Trader Resources

Black Friday Suggestions for Traders

Today, of course, is the notorious Black Friday – that crazy holiday shopping day which is supposed to get retailers into the black for the year. You won’t catch me anywhere near any shopping locale, and not just because I have to work (someone please tell me what sense it makes for today, not Wednesday, to be the early markets close). Keeping with the theme of the day and the season, however, I’ve got some suggestions for your shopping list. These items are largely taken from a 12-days of Christmas sort of thing I did a couple years ago as outlined in the Traders Wish List.

Of course I have to put my own book, The Essentials of Trading at the top of the list. Good for anyone getting into trading or looking to get their trading on track. 🙂

Market Wizards

My own book aside, Market Wizards and its follow-up editions The New Market Wizards are right at the top of the list. They pull together insightful interviews done with some of the great traders and investors of the modern day. There are names you may know and others with whom you may not be familiar. They cover the wide spectrum of markets, methodologies, and trading styles making the information and opinions of broad value to all traders.

If you’re in the market for charting and system design and testing software, Metastock should be at the top of your list. Metastock is the charting software package I have used for more than a decade now. If you have read The Essentials of Trading, you will know that I used charts and the results of system tests from that package as examples in the book. I continue to use it on a daily basis when I do my market analysis and write commentary.

In particular, I have worked mainly with the End-of-Day edition for my personal use because I generally do not need the functionality of the real-time versions. Regardless, though, the quality and functionality is outstanding.

Financial Fiction
Should you be in the market for some fireside reading to help you get through the cold winter months, there are several books in the trading fiction category I’d suggest. The Day Trader by Stephen Frey, Nest of Vipers by Linda Davies, Free to Trade by Michael Ridpath, and The Velocity of Money by Stephen Rhodes are all ones I’ve enjoyed.

And definitely check out the books by Paul Erdman. He is perhaps the premier author of financial markets fiction. Erdman has published a quite a few excellent books. They combine very entertaining and enjoyable reads with incredible market insight. In fact, his stories have, over the years, been viewed as predictive of developments that eventually came to pass.

Here are some of Erdman’s titles:

Liar’s Poker

Michael Lewis is a well known writer these days, and probably best know in the wider world for his book Moneyball. You may be familiar with that one, as in it he chronicles the evolution in baseball to a more statistically based system of evaluating players. Liar’s Poker, though, is the book that put Lewis on the map in the first place. It is a semi-autobiographical look at Lewis’ relatively brief career in investment banking. He was in the middle of the 1980s glory days as a member of the Salomon Brothers team. The people he worked with are some of the truly significant names on Wall Street – some of whom would eventually go on to found the now notorious Long-term Capital Management (LTCM). Consider this one part history, part insight into life inside Wall Street firms.

I could go on and on, but rather than fill the page up here I’ll just refer you to the entries on the Traders Wish List. Enjoy! And definitely feel free to offer up suggestions of your own.

Reader Questions Answered Trading Tips

Computer Requirements for Traders

There comes up from time to time the question of the type of computer hardware and software traders need to have. The following inquiry that came in by email the other day is along those lines.

I need to get a couple of new computers, one main workstation and a laptop. I had hoped on buying new computers when I had my business plan fully developed and had a much clearer picture of what was required. I realize that no computer is going to make me a great trader, but I assume than a typical PC is needed.

Do traders really need the high performance computer hardware with multi-monitors?

Just for fun to make some of you jealous, let me describe my set-up at work.

System SpecsAs you can see from the left, my work PC isn’t exactly the latest and greatest. My machine at home is significantly more powerful. I don’t expect you to be envious about the machine specs.

Here’s where you may start to hate me, though. 🙂

I have four monitors. Yes, I said four. Yes, it’s a lot of monitors, but here’s why I need them.

I’m running Reuters 3000 Xtra (that’s the full desktop application) in one screen, MetaStock Professional in another screen, and Sierra Chart on a third (for price distribution charting). With those three screens I keep track of the forex, fixed income, stock, and commodity markets to a greater or lesser degree depending on circumstances – and news, of course.

The fourth monitor is my main working one where I have my email, IM applications, web browsers, spreadsheets, and authoring tools – as required.

I have all this stuff going because I’m working on a real-time intraday focused service. I need to know what’s going on pretty much all the time. While my main focus is forex, I keep track of everything else because of the cross-market implications. It all ends up in my commentary and analysis at some point or another.

Now most likely you won’t need all the stuff I use. If you are not a very short-term trader who needs to follow things in real-time very closely you won’t really need more than a basic computer with a single monitor and a decent internet connection. Even if you’re a day trader tracking several things at once, it’s probably more about screen space that about a super fast computer, unless you’re running some high intensity data and computational applications.

The best approach for deciding on a computer is actually first to decide what you intend to use for applications. They will define your minimum requirements. You can then go from there based on your budget and other needs. Just realize that only the most active traders among us need to really worry about their computer set-ups beyond generally keeping from falling too far behind the latest developments.

All this said, I don’t claim any specific expertise in this area, so I encourage those with specific experience or know-how to contribute their thoughts by leaving a comment.