- Josh Brown
We doubt you’ve ended up on this blog without at some point being on Josh Brown’s blog, The Reformed Broker. But Josh is the self proclaimed Chairman of Twitter Federal Reserve, and any list of financial blogs must include Josh for his acerbic wit, lighthearted anecdotes, and deep knowledge of the financial industry.
- Ben Hunt
Creator of EpsilonTheory.com and host of Epsilon Theory Live, Hunt “examines markets through the lenses of game theory and history” leading with a fresh perspective on market dynamics. Throw in some satire and always interesting visuals and you’ve got yourself one more interesting person to follow.
- Tadas Viskanta
If you need a chart of the day or catchy quote to start your mornings, the Abnormal Returns blog will be right up your alley. Founder Tadas Viskanta has been in the blogoshpere for eight years and has gathered quite a following since then. Abnormal Returns is a one-stop shop for what’s going on in the world on finance.
- Trevor Noren
Managing director at 13D, Noren dives into how the revolution of algorithms affects industries, cultures, politics, and financial markets. He regularly contributes to 13D’s global strategy and research and puts out a lot of great content on Twitter.
- Ben Carlson
A Wealth of Common Sense is a blog that does a fantastic job of seeing through the noise and honing in on the topics worth discussing, in a concise manner. From commodities to general portfolio questions, there isn’t a topic Carlson hasn’t tackled. And if you enjoy podcasts more than blogs, Carlson is a co-host of one of those too.
- J.C. Parets
For the technical/systematic/market technicians among you, J.C. Parets’ blog All Star Charts is just that, a deep collection of topical charts with commentary on just what current (or years long) price movements mean. From commodities to currencies to stocks, his charts provide analysis on any market on your watch list.
- Meb Faber
Founder of Cambria Funds, which runs multiple ETFs, Faber’s perspective is quite a bit different than the usual suspects, with quite a lot of skin in the game. With his own website, plus a slew of books that we recommend to everyone (check out our favorites here), Faber is a titan that’s definitely worth a follow.
- Michael Covel
Author of the Trend Following blog, podcast creator, and book author, there are few things that Covel doesn’t do. His insider knowledge gives readers an edge “behind the curtain to reveal a state of mind the system doesn’t want you in. Sounds kind of evil, but trust us, it’s the good kind.
- Dana Lyons
Our good friends at J. Lyons Fund Management have a knack for grabbing a hold of some rather obscure data and putting it in a nice-looking chart. Peruse their tumblr account for info on such as the US employment to population ratio, stocks as a percentage of household net worth, and a periodic mystery chart to name a few.
- Julian Brigden
Brigden is the co-founder of Macro Intelligence 2. Brigden’s team navigates the markets and writes up a weekly newsletter providing important info on current market situations and what’s going on in the news. Sign up for the newsletter to stay up-to-date, with none of the work.
- Peter Brandt
Reasons you should be following Brandt:
*Been in the ‘biz’ since 1976
*Considered one of the greats when it comes to classic trading books
*Included in the Top 30 most influential people in finance by Barry Ritholtz
- Vance Harwood
We couldn’t have a list without a VIX specicalist, and Harwood’s blog dives into all things VIX and volatilty. If the VIX is part of your investing lexicon, this should be part of your reading list.
Looking for instant commentary and reaction from the people in the alternatives realm? Here’s our big list of alternative folks to follow on twitter.
The Success Equation: Untangling Skill and Luck in Business, Sports, and Investing by Michael Mauboussin (Our Review)
The title caught our eye right away, being in the business of untangling luck and skill to a certain extent in helping clients identify and invest in alternative investment managers. The question at the end of the day is whether the impressive track record a client is considering investing in is the result of skill, or whether it is luck. If you’re a chess player – or even tennis, it’s nearly all skill. If you’re a hockey player… it’s way more luck than your agent would care to admit.
While all money is “real,” Steven Drobny creates this classification of “real money,” which is essentially money institutional firms like pensions and endowments access to do real things with (like pay out benefits and build classrooms and pay the electric bill). After the financial crisis, Drobny points out that no new money management model had been introduced to avoid another 2007-2008. He specifically focuses on institutional investors and how they should view alternatives, and portfolios. Hint, a lot of it is weighing risk management.
The general public knowing and understanding the hedge fund industry is a rather recent development, but the investment style is not. For the longest time, it’s was a generally accepted statement, that the market couldn’t be “beat.” That was until the “It-Boys” in of 21st century capitalism. Read how they cracked the code, made a fortune, and the role hedge funds played in the 2007-2008 financial crisis.
After finishing it off – think the title probably should have been something more like: A few traders who took enormously large risks, made fortunes, lost fortunes, and then faded into relative obscurity. Beyond the critique of the title, however; this was quite an entertaining read for anyone involved in the commodity futures markets – and especially the energy markets. The book touches a lot of different areas, including profiles on former regulators Bart Chilton and Gary Gensler; the dangers of indexing commodities after a huge run up, and how commodities were the red headed step child at Morgan Stanley.
William Poundstone’s book is ostensibly about the Kelly Criterion, a formula used to calculate the optimal bet size given one knows their probability of winning and the payout odds for a winning bet. An example from Wikipedia: if a gamble has a 60% chance of winning (p = 0.60, q = 0.40), but the gambler receives 1-to-1 odds on a winning bet (b = 1), then the gambler should bet 20% of the bankroll at each opportunity (f* = 0.20), in order to maximize the long-run growth rate of the bankroll. But the real story is the historical characters laid out therein.
Brown writes candidly about his life in the brokerage world, going so far as to outline the Straight Line Pitch word for word- a pitch that elicited more than handful of chuckles in how familiar it is. Brown probably made quite a few enemies out of his scathing criticisms of those who peddle investments, but to us, it smacked of truth.
Man, were we excited to pick up Annie Duke’s book on game theory and how she approaches life (and poker) by thinking in bets. After all, that’s what a good alternative investment strategy does. It “thinks” in terms of an asymmetric payoff, where the reward is more than the risk. That sounds like just the sort of thing we were likely to read about in ‘Thinking in Bets’, where the reader could learn how to identify and get value out of different life situations by viewing them as so called bets and acting on them.
The Little Book of Trading: Trend Following Strategy for Big Winnings – (Michael Covel)
This “little” book of trading is a quick read teaching readers big lessons and short chapters of how to think about bear market strategies. But more than that, Covel does a perfect job at capturing the ideas, and basics, and philosophies of trend following through great personal narratives, including John Henry, and more.
When Genius Failed: The Rise and Fall of Long-Term Capital Management (Roger Lowenstein)
I’m not sure who gets the credit for the line, but we’ve all heard in one form or another that growing as a person (or investor) is to learn from one’s mistakes. Well, this book details the very large mistakes that were made by one of the biggest (and supposedly smartest) hedge funds ever, Long Term Capital Management and their pair of Economics Nobel Prize Laureates. Their collapse nearly crippled the financial system, resulting in an unprecedented bailout from the US fed (sound familiar to current times). Just how such smart people who literally wrote the book on risk got it so wrong is truly an intriguing story which helps the every day investor understand there is much more to risk than meets the eye. The sheer size of the numbers of dollars being made or lost in this book make it a compelling read.
Fooled by Randomness: The Hidden Role of Chance in Life and in the Markets (Incerto) (Nassim Nicholas Taleb)
Fooled by Randomness stands a lot of conventional wisdom on its head by questioning the very fabric of skill and success. Are traders/investment managers actually good? Or just lucky? Mr. Taleb would have you believe there is a lot more luck to it than one would think, and not really even luck as you or I would think about it, but luck in terms of not yet having experienced an outlier event such as a 1 in 100 year storm or “black swan”, as he would call it. The end result for Mr. Taleb is a market that is much more random and crazy than can be modeled or predicted, leading those who believe it can be modeled or predicted down a dangerous path. Warning for option sellers – Mr. Taleb is wholeheartedly against option selling, and in fact runs his own hedge fund which specializes in option buying in hopes of profiting from the impending outliers he believes the rest of us aren’t thinking about.
Continuing on with his theories from his first book – Mr. Taleb’s follow up book gets into a few more specifics about how the world (and especially the financial world) is comprised of rare events he calls “black swans”, which are so rare as to not even be considered as a risk. The tragedy on 9/11 is a prime example of a Black Swan. The stock market crash in October 1987 is another. This book quickly became his most famous work due mostly to its timing, coming out in early 2007 (just monthly before the real life black swan of the credit crisis started to show), and some passages blasting bankers as little more than lemmings following the herd without a clue as to the risk and leverage they are employing.
Quite the opposite of the book above, this book details the trials and tribulations of a group who actually did believe the markets could be modeled and profitably predicted. If you have ever thought of writing your own trading system – these guys sure did, and took it to a whole new level. The title is a little misleading, as they were mainly dealing with derivatives markets, not Wall St. stocks and bonds – but it is an interesting read on just how far some will go to “beat” the market. And just how much big money or banks are willing to believe that such “beating” of the market is possible, even if the proof isn’t exactly there. The beginning of this book paints a great picture of the now nearly defunct, controlled chaos that is/was futures trading pits in Chicago, and is worth the price of admission just for those few dozen pages.
Handbook of Alternative Assets (Mark J. P. Anson)
While this is more of a textbook than a narrative like the other books listed here, and rather statistically heavy, this is a great book for learning the different types of alternative investments, along with the benefits and dangers of each. The many different types of hedge funds, commodity and managed futures, private equity, credit derivatives, and corporate governance are all covered. Anson is the former Chief Investment Officer of CalPERS, the huge California Pension which is the largest Pension fund in the US with nearly $250 Billion in assets, and as such one of the largest investors into alternative investments. With that type of experience, it is worth hearing what he has to say.
The Prize : The Epic Quest for Oil, Money & Power (Daniel Yergin)
For anyone who gets excited whenever the prices at the pump go up and down, or takes a peek at the news or online to see what Crude Oil prices did each day – this book is for you. It is the history of the modern world, in a way, told through the eyes of the oil industry. Did you know the first oil wells in the world were in Pennsylvania, that the rights to Saudi Arabia’s oil was first secured for just $175,000, or where the name Shell Oil came from. The Prize is a Pulitzer Prize winning must read that puts you behind the scenes at important cross roads in history where oil was often the main character. With the current state of affairs in the world regarding oil, seeing how we got there is a great exercise.
Hedge Fund Market Wizards: How Winning Traders Win (Jack D. Schwager)
(the whole market wizard series is worthwhile)
We’ve all heard of the Commodity Supercycle — but what’s this Debt Supercycle? If you’re looking for a cheering, optimistic on our nation’s and foreign nation’s debt, look somewhere else. Mauldin explains that decades long unreformed debt results with sovereign debt and credit crisis. Fortunately, he has two options to solve such a problem. Although, he says they aren’t any “good choices,” but that ignoring the issue will be the worst choice of all.
How to Lie with Statistics (Darrell Huff)
Ignore the fact that this came out in 1993, because it certain puts the saying, “Numbers don’t lie,” to the test. Huff runs the “Gambit” on the most popular used statistics, and points out ways data is more misleading than informative.
If the title wasn’t an enough of an explanation, this book goes into detail on the psychology of how we spend, save, and invest our money, specifically focusing on underlying irrational financial behavior. What better way to do such a thing to learn about some pretty comical case studies. Plus, new economic data helps you through your financial decisions since the 2007-2008 financial crisis.
We’ve all seen the headlines of Endowments raking in millions, but how do they do it? The Ivy Portfolio is a do-it-yourself book, teaching to how to invest like the Yale and Harvard Endowments. Faber suggests such a portfolio is possible through an ETF based portfolio. While we think commodity ETFs suck, the idea behind the book is a good one, and worth the read.
Faber’s second book details a step-by-step how to find returns in a low yield world. Investing in the 21st century is unlike any other, and according the Faber, investors must look at all of the direct and indirect ways in which companies distribute their cash to shareholders, a metric commonly referred to as “Shareholder Yield.” It also just so happens that Faber has launched two ETFs, dealing with this shareholder yield. If you’re looking for a book how to get the most out of your portfolio through ETFs, this is the book for you.
Faber’s 3rd and most recent book is all about the bubble. Where to spot them, how to spot them, and more importantly, to avoid the bursting of those bubbles. Faber uses Robert Shiller’s CAPE ratio, and applies it across 40 foreign markets, and creates a tradying system around these numbers to identify outlier moves in the market. Sounds pretty cool to us. Again, his focus is all about making big profits when it comes to stocks, but the idea behind the book is very similar to Global Macro and Alternative strategies.
Barry Ritholtz’s Extensive List of Reviews & Books purchased by blog readers:
The Beginner’s Guide to Managed Futures is a great place to start – and it’s free. The following resources are excellent as well.
For those looking to start a CTA, or grow your business, we have just the list. The 108 Tools to Grow your CTA Business. Essentially, it’s just a list of software, lawyers, accountants, and a lot more – that CTAs use and rely on to make their business go.
CME Group Education Page– The CME, as the largest futures exchange in the world, has taken it upon themselves to put together a fantastic educational hub for all things futures related. Whether you’re just learning what an expiration date is, are trading your own account, or have been in the managed futures space for decades, their education page has something for you, ranging from introductory guides and games to more complex market commentary.
National Futures Association (NFA)- The self-regulatory body of the futures industry, the NFA maintains intricate records of participants, their associations, and any disciplinary actions that have been taken. Visit the website to verify a member’s status, read up on the latest actions taken by the regulators, or learn more about the regulations governing our trade.
Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC)- Established in the 1970’s to act as the government regulatory body for the futures industry, the CFTC works in conjunction with the NFA to ensure that all regulations are being followed to the letter of the law. Their website contains a plethora of information on how these laws work, and ways that investors can protect themselves when deciding where and how to invest.
The Education Center– Whether you’re looking to subscribe to our newsletter, peruse the futures industry glossary, learn more about the basics involved in managed futures and trading systems, or look through the hundreds of newsletters published by us in the past, here is your one stop shop.