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Diary of a Professional Commodity Trader: Lessons from 21 Weeks of Real Trading Hardcover – February 2, 2011

4.2 out of 5 stars 58 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From the Inside Flap

Becoming a consistently successful trader is a tough job. It's a craft that requires extensive knowledge of the markets—involving a whole lot more than just finding the next great trading opportunity—and a process that addresses many aspects of both the market's, and your own, behavior.

Nobody understands this better than author and longtime trader Peter Brandt. During his thirty-plus years in this field, he has made every mistake possible and learned some major lessons along the way. He also developed a set of guidelines, rules, and practices—which he refers to as the Factor Trading Plan—that direct his trading decisions.

Now, in Diary of a Professional Commodity Trader, Brandt shares the experiences he has gained trading price charts over the years, and through a real-time journal—which spans an arbitrary time frame of 21 weeks (from December 2009 to April 2010)—skillfully shows how he goes about the difficult endeavor of trading the commodity and forex markets using classical charting principles.

Divided into four comprehensive parts, this personal and unique guide clearly reveals the uncertainty and emotions that surround trading and details an effective approach towards speculation that will give you an edge. Page by page, it:

  • Offers a real-time, play-by-play account of Brandt's trading activities—the good, the bad, and the ugly—during his 21-week journey, and provides valuable insights into market analysis, trade identification and selection, and risk management

  • Highlights the basic building blocks of the author's Factor Trading Plan and examines how his plan continues to evolve with the markets

  • Emphasizes the central role risk management plays in market speculation—an even more important role than market analysis or trade selection

  • Reveals trading as a fundamental battle to overcome your basic human emotions

  • And much more

Unlike most books on this subject, which try to tell you how to trade, Diary of a Professional Commodity Trader offers a rare look at the realities of this discipline and provides you with a firm understanding of what it really takes to improve your performance over the long term.

From the Back Cover

Praise for Diary of a Professional Commodity Trader

"We've all read about the high rollers who go boom and bust, but this book is different. With straightforward prose, practical knowledge and honest counsel, Peter Brandt methodically explains what no one has before: how a dedicated individual can trade for a living. If that is your destination, this is your ticket."
Robert Prechter, Elliott Wave International

"This book is insanely great. The refreshing clarity this book brings to the table is brilliant. I think this is an amazing, excellent book, one that could help a whole new generation of traders."
Jack Sparrow, MercenaryTrader.com

"This is the most honest trading book of the last decade. Peter tracks recent trials and tribulations on his path to success dating back to the 1980s. He shares numerous insights into the emotional and technical challenges of trading, right down to his track record over the years. His ultimate success reflects the importance of staying true to a process while still allowing flexibility to modify rules as market conditions change. Anyone desiring longevity in the business really needs to read this book."
Linda Raschke, trader, President of LBRGroup, Inc., and coauthor of the bestselling book, Street Smarts: High Probability Short Term Trading Strategies

"Almost every book about trading for a living is either fraudulent or boring (or both). This book is neither. Not only is it a good read for anyone seriously wanting to know what trading is really like, it is also very interesting, mostly due to its real-time, diary format. As someone who has done myself what he describes, I highly recommend it."
Robert Zellner, independent trader, former director of the Chicago Mercantile Exchange and former CEO,Citicorp Futures Corp.

"Trading is not what most people think it is, as you will find out in this real-life experience from Peter Brandt, a well-seasoned trader. You will learn what he looks for in trades, what tells him to hop aboard and how to get out. Well worth reading!"
Larry Williams, author and trader, www.ireallytrade.com

"Anyone interested in trading—and not just commodity trading—is going to cherish this book. Brandt's detailed diary is like a great novel, revealing the inner life and character of a trader, revealing the kinds of inner understanding we all need if we hope to navigate an ultimately unknowable future.?Traders would do well to try to become, as individuals, more like Peter Brandt."
Lowell Miller, President and CIO, Miller/Howard Investments, Inc., author of The Single Best Investment

"Insights, observations, and practical information gleaned from over two decades of consistently successful trading performance. A must-read for anyone wishing to enter the world of risk."
Daniel Chesler, CMT, President, Chesler Analytics LLC

"This book is a must-read for anyone who contemplates being an effective trader.? His exquisite use of charting techniques is spot on."
Eero Pikat, President, Barchart.com Inc.

"A great book for advanced and beginning traders! The professional trading insights that Peter shares can help traders speed up the progress of their own trading by light years."
Glen Larson, President, TradeNavigator.com


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Wiley; 1 edition (February 2, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0470521457
  • ISBN-13: 978-0470521458
  • Product Dimensions: 6.3 x 1 x 9.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (58 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #133,542 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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More About the Author

Peter Brandt entered the commodity trading business in 1976 with ContiCommodity Services, a division of Continental Grain Company. From his start in the commodity industry, Peter's goal was to trade proprietary funds. But, he first needed to learn the business.

From 1976 through 1980, Peter handled large institutional accounts for Conti, including Campbell Soup Company, Oro Wheat, Godiva Chocolate, Swanson Foods, Homestake Mining, and others.

In 1980, Peter founded Factor Trading Co., Inc. In his capacity as the CEO, Peter was primarily engaged in trading proprietary funds. Factor Trading also produced market research and managed the trading activities of several large institutional clients. Among Peter's institutional trading clients was Commodities Corporation ("CC") of Princeton, NJ, at the time one of the world's largest trading houses.

In May 1995 Mr. Brandt retired from full-time involvement in the commodity business to pursue not-for-profit interests. Mr. Brandt remained inactive from the commodity trading business until January 2007 when he once again began trading proprietary capital.

Peter's performance as a proprietary trader stands for itself. Consider the following:

Average annual compounded rate of return (based on IRS tax reporting) = 41.56%
Average annual compounded rate of return (based on VAMI calculations) = 77.8%
Growth of initial investment of each $1,000 (through 2009) = $334,817
Profitable years = 14
Unprofitable years = 4
Best year = +604.7%
Worst year = (8.4%)
Ratio - size of average profit in profitable years divided by size of average loss in unprofitable years = 7.6 to 1
Ratio - Total gains in profitable years divided by total losses in unprofitable years = 26.8 to 1

This performance has not come without trials and struggles. Peter has made every mistake in the book, many more than once. The markets are a great teacher, and subject matter has a way of making students wince.

Diary of a Professional Commodity Trader, published by John Wiley and Sons, is Peter's second book. The first book, Trading Commodity Futures with Classical Chart Patterns, was published in 1990.

Peter's company, Factor LLC, trades proprietary capital and offers research to institutional and speculative clients at FactorTrading.com

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
Full disclosure: This is not an unbiased perspective, as the reviewer has developed a warm friendship with the author (Peter Brandt).

With that said, hopefully you can overlook the bias for two reasons:

* Having read literally hundreds of trading books over the years - most of them mediocre, a small handful worth revisiting - your reviewer knows excellence when he sees it. By any standard, this book stands out.

* The author, Peter Brandt, has the ultimate in trader bona fides: An audited track record, spanning 30 years, of better than 41% compound returns! (No, that is not a typo.)

So with that out of the way, let's begin...

There is an old saying among professional racetrack handicappers: The losing player is the one who tells you he breaks even; the breakeven player is the one who tells you he is a consistent winner; and the winning player is the one who tells you it's a tough, tough game, with great dedication required for success.

Peter Brandt, a lifetime winner in the great game of trading, falls in the third category. While clearly someone who loves the game, he does not shy away from the hard realities of trading.

In describing his method of trading, Brandt comes across as refreshingly humble, underscoring that his approach is far from the only approach, cheerfully adding that other methodologies may be superior. (Though of course the vast majority of money managers would give a kidney, or maybe even a lung, for compound returns like his.)

From a position of humility, sincerity and strength, Brandt successfully explodes the following myths:

* The myth that inside information, hidden keys, or some other form of "secret knowledge" is what matters.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I enjoyed this book. I received it one friday afternoon, and I plowed through it that evening. I went through it again the next day. This is a journal of one trader, older and experienced, knowing that he didn't know everything, sharing what he did know as a trader discussing his trades over the course of a few months (December 2009 to May 2010).

I use trend following techniques, and while my approach is different, I could still appreciate that Mr. Brandt has offered nuggets of wisdom, generously shared, from a lifetime of hard-earned experiences. These are lessons from a passionate, humble and sincere individual, who presents himself simply as just another student of the markets.

While I'm not a chartist, lately I've looked at these squiggles on the screen and because I'm human, I began to "notice" lines or paths of least resistance, and I saw some of the same in this wonderful book. I also agree with the idea that traders have to not hesitate to take a signal, and not hesitate to take a loss on a predetermined basis, just a couple of spoilers from this book.

More importantly Brandt also talked about the need for each trader to prepare in advance answers for trading size, risk, attitude, and traits for success. What I really enjoyed was the post-mortem analysis of trading in 2010, which followed Brandt's trade by trade commentary. There are no holy grails, for every speculator there is definitely a need to focus on making dollars, while being willing to spend pennies in the form of losses, and not the other way around. This is at the heart of risk management in speculation. (The cliche of being pennywise versus poundfoolish is one that must be acknowledged as part of the human condition.
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Comment 36 of 38 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
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Format: Hardcover
How much would you pay for the opportunity to learn the finer points of speculation from a successful trader? Many books purport to offer access into the mind of successful traders. But most of these provide only anecdotal information. Outside of "Diary of a Professional Commodity Trader," I can think of no other book, or source, that offers the unvarnished, unhedged, nitty gritty details of speculation from a verifiably successful, veteran trader. Brandt has no axe to grind. He doesn't sell software, or indicators, or seminars. He doesn't appear on CNBC. He's not one of those smug "techncial gurus" out to prove his greatness. He's just a plain spoken, highly successful full time professional trader, willing to share with the public what he has learned over the past 30 years. I absolutely loved reading this book, and consider it a treasure, and a rare gift. My personal trading library contains over 500 titles; Brandt's book is already in my Top-10 list. So...how much would you pay to learn from Peter Brandt? If the $25 price tag of this book doesn't JUMP out at you as the STEAL of a lifetime, then you might want to reconsider whether trading is really for you.
2 Comments 40 of 43 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
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Format: Hardcover
I did not love this book. I have read numerous books on trading psychology, trading systems, money management systems, and most of them are fairly specific in addressing the subject at hand, and generally very tough to implement. This book is different. The author is VERY honest that it is NOT a trading manual, rather, just a contemporaneous journal of his trading during a 21 week period. He does a nice job of reviewing with the reader what transpired during those 21 weeks, and explains how things went right or wrong for him, but generally this becomes somewhat boring and really offers no insight into making anyone a better trader themselves. If you would like to read about a real time, successful trader's week to week history of trades executed, then this book will work. It just did not seem like I really got anything out of it, with the exception that the author shared his risk management system ( he risks 6/10th's% to 8/10th's%, or slightly less than 1% of his total capital) on any one trade. For me, I did not find it useful and would not have purchased it had I known what it was about. That is NOT to say that they author does not warn you upfront.....he does, in a very straightforward manner, tell you this. Guess I just missed it.
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