The San Francisco Money Show

Feb. 21, 2011 4:53 PM ET
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Contributor Since 2013

John Thomas is a 50-year veteran of the financial markets. He spent 10 years as a financial journalist, ten more years trading for a major investment bank, and another decade running the first dedicated international hedge funds. Seeing the incredible inefficiencies and severe mispricing offered by the popping of multiple bubbles during the Great Crash of 2008, and missing the adrenaline of the marketplace, he returned to active hedge fund management.

With The Diary of a Mad Hedge Fund Trader, his goal is to broaden public understanding of the techniques and strategies employed by the most successful hedge funds so that they may more profitably manage their own money.

He publishes a daily research newsletter, and offers one of the most successful trade mentoring services in the industry. He currently has followers in 134 countries.

In his free time, John Thomas climbs mountains, does long distance backpacks, practices karate, performs aerobatics in antique aircraft, collects vintages wines, reads the Japanese classics, and engages in a wide variety of public service and philanthropic activities.

His career has taken him up to 20,000 feet on Mount Everest, to the edge of space at 90,000 feet in the Cockpit of a MIG-25, and to the depths of a sunken Japanese fleet in the Truk Lagoon.

Why they call him "Mad" he will never understand.

I attended the Woodstock of investment conferences last week, the World Money Show at the Gaylord Palms Resort near Orlando, Florida. Run with military efficiency that only General George S. Patton could have appreciated, it offered a multi ring circus of traders, foreign exchange models, options platforms, newsletters, cruises, video broadcasts, and more.

The cavernous hotel, the size of a small glassed in sports arena was absolutely bubbling with new ideas. You couldn’t walk five feet without tripping over a great investment theme, and information overload was the order of the day. There was a plethora of celebrity speakers and old friends, including BMO Capital Markets,’ Andrew Busch, uber bear economist, David Rosenberg, Think or Swim founder, Tom Sosnoff, the Financial Times’ Gillian Tett, China Stock Digests’ Jim Trippon, and fund manager Adrian Day. Forbes publisher, Steve Forbes, was there making his perennial run for the presidency.

There really is no corner of the financial markets that was not well represented by market makers, analysts, technology providers, and investors– thousands of them. With the soaring level of US government debt scaring the daylights out of everyone, the precious metals dealers were there in force.

Of course, the hard asset crowd was everywhere, and you could not swing a dead cat without hitting a miner looking for new funding. Never mind that the barbaric relic went up for all the wrong reasons. The dollars they’re making are still just as good at the bar. The only thing missing from the show was the long predicted hyperinflation. Want to prospect in the Ivory Coast? No problem.

I was pleasantly surprised by the diversity of major corporate sponsors there to promote their own shares, like Sasol, Proctor and Gamble, Petrobras, Roche, General Electric, Vale, and Lucas Energy, several of which are great investments. A variety of oil service companies were also well represented. A “green” section offered a look at wind, solar, and geothermal energy providers. Even the US Treasury Department had its own diminutive booth, no doubt reflecting the year’s coming budget cuts.

I took the opportunity to talk with companies about everything from the latest drilling costs, long term food prices, and the true cost of geothermal, to the clever play in gold coins (go for those struck at the San Francisco Mint). I was constantly amused every few minutes by attendees who, seeing my nametag, asked to have a photo taken with the one and only Mad Hedge Fund Trader, and to sign their program.

The hotel was a bit of a disappointment, which was clearly ill equipped to handle the 8,000 Money Show registrants that descended upon it. I walked out the front door and thought that I had stumbled upon a car show. Instead, it was the gridlocked valet parking, which was diverting guests to another hotel two miles away to catch a shuttle. There were lines longer than those found in nearby Disney World, and when the noontime sessions let out, the restaurants were hit with a plague of locusts, cleaning them out of all food and clean silverware.

After I make my fortune, there was even a booth extolling the virtues of retiring on the beach in Belize. It was a great opportunity to chat with the end investors who ultimately drive all these markets. All in all, it was a weekend well invested. For a calendar of future events, go to You will find me at the Las Vegas Money Show during May 9-12 at Caesar’s Palace Hotel, where I will be a keynote speaker with my own booth.

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