- p. 308: "The record shows that my trading was far from flawless even in Phase 1. I was too late in buying bonds and too early in selling them" (&c).
- p. 207: "In short, my trading was poor".
and more hits such as
- p. 160: "On balance, my trading has been poor"
not to mention other choice (not fully germane, but irresistible to quote;-) tidbits such as (p. 278) "At present, the stock market is dominated by program trading and portfolio insurance schemes. These schemes are fundamentally unsound. They virtually assure a loss for exchange for peace of mind in a declining market."
Isn't George Soros, among the legendary investors, primarily a trader (as opposed to, say, Warren Buffett, notoriously more of a buy-and-hold type)? And, if so, how can he make money while repeatedly bemoaning his own trading? Read the book for the detailed answers, but, in short: overall, through the year, he was directionally right. E.g., wrt the first search hit above: he did buy bonds cheap (though definitely not as cheap as he might have bought them in hindsight had he timed the bottom in that market perfectly) and sold them dear (though not as dear as he might have sold them in hindsight had he timed the top in that market perfectly).
Nobody can time the market perfectly in the sense of accurately calling the bottoms and tops -- but it doesn't matter as much as our hindsight-based perfectionism screams in our inner ear: as long as we buy cheap and sell dear, we're still making good money. Making good money, just a bit less than you"might" have on the same trade in hindsight, had you timed it perfectly, is not losing money, and framing it as a loss is deleterious to our best judgment since it triggers strong "loss aversion" impulses in our brain.
Even in a dynamic, strongly trading-based investment style like Soros', what matters is being mostly right, most of the time -- that's even more so, of course, in a diametrically opposed (call it Buffett-like) investment style, where the trading part (the buying and the selling) is merely instrumental to the real money making, which is obtained by holding (or, being short of) the right securities at roughly the right time.