Insights from the Admiral: An Interview with Eric Bolling

by S. Lord

When Eric Bolling was featured on the cover of Trader Monthly in June 2005, he was already an extremely successful commodities trader. He was a regular on the magazine’s annual “Trader 100″ list of top industry players, and was named Maybach’s Man of the Year in 2007. As an original contributor to CNBC’s Fast Money series, Eric helped usher in the trader-turned-TV-personality era that has brought trading-floor action and insights directly into the living rooms of millions of people. Now a commentator for Fox Business Network and host of his own show Follow The Money, Bolling’s clear, to-the-point style has made him one of Fox’s most popular anchors.

Trader Daily caught up with Bolling recently and asked him a few questions about how he trades today, what he looks for in a good opportunity, and how trading has changed since Trader Monthly featured him on its cover back before, as a fellow trader has termed it, “the world blew up.”

Trader Daily: You were drafted by the Pittsburg Pirates but had to leave baseball due to an injury. Do you regret not playing ball? Or did the injury actually send you in a more meaningful direction?

Bolling: I lived for baseball, and focused every day on it. My baseball career was over in an instant, and I was devastated!

Trader Daily: What’s the first financial information or index you look at when your day begins? Why?

Bolling: WSJOnline.com. Not because it is a NewsCorp property, but because it is the single most important publication for a guy who needs to be on top of business, politics and markets, period!

Trader Daily: If you were going to start out as a trader today, would you start out in oil futures, as you did the first time around? Or would you focus on another commodity, market, etc.?

Bolling: Oil/energy. It is the lifeblood of our economy and the world’s economy.  In fact, oil may be the only viable world currency, not the dollar nor the Chinese yuan. So, yes — I would start and end in energy.

Trader Daily: Have automated and algorithmic trading taken anything out of futures trading?  Have they ultimately made trading easier or harder?

Bolling: Algorithmic models coupled with high-speed trade execution have made human beings obsolete. The traders of today and tomorrow are the best and brightest programmers. The downside is a clear spike in volatility in all trading markets.

Trader Daily: When you’re about to pull the trigger on a trade, does your gut still win out over everything else? Are instinct and aggressiveness still crucial characteristics to successful trading?

Bolling: In everything I do, my “gut” reigns supreme. Whether it’s an investment, a real estate purchase or running with a story for my show, I always consult my gut. As always, you can be as smart as Einstein but you have to be able to pull the trigger on a trade…or just be an analyst. (No offense to analysts).

Trader Daily: How much of a problem is the increasing correlation among markets and asset classes for traders?

Bolling: Problem? Markets evolve and good traders evolve with the markets. The Street is littered with losers who thought they were smarter or bigger than the market. Respect the market – it’s ALWAYS right.

Trader Daily: Regulators are doing a lot of talking about increased market oversight, combining the Commodity Futures Trading Commission and the Securities and Exchange Commission, etc., but will it help prevent fraud, flash crashes, etc? Is the market still the best judge & jury out there?

Bolling: The solution to curing market ills, be it manipulation, fraud, etc., is by offering SEC, CFTC, OTC [over-the-counter] regulators “whistleblower” rewards. Give those guys 10% – 20% of uncovered fraud, and see how much gets exposed.

Trader Daily: What’s it like to be sitting on the other side of the fence, observing the trading action as a commentator? Has your media career changed the way you view the markets you used to trade? How about the investors?

Bolling: Yes. I am under very strict and observed investment criteria, holding periods, selling restrictions and disclosure requirements. I don’t think it has changed my view of markets or investors, though.

Trader Daily: Loss/risk management is sometimes called the number-one key to successful trading, even more than being right on the underlying move. Do you agree?

Bolling: ABSOLUTELY- a good trader knows how to take a profit, and there are tons of them. A great trader knows how to cut a loss, and there are far fewer of those. But they are the most successful traders.

Trader Daily: A few years ago, Trader Monthly made waves by basically celebrating the hubris of the trading lifestyle. As someone who was a very visible member of the Trader 100, what would you say is the single largest difference in the trading world between then and now?

Bolling: I was proud to be on the cover back then. Now, I would turn the offer down flat. Successful investors and traders are flying below the radar. Times are tough, and to be strutting yourself while people are struggling would be absolutely tone deaf.

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1 Comment for “Insights from the Admiral: An Interview with Eric Bolling”

  1. Eric is the hottest ticket on all of Fox right now. Everyone should be watching his show, Follow the Money every night @ 9p.m. ET, (10 p.m. on Thursday)! It’s incredibly educational and entertaining at the same time!

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