I was asked to review the recent book by Jake Bernstein called The Compleat Day Trader. In the book Mr. Bernstein points out on more than one occasion that his book is about day trading and day trading only. He describes a number of day trading systems, strategies, timing indicators and analytical methods. None of these are new to anyone that has a rudimentary understanding of technical analysis. Nevertheless I found myself devouring the pages in hopes of something new. Like most people I am not immune to the search for the Holy Grail. Like all before me I came up empty in this quest. Upon reflection and due to my nature I always believe that some good must come from the bad of the time I invested reading. What I got was an earnest perspective from a man that recognizes day trading or for that matter any time frame trading is for most people a highly unprofitable venture. This is not a book for someone that is looking to find a new trading system or a new approach to markets. So what can a person get from reading this book? The answer is it depends on if you want to be a day trader or a longer time frame trader.
If you want to be a day trader then the book is worth reading. Why is it worth reading? I categorize day traders two ways. There are those that lose money, which by some estimates is north of 95% of day traders, and those that take the money from the 95%. For the 95% that read this book and decide to pursue other activities, the book was worth while. It is a great investment in time and worth the purchase price in that you will only lose the cost of the book. In this regard Mr. Bernstein is doing you a great service by telling you to stay out of where you don’t belong. For the 5% that take all the money from the 95%, the book is worth reading because it reinforces the adage “There’s a sucker born every minute.” This group can be happy knowing there will be a fresh batch of young blood to feast upon.
What about the person that doesn’t want to be a day trader? What about the person that wants to trade but in a different time frame? Should they read this book? In this case the answer is no in my opinion. The book is truly for the day trader as Mr. Bernstein indicates. While it has a number of very good and universally valid tips, these connoisseur of the obvious tips can be found in other more time frame relevant books.