Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Hirsch and Person, Commodity Trader’s Almanac 2012

Now in its sixth edition, the 2012 Commodity Trader’s Almanac (Wiley) once again provides a treasure trove of price data and seasonal trading ideas. It belongs on the desk of everyone who trades commodity futures and U.S. dollar crosses as well as stocks, ETFs, and ETNs that are commodity based.

I bought the inaugural 2007 edition of this almanac and for purposes of this review pulled it off my shelf to compare it to its 2012 counterpart. My question was: Is it worth buying the almanac every year? Are the changes really that important to a trader’s bottom line? The brief answer is “yes.”

First of all, if there’s any place seasonal strategies work it’s in commodities. And the 2012 strategies are no rehash of those of 2007. The almanac switches around the commodities that are analyzed. For instance, the commodities that received a one-page analysis in June 2007 were coffee and crude oil whereas in the June section of the 2012 almanac we read about soybeans, sugar, beef, and corn.

The almanac follows the familiar Hirsch format. It’s spiral bound, which means it lies flat when open. About 60% of the volume has calendar entries with appropriate quotations on recto pages, analysis on verso pages. Then come contract specifications, a list of select ETFs, a series of potentially profitable trading patterns, and an extensive long-term data bank (annual highs, lows, and closes as well as near-term contract monthly percent changes) for the S&P 500, 30-year Treasury, crude oil, natural gas, copper, gold, silver, corn, soybeans, wheat, cocoa, coffee, sugar, live cattle, lean hogs, British pound, Euro, Swiss franc, and Japanese yen.

Every year the editors tweak the almanac to respond to trading trends. For instance, this time around they have added a brief section on options and spread trading. But the bottom line is that the Commodity Trader’s Almanac, like the Stock Trader’s Almanac, is a handsome, useful addition to a trader’s desk—especially those traders who believe, like Jesse Livermore, that “It isn’t as important to buy as cheap as possible as it is to buy at the right time.”

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