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Trader: The Paul Tudor Jones Documentary Video

Once upon a time a documentary about Paul Tudor Jones was filmed. It became a video titled Trader.

Today, Trader is something of a legendary look at a highly respected money manager of recent times.

Basically, Trader is a 60 minute look into the life and trading of Jones. I believe it was originally a PBS showing in the States, but I could be wrong there. It features him trading and talking about about the markets, and it shows some of his life outside trading.

Here’s what the front cover of the video case calls it:

An inside look at a real flesh and blood Wall Street Trader. No fictional character will ever equal him.

The filming for Trader took place in late 1986 and early 1987 and in the footage Jones talks about his expectation of a major stock market decline to come. He pretty much predicted on film the Crash of 1987. That feat is no doubt from where some of the current interest in the video comes.  (Jones would later be featured in Market Wizards, the interview for which was done a little while after the Crash, providing an interesting bookend with the video.)

Here is what the back cover of the video case says:

Is financial trading an art, science, profession or out-and-out gamble? If you’re interested in money and you want to know what it’s really like on Wall Street, this is the video you, your family, your colleagues and your friends should own. Filmed before Wall Street’s October 1987 crash, TRADER is a riveting one hour documentary of a fascinating man, Paul Tudor Jones II. It delivers a rarely seen view of futures trading and explains the workings of this frantic, highly charged marketplace. It gives viewers an inside look at his estate in Virginia, skiing in Gstaad, his New York apartment. It also examines Jones’ prediction that America is nearing the end of a 200-year bull market. If he’s right – and he almost always is – this country and the world are about to experience economic changes of unprecedented proportions.

This is a video which has developed something of a cult status in recent years. Finding a copy of Trader is nearly impossible. I’ve heard talk that Jones has gone around buying up all the copies he could get his hands on, presumably because he’s now a respected fund manager and philanthropist and doesn’t want to be thought of as the brash character which comes across in the documentary. I don’t know if there’s any real truth to that, but a New York Times article from October 2007 does say that he requested of the producers sometime back in the 90s that no more copies be made available and that they’d seen prices of $295 and up online for copies on offer.

To answer questions I get asked periodically in regards to this video:

Yes, I own a copy of it.

Yes, I do think it’s worth watching. Obviously it’s 20 years old at this point, so the quality isn’t great. The technology on screen is laughably old, and the overall footage and production is definitely of its time. Still, it’s a worthwhile view to watch Jones trade oil, S&Ps, and currencies – and to hear his thoughts on doing so in somewhat real time, as it’s happening. This is something you didn’t get back in the 80s, though it’s not uncommon these days.

No, you can’t have my copy! 🙂

That said, I do want to get the video copied into digital format, and might be able to make it available in some fashion once I do.

The problem is, because it’s copyright material, commercial shops won’t copy it for me. I have to do it myself. My first attempt didn’t come off very well, but I’ll keep trying.

If I can get the video into a viewable digital file, I’ll see about letting folks get a look at it. I need to explore a few things in that regard, though. I’m not prepared to violate any copyright restrictions.