Jesse L. Livermore Biography

Jesse Lauriston LivermoreJesse Lauriston Livermore
Jesse L. Livermore was one of the pioneers in stock trade speculations. He was born in South Acton, Massachusetts, in 1877, and he went away from this world by taking his own life in 1940 at the age of 63.

He started early because he didn’t want to work on his family farm. Instead, he thought to pursue wealth in other ways. Therefore, he moved to Boston and got a job at Paine Webber Company. He started trading for himself when he was just fifteen. That way, he had earned more than a thousand USD, which is equal to today’s 300,000.00 dollars or even a million in economic power value.

He started betting against what is known as a “bucket shop.” His success in that business made him unwanted in Boston, so when all the shops banned him, he moved to New York – closer to Wall Street. His ability to manage in speculative trading turned him into a successful trader, but his way of doing business saw him going up and down too many times. He wanted to earn money fast and wasn’t looking to invest in long-term business. He gained and lost millions of dollars, and such a life led him to commit suicide.

Since he had no education in stock trading, as he entered the stock market at an early age, he learned all by himself and from his own mistakes, which brought some fast earnings, even faster loss, pressure, and suicide. He evolved into somebody still regarded as a successful trader, even though he made many wrong moves. However, the trading style that was his mark still exists in today’s stock market. His principle was that not only individual stock is what is worth, but the whole market should be analyzed. He saw that analyzing the direction of the entire market brings more success than focusing on a single stock without regard for the direction of the whole market.

Jesse L. Livermore, widely recognized as one of the greatest traders in history, had a fascinating and tumultuous life. Here’s a detailed biography in bullet points:

  • Early Life and Education:
    • Born on July 26, 1877, in South Acton, Massachusetts.
    • He left home at a young age to escape a life of farming his family wanted for him.
    • He began his career by posting stock prices at Paine Webber’s Boston brokerage at 14.
  • Early Trading Career:
    • As a teenager, he started trading for himself in bucket shops (informal stock betting parlors).
    • He was highly successful due to his ability to read the tape and understand market psychology.
    • They earned a fortune but were eventually banned from the bucket shops for winning too much.
  • Wall Street Career:
    • He moved to New York City to trade on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE).
    • Made and lost several fortunes through speculative trading.
    • He is known for his ability to short-sell stocks, famously profiting during market crashes.
  • Major Financial Events:
    • He made a massive fortune by short-selling during the 1907 and 1929 market crashes.
    • Some blamed him for the 1929 crash but cleared him of any wrongdoing by the Senate Banking Committee.
    • His trading strategies and timing were often controversial but showed deep insight into market dynamics.
  • Personal Life:
    • He is known for his lavish lifestyle, including owning multiple mansions and yachts.
    • He married three times; his personal life was often as volatile as his professional one.
    • He struggled with depression and personal demons throughout his life.
  • Writing and Legacy:
    • He authored the book “How to Trade in Stocks,” which offered insights into his trading principles and methods.
    • His life inspired the creation of the fictional character Larry Livingston in Edwin Lefèvre’s book “Reminiscences of a Stock Operator,” a classic in market psychology and trading.
  • Death:
    • Tragically took his own life on November 28, 1940, in the cloakroom of the Sherry Netherland Hotel in Manhattan.
  • Impact on Trading and Finance:
    • Livermore is remembered for his incredible peaks and valleys in wealth, keen understanding of market behavior, and significant influence on trading psychology and theory.
    • His life and career continue to be studied by traders and finance professionals for lessons on market speculation, risk management, and the psychological aspects of trading.

His definition of a successful stock trader is that such a trader researches the market, the economy, and the company and doesn’t focus on the short-term. A good investor always does his research and doesn’t give much credit to insider information. He knew that speculations might mislead sometimes, and like every famous investor with a huge success, Livermore knew that your estimation must be made upon a thorough research.
His suicide, preceded by many mistakes and misjudgments, marked his life more than his success did, but his contribution to the stock market and the entire business can’t be foreseen.

Jesse Livermore’s trading style

Jesse Livermore’s trading style was unique for his time and remains highly influential in the trading world. Here are the crucial elements of his approach in detail:

  1. Market Trends and Timing:
    • Livermore was a pioneer in understanding and capitalizing on market trends. He believed in the importance of timing and would often wait patiently for the right moment to enter a trade.
    • He focused on identifying major market trends, and he would take prominent positions once he was confident in the market’s direction.
  2. Price Action and Tape Reading:
    • Livermore excelled in “tape reading,” an early form of what is now known as price action trading. This involved studying the ticker tape to understand a stock’s supply and demand dynamics.
    • He believed the price reflected all the known information about a stock and closely followed price patterns and volume for signals.
  3. Short Selling:
    • One of Livermore’s most notable strategies was short selling – betting that a stock’s price would fall. He made huge profits during the market crashes of 1907 and 1929 by short-selling aggressively.
    • His ability to go against market sentiment and bet on declines was a hallmark of his trading style.
  4. Money Management and Risk Control:
    • Although Livermore made and lost several fortunes, he was keenly aware of the importance of money management. He would only bet big when he was confident in his analysis.
    • He also emphasized the importance of setting stop-loss orders to limit potential losses.
  5. Psychological Aspects:
    • Livermore understood the psychological aspects of trading better than most of his contemporaries. He knew that emotions like fear and greed could drive market movements.
    • He believed in discipline and the importance of not being influenced by others’ opinions in trading decisions.
  6. Adapting to Market Conditions:
    • Livermore was adaptable, changing his trading strategies as market conditions changed. He was not wedded to a single approach and was always learning from his experiences.
    • This flexibility was crucial to his success in different market environments.
  7. Speculative Nature:
    • His trades were often speculative, based on his predictions of future market movements. This approach involved a high level of risk.
    • Livermore’s style was not just about analyzing fundamentals; he significantly emphasized market psychology and behavior.
  8. Leverage:
    • He frequently used leverage to maximize gains, sometimes leading to substantial losses. This high-risk, high-reward approach was characteristic of his style.
  9. Independence:
    • Livermore believed in making decisions based on his analysis and instincts rather than relying on others’ opinions or market consensus.
  10. Continuous Learning:
    • He was a lifelong learner, constantly refining his methods and learning from his mistakes. Livermore understood that the market was constantly evolving, and so must a trader’s strategies.

Jesse Livermore’s trading style combined technical analysis, an understanding of market psychology, strict discipline, and a willingness to take calculated risks. While his approach led to immense wealth, it also came with high volatility and personal costs. His legacy is a reminder of both the potential and the perils of speculative trading.

Favorited book :
Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds




Igor has been a trader since 2007. Currently, Igor works for several prop trading companies. He is an expert in financial niche, long-term trading, and weekly technical levels. The primary field of Igor's research is the application of machine learning in algorithmic trading. Education: Computer Engineering and Ph.D. in machine learning. Igor regularly publishes trading-related videos on the Fxigor Youtube channel. To contact Igor write on:

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