Thursday, October 28, 2010

Hirsch and Person, Commodity Trader’s Almanac 2011

The fifth edition of the Commodity Trader’s Almanac (Wiley, 2011), edited by Jeffrey A. Hirsch and John L. Person, has just been released. It follows the standard format of the Hirsch Organization almanacs; it is spiral-bound and contains two sections, the almanac proper and a databank section. The databank includes near-term contract monthly closing prices and percent changes as well as the annual highs, lows, and closes for the entire history of each product. It also provides specifications for commodities’ contracts as well as for related securities. For instance, under “cocoa” we find Hershey; the individual grains reference not only CRBA and MOO but such stocks as Archer Daniels Midland, Bunge, Conagra, John Deere, Monsanto, Mosaic, and Potash.

Commodities are the most seasonal of all traded instruments, so they lend themselves perfectly to seasonal studies, many of which this almanac describes. The almanac also suggests ways to improve entries, exits, and stops with pattern recognition as taught by John Person.

Each month in this almanac has an overview page, and each week features a seasonal study and chart. On the weekly calendar pages the editors have added first notice, last trade, and standard option expiration days for all nineteen markets included in the book. I suppose I should mention that, as was the case last year, in addition to the thirteen top commodities the almanac also includes data on how the U.S. dollar fares against four currencies (the euro, Swiss franc, Japanese yen, and British pound) as well as the S&P 500 index futures and the 30-year Treasury bonds.

The almanac offers apposite daily quotations, many of them familiar but nonetheless welcome. For instance, from Peter Lynch: “Whatever method you use to pick stocks . . . , your ultimate success or failure will depend on your ability to ignore the worries of the world long enough to allow your investments to succeed. It isn’t the head but the stomach that determines the fate of the stockpicker.” Or, T. S. Eliot: “Only those who will risk going too far can possibly find out how far one can go.”

As always, this almanac is beautifully produced and would adorn any desk that doesn’t already have far too many books cluttering it.

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