Edwin Lefèvre was a journalist, writer, and statesman, and is best known for his writings on Wall Street, which were successful in the 1920s and early 1930s. He was born to American parents, and educated at Michigan Military Academy and Lehigh University. He was an independently wealthy investor, who turned to writing short stories about what he observed on Wall Street. He followed this with several novels about money and finance. During the presidency of William Howard Taft, Lefèvre was appointed an Ambassador of the United States, serving in a number of European countries. After that, he returned to his home in Vermont to continue his writing, publishing short stories in magazines such as Harper’s, newspapers such as the Saturday Evening Post, and writing novels. He retired in the 1930s, at the time of the Great Depression, when interest in the stock market waned.
After operating successfully as a investor, and then writing a number of articles and fictional books about Wall Street, Lefèvre turned to fact for his classic on stock-market trading, Reminiscences of a Stock Operator.
After signing up to work exclusively for the Saturday Evening Post, he wrote a series of 12 articles that told the story of a professional stock trader on Wall Street.
Presented as fiction, the series was generally accepted to be a biography of star trader, Jesse Livermore; the articles subsequently became the book, Reminiscences of a Stock Operator.
The book has been a success ever since it was first published, being continually reprinted, as well as being translated into many languages.
His writing was insightful and popular, and contained many aphorisms about the financial world.
Lefèvre offered a perspective of the mindset of a high-stakes speculator in Reminiscences of a Stock Operator, explaining the motivation behind their successes as being due to a need to express their own ingenuity.
Jesse Livermore, dubbed “Larry Livingston” in the book, was an infamous trader who amassed and lost several fortunes, before finally committing suicide with a revolver.
In Reminiscences of a Stock Operator, Lefèvre describes in great detail the bucket shops that operated in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. They were essentially betting parlors where people could wager on stocks.
They used many tricks to fool their customers, such as falsely reporting stock trades, and arranging “wash sales.”
Lefèvre recognized the role of psychology in investing. He felt that traders should factor in market precedents, the psychology of the public, the limitations of brokers, as well as their own psychological traits and weaknesses.
“After spending many years in Wall Street and after making and losing millions of dollars I want to tell you this: It never was my thinking that made the big money for me. It always was my sitting. Got that? My sitting tight!”Edwin Lefèvre