I was born in Shrewsbury, Mass to a family of subsistence farmers. I was thin and often sickly as a child, but a very good student, especially in math. I ran away from home at the age of 14 with the blessing and help of my mother to avoid being pulled into the life of subsistence farming that my father intended for me.
My first job was as a quote boy (posting stock quotes on a chalk board) at Paine Webber in Boston, Mass. At the outset I had no money, no contacts, no education and no support…not exactly a traditional formula for winning the game of life. However, it was here, in these early years, that I noticed the patterns that the stock quotes followed, began to develop my system for trading the markets and made my first trades.
My first trades were made in what were then known as “bucket shops.” These were generally unlicensed brokerage houses that were little more than backroom gambling houses. Most bucket shop customers lost money, but I did not because my trading was based on the “tape” (the ever-changing stock price patterns printing on the ticker tape). I am known as perhaps the best pure “tapereader” of all time. It was also during this time that I came to be known as the Boy Plunger for my willingness to place large “bets” on trades for which I had great conviction.
My success in the bucket shops led to me being banned from them, forced to travel and disguise myself to make trades, trade by proxy, and, ultimately, to a thinly veiled threat from a well-known mob figure.
I would go on to make trading my profession and one true passion in life. I would continue to refine my trading system for many years learning more as my experience expanded but always keeping the foundation of those early years as the base of my activities.
In my early 30s I was worth $3,000,000, but lost it by virtue of “getting away from my knitting.” After filing for bankruptcy, I was bankrolled by a benefactor who would ultimately use me to help hide the liquidation of his family accounts. Chastened I returned to the simple basics more determined than ever to succeed as a trader.
By 1929 I was well positioned to capitalize on the crash. My fortune rose to over $100,000,000 and my market influence was such that J.P. Morgan himself sent word asking that I forgo the additional profits that I could make for the sake of the overall market. This was arguably the peak of my market power.
Over the course of my life I experienced all of the spoils of great wealth… multiple houses, yachts, parties, vacations, clothes, and cars. Within my network were some of the most powerful people of my generation. Still, I was married multiple times and suffered with what I knew as the dark periods (but has since been confirmed as clinical depression) for most of my life. This depression culminated in me taking my own life at the age of 63, but not before establishing myself as arguably the greatest trader that ever lived.
I am Jesse Lauriston Livermore (1877-1840).