The Market Wizard of Interviews: Jack Schwager by Thom Hartle
Jack Schwager, director of futures research for Prudential Securities, coprincipal of Wizard Trading and author of Market Wizards, The New Market Wizards and A Complete Guide to the Futures Markets, needs little introduction to the readers of Stocks & Commodities. It was he who, with the original Market Wizards, brought to the limelight some of the most successful traders in the field and persuaded them to explain the secrets to their success. Schwager, who has been in the futures field since 1971, began as a fundamentalist, only to slowly change allegiance as he gained more knowledge. Here, Stocks & Commodities interviews the interviewer, covering along the way observations on trading methods, why taking a loss is no big deal, what the goal for a new trader should be and why patience is key above all.
How did you get into the futures markets?
When I first got into futures, I didn't even know what they were. I was out of graduate school looking for
some sort of analytical job. I wasn't getting anywhere, so I put in an ad in The New York Times . I had one
legitimate response to the ad, for a research analyst position—the spot that Michael Marcus was vacating
at Reynolds Securities to become a trader. Reynolds Securities' research director was writing a column
for Barron's at the time, and he had his staff doing research for the articles. Well, I was one of the final
candidates for the research analyst job, and he had each of us write an article on an assigned market. My
market was copper. During my first interview, the research director asked me if I knew what
commodities were. I remember my tentative response — "Something like gold?"
An insightful comment.
That's about how much I knew about futures. I must have done something right, though, because he gave
me the assignment to write on copper. Since I didn't know anything about the markets, I spent days in the
library digging up years' worth of Metals Week and other articles. I ended up writing a report on the price
outlook for copper.
I went back years later and looked at the paper. It was actually reasonably good. It got me the job.
What year was that?
That was 1971.
Then about 10 years later you wrote A Complete Guide to the Futures Markets?
Later; I wrote that in 1983. Perry Kaufman actually deserves credit for that book coming into existence,
because when he was doing The Futures Handbook, he asked me to write a chapter on fundamentals. I
began writing and found myself at about 80 pages and nowhere near completion. I thought to myself that
this was crazy — I should be writing my own book. So I offered him a smaller topic: performance
evaluation. As it turned out, what I thought was a third of the book was closer to only 5% or 10% of the
final product, but that's what got me started on it.