Jesse Livermore Predicted 1907 and 1929 Crash
Livermore first became famous after the Panic of 1907 when he sold the market short as it crashed. He noticed conditions where a lack of capital existed to buy stock. Accordingly, he predicted that there would be a sharp drop in prices when many speculators were simultaneously forced to sell by margin calls and a lack of credit.
With the lack of capital, there would be no buyers in sight to absorb the sold stock, further driving down prices. After the crash and its aftermath, he was worth $3 million.
He proceeded to lose 90% of that 1907 fortune on a blown cotton trade. He violated many of his key rules; he listened to another person’s advice (he preferred working alone) and added to a losing position. He continued losing money in the flat markets from 1908–1912. He was $1 million in debt and declared bankruptcy. He proceeded to regain his fortune and repay his creditors during the World War I bull market and resulting downtrend.
He owned a series of mansions around the world, each fully staffed with servants, a fleet of limousines, and a steel-hulled yacht for trips to Europe. He married his second wife, Dorothy, a beautiful Ziegfeld Follies showgirl, on December 2, 1918, when he was 41 and she was 18.
Livermore continued to make money in the bull markets of the 1920s. In 1929, he noticed market conditions similar to that of the 1907 market. He began shorting various stocks and adding to his positions, and they kept declining in price. When just about everyone in the markets lost money in the Wall Street crash of 1929, Livermore was worth $100 million after his short-selling profits.
The popular book Reminiscences of a Stock Operator, by Edwin Lefèvre, reflects on many of those lessons. Livermore himself wrote a less widely read book, “How to trade in stocks; the Livermore formula for combining time element and price”. It was published in 1940, the same year he committed suicide. It was later revealed by Livermore that he had actually penned the book Reminiscences of a Stock Operator, and that Lefèvre had acted as the editor and coach. There is some speculation that this partnership between the two men was not their first collaboration. Since Lefèvre was a writer and journalist, it is thought that he was one of the friendly newspapermen that Livermore employed for both information and planted articles.