by ilene - June 23rd, 2010 1:35 am
Victor Niederhoffer thinks he caused the stock market crash of October 27, 1997, when the DOW dropped over 550 points.
In an interview with Slate Magazine, Nierhoffer explains his theory:
They all knew that if I was hurting in one market, I’d have to liquidate in the other markets.
Whenever someone’s in trouble, it circulates around Wall Street; you’d be amazed how just one small fish is enough to stop the wheels of commerce for long enough to relieve that person of his funds. And then the market goes back to doing exactly what it was going to do beforehand.
I still think that the crash of Oct. 27, 1997, was basically due to brokers running my position against me, knowing that I was on the ropes. The market had its greatest drop in the previous 10 years that day. And then the next day, once they were able to force me out, it went up more than it dropped.
Let’s compare his hypothesis with what some other financial experts think caused the crash.
Bernanke says that October is just a crazy month for the markets.
“Classically, October has always been the month for financial problems,” Mr. Bernanke told the WSJ in 2007.
The Asian markets were overvalued and the bubble burst - (Urbi Garay’s paper on the crisis)
He sold a very large number of options on the S. & P. index, taking millions of dollars from other traders in exchange for promising to buy a basket of stocks from them at current prices, if the market ever fell.
It was an unhedged bet, or what was called on Wall Street a "naked put," meaning that he bet everyone on one outcome: he bet in favor of the large probability of making a small amount of money, and against the small probability of losing a large amount of money-and he lost. On October 27, 1997, the market plummeted eight per cent, and all of the many, many people who had bought those options from Niederhoffer came calling all at once, demanding that he buy back their stocks at pre-crash prices.
by ilene - June 22nd, 2010 3:27 pm
Courtesy of Bill Luby at Vix & More
I can’t say that I have read her book, but I think her interview with Victor Niederhoffer at Slate, Hoodoos, Hedge Funds, and Alibis: Victor Niederhoffer on Being Wrong should be required reading for all investors. One of the most difficult things to do in life is to learn from the mistakes of other people – and while Niederhoffer is famous mostly for his two large blowups, he is also reflective, insightful and a fun read. Perhaps more importantly, outside of those two blowups, Niederhoffer has a superb track record and is highly regarded for his trading skills. Many think that Niederhoffer’s blowups should negate the value of what Niederhoffer says. I think quite the opposite. Here is a trader we can all learn from, including both his successes and his failures.
“Unfortunately I was so successful for so many years in that particular field that I began to believe in my own success. I thought that because my method worked in markets that I knew about and had quantified, I could apply the same methods to something I didn’t know about.”
“I didn’t have the capital to be strong enough to provide a backup in the case of unforeseen events. I didn’t have a proper foundation. I was playing with adversaries who were stronger than me and who actually made the rules. My base of operations was not diversified enough, and I was vulnerable to forces I couldn’t withstand. I was too vainglorious. In my opinion, those are recurring errors behind most disasters.”
But don’t stop at these excerpts. Click through to read the full interview at Slate.
If you are interested in Schulz’s thinking in a broad range of subjects outside of the investment world, Slate has captured a great deal of her content in her column The Wrong Stuff.