back in 200 4, the last decade-plus has marked a very strong return to form for one of baseball's oldest big league clubs. So how did they do it? Quick background: in late 2002, team own er and hedge fund manager, John W. Henry (with his partners ) bought the Boston Red Sox and its historic Fenway Park for a reported sum of $ 695 million. Henry and Co. quickly set out to find their ideal General Manager (GM) to help turn around their newly acquired, ailing ship. This brings us to one of my fav orite scenes from the 2011 film , Moneyball , in which John W. Henry (played by Ar liss Howard) attempts to woo Oakland A's GM Billy Beane (Brad Pi

Jukebox

Tonight's jukebox is a blast back to the mid-1980's with a live in studio performance by New Order for BBC Radio 1. There are some very noticeable flubs in their performance (I think Bernard may have been feeling a little "rushed"), but the songs are amazing and it's like being an eyewitness to a studio rehearsal. An excellent video snapshot of one of the most inventive modern pop groups doing their thing. Enjoy, and thanks Adz! New Order, live 1984: "Sooner Than You Think" , "Age of Consent" , "Blue Monday" , "In a Lonely Place" , "Temptation" .