Turney Duff: “Edge” is What Counts on Wall St., Legal Or Not


January 7, 2014
Turney Duff is a former trader at the now defunct Galleon Group hedge fund and the author of The Buy Side: A Wall Street Trader’s Tale of Spectacular Excess. He told FRONTLINE that in the hedge fund world, fear of breaking insider trading laws can often take a backseat when giant profits are at stake. This is the edited transcript of an interview conducted on July 29, 2013.

[question]Tell me where you came from and how you came to Wall Street. [/question]

I grew up in a small town, in Kennebunk, Maine, in a house heated by a wood stove. I got the U-Haul and packed it up and moved to the city in 1994. I had a little trouble trying to find a job either in PR or as a journalist, so my mom suggested, “You know, why don’t you call your uncle?”

So I called my uncle. I knew he worked on Wall Street. I didn’t really know much about Wall Street. I knew he drove a nice car and went on great vacations and led kind of an exciting life. So I called him up and didn’t prepare what I was going to say.

And you know, between all the “ums,” “ahs” and dead silence, I managed to say, “I need help finding a job.” But I meant any job, not on Wall Street. And he said, “I’ll call you back in 10 minutes.” Twenty minutes later the phone rings, and he says, “You’ve got 10 interviews in New York this week.” I said, “For what?” And he said, “Oh, just say you want to get into sales.”

So there I am in my Filene’s Basement suit, down in World Trade Center, walking into Lehman Brothers, no idea what I’m doing, and I see the trading floor and the opening bell, and all of a sudden, this energy and the utter grandness of it all, I just kind of said to myself, “I want in.”

I saw all these guys, you know, late 20s, early 30s, nicely dressed and commanding a lot of respect and presence. So the more I learned about what Wall Street was all about, the more I wanted to get in, and I eventually got a job in Morgan Stanley.

[question]So after a lot of paying-your-dues type of work at Morgan Stanley, you find yourself at a hedge fund called the Galleon Group. Talk to us a little bit about how you got in there and then your formative experiences there at Galleon when you first got there.[/question]

I went over to Galleon in 1999, and one thing that I found in my five years of working at Morgan Stanley, that during the day I was out-connected, out-degreed, and out-experienced. When the office lights went out, I went to happy hour, and that’s when I felt like I was in my element.

I really started to network at night and connect with people, and eventually that led to my job at Galleon. When I first went over there, we were probably about $500 million or $700 million, and there were about five of us on the trading desk.

Raj Rajaratnam sat five feet behind me, and I was just there to book trades and pick up the phone and just sort of soak it all in. Eventually they would give me a little bit more responsibility. It got to a point where they said, “All right, now start trading your own money,” and, “Just go and make money.

I was expected to go out two, three nights a week, which is great for a guy in his late 20s in New York City, and, you know, the tab’s always picked up. So I’m like, “Sure.” But the purpose was for me to develop relationships and get information. It was always about getting information.

But I remember sitting there on the desk one day, and Raj Rajaratnam was out … and I’m sitting there, and the phone rings, and I’m like, “Galleon,” and the guy sounds like, you know, he’s whispering or something. And I’m like, “Hello? Galleon.” And he’s like, “Is Raj there?” And I’m like, “No.” …

So he’s like, “Jeffries [Group] is going to upgrade Amazon in six minutes” — click. So I’m sitting there, and I’m like, “Oh, my God, what do I do?,” because if I don’t buy Amazon and the stock’s upgraded and the stock goes up, they’re going to find out. But if I do it, isn’t this illegal? And you know — well, what should I do?

I sat there for five minutes, trying to make a decision. I ultimately ended up buying 100,000 shares of Amazon. Literally 30 seconds later, I made about a half a million dollars. And I remember sitting there, saying, “Wow.” I’m like, “If I got this call every day, I’d be a great trader, too,” and because I’m sitting around some of the best and brightest traders on Wall Street. I’m like, “OK, I need my own ‘Mr. Whisper.'” That’s how I kind of got indoctrinated into hedge funds and the buy side. That’s where I got my first lesson.

[question]What lengths would people go to at Galleon and other places to disguise and mask what they were doing?[/question]

Basically, if you are going to partake in insider trading, you don’t want to get caught, obviously. But back then it was a little simpler. You felt like, you know, let’s make sure that nothing’s in print, on email. You have conversations with other people in the office. And there’s a whole list of rules to abide by if you’re going to act in insider trading. Number one is never buy options. Never buy calls or puts. It’s almost like looking for hay in a needle stack. It’s just too easy to find. So you never, never buy options.

Number two is always have a paper trail. If you’re going to buy or sell something based on insider trading, you want an email from one of your analysts or from someone else in the office giving you seven reasons why to buy or sell the stock.

“I remember sitting there, saying, ‘Wow.’ I’m like, ‘If I got this call every day, I’d be a great trader, too.'”

All of those reasons have nothing to do with the inside information, but now you have a paper trail to say, “Oh, this is why I bought or sold the company.” Another thing that you would do is, let’s say you wanted to buy 400,000 shares of XYZ. You want to buy 500,000 shares, and then later in the day, let’s sell 100,000, so now we come up as a seller and a buyer [should] whoever is checking their records come to you and say, “Hey, you bought this, and we think that maybe you had an insider tip or you bought it six hours before the takeover,” and you can say: “But we sold 100,000 shares an hour before it happened. If we knew something, why would we sell it? So that creates confusion. You come up on both lists, as a buyer and a seller of the same stock.

Another thing that you want to do if you do have an insider tip … you want to play that stock, but you might want to look at all of the other stocks in the sector or derivative plays of the news that you know.

Basically you can make a ton of money off of all of these other stocks that will move with the news. But yeah, there are rules that you need to abide by if you don’t want to get caught. But that’s pretty much it.

[question]Places like Galleon and SAC [Capital Advisors] seemed to be more like massive intelligence-gathering operations than investment funds. Is that a fair assessment? [/question]

Sure. I mean, as I progressed in my career, I started to realize that it wasn’t only Wall Street that could supply me with information. I could go on a trip or go visit a friend on the Cape and find out that his father is a doctor, and then all of a sudden your brain starts to say, “Oh, well, if he’s a doctor, maybe he knows [about] something to do with this drug that we’re trying to get approved by the FDA [Food and Drug Administration].”

All of a sudden you’re starting to think almost every relationship that you have could be information that will help you formulate a trade. Some of it could be insider trading, and some of it could just be collecting information. …

The more information that you had, the easier it was to make an investment decision. But entertaining or wining and dining on Wall Street, it’s a big part of Wall Street, and it’s not going anywhere. But the lengths that I took it to was probably much more extreme than most people.

Here I am, a 32-year-old, flying around on private jets, going to the Super Bowl, going to Sundance, taking helicopters to the Hamptons. This was all because I had $30 million to $50 million in commissions to pay the sell side. And those are big numbers.

All of Wall Street is fighting for this $30 million to $50 million that I’m going to shell out on a given year. … New York City was mine. There was not a restaurant I couldn’t go to, a club I couldn’t go to. It was there for the taking, and I took.

[question]Why was Galleon a first call for sell-side analysts and brokers? What made you guys so important to them that they would give you their best information?[/question]

There’s several reasons, obviously. It starts with a relationship, but at the end of the day, that doesn’t carry enough weight. When you’re paying the Street $50 million, $100 million, you’re going to get people’s first call.

The more commissions you pay, the better service you’re going to get, whether it be IPOs [initial public offerings] or a research call or breaking news. If you’re paying the bills, you’re going to get the call. So there was a time at Galleon where it was my job just to generate commissions, because IPOs were white-hot, and we wanted as many shares as we could get. They’d be willing for me to lose $75,000, $100,000 in the day, just day-trading back and forth, if that meant we could get 100,000 shares of a hot IPO from Credit Suisse First Boston. That was my job at one point.

Another thing that I figured out and helped me progress during my career was [that] information is a two-way street. Here I am, low man on the totem pole when I first started at Galleon, and I worked my way up until I was the head trader of a $1.4 billion health care portfolio, and I used to actually provide the sell side with tips, or with market-moving news. So by me helping the sell side, they wanted to help me even more.

So let’s say I got my trade on the tape. I’m all set. I know something’s going to happen in four slabs. I can make two or three phone calls and say, “Hey, look, I’ve got my position on — be careful, or you might want to get long.” Then all of a sudden they make money or they save money; now they really want to help me.

[question]What kind of information would you expect to get in these first calls? What kinds of things were they giving you?[/question]

On the most basic level, it would be an upgrade or a downgrade. … That’s the very, very basic level. But, you know, trading ideas. Let’s say you have a great trading idea. Your first call, second call, maybe your third call can make money off of the trade. After that, the stock’s already moved, so you need that first call and you’re going to pay for it.

[question]What does that mean for you? I mean, is that sure money? Is that a sure bet?[/question]

Upgrades and downgrades used to be a sure bet. And as time progressed with whether it be Instant Message or technology speeded up, email, it became much harder. We used to laugh at the people in Boston, because we’d be like, it takes them seven meetings to decide, “Oh, should we buy AOL.” They were so slow, and it was so easy to beat them. And there weren’t that many hedge funds either.

[question]And I’m sorry. When you say Boston, who are you referring to?[/question]

The mutual funds up in Boston: Fidelity, Wellington, whatever. We could get a piece of information and, boom, buy a million. We used to laugh because their trader would take it to the analyst, and the analyst would go to the [portfolio manager]. They would have a conference, they would talk, and meanwhile, we’ve already bought and sold the stock seven times.

… Late ’90s, mid-2000s, that’s when things kind of started to shift and change, and so upgrades weren’t as moneymaking as maybe they were before. That definitely shifted.

Another thing which I feel like in my career kind of shifted the whole game was [Regulation FD], which was August of 2000. The purpose of Reg. FD [Fair Disclosure] was to provide full disclosure for everyone, but what it did was it created no disclosure.

“All of a sudden you’re starting to think almost every relationship that you have could be information that will help you formulate a trade. Some of it could be insider trading, and some of it could just be collecting information.”

So here you are at a hedge fund. You’re used to edge, you’re used to being able to make a quick dollar, and now nobody’s speaking. So the emergence of expert networks — networks, you know, started coming up. They’d been around for a long time, but now, all of a sudden, here we are. I worked at Argus Partners; we can call an expert network and have our pick of 100 doctors to ask questions to.

At this time, doctors didn’t really understand the market, and they actually didn’t even know that they were giving us inside information. I mean, it was crazy. Sometimes analysts would get off the phone, and they’d say, “I can’t believe he just told me this.” …

By 2002, 2004, all of a sudden you’ve got Martha Stewart in the news; you’ve got the Lays [Enron founder Kenneth Lay], the Skillings [Enron CEO Jeffrey Skilling], Enron … So all of a sudden the heat was turned up a little bit, and we’re not worried on Wall Street; we’re not thinking, oh, they’re on to us. But you’re starting to be a little bit more careful just because of the media, and every day you come in and you open the paper. …

[question]I want to go back to two things. The first thing [is] … that it’s kind of gotten tougher to outsmart the mutual funds or do it quicker than them now. I think that’s an interesting point, because mutual funds are obviously — that’s how most of the investing public invests, even to this day. Talk to me a little bit about how you guys were just whacking mutual funds that way, where you said you were in and out like that, and they’re still having a meeting about the trade. [/question]

Back in 2000, there was a term coined, the “hedge fund mafia,” and supposedly I was either the head of it or part of it, [insofar] as health care stocks go. There was a group of us that ran in packs, five, six, seven. And there was some on the fringe.

But we were so nimble and so fast with our information that we could share it with each other and help each other out. But not only are we making each other money, but we’re also helping each other look good in front of our portfolio managers.

But we could also manipulate stocks — or let’s say we know a big fund is long, … and we know that they’re kind of choking on it. We can get four or five hedge fund guys, and we can just whack the stock and short it, just slam it with 50,000 shares, which isn’t a lot of risk, but we can start to make the guy who’s long in the stock start to panic.

Then all of a sudden the stock’s down where we want it, and we start to buy it from him. So we could help each other against the bigger guys. And any reality show that you’ve ever seen, whether it be Survivor or anything where people get voted off, you need an alliance, and that’s what we did.

[question]So you’re basically saying that you guys were all working in concert with one another. In that specific example that you just pointed out, you’re working in concert to bring the stock price down so you can buy it at the level you want.[/question]

Yeah, if that’s what we wanted.

[question]What is edge?[/question]

Edge is [a] very simple term for, you know, it could be synonymous with insider information; it could be synonymous with proprietary information. Edge is basically edge.

[question]… What is it in hedge funds and insider trading?[/question]

Basically you need to get ahead, or you need an edge in the stock. So just going through and doing your analysis and going through the numbers and saying, “Oh, I spoke to this sales guy,” and not really having anything proprietary, that’s not edge.

You need something, a purpose to buy the stock. If you have edge, that means there’s a reason that you know that no one else does, legal or illegal, but I have edge, and there’s a reason why I am buying or selling a stock.

[question]Talk to me about the culture in hedge funds in general and on the Street about insider trading. … Were you guys concerned at all about insider trading, really?[/question]

I liken it to the steroid era in Major League Baseball. At the time, there were no consequences, so things weren’t done based on right or wrong; things were done based on consequences. And at the time, [Ivan] Boesky and [Michael] Milken, they were sort of dinosaurs. We didn’t think about them.

Our only recollection of insider trading was Charlie Sheen dressed up as a janitor, stealing files from a law office [in the movie Wall Street]. OK, well, we’re not doing that. We’re just going out and getting a little edge.

There was really no consequences in our mind. We were playing the game, and this is how the game was played. And if I’m going to play a game and there’s only 10 guys, and nine of them are cheating, either I’m not playing that game anymore, or I have to cheat, too. I should be careful, because to say that all hedge funds were cheating, that’s not fair. But it was very competitive.

So we weren’t thinking this is wrong or this is illegal. We’re thinking, this is how it’s done and I need to make money; I need to keep my job. It’s not excusable. … I’m not trying to say that, but, you know, it just felt like we were doing our jobs, and we were trying to make as much money as we could.

[question]When you look back at it, like you said, you guys just thought you were doing your jobs, and certainly a lot of people think insider trading — it’s a very gray area. You know, there’s no bright line, all those sorts of things. But as you look back on it, being through everything that you’ve been through and seen, are you angry at all that nobody stopped you, that nobody stopped the cheating that way? Is it the regulators? Is it the industry? Is it a combination of the two? There’s nobody grabbing Turney Duff by the lapel and saying: “Turney, this is wrong. You know it’s wrong. You’ve got to stop.” I’m just curious as to your thoughts on that.[/question]

Yeah, you know, there’s not a lot of anger. I made a lot of mistakes and some poor choices, and I’m responsible for those at the end of the day. I had an opportunity to go back to a seven-figure job and I chose not to.

And that isn’t because I think all of Wall Street is bad or just the environment’s too corrupt. It’s just not for me. So yeah, it would be nice if there was maybe some more guidance and some more hand-holding on Wall Street, but at the end of the day, I made those choices, and I’m living with them, and I’m OK with it. So, you know — yeah, I’m not angry.

[question]What lengths would guys go to to get your business at Galleon from the sell side? …[/question]

Some guys got very creative. I’m a cocaine addict and an alcoholic, so it was very easy to dangle the carrot or to tempt me, whether it be women, escorts, drugs, alcohol, trips.

But, you know, I had guys offer to pay my monthly car garage. I had offers to fly to Vegas, and they’d drop a bag of money off in my room. I know guys who have had their summer homes, their summer rental homes, paid for.

It’s there, because let’s say you’re my broker, and you’re at a firm where you’re getting 40 percent payout. If I pay you $2 million a year, you’re getting $800,000 just from my account. And that’s one account. So all of a sudden, now you’re making $800,000 from me, right? So what are you willing to spend on me?

[question]Let’s talk about the culture at Galleon. What kind of place was Galleon to work in?[/question]

… It’s ultra-competitive, and it’s basically do a good job or get fired, OK. So you’re desperate to perform. Maybe people go to other lengths to get that performance. But here I was at Galleon, and typically what they would do — and I call it the Raj cockfight model — he would pit two employees against each other. He’d whisper something into this employee’s ear, and then he’d whisper something else into this employee’s ear. Now, all of a sudden, these two employees are going at it and trying to outdo the other one. And the end result was one guy gets to keep his job and the other guy is a bloody mess of feathers on the floor and gets swept out the front door. …

[question]How rampant was insider trading on the street while you were at Galleon?[/question]

I can’t speak for all of the hedge funds, but I definitely felt like it was part of the culture. The gray area was much larger when I was back at Galleon. There was no really defined — I mean, if someone called you up and said, “Hey, so-and-so is going to take over this company in 15 minutes,” yes, you knew that was illegal, and you probably did it anyway. … As I said before, very, very similar to the steroid era in baseball. This is how the game was played, and this is how I was taught the game. Yeah, maybe you can call it rampant.

[question]Where were you when you found out that Raj had been arrested and that he was under investigation? And what were you thinking at that time?[/question]

It was Oct. 16, 2009, and I was out in my house in Huntington Bay, Long Island, which was about to go into foreclosure. I was half-naked on my porch, up three days from cocaine use. My girlfriend and daughter had moved out, and I was at the bottom. I was at a very, very low point in my life.

All of a sudden I got a text. It’s like, “FBI raided Galleon.” You know, ding, ding, ding. I get more texts — you know, “Raj has been arrested,” all of these texts kind of just flying in.

“We weren’t thinking this is wrong or this is illegal. We’re thinking, this is how it’s done and I need to make money.”

And here I am, paranoid already from all of the drugs and everything. So now I’m convinced that the FBI is coming to get me. I was out of my mind. … As that day progressed, and I realized that the FBI wasn’t coming to get me, I was just trying to process it all.

The fact that they had arrested Raj Rajaratnam kind of was like, whoa, this isn’t a joke. The next day I wake up to a bunch more text messages. Apparently a rap song that I performed back in 2000, almost 10 years ago, was front and center of the New York Post, and I was like, “I’ve got to get out of town.” I ended up going to rehab on that Tuesday, but it was kind of interesting how it all played out.

[question]You mentioned that that day that you found out that he was arrested and that the feds were investigating Galleon was your last day of abusing drugs and alcohol.[/question]


[question]Did I hear that right?[/question]


[question]So talk to me about that. How was that the final wakeup call for you? [/question]

I hadn’t had much contact with any of those guys from Galleon for a number of years. I went to rehab in October of 2006 and got back, and it was sort of a seamless transition. Wall Street accepted me back.

I thought I had this scarlet letter “A” on my chest for “addict,” and Wall Street was like, “Come on back.” I had, like, seven job offers immediately. And my girlfriend took me back, and seemingly it was a smooth transition.

I didn’t drink or drug for about a year, and I was having this feeling of, you know, I was empty and just wanted to numb myself. I loved cocaine, and I loved partying, so I made the decision I was going to relapse once.

I was going to rent a hotel room and say goodnight to my girlfriend and daughter at 6 p.m. and get a pile of blow and a bunch of pornography and just sit in my hotel room, and just for 12 hours shut off the rest of the world. The decision to relapse once, all of a sudden I said to myself, OK, well, why don’t you do that once a quarter — you know, just stay in the city and just take care of business? Then two weeks later I’m saying to myself, well, you know, once a month. Then the next thing you know, I’m doing it once a week, and then it’s just gotten worse.

I relapsed in the beginning of — which is ironic — it was the beginning of the crash is when I relapsed, in the beginning of 2008. I had been building steam and sort of preparing — not preparing, but my train was crashing, and it just happened to be Oct. 16, 2009.

[question]… When you look back at your experience there, what are the emotions? What do you think about that time, and how do you see that time in the context of what we’re seeing today with all these convictions and all this obviously nefarious behavior going on?[/question]

I learned a lot of life lessons on Wall Street, and I don’t think I would go back and change much. I lost my house, and I lost my relationship with my girlfriend and had to repair the relationship with my daughter, and I lost all of my money, but had I not gone through what I went through, I don’t think I could be sitting here today and trying to be the person that I am.

But Wall Street 10, 15, 20 years ago was a little bit more like the Wild West. … It was an interesting time. The bottom line was making money and getting paid, and you were willing to do a lot in order to do that, and I did. I made a lot of mistakes, but today I believe it has changed and is getting better.

Is it perfect? No. But, you know, as you sit there and you open the newspaper every single day and you watch the news, these guys are getting arrested, and obviously the scrutiny has been turned up and the heat’s been turned up. There are consequences now, so you’re going to think twice.

But is it going to go away? No, because guys are either going to figure out how to cheat the system better or they’re going to decide not to do it. I struggle with it sometimes, because if I was the guy that was made an example of, I wouldn’t like that, but I get it, and I think it’s working.

[question]I know we talked about the nightlife and the entertaining and what the purpose of that was, but let’s just address the information aspect, that informational edge specifically.[/question]

… There were times when you would have one guy who knew what was going to be on the cover of Barron’s two days before it came out, and you would have another guy who, let’s say, spoke to the program trading desk at UBS and would be able to call you and say, “Hey, a billion dollars is coming into the market in two hours.”

So you had your media contact who knew what was going to be on the cover of Barron’s and you had your guy who knew what was coming into the market and (unintel) market flow, and you would have guys who would get you upgrades and downgrades on particular stocks. And you might know a lawyer.

The information was everywhere, and it was your job to put all of the pieces together. The more pieces that you had, the better chance that you had. So you’re constantly trying to get edge, like we’ve said, or get information. It’s all about getting information. And the tighter that information is and the more proprietary that it is, the better chance you have to make money off of it. They call it trading stocks, but it’s really trading information. That’s what we were doing.

[question]So let’s talk about the victim. …[/question]

Obviously insider trading isn’t a victimless crime, but it definitely feels like it. I made reference once to how insider trading was sort of similar to jaywalking, because here you are about to walk across the street, and the risk isn’t [that] a cop is going to give you a ticket on the corner; the risk is that you’re going to get run over by a Mack Truck.

“It’s all about getting information … They call it trading stocks, but it’s really trading information. That’s what we were doing.”

You know, jaywalking, insider trading kind of felt like the same thing. There were no consequences from the authorities, but I don’t want to get run over by a truck. But people talk about it being a victimless crime or not being a victimless crime, and I get it, and I see both sides, because let’s say your mutual fund is selling 50,000 shares of IBM and they made the investment decision to sell those shares, but I have an inside tip, and I know that tomorrow something is going to happen in the stock, and it’s going to be up 15 percent.

So I go to the market. I don’t have a ski mask; I don’t have a gun; I’m not saying, “Give me your shares.” I’m buying shares from the open market. I know something you don’t, but chances are you’re going to sell those shares, whether you sell them to me or someone else. So in that sense, it does feel like a victimless crime. But I don’t know what the solution is necessarily. …

[question]Do you ever recall times when you would get that information and actually be worried at all?[/question]

Yeah. Well, first you’re worried is the information good. And of course you’re worried about getting caught. But no, you’re not — in your mind, you’re buying shares from that douche bag at the hedge fund downtown that you don’t like. That’s what you’re thinking.

You’re not thinking, oh, I just stole this from my grandma. I’m only speaking from my personal experience, but no, that’s not how you’re thinking.

[question]Were you surprised when you saw the Galleon stuff come out and, like, oh, my God, the government’s listening to phone calls? … [/question]

Maybe a little bit, but no. I mean, I wasn’t shocked. We’d all seen the movie Wall Street, so you know it is possible. We used to joke about it. We used to joke. We’d be like, “Oh, God, like, I hope no one ever reads my emails or my Instant Messenger,” or, you know, “Oh, God, I hope this isn’t recorded.”

But that was not only for insider trading. It was for sexual harassment and, you know, you name it. … So yeah, we used to joke about it, and some firms actually had recorded lines, and if there was a trading error, you could go back and listen to the tape. …

[question]What kind of a presence was Raj? What kind of a personality was he? How revered was he on the Street before all this stuff happened?[/question]

He was very charismatic. He was very bubbly. It was almost as if when he walked into the office, someone was dropping rose petals in front of him. It was like the homecoming queen, and everyone loved him.

And he was very generous. I mean, he offered me $10,000 to make out with another guy. (Laughs.) I didn’t take it, but what a generous guy, right? No, sorry, all kidding aside. He was very generous.

He was a big giggler. He enjoyed himself, but at the end of the day, money was money, and business was business. He was lovable, and on the surface he was a great guy.

[question]How does that square with, like you said, he would pit people against one another and the bloody mess on the floor would get swept out the door?[/question]

That’s what was so crazy about it was, you know, behind closed doors he was this master manipulator and almost a little evil, and he knew how to push every single person’s buttons. He knew how to get the most out of you and then discard you. …

[question]One of the things that you said at the Strand when I saw you reading there and I asked that question about how much insider trading was responsible for Galleon’s success, and you had mentioned the fact that you couldn’t really say, and I thought that was an honest answer. But then you said something that’s always stuck with me. You said, “Yeah, but Raj was one of the best.” What is Raj the best at? What makes them the best? …[/question]

… You can’t make a living off of insider trading. There’s just not enough of it out there … Sometimes when you have the information, you still don’t make money off of the trade. … I’m pretty confident in saying this, that if Raj had 100 — and I’m making these numbers up — but if he had 100 stocks in his portfolio, to suggest that more than 10 of them had some type of edge that people might find illegal, I think that probably would be a high number. So you can’t be one of the best and do it all because you have inside information. You need to be good at what you’re doing.

[question]Like you said, if you’re making the numbers up, if he’s got 100 stocks in the portfolio and let’s just say for the sake of argument nine of them are dirty, he’s got edge on those, the other 91, what makes him great in picking those stocks?[/question]

He could tell you exactly what the companies did, how they were manufactured, how they were sold. He could tell you every single thing you wanted to know about a processor or chip. He knew the companies inside and out.

And he was great at identifying trends and knowing technology and knowing what’s going to be the next great thing, because, you know, unless there’s inside information on what the next big trend is going to be, that takes talent or insight or wisdom.

So he knew his companies. He knew them inside and out. He knew how stocks traded, and he just — he had all of the knowledge and was able to sort of put it all together to make an investment decision.

Jason M. Breslow

Jason M. Breslow, Former Digital Editor



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