Market Masters

(Critical Survey of Contemporary Fiction)

Jake Bernstein has been trading since 1968, and has written more than a dozen books on futures trading. Years of experience have convinced him that the weakest link in the trading chain is the trader: No matter what trading system is employed, the system will fail if the trader lacks the discipline to stay with the plan long enough to allow it to succeed. He identifies three building blocks for success: a trading system that has shown consistency and profitability for a significant length of time or for a significant number of trades; discipline (the ability to formulate and plan, then implement the plan consistently); and the ability to cope with losses, which are inevitable even for the successful trader.

Believing that the best way to learn successful trading behaviors is to study the experiences of others, Bernstein interviewed eight influential market analysts and traders who have been successful over the long haul. Each of these individuals was asked the same short set of questions, plus an occasional unique question dealing with that person’s particular background or expertise. Topics include the origin of the desire to trade, qualities of the successful trader, techniques for coping with losses, lessons learned while trading, and advice to new traders.

Since these interviews occupy more than half of the book, they largely define the overall effectiveness of MARKET MASTERS. On that basis, the book must be judged a failure. Probing, in-depth interviews of investment professionals can be fascinating, as demonstrated by Jack Schwager’s books. Bernstein is not, however, a gifted interviewer—he allows his subjects to give brief, even evasive answers, and rarely asks follow-up questions. For example, Robert Prechter’s answer to the question about specific trading experiences refers the reader to one of his videotapes! After a three-page interview with Gerald Appel, Bernstein pads his “analysis” of the interview with nearly a full page worth of direct quotes. Worthwhile as Bernstein’s advice may be, there is not enough here to justify even the short length of this book.