The Art Of Speculation by Phillip L Carret

I would title this book “A Review of the Markets” – it is a useful read about the different investment instruments available, with Carret’s valuable opinion on the risks and opportunities they can offer, and some insights into the stock markets during the 1920s. There was little depth, though, on how Carret became one of the 20th century’s most successful and enduring investors. I had high hopes, but neither his artistry as a speculator or as an author were on much display; rather than describing his techniques and successes, Carret discusses without humour a more general approach to capital growth.

Despite the tedium, or perhaps because of it, this is a true account of Carret’s success. There is no secret other than common sense, hard work, self-reliance and an enquiring mind. While each opinion offered is dry and bland, it comes from experience and understanding – the art is perhaps in seeing through the market instrument to the ownership it represents. At the very end of the book Carret offers twelve tenets, being the clearest description of his own approach. Note that several speak directly to Cadence’s process, such as the direction to, “Be quick to take losses, reluctant to take profits.” Again, disappointingly it is all common sense, but it is common sense accrued from long study and practice.