Technology Glitches Fell The Mad Hedge Fund Trader

Aug. 19, 2012 1:57 PM ET
Please Note: Blog posts are not selected, edited or screened by Seeking Alpha editors.


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.

Many apologies to the hundreds of listeners who were cut short during the broadcast of my biweekly strategy webinar on Wednesday, August 1. Despite the Herculean efforts of the staff, sometimes the technology doesn't deliver as promised. This was one of those days.

For a start, getting the GoToMeeting software to work on an iMac is a bit like trying to shove a round peg in a square hole. While the scenery in Zermatt is spectacular, the local broadband is still stuck in the 19th century. I did a speed test and discovered, to my horror, that I was clocking 2 mb/second, compared to the blistering 100 mb/second that I get at home.

The satellite link connecting Europe with the US can go down at any time. On top of that, the London Olympics has been sucking up much of the continent's bandwidth, slowing down everyone's communications to the speed of molasses in winter.

There were some local issues that further complicated matters. It is the Swiss National Day, or the country's equivalent to the Fourth of July. So everyone had the day off, and many spent the day surfing the net, further slowing speeds. Fireworks went off constantly, and the party next door started to spill over into my own chalet.

Right at 6:00 pm local time, the church bells started ringing, just as my webinar was getting started. I hope you were able to hear them in the background. Oh, and I think some local goats were chewing on my fiber optic cable. When the call came in that the audio was intermittent, I had little choice but to can the broadcast.

Please go to my website at and log in. There you will find the PowerPoint for today's webinar posted, along with all other past strategy webinars. I look forward to hearing from you again when I return to the 21st century next week and have US grade hardware and communications at hand. I'll be broadcasting from a PC, so that the live Q&A chat window will be restored as well.

After my failed attempt, I headed to central Zermatt to join in the celebrations. I found the main street packed shoulder to shoulder with at least 10,000 revelers. Traditional Swiss music groups played tunes like Yankee Doodle and The Stars and Stripes Forever. Businesses had tables in front selling every imaginable kind of food. They were slinging out fondue, raclette, something called cholera, bratwurst, flamenkuche, and sushi as fast as they could make it. The beer and wine flowed freely, and people of every nationality were in an ebullient mood. I matched every stop at a food stand with two at the bakery tables. The waste line suffered.

As we approached 10:00 pm, the fireworks increased in crescendo. Then three huge signal fires were set on the surrounding mountain peaks, and the festivities moved into overdrive. They clearly do not have the same restrictions as at home, as every juvenile delinquent had an armload of skyrockets, roman candles, and firecrackers, which they put to use with reckless abandon.

Just as the town began its main display, a huge thundercloud barreled up from Italy. We witnessed an awesome duel, with enormous lightening strikes on the Matterhorn challenged by the immense booming of fireworks over the village. As we were deep in an Alpine valley, the reverberating echoes off of the surrounding mountain walls were superb. Finally, a torrential downpour sent everyone scampering for the cover of the overhanging eves of chalets.

In the meantime, good luck and good trading.

John Thomas
Zermatt, Switzerland

To ensure this doesn’t happen in the future, please enable Javascript and cookies in your browser.
Is this happening to you frequently? Please report it on our feedback forum.
If you have an ad-blocker enabled you may be blocked from proceeding. Please disable your ad-blocker and refresh.