In 2006, when I was retired and enjoying life in Nassau Bahamas, fifteen years ago, I was asked by the editors of the Wall Street Journal to take on a project they would be headlining with a front-page series of articles. The first one would be an examination by accomplished industry people into the regulation of hedge funds, pro, and con. Their problem was they could not source an American to take the pro side for regulation and so they reached out to me, a Canadian. I was delighted to opine that while I too believed the industry is generally over-regulated, I was worried that unless the SEC took control of these long-short funds, the market was soon to crash. My opponent, an editor of Fortune magazine and manager of two funds of funds literally scoffed at my argument. The editors were pleased. The market crashed a year later.
On the same day that article was published, two major publishers who had read that Wall Street Journal piece asked me to produce a book draft. Around the same time, I had been invited by the Bahamas prime minister to assist in a project that was important to the country, which subsequently led to my being invited to become registered as a securities investment advisor a year later. In the interim, I decided to put my leisure time to good use to review a list of thousands of files that I had compiled since joining the securities industry in January 1981, and to boil them down to about 1000 pages, which I sent to Toronto friends at ISI publications, a small publisher of capital markets topics. Their editors helped me cull the text to about 400 pages, which they published as Lessons from the Trader Wizard. Four years later, the hardcopy text was re-produced as an e-book by ADVFN in London. On several occasions recently, I started writing an updated version that would be broken into 120-150 chapters for publishing at billcara.com. Unfortunately, I never finished that task because after I came out of retirement (for the third time) to start the advisory company, I have been too busy ever since.
As there may soon be another (probably final) opportunity to publish another book, I went into the Amazon published reader reviews today to see what the purchasers of the book liked and did not like. What immediately struck me was that average people liked the fact that although I had risen to the top in the securities industry, I had the ability to communicate in a way they understood. It made me think back to what my mother told me about her doctor at Kingston General Hospital. She had just been given a death sentence with stage 4 colon cancer and had rejected surgery. I explained to her that her doctor was one of the most celebrated surgeons in Canada, the head of medicine in that major hospital and at Queen’s University, and the representative for that area to the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons. I knew she was in shock from being told her condition and thought that maybe she had not fully understood him. Then she said: “Bill, this doctor talked to me no different than the person who fills our car with gasoline. He may be a very smart man, but I understood every word he said, and I know what I got coming to me.” If only we could all communicate the most important things in life so simply. That was a lesson to me. The year was 2004.
So, for those who wrote such positive book reviews, as reproduced below, I hear you. I understand what it means to take from my unique experiences and skills and give it freely to you in the simplest words I can.
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent,
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on January 23, 2013
This book is a must read for any investor on the stock market. I found the book informative and helpful and Mr Cara is generous in the way he shares his techniques and sources. He is that rare combination of thinker and do-er and I cannot recommend it too highly. The cost of the book is the best investment you will make.
5.0 out of 5 stars Blog to Book
Reviewed in the United States on September 26, 2008
Bill Cara (aka William Ciccarelli) has produced an important book on modern financial markets. He has achieved this in spite of:
1. the difficulty of going from blog to book
2. the difficulty of writing a first book and attempting to pack a lifetime of knowledge into 404 pages
3. the difficulty in deciding on the knowledge and experience of the targeted reader
4. the difficulty of going against conventional wisdom
But if you give him a chance, Bill succeeds on all counts. Let me be more specific.
I read Bill’s blog ([…]) daily. I like reading him in a conversational mode. I read his reactions to market and political events as well as his responses to questions from readers. One useful feature of both his blog and his book is the frequent use of URL’s directing the reader to relevant content of other internet sites.
After a lifetime of participation in financial markets, Bill has definite opinions about how markets work. He personally knows many of the good and bad guys. Even 404 pages is little space to review these lifetime experiences.
Most readers come to his book without these relevant life experiences. The reader could be a novice or very experienced investor or anywhere in between, but not someone like Bill who slugged it out daily with the market makers. Bill does not have the benefit of being a graduate professor of finance who knows that his students have completed the prerequisite courses. Therefore, he devotes about half of the book to finance 101 for the beginners.
I think the book’s strongest points are made in attitude rather than technique. Bill risks being labeled an eccentric because his advice (observations) goes against conventional investor wisdom. He argues that buying and holding quality stocks for the long run will not make much money. Instead, buy quality stocks when the market dislikes them and sell them when they are back in favor. The only thing that counts is the price. Good stocks go through price cycles of being over and under priced. Do not trust the financial press, particularly the talking heads on the financial networks. Assume that the investment houses, particularly the sell siders have their own agenda to make themselves rich and you poor.
Most appreciation of capital occurs slowly over long periods of time through increases in productivity. Other changes in price are a zero sum game. The markets produce an inherent conflict of interest between those who can control the value of assets by either large sums of capital or control of information. The individual investor is confronting an enemy which can be the large investment banks, corporate insiders or even the government.
Government uses its own considerable resources to maintain low interest rates, maintain low inflation, promote prosperity, relieve poverty and fight wars. It also attempts to be an honest broker among special interests. But from time to time it stumbles.
When the balance between social justice and self interest fails, the responsible parties have the chance to apologize, obfuscate or tell what they know is untrue. When the expansion of credit produces unintended consequences, who is to blame? The American voters have the opportunity each 4 years to decide who they believe and who they hold accountable for prior failures. Markets make this decision daily. The individual investor makes this decision daily, weekly or less often depending on his/her limitations of time, experience and determination.
A lot of the advice (observation) might seem erroneous if it were not for Bill’s daily account on his blog of the financial market gyrations of the past decade and particularly the failure of the mortgage and banking regulation in September 2008.
I am recommending this book to my son. He is a successful professional and beginning his life as an investor. He is a prodigious saver, using mutual funds as his major store of wealth. He buys stocks from time to time but does not have the time to engage the financial markets like his retired father. He has no formal education in finance and will benefit from the didactic part of the book. He is beginning to doubt the expertise of financial experts and the fairness of the financial markets. He is asking himself how he can maintain the value of his savings and someday be able to retire and write book reviews like his father.
5.0 out of 5 stars Helping investors run the longest ‘marathon’ that is the market
Reviewed in the United States on February 24, 2009
I picked up on Bill’s website about four years ago, as all that has come to pass started going down. I wanted to know why. The why we pretty much know now, but in making the call for the ‘Trade of the Generation’ (TOG – Sell bonds and buy gold) back in 2008/9 I’ve come to learn from Bill that the market is a marathon and it takes a specific set of skills in order to be able to run that marathon. The hard copy of ‘Lessons’ I purchased in 2009 has been providing me with that skills set.
Gold has since near doubled following that call, while bonds continue to grind higher as fear herds global investors into liquid ‘safe’ investments. But that they are in a bubble begins to be clearer to most investors as the ECB promises to move heaven and earth to prop up failing economies and the Federal Reserve continues to monetize America’s growing debt problem.
And that’s the sort of macro view that Bill brings to the table. His website is simply outstanding for presenting short and medium time frame trade setups and market perspectives. This book complements that knowledge and it is specifically aimed at those who are beginning, or already have a sound knowledge of the markets and wish to free themselves from the clutches of Wall Street and the big banks that have utterly ruined the global markets and our financial and political systems.
This is knowledge being passed from an old hand who’s had a gut full of the system playing everyone for fools. I thoroughly recommend it for those who seek not a guru, but a complete understanding of inter-related markets including bonds, commodities like gold and oil, equities, and the market moving forces that propel them. These markets move in relation with each other. ‘Lessons’ will help you understand that relationship.
5.0 out of 5 stars This is a short course in trading, It touches all the bases and should be read by anyone serious about trading.
Reviewed in the United States on June 8, 2013
I have chosen to give this book 5 stars because is is the best general book on investing that I have found. Many subjects are subjects are covered. I’ve made money using it.
5.0 out of 5 stars Comprehensively Cogent
Reviewed in the United States on July 9, 2008
I found Bill’s website about a year ago. As I followed it, I began researching his archives over the last few years and was impressed with the accuracy of his analysis and his predictive capability about market results. So, I bought the book (else why would I write a review).
The book represents the foundational knowledge behind his methodolgies. It synthesizes a systematic approach to market/stock analysis utilizing several market disciplines and their respective tools. He also provides resources for other information he considers important to investing/trading skills and lets the reader in on the inside game that Wall St. plays against the individual investor-helping level the playing field.
The writing is clear and concise, in plain language. His writing style breaks up the information into bite size pieces which are easy to mentally digest.
Mr. Cara has done us a favor. Take advantage of it.
5.0 out of 5 stars great book for any experience level
Reviewed in the United States on July 10, 2008
When I bought the book, I was hopeful that I could understand and use a good part of it. Actually, I have understood most of it. The level of information is comprehensive, yet explained in terms that I can understand. It will be an important book for me for some time to come. If you are investing in markets or plan to invest in markets this book would be a good investment in education. Mr. Cara has no axe to grind and no programs to sell. He shares a wealth of knowledge for a pitance….
John J. Murphy
5.0 out of 5 stars I needed this book
Reviewed in the United States on August 28, 2008
I found this book to be a good read and reference for a busy professional like myself. It gave me a better understanding of when to buy a stock and more importantly for me, when to sell. If you are familiar with Bill’s blog on the web you will find the book is more formal but written in a similar personal easy-to-read style. If you find yourself buying and selling at the wrong time, you might want to read this book.
1.0 out of 5 stars elementary
Reviewed in the United States on September 6, 2012
book is very basic…some good points but in general not up with the investing genre..there are much better books available