V.13:07 (304-310): Teacher, Trader Still Teaching: Joseph Stowell by Thom Hartle
Many STOCKS & COMMODITIES readers dream of trading for a living; they fantasize about giving up their
humdrum day-to-day job and focusing on the opportunities in leveraged markets such as futures. But as everyone knows, dreams and realities are usually far apart. Can it be done? Can you be an overnight success? Meet Joseph Stowell, a former schoolteacher who patiently worked at trading for more than 20 years before realizing his dream of trading for a living. Stowell spoke to S&C Editor Thom Hartle on April 14, 1995, via telephone about how he did it, what it takes to trade successfully, his way of trading Treasury bond futures and more.
Q: How did you get interested in trading commodities?
A: I grew up in a farming region where most of the farmers were vegetable crop growers - potatoes, onions, similar crops. As a young man, I worked in a potato packing shed, and most of the farmers at the time were trading potato futures. I really didn't know what it was all about, but I was intrigued, so I would copy down the quotations for the Maine potato contract. That was my introduction to the futures markets.
Q: This was before you had started college?
A: Yes. While I was in college, I tried to read up on trading, but it was difficult to find any reading material at all back in 1962. After I graduated in 1964, while I was doing graduate work at the University of Rochester, I found a book by L. Dee Belveal called Commodity Speculation - with Profits in Mind.
Q: And I assume you snapped it up.
A: It was a library book. I must have checked that book out and read through it 20 or 25 different times. That book gave me my first insight into what it really was to be a trader and how to trade. Following that, Belveal wrote another book in 1969 called Charting Commodity Market Price Behavior , and that was the first book I ever purchased about trading. That book opened doors for me because it was about charting and it was about working with numbers, which is an area that I have an affinity for. That was the first time I understood what people meant when they referred to the technical condition of the market or what it was to be a technical trader.