Michael Lewis Writes Jesse Livermore Screenplay

Michael Lewis, the author of the book upon which the 2015-film, The Big Short, was based has been quoted by Yahoo Finance with regard to the existence of a screenplay following the life of legendary stock trader Jesse Livermore.

“I wrote a TV show which may go somewhere set on Wall Street in the 1920s based on the life of Jesse Livermore, who’s an unbelievable character.”

Livermore’s life was documented in the thinly disguised 1923-memoir, Reminiscences of a Stock Operator, penned by American journalist Edwin Lefèvre, as listed with Amazon.

As previously reported by The Inquisitr, Michael Lewis has been described as “probably the best current writer in the country,” by literary great Tom Wolfe, author of The Bonfire of the Vanities and The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test. Besides The Big Short: Inside the Doomsday Machine, Lewis has tackled the big issues surrounding high finance in Liar’s Poker and Flash Boys. That the well-regarded and widely read author would take an interest in Jesse Livermore is likely unsurprising to, as well as welcomed by, most observers who know of the stock trader’s, who lived in the first half of the 20th century, almost unbelievable life, as well as his tragic, and objectively pitiful, end.

A screenplay following the life of Jesse Livermore is reported to be in development by author Michael Lewis.
[Photo by T.J. Kirkpatrick/Getty Images]

In the month of May 2016 alone, Jesse Livermore’s name has appeared in articles with Seeking Alpha, MarketWatch, Minyanville, Motley Fool, and Business Insider. Among many ideas attributed to him is the term “path of least resistance,” used by stock traders to describe what they see as the most likely path for the price of the stock given the current makeup of buyers and sellers in the market.

Further, Livermore is named in investing classics, such as Market Wizards: Interviews With Top Traders, by Jack Schwager, and How To Make Money In Stocks, by William O’Neil, the founder of Investor’s Business Daily, which regularly publishes articles citing Livermore’s influence.

Reminiscences of a Stock Operator was written as an autobiography of a fictional character named Larry Livingston, which was used as a literary device, perhaps, to a certain extent, to absolve Livermore of any wrongdoing; it is fair to point out that he was among the first people to attempt many of the “stock trading” techniques that are still in use today: ranging from outright fraud to astutely investing in the best companies.

Starting “just out of grammar school” Jesse Livermore worked as a quotation boy in a “stock-brokerage office.” From there, for the remainder of his life, he would do nothing other than trade stocks to earn money.

Livermore earned his first real money trading stocks in the “bucket shops” found in U.S. cities in the early part of the 1900s. These establishments allowed people to make bets on the direction of stocks, almost as if actually buying them. Livermore learned how to make bets with these shops and then go into the real market and manipulate prices to his advantage. Word of his exploits soon spread and he found himself banned from bucket shops, forcing him to graduate to real stock trading.

At different times, Jesse Livermore owned yachts, mansions, and expensive cars. He also traveled extensively and was an avid fisherman.

By the time the crash of 1929 was underway, newspapers across the country were citing Livermore as the source of the selling, as reported by Jesse Livermore: World’s Greatest Stock Trader.

“One of the stories which gained wide circulation wherever stock market tickers clicked yesterday was that Jesse L. Livermore, formerly one of the country’s biggest speculators, is the leader of the bear clique that has been hammering away at the market for weeks, and that the particular weakness which developed in high priced and pivotal stocks was to be attributed, in part at least, to his activities.”

Livermore himself reportedly disavowed any connection to the selling.

“It was these articles, picked up by every paper in the United States, blaming him for the “crash”. It wasn’t him. He wasn’t that powerful, no man was, not even the men from the great House Of Morgan.”

Despite rising to become one of the most powerful men in America, the Livermore story includes brushes with personal failure, including poverty, bankruptcy, and in the end, a tragic suicide, taking his own life on November 28, 1940. He wrote in his suicide note to his wife, “This is the only way out. I am unworthy of your love. I am a failure.”

[Photo by T.J. Kirkpatrick/Getty Images]