Top Ten Greatest Trades Of All-Time


International Business Times recently listed the 10 greatest trades of all time. Whether they were lucky or brilliant – or a combination of both – these folks made a bundle of money from their best trades.  Here they are:

1.   John Paulson’s bet against sub prime mortgages (this trade made him $15 billion in 2007).

2.   Jesse Livermore’s call on the Crash of 1929 (a legendary trader featured in the popular book, Reminiscences of a Stock Operator).

3.   John Templeton’s foray into Japan in the 1960s (a true investment pioneer, Templeton foresaw the rise of Japan after World War II and profited hugely from it).

4.   George Soros’ breaking of the Bank of England in 1992 (Soros made $1 billion).

5.   Paul Tudor Jones’ shorting of Black Monday in October 1987 (he predicted the crash, bet a bundle & tripled his money as the market crashed 22% in one day).

6.   Andrew Hall’s $100 oil prediction (with oil trading at $30 per barrel in 2003, Hall bet prices would rise to $100 in 5 years; they did and he took home a personal paycheck of $100 million in 2008).

7.   David Tepper’s 2009 bet on financials (as the market hit its low in early 2009, Tepper bought financial services stocks & his fund earned $7 billion that year – $4 billion of that went to Tepper).

8.   Jim Chanos’ prescient shorts (his sharp analysis led him to predict the demise of Enron, WorldCom, and other firms, and he is known as the best short-seller in the world).

9.   Jim Rogers’ early call on commodities (he was bullish on commodities back in the 1990s & has been riding them to great profits ever since).

10.  Louis Bacon’s geopolitical play (he correctly predicted that Saddam Hussein would invade Kuwait in 1990 & profited handsomely by going long on oil & shorting stocks, which helped his fund return 86% that year).

Most of these trades were ‘global macro’ plays where huge, concentrated bets were made by analyzing fundamental economic/business conditions.  These investors excelled at turning a great observation about the world into a great investing idea. But, while these make the headlines, you never hear about the other investors who made a big call and missed, and ended up out of business.

It’s almost impossible for regular investor folks to make a ‘big score’ like these traders.  Rather than trying to throw a touchdown pass on every play and make a big score like these traders, the smarter game plan is to focus on trying to get consistent first downs. Do your homework, watch market/sector developments, don’t chase stocks up or down.  Do that, and the score may take care of itself.

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