I have been investing for several years, and have spent much of that time researching Micro and Macroeconomic theory as described by veterans of trading and investing and not academia. I consider myself a successful investor with a strong belief in Global Macro and contrarian investing. I don't trust any research that isn't my own so I always do my homework. When I am interested in an investment I take into consideration trend analysis, economic and social historical events, current market conditions, current social conditions, and then conduct my own financial statement analysis and study the footnotes. I am more attracted to investments (rather than trades) that are lopsided and with which people with pitch forks are trying to tear me to pieces based on my unorthodox opinions. Needless to say, I am a big fan of Jim Rogers. I don't really care what a product is, I care for what it does to the customer, and how it relates and fits in with my macroeconomic perspective of the marketplace it fits into. This leaves me perhaps with little detailed knowledge of the intricacies of many products, but since I try to follow market cycles to determine the demand for a company's product, and then create an esoteric ballpark value of what it does for the customer, I derive what my value for a company or industry is, which is mostly different from the perspective of others. I personally feel like it is much easier to define an industry that is overheating, than one that is going to grow, therefore I often take the short side of investments. One must understand as much as they can about history if they wish to project where the future is going. They must do all of their own research and assume that the opinions of everyone else are biased. Since I look to make investments based on my opinions of where the economy is, and where it is going, I am not a perfectionist of market timing, which I have come to the conclusion as being nearly impossible to predict with relative certainty. The longer your scope of investment the more likely it will be that you are correct, but also the lower your return will be. This all assumes that if you do your homework and have prepared your own investment methodology. Invest in things you can understand, and invest in things that affect normal people. The best and easiest method to understanding market conditions are to just ask normal people their opinions, or see how they react to yours. Keep your ears to the street, and act accordingly. Most of all, if I were to long a product, would I use that product? Why would or wouldn't I? Why should I use it?