Imagine a world that were perfect. Imagine such a world would have no approximations. No variations. No risk.
Such a world would have no humans, but only pre-destined robots that appear to be humans. Such a world would also have no opportunities. In such a world, enterprise would have no value. It would certainly be a boring, unchallenging place. Such a world would have no incentives.
So we should rather feel happy that we live in an imperfect world that makes us perfectly human, offers opportunities, and incentivizes enterprise. Uncertainty should never be eliminated. If it were possible to eliminate uncertainties it would be a world of the living dead.
Well, if uncertainties prevail, the only choice we have is either switching off for a while from active risk to passive risk and then switching back on. Risk cannot be eliminated. From choosing styles, instruments, level of exposure we are only able to make a choice to believe we are better off handling one type of risk over another. Returns originate out of risk and not vice versa, since whether or not there are prospects of any returns, risk will always be there.
August 17, 2016 | 1 Comment
This is a very old adage: don't fight the central banks. That provides me the gumption to label them as the Gods of the markets. Einstein had quipped God doesn't play dice. Perhaps he felt the unmanifest, invisible, unascertainable authority in the universe is the creator of the universe and had control over its creation. Coming back to the manifest, visible and ascertainable behemoths of the marts a.k.a. the central banks, one is pushed to think that for the first time in recorded history they are sitting on trillions of dollars of negative yielding securities.
Are these visible Gods of markets playing dice or they are still the deterministic factor in the markets who will still determine what happens?
a) Keep dying a slow death losing small chips every year for a long time to come with the negative yields.
b) Raise yields and kill the balance sheet?
c) Inflate dramatically some asset to shore up the balance sheet while exercising option b to make financial assets have sense. In scenario c, the traditional asset of bonds is already inflated. In 5,000 years we have never had yields below zero. Equities are at all time highs. What else is not at all time highs? Again a real estate bubble? Or will it be gold sitting in the vaults beneath metro stations around the world? Gods wont let go of their stature to be Gods, even if these are man made Gods.
Now, after scenario c also plays out, since nothing is permanent and ever changing cycles will again at some point bring something down, what is it that is going to go down first and what is it that will go down most?
If the unthinkable of negative yields came in too, why can not the unthinkable and the least obvious scenario (a) persist? Imagine eventually people getting money to buy cars, homes, tuxedos, rolexes and receiving an interest for taking away the trash called cash from lenders, banks and Gods? This then is not an option that can persist for long? Or it can?
The whole earth is going the Amazon way!? Will Jeff Bezos be known as the pioneer of the new world, where you get paid to usurp and use up money that in any case is at a discount? Is the motor created by John Galt working now to produce energy from nothing? Who will cut this motor off? When? Why?
Is the motor already broken? The endless mint-churning has produced endless currency. This currency is akin to endless static charge that has accumulated. Its not creating motion. This currency is unable to and unwilling to move into the system. Why? Is it that the window dressing of every bank balance sheet that began in the aftermath of 2008 in the developed world is not yet complete? Only book entries are happening?
Why do I get illusions that the cigarette buts in my ash tray sometimes appear to have a $ insignia printed in gold? Well if I were to go by the wisdom of the Reflexivist that one makes big packets on betting on the unobvious, I call this Gold insignia bit an illusion since fundamentally gold is too obvious a bet.
Will the world return back to before Bretton Woods? Will every key central bank agree together to print only more currency equivalent to gold it has making the yellow shining bars jump up to 2200? Then chart reading pros and amateurs will find a divergence in momentum and short sellers will come in and the dream of the gold bugs would be fulfilled to have record shorts in the move from 2200 to 1800 so as a jump to 4000 will become feasible? Will that suddenly bring a solution that none of the banks are sitting really on junk anymore? Will it still allow the permanence of the Senator's observation that a good suit has always costed an ounce of Gold? Or then, a good suit will be available at half an ounce of gold?
Despite change being the only permanence in markets, few things have never changed. Of those unchanging ideas the infinitude of the abilities of mankind at struggle for survival, conceit, deception, keenness to find the next scapegoat don't seem will dissipate away with just negative interest rates. No one will believe that everyone will go down equally and in fair proportions. So who is the lunch now, when its almost lunch time?
Monkeys have been now using the Discounted Cash Flow model. Yes, the longer you hold negative yielding assets the larger becomes your Net Present Value. The more you are willing to bleed the wealthier you are now! If this negative yield quagmire has any shelf life in plain simple English (no Greek and no grammar-nazis required) no one will have an incentive to save. If there no savings incentivized why would investors be incentivized? Lord Keyenes we really wish this day has not come, yet it has.
The most illogical times have arrived. Why am I seeking to imagine the odds using any logic? Would an illogical unintended consequence save the world? Why don't we remember that in the yo-yo moment of 2008 when the biggest churning of the USD mints happened, the biggest flight of capital until then in the history of this world happened INTO the USA and not OUT of the USA?
Would logic have to prevail, eventually?
So I am sending out this humble hat to the spec-list citizens, please pour in your (ill)ogical bets into this seeking hat. If trend is your friend, until it bends or ends.
Release is a word I understood in a totally unique manner through the writings of Vic on the lists through the last decade.
Pent up emotions, that reach the bottled up state gradually over time, get released as any event that is scheduled to happen comes by.
For events that are unscheduled and happen suddenly emotions get pent up very quickly in the first place and then dissipate.
Whatever category of events we are inspecting, whether scheduled to happen or sudden, emotions are pent up and released.
Rational minds, systems, approaches, styles will focus on this process and aim to benefit from it and strive to be not part of this process. That's what perhaps the Reflexivist means when he says markets reward for playing the unexpected. He hasn't likely meant that the winner doesn't expect or speculate buy likely that the winning hands usually play the underdog.
At a scheduled event that has fear as theme puts are already expensive and when greed is around calls are already expensive. Do butterflies work well at the release moment of a scheduled event? When there are many butterflies in bellies, sell the butterflies?
For the surprise event types not talking here about how to handle existing position but leaning on Vic's favoured phrase of how a good trader has many rabbit holes should one be chinking the mind Into separate halves : the survivor and the opportunist working simultaneously? Find the rabbit holes for fastest risk control and simultaneously work on fading the pent up emotion when it arrives to play for the release ?
You may have heard the following quote:
Philosophy is like being in a dark room and looking for a black cat.
Metaphysics is like being in a dark room and looking for a black cat that isn't there.
Theology is like being in a dark room and looking for a black cat that isn't there, and shouting "I found it!"
Science is like being in a dark room looking for a black cat using a flashlight.
Spirituality is being in a dark room looking for a black cat with a torch and discovering "you" are not there.
I would like to add:
Trading is like waiting for a bookie to get in a dark room first and yell out a spread and then not going into the room until you have locked up one leg of a wider spread, then going in and giving it to the bookie at the tighter spread he is holding on to.
Of all ideas available, wherein non action is not a possible choice, then choosing the one where one may claim better understanding or lesser severity in testability to handle adverse incursions better, is defined as risk management.
I disagree with the definition of science, since the moment you have a flash light on, the room ain't dark any more. So will instead settle if you kindly change that to looking for a black cat in a dark room using body heat sensors.
When the amount of buying is always the same as amount of selling, it has been discussed many times before here that price behaviour is not a game of demand and supply but expected demand and supply. That is also reflexivity adjusted demand and supply.
At a tick, inside the last "exchange" in the pit what is it that is moving the tick this side or that side?
I would simplify for my mind and place on the table an idea that it is the "Path of Greater Impatience". Whether a white shoe firm is "aware" of impending larger clients orders and therefore bidding higher or lower or there is a Technical Analyst anticipating some breakout or reversal and therefore not willing to be patient or there is a news driven, a.k.a. fundamental trigger puller, or there is an HFT machine that is sensing the depths of the order book, anyone who makes impact on the next tick is the one willing to stake a claim that her impatience is justified and is going to be profitable.
Ticks arise on impatience. Prices propagate on impatience. When too many minds and wallets are left into the patience zone, the impatient "in the money" hands get into whipping a notion that the patient will eventually turn impatient. That is where the reversals, small and big happen.
I would leave this note with a cheeky surmise that patience ain't the virtue, knowing when to be not patient and knowing when not to be impatient is the virtue.
Wondering if there is a way to capture from data streams any metrics of what percentage of existing bids and offers in the order book are changing and if such a series of data could be established how would it enhance trading decision making. This could get even more interesting to plot / numerically analyse what percentage of bids and offers are changing closer or away from price, what percentage new bids and offers are coming in and what percentage bids and offers are going out of the order book.
February 17, 2016 | 3 Comments
The search for happiness has a Heisenbergian aspect: the more certain you are about what you want, the less happy you will be attaining it. It seems to happen unexpectedly, and often only in hindsight.
There is also an "aspergian" aspect: like Viktor Frankl's "The doors of happiness open outward". I take this to mean searching and engaging with the world (rather than perpetual introspection), but it could also be the joy in helping others (as risky as it may be).
In markets it is very hard to find happiness, and it is probably foolish to look there. A good source of unhappiness, however, is limit orders. You place them with great hope and the market runs away and leaves you behind. Or you get filled and then it takes you way down. Or you're overjoyed to finally get out with a modest profit, only to find you sold too soon and missed the big one*.
*Holding losers long and selling winners short: the hardest thing not to do.
Sushil Kedia adds:
Happiness is life. It has a unique property. The conditional probability of happiness is a certainty if you have a happy nature else it is zero for every other variable.
Anything contingent on an outcome (event) or a property (belongings) is not happiness. Happiness is unconditional. Happiness is an absolute.
Happiness is neither a milestone nor the journey of life. Happiness is the fuel of life. By this assumption or understanding one can see pain is not the opposite of happiness. Pain is only a signal asking us to change something.
On a lighter note, obviously no one normally seeks happiness from a mistress. In Markets, you come for taking what you have come to take and not search happiness, since happiness is within.
Ken Drees writes:
"You never see the stock called Happiness quoted on the exchange."
"It is better to desire the things we have than have the things we desire".
-Henry Van Dyke
February 12, 2016 | 1 Comment
I solicit DailySpec members to write one interpretation of the phrase "ever changing cycles". Let's see what gets compiled.
My favorite one line description of what ever changing cycles are reflected most in is that the correlations of no contracts remain the same, they keep changing and often in gradual non erratic "tendency". (No please don't kill me, I didn't use the equally vague word 'trend', but only said tendency).
I also request, our generous host, the chairman of the list, and the one who coined the phrase ever changing cycles, helps elicit as many responses as he can and then shares with us his own notion of the mystical ever changing cycles.
Gibbons Burke writes:
Two words: random walk.
Are the cycles ever changing?
I'm not certain, I think the cycles are always there but they get accentuated from one time to another. It is what causes them that is the great mystery which has caused me to pound my head into the wall many times late at night. That helps, occasionally I get a glimpse of something going on that is causing this.
However no clarity yet on that point.
Paul Marino writes:
Mr. Mac, the most practical thing that you ever did in your life would be to shut yourself up for three months and read twelve hours a day at the annals of crime. Everything comes in circles – even Professor Moriarty. Jonathan Wild was the hidden force of the London criminals, to whom he sold his brains and his organization on a fifteen per cent commission. The old wheelturns, and the same spoke comes up. It's all been done before and will be again.
- Sherlock Holmes
The Valley of Fear, Arthur Conan Doyle
I see ever changing cycles inside the big cycles, demographics, interest rate regimes, etc.
The President of the Old Speculator's Club writes:
The inability of law enforcement to police the streets effectively provided Wild with the perfect conditions in which to build his new business. Victims of theft generally had little chance of getting back what was stolen from them, let alone catching the thief. Through Wild's new service, however, owners of lost or stolen property could apply to him for help in recovering their possessions for a fee that fell below what it would cost them to replace the objects. His business proved to be extremely popular.
Wild benefited from this policy by collecting a fee every time he was able to prosecute a criminal. His office, then, essentially served as the de facto "Scotland Yard" of the day. Jonathan Wild, the man supposedly responsible for clearing the streets of criminals, was in point of fact the head of a vast criminal empire and a well-oiled criminal machine. Wild's Lost Property Office was actually a clearinghouse for stolen goods that members of his own organized gang had themselves acquired. The thieves he apprehended, supposedly for the good of the community, were fall guys; they either belonged to rival gangs, or were members of his own gang who had tried to double-cross him, quit his business, or ceased to be more valuable than the 40-pound reward given by the government for capturing and convicting a criminal.
This new [Transportation] Act gave judges the option of removing felons from the streets and jails without having to take away their lives in the process. As a side benefit, the Act seemed to offer help with the American colonies' desperate need for cheap labor. Settlers in America faced the problem of securing labor at a cheap enough price for them to grow their businesses, mainly because anyone who had sufficient means to make the trip overseas from Great Britain to start a new business in America had no intention of working for anyone else…convict transportation killed two birds with one stone: It rid the Isles of unwanted criminals and provided cheap labor for the American colonies.
A provision in the draft of his Transportation Act aimed specifically at curtailing Wild's organized criminal activities. This provision made it a crime for anyone to take a reward for returning stolen goods to their owner without at the same time capturing and giving evidence against the thief. Failure to turn in the criminal could subject the person taking the reward to the same punishment as the thief, assuming the latter was ever caught. This provision was so clearly aimed at Wild that the Transportation Act also became known as "The Jonathan Wild Act."
Since the Transportation Act made it a crime to collect a reward for returning stolen goods without turning in the perpetrator as well, Wild shielded himself by using transported convicts to return stolen goods and collect the reward from their owners. Returned convicts not only provided Wild with protection from the provision in the Transportation Act aimed directly at him, but if they ever tried to betray him, he could easily turn them in for a large reward, and they would receive an automatic death sentence.
From Bound with an Iron Chain (The Untold Story of How the British Transported 50,000 Convicts to Colonial America) by Anthony Vaver
February 12, 2016 | Leave a Comment
There are endless applications of the concept of gravitational waves to markets and much more easier to perceive every minute, every hour, every day that one might even state that market folks are humbler in not stretching their own perceptive lenses to theorize physics and wait for scientists to do their jobs.
Market Cap Gravitational Waves: Very large cap stocks make a sudden wobble, indices wobble, sentiment wobbles, most stocks move with the wobble. A large mass stock wobbling the volume price fabric of endless other stocks and dramatically the smaller ones.
Earnings Gravitational Waves: Earning Season is witness to undue anxiety or excitement. The prevailing Volume/OI - Price Fabric is already constructed and the extension of this fabric, i.e. immediate next bet, is much more largely a function of the existing V/I-P Fabric. Yet, a lot of volume or change in OI continues to be witnessed on most widely researched large cap names that are good fades. Rarely do quarterly earnings ever alter permanently the existing "fabric" but most often create a temporary wobble.
Contested Gravitation Waves: Significant change in Volume or in Open Interest, both reflect a significant change in the level of contest for discovery of price. Large dramatic moves or wobbles in High Volume or High OI pits put gravitational distortion on other pits. Margin selling or contgations as their extreme are observed in falling markets and complacent buying into un-understood unanalyzed trophy adventures as a wealth effect in rising markets. Market is a casino where players' behaviours alter with the level of House Money.
Food Chain Gravitation Waves: The waves, the unduluations, the idiosyncratic movements, the never at equilibrium but tending to equilibrium behaviour of prices are all a matter of the big fish (the White Shoe Firm included) nudging with their Gravitational Waves the small fish to be swimming hither and thither. The never wavering permanently rising equity curves of some of the rarest wealth creators in markets is what one would notice at the top of the food chain. Whereas the brownian motion equity curves are at the bottom of the food chain. Gravitational Waves are working from the top down to the bottom of the chain.
So on and so forth, every perspective in markets is explained by ideas similar to gravitational waves. I should leave this note open for others to help tautomerize further.
What perplexes me much that marketmen have evolved in their thinking far ahead of the evolution of Physics. When you think about Reflexive Gravitational Waves as an idea that is routine in our "universe" wherein the Space Time Fabric itself is exerting Gravitational Waves on the future events and keeping the ecosystem in a self contained completeness, will a future discovery in Physics be guided by this imagination that the endless expansion of the Big Bang Universe is not for a reason beyond this Universe, but the Universe is the reason and that the Universe is the influence on the Universe?
Peter Grieve responds:
From the LIGO wiki page:
"Gravitational waves that originate tens of millions of light years from Earth are expected to distort the 4 kilometer mirror spacing by about 10−18 m, less than one-thousandth the charge diameter of a proton. Equivalently, this is a relative change in distance of approximately one part in 1021"
The gross world product is estimated at $76 trillion, a fluctuation with the same proportion world be 7.6 millionths of a cent.
Which is not to say they haven't detected something, but is (in my mind) a good reason to wait for more confirmation. I hope it comes. Imagine detecting a black hole coalescence!
February 11, 2016 | Leave a Comment
Gold is glittering one more time.
The question that comes to mind and one not normally asked in popular press is is gold only a super currency or does gold behave sometimes as super currency, sometimes as a super asset and often in normal times as another asset, which many pundits love to dismiss as a latent unproductive asset.
If one were to run correlations of gold across these varying regimes, how can we have a logit or a probit model where a probability distribution of risk-off factor is included.
When risk is a bad word in the markets, does gold first behave as a super currency and only later as a super asset or is it vice versa? Or there is a more likely scenario that the super currency vs super asset status also has a localised idiosyncracy that can be modeled using another function?
It is a manipulated asset. Study the structure of the Futures market, the term "Paper Gold", and the dominance of the handful of bullion banks in the delivery process. Look at the international shifts in holdings, and question the "reality" of the Ft. Knox inventories.
More importantly, who do you trust? Central bankers, governments, and economists all have biases, some with monstrous financial incentives to have bases for their pronouncements.
You might want to describe what you mean by super asset, since that is not a term used around gold that I know of.
Anyone see a 20% move up in SHCOMP by Counting or by Mumbo?
There is consensus that China will take this world down. If there is such a rally, is the world also going to rally by the same amount?
If not can ideas similar to bond convexity be applied to inter relationships between key equity markets and all equity markets and if such convexities shift and or change over time what import do such shifts carry for either quant forecasting or for mumbo jumbo?
I read a few days ago on a website that no more evolution is possible beyond the human form, until consciousness is worked upon. I interpreted that nature kept forcing a biological evolution & brought us into human form and hereon for remaining relevant in the continuing evolution, for improving the lot within this and the next live(s), one will have to raise the envelope of one's consciousness.
If I connect this idea to another idea that we cannot let people press the wrong switches in our being, causing either morbid fear or fatal attraction, then I have a combined thought that for my evolution to continue I have to de-activate the wrong switches in my consciousness such as outside of me other forces cannot trigger them. Only inward flow of intelligence into any action or thought switch has to activate any.
This leads me to a thought that if God is the supra-intelligence design that Governs this Universe and every Universe, then there is a tendency for the human world to keep becoming more and more vigorous, intense in the stimuli each next generation will keep getting. The one effective in a world that will have more and more intense stimuli are then going to be those who are stronger in the face of such stimuli. The same way that progressive resistance training builds the muscles on our body, progressive resistance training to information stimuli may develop Emotion Intelligence.
More information, more TV channels, more internet, more books, more facilities, more attractions & eventually more frustrations and at an increasingly faster speed is the trend within this life. To evolve and become more effective than others is a goal of the process Darwinian Evolution, then each life we get is a preparation for the next one is one view. To be given birth in a much faster, more enticing, more opulent world one might be then actually getting eligibility by effectively training received in a lesser / simpler / easier world to respond less and less to external attractions and frustrations.
So if I let this process of imagination propagate forwards, undergoing evolution of the Emotionally Intelligent side of our brains we may one day become eligible to be given birth into Heaven and if we keep failing the tests of Emotional Intelligence we may keep receding into lower worlds and reach Hell too.
Yet, who knows if all universes are co-existent and time is a mere illusion that causes a sense of separated-ness and time provides a mythical yarn on which our mind travels, then Heaven and Hell may both be very well existent within this life and many have been to both several times within this life.
May I therefore conclude, those amongst the human specie that are able to restrain an impulsive response to stimuli more than others are on the way to building their Heavens, while those who respond more impulsively than the rest are accelerating their journeys towards Hell. This is felt most truly in the profession of trading, that provides unambiguous instant feedback with each piece of action and inaction, yet may be true in every human enterprise since this is the path of the ongoing evolution.
I am hopeful you will allow me an indulgence that, mere Intelligence is for those who are afraid of handling the journey to hell and emotional intelligence is for those who are making a successful trip back from hell with a determination to get to heaven on this leg. Perhaps, the passport to heaven, for getting in and staying there, is a high EQ and not a mere high IQ.
Gary Phillips writes:
One can never count on the consequences of their actions, yet one can always count on the motive(s) of the action. The trader needs to take responsibility for the consequences of his own choices. The market demands objectivity and precision which is directly quantifiable. The ego is completely different from the market, and can only be measured subjectively and qualitatively. Why not simply, look at life as a flash of beta? There isn't any measurable premium to be paid to insure compensation or avoid retribution for the kind of earthly life one lead before one's option expired. Trite but true, "not everything that counts can be counted, and not everything that can be counted counts."
October 5, 2015 | Leave a Comment
If the last couple of years the DXY and the SP500 rose together, a parallel from the 80s was justifying that the US economy is improving and hence both money and the assets this money can buy can appreciate together.
Usually in the developed markets, say the G-7, a regularity has indeed prevailed that the value of money and assets do not move together.
So during the last couple of years, where indeed all key central banks have been steroid fountains (naah the throwing cash from helicopters is phrase that everyone has forgotten so I will use this one) pumping up their supremacy in dictating markets, there have been countries in Europe where equities went up despite the underlying Euro declining.
So this set of arguments is therefore either contradictory or inconsistent or incoherent.
In trying imagining (forecasting begins with an imagination which is eventually restrained with the aid of studying the statistics of data originating in the past) how this present world will find coherence, I have three questions:
a) Is the more important Money going to be gold for now, the super-currency that will get acknowledged as having this status with the reality cheque now being shoved up on every desk?
b) Can the steroid factories drive value of both Gold and Equities together now, while in the last couple of years DXY and Equities indeed drove together?
c) If Price of Crude is better visualized as anti-money and not money, since the world has to consume it to produce wealth, will it drive along with the prices of equities or against them, hereon?
If Volume as well as Open Interest are indications of the amount of struggle for the discovery of price, which seems a likely good way to look at these two important variables in market data, then price gaps or price jumps must be occurring at moments of high consensus and low struggle.
Consensus fades. A point of high consensus, if identifiable, is a good point to search for fading trades.
Then, how come a market as Hong Kong continues to display for long years continued gaps on the daily price plots? If indeed these opening gaps are a strong consensus developing with overnight news (I wonder why should only in the Hong Kong market the news-vendors are so efficient, chuckles) then why are the daily candles not displaying too many hanging mans and the faders are unable to prevail? This leads to a disturbing instinct, that the gaps in Hong Kong are something else and not points of low struggle high consensus price jumps. Those price jumps are something else.
What is underlying this "regular" opening gap behaviour in Hong Kong that is "irregular" in the context of how other large markets are?
It would probably never happen, but journalists should have to pass a regulatory exam of basic market sense. Maybe that way they would stop abusing the idea of freedom and liberty.
So journalists get the poetic license to spew such bunkum as rise in gold prices by 5% will reduce demand. The whole world reads such comments and gets affected, forgetting totally that Gold is a "Giffen Good" where the economic utility is derived by possessing it and not by consuming anything of it. The more the price rises, the more demand rises…. a.k.a. the tulip mania. But Liberty must be allowed to be abused by those holding the pen.
So this morning in India, when I noticed a certain Business News Channel that has been hollering all the last 20 days that gold is drowning, gold is drowning suddenly without any rhyme commented the overnight jump in gold prices will "reduce demand in the festive season ahead", I pulled my handkerchief and collected the small nickels I had wagered on the gold wheel and pocketed a humble profit.
I wonder if Liberty would be breached at all, if regulators world over made it mandatory that newspapers should only supply news and stop behaving as views-papers. All publications and broadcasters should have well defined separate sections called the "views-paper" wherein only those journalists who have passed a regulatory exam that measures if the candidate has an IQ of 100 or above should be entitled to publish.
A typical news supply source, whether a newspaper or a TV channel are today very difficult to be separated from what in yesteryears we used to call a tabloid. 5% news, 35% views, 10% gossip, 10% titillation and the rest of the bandwidth choked with advertising.
August 16, 2015 | Leave a Comment
I am happy that even counting has limitations. I am happy that everything has limitations except the human folly and human imagination. Because if there were any way in this universe, in this market, in this life that was totally bereft of any adventure and therefore any risk, there would be hardly any difference between the living and the dead.
Uncertainty is life. Uncertainty is evolution. Uncertainty is the fuel of progression. Uncertainty is the reason that learning, knowledge, enterprise and effort have value. Without it, a stone and a man would be identical at best. Perhaps the stone would be at peace and man still restless. It is uncertainty that makes the restlessness of man the fuel for transporting us into the future. Certainty, the chimera that all chase, I am happy exists in non-existence only.
August 5, 2015 | 2 Comments
I was waxing nostalgic when I was reminded of one of Vic's favorite precepts…
Not that it was anyone's business, and not that anyone really cared, but after the trading day was over, one was often asked matter-of-factly, "so how'd you do today?" even back-in-the day (on the floor of all places) traders doled out socially accepted responses to this very probing question. These responses were realistically based on a hierarchical assessment of one's intra-day p&l.
Ranging from bad to worse, were the losing days…
- they got me
- got killed
- at least I got my health
Ranging from good to better, were the winning days
- not a bad day
- got 'em
- had a nice week today
A gentleman never kisses and tells; and a trader does not provide full disclosure about his performance; the trader should instead exhibit humility. For those on the right, humility may be seen as political correctness by a different name, while those on the left may see this as a way of stifling free expression. However, like a poker player without a tell, one should never be able to discern if a trader had a good day or a bad one. A trader shouldn't whine, or proffer excuses on bad days; and there should be neither bragging, nor hubris tendered on the good ones. Trading makes strange bedfellows. Individuals from disparate backgrounds with varying opinions, beliefs, and backgrounds are brought together by their passion for trading. But, what should also unite them is a shared belief that humility is not only there to protect them, but is a kind of moral compass that should always remain a virtue.
Anatoly Veltman writes:
People would never guess so after the close, if I just made some easy six figures. I never-ever thought of the reality of that cash (for me, the winner). People would hear me going off at "that silly market", which just did so unprofessionally today.
Reminds me of one Robin Hood's trading idea to never cover if the market let his contrarian position recover back to break-even. His logic was that if "they" were covering themselves so aggressively as to even forget "to force me out first"–then my initial premise must have been reeeeally good, and is bound to go a long way!
Jim Sogi adds:
My second cousin is a pitcher for the Dodgers. He and every other baseball player has daily, game by game, lifetime, yearly statistics kept and prominently displayed whenever his name appears. Why don't professional traders have this type of info if they are running a public fund or ETF? I think it would be good.
Sushil Kedia writes:
In my earlier years, there was a dream job I wanted to get hired for. Interview processes lead me to the final round with the big man, who has been an idol nearly for me for close to two decades now.
At the deeper end of what most would consider to be a long interview by his standards, since he had already given me twenty minutes he asked me to tell him one exceptional quality I have in me which would be really difficult to find in most others and how it is relevant to the job of running his billion dollar book.
I told him humility is my most effective quality. He asked why. I told him that it is the most powerful currency that can ever be invented. He stared at me and asked why. I told him, without spending any cash of any type, it is very effective in seizing a put option from the world of your own short-comings, follies and errors. He said, this may not always work, as some will be so good that they will still encash your short-comings. I wasn't sure if he didn't like what I said. Then with a long pause he asked, what more ways can you justify saying that humility is the most powerful currency. I said it helps you see others' cards often better without revealing most of yours. He smiled. He asked, tell me a third way in which humility is a currency. Told him, the same way that deception minimizes struggle for the discovery of the deal zone, humility also reduces the required effort for closure. He said you are hired, subject to reference checks.
Andy Lo (paper link here) studied varied technical formations and concluded that the Head & Shoulders isn't useful for the universe of stocks. His paper didn't address the gold market.
I am not a professional chartologist (but I play one on TV), and a cursory look at the gold chart from November 2014 to present sure looks like a head and shoulders. If you believe this stuff, closes below 1150 should project to $1000/oz and below. Certainly, the strengthening dollar, rising real US interest rates, and various other stuff (like the Chinese reserve report released yesterday) and oil prices are not particularly friendly for gold bugs. Also, the long term gold price is still ahead of the M1 and CPI — but it will look fairly in line at 950-1000/oz.
Specs may recall that I very publicly rode the gold bull market for several years and exited in early 2013. I still occasionally trade around it for fun, but I am structurally flat. If you held a gun to my head, I'd rather be short than long right now for a trade. For now, I'm waiting for the GDX to trade at zero before I stick my toe in the water. These are big cycle, macro economic moves — and that gold didn't catch a bid during the Greek crisis or Puerto Rico panic says it all.
Perhaps more interesting than gold is platinum — which just broke $1000/oz. It's pretty rare for platinum to trade at a discount to gold. I know Vic likes to trade big round numbers.
And definitely more interesting than either are GOOGL and NFLX — neither of which I own. Ugh.
Sushil Kedia responds:
Mumbo jumbo being acceptable on this site for one moment, the head and shoulder argument is good for prospecting how much bearish opinion might be existing here and there. The truth from the university of mumbo jumbo is that momentum as measured by rsi is making higher lows and price has been making lower lows, commercials have the largest long position ever, and if at all someone must look for mumboistic patterns there is a terminal triangle on a c wave. A rocket will fire up soon….
This article at Trader Planet says commercials are record net long and in the past such has resulted into large up moves.
Without invoking the testing or testability of such a thought process yet, I seek the Senator and other CoT experts on the site to help define in the least ambiguous way how to filter out the True Commercials, The True Speculators and the True Small Traders.
Is the COT data so straightforward to leave a free lunch on the table for the whole world?
I also wish to twist this one thread in evaluating why would this tool of thought also not suffer from the ever changing cycles?
Also indulging in the more routine task and the more mundane task of imagining the future: once the pent up emotions of a Greece that was greasy for last five years having been released, with equities everywhere in the world been ho-hum for a good time, with an iPhone in the pocket of every college kid in India, is the world complacent enough here for a regime change? Oh, yes with peak oil ideas being forgotten completely, the world has also been quite happy in imagining 45 for the Nymex Light crude is also not going to hold, oil will be free some day very soon.
Anatoly Veltman writes:
The article is (surprisingly) erudite: commercials are mean-reversion, while small specs are trend followers. This always explains increased commercial Long after decline, and diminished small spec Long. Not really predictive, except if you believe in mean reversion anyway…
The only COT-specific signals are in fact trend-following, and occur rarely: divergence. Divergence is one situation only: when commercials have NOT countered the move. Recent move was down, and if commercials have NOT increased Long, then it would be a rare signal "to sell!". But, of course, no signal right now. If Gold embarks on long rally, and commercials will NOT sell into it - there will be "buy!" signal.
All other COT interpretations are coincidental or superficial. Commercials should not be followed because "they know better"; but following them is safer because "they don't care", i.e. will not be force-liquidated! (It did happen to them twice in 35 years: during Hunt silver corner in 1980, and during Ashanti failed financing in 1999).
Every kid in college in Mumbai, who is either paying for fees by loan or by leaning on parents, has an iPhone on hand.
Has the 'me too' club become full or are there more pockets for Apple Inc. to keep taking out more dollars from still?
The phone heats up. Accessories pucker. You can't upgrade the memory. There is more loss per phone per dollar in Apple than Android etc. etc.
In 2009, if you didn't have a blackberry or two you were not good enough. In 2014 if a college kid doesnt have an iphone he is not good enough.
What is the thing for 2019? I want to buy the stock of the company that would put a 'me too' in the hands of every college kid in Mumbai in 2019, by next year.
April 10, 2015 | 6 Comments
One of the most frustrating things in trading is when you research a (qualitative, not a systematic) trade, stay up late figuring out how you want to express the idea to maximize gain and minimize loss, and then the next day when you want to put on the trade that stock is up near 3%.
Considering it has done nothing for months you figure, "I will wait till to buy on a decline a bit lower". Then the next day you see it is up 8% and the options you had looked at were would be up 60% in a few days had you conceived of the idea just 1 day sooner.
I think at such times (similar things have happened to me 3 times so far this year) one is very prone to going on tilt, such as finding some other market to chase, or otherwise do something out of frustration that is not logical and end up losing what you would have made had you been one day sooner.
I am wondering if there is any way this sequence of events can be generalized beyond specific circumstances of one trader, to general market phenomenon, maybe even events that lead to predictable circumstances.
Jeff Watson writes:
Whenever I go surfing, I miss a lot of good waves. I either am in a wrong position, miss it completely, or just blow it off thinking a better one will be behind. I never feel bad about missing a wave because there will always be another wave sooner or later. I look at trading exactly the same way I look at surfing.
John Floyd writes:
Agreed, put another way as someone once said to me “there is a bus every 5 minutes”. Also importantly in terms of the limits of time and energy don’t spend it worrying about missed moves, focus on what is ahead.
I read a poignant quote recently in The Joyful Athlete: ”Second tier athletes tended to beat themselves up for mistakes, while the champions simply noted their errors and moved on, wasting no energy on self-recrimination.”
Stefan Jovanovich writes:
I have the same problem. Sometimes I wait on a trade too. I think it is greed, the desire to seize the least/highest perfect. So I remember: "Luke, trust your instincts!"
I strenuously disagree with the philosophy that "there is a bus every five minutes." (My late great father used to say, "there's always another street car.")
This is a rationally flawed analysis. Because it treats an opportunity cost as economically different from a realized cost. The reality is that the P&L from an opportunity cost is real, and it compounds over time. And this is true so long as one is consistent regarding timeframe, methodology and performance benchmarking. The most pernicious thing about this street car delusion is that it can be hidden, rationalized and forgotten.
By way of example, our fellow Spec Lister and Bitcoin Booster, Henrik Andersson declared on March 12: "Crashing commodity prices, currency war, crashing yields (with a big chunk of European debt trading at negative yield), surely this can't be because everything is so rosy in the world, this cant possibly be 'good' news. Couple this valuations close to ATH and I have for the first time in 25 years sold everything (I started investing when I was 12). Everything."
Since this declaration, the SPX, Dax and Nikkei have all risen between 3 and 6% — and the DAX is at an all time high. If Henrik measures his performance on a daily or weekly basis, this is a bona fide opportunity loss of substantial note. But if Henrik measures his performance on a long term, multi-year basis, it is way too early to render a verdict and this opportunity cost may well morph into an opportunity gain.
John Floyd comments:
Point well taken and a good one. I was afraid my quick comment might garner the need for elaboration. The point I was trying to make is if you “miss” a trade you should learn from the experience and move on, while trying not to repeat the same error in the future. Juxtaposed against expending energy lamenting the perceived lost opportunity, which also has a cost. Assuming this is done with some degree of improvement I think it is both rational and sound. In this way the opportunity cost is treated as real and minimized over time. If there is improvement made then returns are compounded in a positive fashion as opposed to a pernicious one. In anonymous’ example that might even mean Henrik recognizes what may or may not have been an incorrect thesis and “buys” everything the minute he read anonymous’ post.
Sushil Kedia writes:
My two cents on the table:
Opportunity costs as well as realized costs are both known and quantifiable only after the market has moved. At the instant of a decision as to whether to decide to take a trade or not, both are unknown.
Since a real P&L is a progression of a series of unknown infinitesimally sized but infinite number of moments, it is likely a flawed debate to undertake whether or not opportunity costs compound, since if those said opportunity costs actually turned out to be realized losses they too would compound.
Transliterating approximately what the Senator has said often in the past, the purpose of a trader is not to be in the market, but to come out of the market, one would like to tune one's mind to focusing on how much could one gain without losing beyond a point. For each this is a unique set of numbers despite the market being same for all. This uniqueness comes not only from different skills, but different restrictions on the types of trade one is allowed to take, the different marketing pitch each has to use for garnering risk capital (oh we keep transaction costs low), the different risk tolerances each must remain within etc. etc.
So each needs to focus on how one will travel from an infinite series of infinitesimally small pockets of time in deciding when to not decide.
Paolo Pezzutti writes:
With regards to missed opportunities, I have two observations.
Firstly, I think our mind is biased in focusing on the good trades that one could have made. We tend to forget the bad calls. It is true, however, that if your trading methodology is systematically not "efficient" then your performance will eventually be sub par.
Secondly, if you continue to miss opportunities, you may have an issue in pulling the trigger when it is the right time to do it. I have a long way to go to improve my trading and I think I have to work on both these areas. My trades are inefficient, because I can spot good entry points but my exits too often get only crumbles that the market mistress is willing to leave on the floor after a lavish dinner. Moreover, one tends to be afraid of taking the trade right when the risk/reward is more convenient, that is when fear is the prevalent sentiment in the market, the moment when you should "embrace you fears" as Larry Williams would say.
As a final comment, I have to commend the market mistress for her naughtiness and deceitfulness. The employment report on Good Friday released with markets closed saw prices of stocks plunge seriously (20 pts in 1 hour) to get 30 pts back on Monday. Many opportunities during the Easter weekend in stocks, bonds, currencies, commodities because of ephemeral end deceptive moves. Who knows if they were orchestrated or simply "random".
I went short gold on Thursday at the close (1715) at 1202.6. The first price printed on Monday was 1212.7. I eventually took a loss later that day of about 14 points. After 2 days gold was down at 1994. Focused on my potential loss, I did not exploit the huge opportunities offered. Afraid of even bigger losses, I liquidated my position instead of trying to close the big gap printed at the open. Moreover, I did not buy stocks or bonds to trade the obvious lobagola move. Double damage.
It is a matter of mindset. There are coincidences, situations; there is the ability of a trader to translate into action tests, statistics related to these conditions created by the market mistress. The more extreme the conditions, the more compressed is the coil, stronger and more powerful it will be the reaction in the opposite direction. Much to learn.
Duncan Coker writes:
I have always had a hard time reconciling opportunity costs/gains with realized costs/gains, though I know in economics they are comparable. For example, a casual friend offered me a private investment opportunity which didn't smell quite right and I declined and I left the money in cash earning -1% real rates. Shortly thereafter the enterprise went bankrupt and all would have been lost. I suppose on an opportunity basis it was a huge success for me, 100% gainer, and yet my cash account is the same earning -1%. Every day trading is a missed opportunity to be fishing on a nearby river which is easier for me to grasp and adds to the overall cost of the trading endeavor. Being able to forget and move on is a useful thing in trading. A swim or run at the end of the day does it for me.
I do believe one can go broke from taking profits. Maybe if one has very few positions at a time this could take a while to notice (the benefit to marketing a long term strategy of any sort– few observations) but everyone will fail.
Think of football, a defense might determine that if they can hold the other team to 17 points that they have won their part. What if the offense deploys their secondary after 14 points? May your successes be larger than your defeats.
We are playing an unbounded game, we have no idea the amplitude of future gains or losses, let alone their frequency. Taking profit when unwarranted may not give us a chance at tomorrow.
As for opportunity, we all balance the fear of missed opportunity with the fear of loss. The more successful traders I've known are slightly more fearful of leaving money on the table than losing money. Slightly.
But that depends on the difference between the value and utility of the opportunity. Duncan, you bring up the ultimate question about the purpose of life. Way to make this a deep conversation.
March 29, 2015 | Leave a Comment
Many thanks for indulging my post.
Allow me to stretch some thoughts on Reality & its Perception.
Say, a star is said to be 4 light years away from us. If it is assumed for a moment that, it would be possible to travel at the speed of light or slightly less than the speed of light at some point in the coming future, then too it will take one to reach that star a little more than 4 years. To know the reality of the star for sure, one would thus be separated from its reality by the distance and the limitation on the velocity of cognition. One will therefore know only much later after the star ceases to be in existence when it so happens. Without the assumption of the travel at the velocity of light, all minds — scientific or otherwise — are limited by a fact that for an entire 4 years all could be only perceiving a star to exist that has actually ceased.
Same way, for any other observation of reality, there are perceptive limitations. Limitations brought about by the limited availability of tools of observations and the necessary and unavoidable lag on the one hand and limitations brought about by impositions of our unique minds (that are self organizing pattern seeking systems) on the other hand.
As economic agents, we are not required to and are often unable to work on the challenges of improving up on the available tools of observations. But as economic agents we are required to and all the time observe with the limited tools. We have a freedom to overcome our minds or succumb to them. Traders are those who overcome the mind. The rest are merchants, sales-traders, sales persons, research analysts, strategists. Each of the other agents in the financial markets is allowed to and encouraged to exist in their respective ivory towers of imagination, self-justified values and beliefs. Traders are neither allowed to exist in ivory towers nor do they choose to live there. Traders respect markets more than any other agent and the maximum weightage they attach to any inputs are the inputs provided by the behaviour / activities of the markets. In this simpler sense, traders are the ones who observe markets closest to the purest state of observation, while all others evaluate markets from their perceptive screens.
This connects the dots well with the idea that traders thrive and not just survive the intense frequency of feedback that markets produce. Those others farther down the perceptive efficiency chain (the food chain), ignore a lot of signals of the markets that are eeking red lights at them, since those others choose to not handle the intense feedback mechanism. This is true, according to my "mind", of any participants on any frequency / time horizon in the markets.
Traders, in fewer words, act spontaneously along with the market. All others act after imposing their beliefs. Some continue to live in Abelsonian denial.
February 13, 2015 | 1 Comment
A random number generated price chart would be dismissed by the one who created it due to his knowledge that they are generated by random numbers, even if the conclusion that such a chart is random may or may not be verified by the creator.
A person who does technical analysis could be accused of trying to apply his mind to such a chart, without the knowledge that it was generated using random numbers and not a real price chart.
The creator of a random number generated chart suffers from the illusion of knowledge. The Technical Analyst at worst suffers from the impulse to be curious.
Curiosity however may still lead to making some money, even if the performance can be explained by money management and not by any predictive ability of either the Technical Analyst or the chart. Data does not predict. It is the human enterprise, whether scientific or artistic, that predicts.
The creator of such a random number generated chart will however not make any effort to make money from such a chart, because of the illusion of knowledge.
To completely illustrate the point, the logical construct here is akin to putting the same random number generated chart in real time and beaming it to a pool of traders who may or may not trade on it. Some will, and some will make money. Some will lose money.
Ed Dunne was an endless number of different people for the endless number of different people in this world. Appropriate to each and appropriate for every occasion.
My initial year on the list led me to a feeling that he is a Samurai, ever ready for a battle with a massive sword, on any idea that touches speculation remotely. As I got to eventually know him somewhat closer, I realized he was an even greater Monk ready to give as well.
Full of wisdom, his fatherly advice was encouraging, realistic and purposeful.
I will recount just one anecdote, how he always set examples for one to emulate:
The first and the only time I met him in person was in the summer of 2011. I was packing my bags from a hotel off Wall Street to leave for India and meet with Ed Dunne for an hour before I set out to the airport. I was expecting a man in his 30s with the body of a baseball player.
He walked in to the Hotel Lobby and I found a man with the body of a baseball player at 70 perhaps. Yet, the same energy, the same vibrancy as he always emanated on our Googletalk chats (he used to love offering as gifts free accounts on gmail.com to everyone), phone calls and emails was radiating.
During this meet-up I realized he personally drove down 200 miles as his scheduled car pick up failed on him. He didn't want me to go back disappointed without meeting with him and kept his word.
While he appeared to have very strong views against any specific persons, it was to my mind his penchant for just skimming the truth. He always loved you. Even during the days that it seemed you and he are at odds, he would be ready to gnaw the flesh out of any face that may even begin to utter anything unseemly. Yes, I knew it from the very moment he has immense love and respect for you. When he one day asked me about you, I hesitated at first and then eventually told him, "When two big boys appear to be at odds on the school soccer field, stay apart has been my mantra since eventually the two big boys are the two big boys." He fumed back, " you are too smart" and then after a pause recounted endless stories of your and his camaradries and how you both went out of your ways to care for each other over a long time.
How will I ever find anyone who can take his place?
Bio-feedback is a science that is around for sometime already. A computer game where no inputs are possible from the keyboard, mouse or any such human input device, but where a set of sensors measure the galvanic current on the skin of your fingers to estimate your mind-state is what Wild Divine offers.
I had bought this close to five years ago and gave to my daughters. They did play it sometimes. Discovered it in recent months again from their closet of abandon toys from "junior years" & began fiddling with it. Results are amazing.
I find this a constructive use of time, unlike the broad spectrum of other computer games. The only situation in which I could really observe my own emotions and had to practise rousing specific emotions to solve specific situations to meet game requirements.
If life too is a game and where deploying my emotions rather than succumbing to them is key, this package is a good beginning for taking such an approach to life.
Try it. There are delights to savour even purely from the perspective of refining one's cognitive skills.
DISCLAIMER: I otherwise do not like the soup of big words that one of the pop-philosophy Gurus behind this project, Deepak Chopra, spews. Yet a decent working invention of bio-feedback relevant for a trader who is nothing but a pure mind-worker.
October 24, 2014 | Leave a Comment
The Path of Least Resistance seems to be an oxymoronic idea if not an irresponsible usage of words. Any meme, theme, passion, fashion that has the least resistance has already come to the point of expiration on the philosophy of ever changing cycles.
An idea that has the least acceptance will be the one that will find the most universal supply favouring those who have accepted it. This excessive supply or liquidity from disbelievers is what compensates the minority or rare thinkers and doers. Any idea that has least resistance will suffer from universal demand. If say an ongoing meme is downwards movement (for whatsoever reasons) then there are more put buyers than writers, there is more size at the ask than at the bid etc. etc.
Similar holds true for other data that indicate mind of the market. For example a rising volume or a rising open interest is a reflection of rising struggle for the discovery of price and thus for the acceptance of the meme.
Again, I do run the risk of ending up construing meaning of words inappropriately in my mind. Rather than trying to rest the case on the table, I seek from the erudite why is the phrase "Path of Least Resistance" in such vogue? What does the Path of Least Resistance really mean?
Jeff Sasmor writes:
Sushil was asking, what does the Path of Least Resistance really mean?
In electrical engineering terms, and when there are multiple paths with differing ohmic resistances, linearly proportionally more current will flow in paths with lower ohmic resistances. However, that's strictly true only for a DC circuit.
If you're talking about markets and money flows it might be more apropos to think about AC circuits with their complex impedances. In this sense, current flow is dependent on the *frequency* of *both* the voltage and the current. Further, the currents themselves create magnetic fields which have their own time-variant effects on the flows. Talk about flexionic!
The total risk in a trade can be deconstructed as the sum of market risk, process risk and idiosyncratic risk wherein each risk element originates respectively from the trade, the process of trading, and from the trader. This is akin to the idea that any observation has only a partial perspective if the focus is only on the observed. A complete perspective will incorporate the observation process as well as the observer.
The same trade of entry in to an X quantity at a Y Price with an exit at Z price when undertaken by any two different traders or by the same trader through any two different trading infrastructure has different risks.
Given, estimations of probability distributions for process risk are similar to those used in operational risk and are less easily believable and the distribution for idiosyncratic risk close to being conjectural / randomness, most of the time any discourse on risk amongst traders ends up focusing only on price or market risk.
Is systematic trading the answer to eliminating idiosyncratic risks borne out of the trader? Can the total amount of risk be reduced for the same expected return level or one is only modifying the type of risk from idiosyncratic to a larger process risk? Or is it that systematic trading trims down both the left as well as the right tails of returns distributions?
This thinking can be tautomerised to ask a deeper question: Is there ever a reduction in risk feasible or it is always a modification of the type of risk? If a money management overlay, whether self-monitored by a stand-alone trader or by an elaborate risk-management department, is eliminating the idiosyncratic risk borne out of a trader in discretionary trading approaches, is there an advantage that while the left tail is aimed to be trimmed the right tail is left intact? If total risk never changes, is there an unaccounted for expansion of process risk that the risk management systems will end up following the Peter Principle?
While good risk taking is what analysts, strategists and commentators also do as traders do, it is the skill at avoiding bad risk taking or winding up a risk-exposure that is going bad that separates traders from all other market-citizens.
While all bad risk taking can be avoided by actually doing nothing and holding on to the theoretical cash, the moment one begins to even trying good risk taking, the skills at avoiding bad risk taking must come along.
Finally for now, if the value of risk at a moment is unique to each individual, firm, system, approach yet its historical value (focusing only on the market risk as explained earlier) common for all does it all boil down to "to each his own"? The right combination of good risk taking skills and avoiding bad risk taking skills is then as idiosyncratic as each trader is?
Daddy is proud, despite his strong belief in the value of humility, at your fantabulous accomplishment.
At this school leaving examination, which also happens to be the first public examination you have taken in your life & conducted by the Indian Council of Secondary Education, you have accomplished what none so far have in your gerontocracy. Your score on each of the subjects is higher, into the high 90s, than your father could achieve or his forefathers could. Well surely you indeed have also scored higher than any other student in your school.
Soon as the results sprung out on the internet, all over the country there was a frenzy of several million test-takers discussing their accomplishments with their peers. Yet within such a busy patch of time, even as a budding teenager, you have been resplendent in speaking to me for such a length of time, even if in five pieces of conversations. This assures me, your values are deeply family driven. The simplicity with which you can internalize a big moment deserving a big celebration as this was proven yet again, when you chose to order Pizza from Dominos and savour your victory just with your family. This is touching.
Yet, as you step forward further to be much more on your own, the value of networking and connecting can hardly ever be over-emphasized. Education and performance at exams are often solitary sojourns, wherein a good student puts in endlessly long hours working on her own abilities. Wisdom however, will be in being able to apply it. The more adept you hereon become in connecting and building on your rapport with everyone, the more you will be able to utilize your learnings.
Your leanings towards numbers is apparent right from your early schooling days wherein you scored a perfect 100 in maths and high 90s in science subjects many times through years. Yet, at this key public examination, I am gratified to note, that you have done equally well in languages. The power to express is definitely as important as the power to ideate, visualize, observe, calculate, infer and deduce. The big difference between those who end up spending their entire life-times in laboratories and those who create products that fill up stores worldwide with customers is their ability to take their work to masses. I urge you to keep growing your repertoire of expressions, vocabularies, diction etc. throughout your life. Not only for enriching your ability at communications, but also for the fact that literature is the mirror of society, do invent some time to read some of the finer classics. I also urge you to begin reading Ayn Rand with a goal of triggering your own thoughts around her ideas. Yes, you got it right that while you have been progressing well on Java, C++ etc. etc. you must not lose out to any other on your ability at the old world languages as English and Hindi.
Since you do have a clear focus to put in your entire might into seeking an admission to the top Engineering Colleges in the country couple of years down the line, I will share a few recommendations of some of the finest books from an era gone by long ago and yet these are still likely the best.
To master Differential & Integral Calculus, hunt down the two volume compendium by N. Piskunov that was originally published by Mir Publishers but now out of print. An amble around the old and used book-stores markets to ferret out such jewels is yet another indulgence an erudite person must begin to savour. Over the years, the nourishment your soul may find in the company of old and difficult to find books, will surely drive your passions to be not just a good but a great learner.
To get an in-depth grip on High School and beyond Physics locate the book by Resnick & Heliday. It may subsume your mind, but it surely is worth it to create a solid foundation that will last with you.
Yet another out of print book, but surely a master-piece on Organic Chemistry was written by I M Finar. Locate it.
While you delve deep into grasping concepts, you must recognize that it is practice and practice alone that makes not just men but women as well perfect. Solve as many computations as you can each day. Go down to the steps where you went wrong and it at these steps you will iron out the wrinkles in the crevices of your sub-conscious mind so that your thinking processes are evolved through this humbling process of knowing where do you err, in advance.
An old world saying, that a good mind lives in a good body. So, I am sure you will be keeping an even focus on keeping building a good health. Yet, with the evolution through my and your generation, it may be apt to believe that a good mind and a good body are held together by a great personality. So, somehow do find the time to indulge in competitive activity on the stage (in college) and surely at the sports-field.
Lastly, yet most importantly, I gave you the name Muskaan. Your name derives from the Urdu word that means a beautiful smile. Over these years, trust me, not just because your are my daughter, I have and others have felt you have been gifted with a smile that is rare. Yet, in the recent several months in the run up to your exams perhaps, there is a recurring frown on your forehead way more than your magnetic smile. Please learn right away, early enough in life, that consistent and sustained achievement is seldom feasible while existing at extremes. The concept of optimality applies to every human endeavour. In any case, the goal of life is the pursuit of happiness and to lose your miraculous smile for sub-goals of life is something I will want you to avoid. The same way that you balanced your achievements across languages and numerical subjects, I wish for you, that you achieve a life where work and play are so finely inter-woven that each journey of achievement is as much a joy for you as each milestone will bring.
While your immediate goal and focus for the next two years is the Engineering College Entrance test in India, which without an argument is the most competed for exam in the world, since God made too many of us in this part of the world, I need you to study Statistics and at least one human science at an appropriate time. Even while the study of natural sciences is so much complete in itself, each of us will use our abilities within the human dilemmas. What can be cognized by man is what truth is. Everything else is within the domain of postulates. So the approximations and the imperfections, that create all the opportunities, must be studied well too.
The first time ever someone's eldest child writes a public examination and beats daddy in each and every subject is a joy that comes to only some. What a bliss you have brought me. Hereon, while you keep beating me in every next exam you write, I need you to know, you will create a happiness multiplier function, should you achieve with elan, grace, happiness and health.
Here's to my rock-star, a big congratulations! Keep moving forward, with your focus, zeal and hard work and yet do it with happiness, health and a continuously growing personage.
An amazed father!
If Round Numbers, perhaps because they are the easiest multiples of other numbers, attract attention and thereby either a struggle or a release of pent up tension occurs around them, then the antithesis of a round number may likely be a prime number.
Do markets move past prime numbers with least activity/least resistance? If that is so, there should be evidence that the often talked about supports or resistances are observed to occur much less frequently around such numbers than may be in a consistent with randomness world.
If the numbers are a human invention (the choice of the base that all of us stick to is surely a convention, since the mathematics of the universe still remain the same whichever base of numbers any may choose), due to which variable behaviour around different types of numbers observed in prices may only be explainable, then such behaviour may be observable in time too and not just prices.
Perhaps the Senator has studied behaviour of markets through prime numbered years? Perhaps Kora may quickly run through his numbers cannons a study on prime numbered trading days from the lowest low in the last century?
Do markets move more than consistent with randomness or less around prime numbered prices? Similarly do markets move or less than consistent with randomness in prime numbered price bars?
Risk facilitates exchange and all prospects of any gains arise from change. If there was no room for any uncertainty or risk, then no exchange would ever occur. In a risk-free world if a decline is guaranteed no one will buy and if a rise is guaranteed to happen no one will sell. Thus no one will be able to gain even if it was guaranteed that a fall or a rise is going to come, due to absence of any exchange.
Therefore, those who are ready to lose only have a prospect of winning.
How much is one entitled to lose is something each must assess, on a single trade, in a single period of time, in a single window of measurement etc.
Yet most end up focusing on forecasting. Now forecasting to my mind is nothing but studied imagination of the future refined with the help of analysing the past. It is this nature of forecasting, that there is imagination involved not foreknowledge prepares one to accept existence of risk and the need to manage it.
Whether one uses tea-leaves or frequency-leaf-diagrams, it therefore is critical to practice your chosen form of art or science with humility.
If anyone believes humility is the most powerful currency to prevent the market-mistress from collecting a toll larger than you should pay, then there is respect for risk. If there is any other who refuses to respect risk, the mistress then clearly finds a gaping hole in such personae to serve humiliation.
I surmise, for the New Year, that this year shall be:
1. much more kind to the permabears in equities,
2. much more kind to the wounded Gold Bugs
3. more kind to the Greenback
4. an affirmation of Labogalas, almost everywhere
5. definitive in affirming the permanent value of humility & establishing the evidence that complacence suffers.
What are the surmises of Daily Spec readers?
Driving on my way back from work, at a traffic signal just at the boundary of the business district in Mumbai, it struck me that each and every advertisement is for swank, upmarket housing. The only other billboard was from a bank offering housing loans at "attractive" rates.
With realty stocks at all time lows in India, one wonders if such advertising is a sign of the coming crash in realty prices or the bankruptcies in the debt-laden realty sector companies or both?
What kind of signs have investors noticed in other economies in the world before realty bottomed out or the realty stocks bottomed out?
I got a call today, wherein a large bull in India was quoted saying, "Victor Niederhoffer has written in his book, the best time to buy stocks is when brokerages are shutting down."
I tried recalling where the chair wrote that.
I assumed he has been quoted correctly, my conundrum is:
Indian equity indices are whiskers away from all time highs, that were seen five years ago. In between in 2011 too a re-test of the all time high had happened and marked dived 30% from there.
While retail brokerages are shutting down en-masse near the highs, domestic mutual fund AUMs have shrunk a tad with hardly any new net in-flows, Foreign Institutional Investors are net buyers.
A further divide on the conundrum:
Individual local investors are in despondency, on one hand. Institutional Global Investors are described in every segment of the market food chain as being complacent at the near high levels with such global & local macro concerns.
Descriptive sentiments are thus split wide open vertically between Individual / Retail/ Local despondency & institutional complacency.
Which way to tip the hat?
This chart is interesting. It comes from a passionate market historian, Robert Prechter and his Elliott Wave group.
However, I disagree with it. A local maximum in interest rates is established only after they peak out somewhere and start declining again. So this illustrious list of busts and crises is not happening during the spike, but at its end.
A classical cart and horse problem. Framing Bias will make it appear that each time a spike in interest rates happened a crisis happened. The reality is likelier that each time a crisis could no longer be shoved under the carpet, when the economy could not sustain playing on the house money, when the illusory money effect succumbed to gravitational pull of reality, when the epidemic effect of the meme played out the asymptotic end of the S-curve, no one was willing to pay more for using Other People's Money (OPM). Interest rates are a willingness of people to undertake risk. Yet when this willingness becomes a larger risk than the aboriginal risk, a crisis comes.
Also, in the customs I learned on this list, there is always a chance that endless other financial crises have come along the curve too. Not sure, just checking with the specs which other key crises have happened at the troughs of interest rate cycles? Have there been any or as many?
Steve Ellison writes:
Yes, there is always bad news around, and any number of events could have been annotated at the low points on the chart, too.
Here is an example I posted on the site in 2005.
One of my prized possessions is a chart of stock market returns in Venita Van Caspel's book "The Power of Money Dynamics." Each year is annotated with a reason to have been bearish that year:
1935: Civil war in Spain
1936: Economy still struggling
1938: War clouds gather
1939: War in Europe
1940: France falls
1941: Pearl Harbor
1942: Wartime price controls
1943: Industry mobilizes
1944: Consumer goods shortages
1945: Post-war recession predicted
1946: Dow tops 200 - market "too high"
1947: Cold war begins
1948: Berlin blockade
1949: Russia explodes A-bomb
1950: Korean war
1951: Excess profits tax
1952: U.S. seizes steel mills
1953: Russia explodes H-bomb
1954: Dow tops 300 - market "too high"
1955: Eisenhower illness
1956: Suez crisis
1957: Russia launches Sputnik
1959: Castro seizes power in Cuba
1960: Russians down U-2 plane
1961: Berlin Wall erected
1962: Cuban missile crisis
1963: Kennedy assassinated
1964: Gulf of Tonkin
1965: Civil rights marches
1966: Vietnam war escalates
1967: Newark race riots
1968: USS Pueblo seized
1969: Money tightens; market falls
1970: Cambodia invaded; war spreads
1971: Wage-price freeze
1972: Largest U.S. trade deficit in history
1973: Energy crisis
1974: Steepest market drop in four decades
1975: Clouded economic prospects
1976: Economic recover slows
1977: Market slumps
1978: Interest rates rise
1979: Oil prices skyrocket
1980: Interest rates at all-time highs
1981: Steep recession begins
(Van Caspel, 1983, pp. 124-125)
Unfortunately, I have the 1983 edition, so the chart ends there.
A modest attempt to bring the record up to date:
1982: Double-digit unemployment
1983: Record budget deficit
1984: Technology new issues bubble bursts
1985: Dollar too strong
1986: Dow at 1800 - "too high"
1987: Stock market crash
1988: Worst drought in 50 years
1989: Savings & loan scandal
1990: Iraq invades Kuwait
1992: Record budget deficit
1993: Clinton health care plan
1994: Rising interest rates
1995: Dollar at historic lows
1996: Greenspan "irrational exuberance" speech
1997: Asian markets collapse
1998: Long Term Capital collapses
1999: Y2K problem
2000: Dot-com stocks plunge
2001: Terrorist attacks
2002: Corporate scandals
2003: Gulf War II
2004: High oil prices
2005: Trade deficit
Is this the next credit crisis? An interesting picture by Zerohedge.
He has picked it off a Goldman report, which collected data from world bank.
Is it quantifiable?
Aversion to losses or aversion to risk? Which of the two is addressed by willingness and ability to close out losing trades?
Well, without invoking mathematics where it is not necessary, it is common and logical to place on the table that when a losing trade is closed one has the willingness and aversion to the risk of the persistence of loss becoming into a bigger one and one does not have aversion to the present level of loss in being accepted.
Now on the other hand, unwillingness to stop out a losing trade is indeed loss aversion.
The computations that show that having utilized some sort of mechanical rules for stopping out adverse incursions actually increased the probability of meeting with adverse incursions is totally flawed abuse of statistics.
1) Historical data analysis does not undertake the "uncertainty at a given moment to decide upon" into account and is definitely incorporating hindsight 20:20 vision mind-set.
2) Any measurements of uncertainty and thus risk are never definite, since measurement of uncertainty too will be having an uncertainty of its own. So a trader in the middle of a losing trade has to decide that the level of uncertainty in his method, mind or cognition regarding the calculation of the "value of uncertainty" in his trade has become too high for him to handle. That's where humility, the currency that prevents others from profiting more from your mistake, can come into play and allow the willingness to hit the stop.
3) However, when either with or without the illusions of statistical computations of stop losses increasing the probability of meeting with more losing trades, one fails to control the human weakness of loss aversion, to somehow and anyhow turn that loss into a profit, one is becoming totally risk-insensitive. From skill, the turf changes to the power of prayer. The game begins to change from action to hope. Inconsistency of thoughts thus turns one into a trader who is continuing to hold on to risk without a mental apparatus to assess it or react to it. As the loss continues to grow not only the lack of willingness to take it hurts, the ability to accept the increasingly bigger loss also dwindles rapidly.
I am ready to be thrown before any firing squads of mathematical minds and ideas on this list if they can with or without numbers help me learn how come this list celebrates and cherishes a human value of humility and yet indulges in an idea that staying on in a trade that has incurred a level of loss greater than anticipated when the trade was opened are mutually consistent.
I would close my submission for now with one thought:
When loss aversion creeps in it makes a decision system (mind) risk-insensitive and with no respect for risk, returns are impossible. Yet, if a mind continues to be risk-averse it does not have loss-insensitivity and in humility such a mind closes out risk that has turned out to be less than comprehensible.
Phil McDonnell responds:
Since I am the well known culprit I shall give Mr. Kedia a reply. If the probability of a decline art the end of a period of time equal to your stop is p then the probability of losing the stop amount with a stop loss strategy is 2 * p. It is simply a derived relationship. It is what it is.
It is not a misuse of statistics but rather a description of how a stop loss exit strategy will change the distribution of returns. Larry Connors studied over 200,000 trades from a winning system and compared the results with and without stops. He found the use of stops increased the probability of loss and reduced the expected gain.
In my opinion the best way to trade is to reduce position size so that no one loss hurts your account too badly. That means many small positions to me.
Larry Williams adds:
Ahhh here I go off on a rant; please excuse a tired old mans bitterness at system vendors who claim stops hurt performance.
Yes, they are correct in that the statistics of your system will look better if one) you don't use a stop and two) your use a market with a perpetual upward bias like the stock indexes have been, usually.
They are absolutely totally incorrect in terms of living the life of a trader. So what if I am long in a position that eventually shows a profit but because I did not have a stop loss that one trade moved against be 20,000 or $30,000 and it took a year or so to get out of? Yeah, the numbers look good (high accuracy) with no stops but it's one hell of a lifestyle.
High accuracy is a false God.
Consistency and never being in a place where you can get killed is more critical. Perhaps Mr. Connors has never sat through the reality of a large loss, especially in a large position. I have; I would rather battle the devil at midnight on a new moon with both hands tied behind my back.
It's one thing to have a system with "good numbers" it is quite another thing to be a trader and have to deal with reality.
It only takes one bullet in the chamber to kill you when playing Russian roulette. As near as I can tell trading without any stops, in any way whatsoever, is just the American version of this form of spinning the wheel.
Play the game as you wish but please heed the warnings of an old man.
Leo Jia adds:
I have been studying the use of stops. Due to loss aversion I guess, I would like to use narrow stops. But among the various strategies I have yet found one working well with narrow stops. Good stops have to be relatively wide in my cases, but having no stops or stops that are too wide clearly hurts results (my trades are time limited). So a good choice for me is to size the position according to the stop size.
Sushil Kedia writes:
If you reduce position size can it be argued that a position of Size N reduces to N-n implies that you took a stop loss on n lots out of N you held. Then too, it validates the fact that you do take stops.
Anatoly Veltman writes:
Larry covered main bases (different markets, different position sizes, different lifestyles) pretty well. I just want to be sure that reader doesn't end up with wrong impression. I think the best conclusion is "it depends".
And because my act follows Larry's (who is certainly biased in favor of stops), let me try this. If you enter based on value (which is certainly against trend), then there is no justification available for a stop. Unless you argue that this stop proves you were an idiot on the entry. But if you are an idiot on value entries, then why play value…
Anton Johnson writes:
The problem with using Conners' simulation as evidence that placing a trade stop-loss reduces returns is that he tested a winning system that likely had never experienced any 5-sigma negative excursions prior to the test date. And of course there are no guarantees that his strategy, or any unbounded trading strategy, will perpetually avoid massive drawdowns.
When implementing a strategic trade, a good compromise between profit maximization and loss mitigation can be achieved by balancing trade size along with a stop-loss, which when placed at a level that only an extreme event will trigger, will likely contain losses to a predetermined range, and also prevent getting stopped-out of a potential winner. If one is disciplined, maintaining a mental stop-loss level is preferable to an order pre-placed in the book, and available for all the bots to scan.
Larry Williams adds:
But speaking of stops, I go back to my litany, my preaching the essential reason for never putting stops on an exchange server, or even your brokers server. Putting stops on servers means that your stop becomes part of the market. And not in a positive sort of way either. Pick a price, hit the button, and take the hit. Discipline is key here.
Ed Stewart writes:
A trader needs a decision process for managing the expectation or expected value of the trade as well as the equity position. The problems occur when these two things are in conflict.
The thing with stops is that at times it makes no sense to get out of a trade when the expected value is still good. What is the difference between exiting at a small stop-loss point 4X in a row vs. one loss of that same size? Well, if at each "stop out" point the expected value was favorable, it makes no sense, one is just locking in losses. At times the best "next trade" is simply staying in the current trade.
However, I see Larry's point and it is a good one. Yet, the example of letting a loss get huge or holding an underwater position for a year is to me something of a false alternative. No exit strategy but hoping for a profit at some point is not a reasonable alternative.
What maters, I think, is the expected value of the trade at each moment, and balancing that against equity and a margin or error to ensure, "staying in the game".
Given this I always trade with mental stops, if not on individual positions, on total account equity. Having that "self-preservation" discipline is useful.
Jeff Watson writes:
I learned very early on in the pit on how to go for the stops, and that weaned me off of stops completely (except in my head).
To add to an already long list of differences between broadly who a speculator may be and who a gambler may be: the successful speculator generally leans onto the side of chance but an unsuccessful gambler is seeking chance to lean on his side.
Countless differences may exist and can be cited between who a speculator is and who a gambler is. When we cut it slightly finer, there are enough similarities between an amateur speculator and an amateur gambler. Same way, there are enough similarities between a professional speculator and a professional gambler.
To seek a generally acceptable set of common characteristics between successful gamblers and successful speculators, I often listen to "The Gambler " by Kenny Rogers [Youtube link].
There are some traders who make money based on news events. Please tell me how an analysis of the recent news could have been beneficial to traders who analyze news. The first reaction was a drop of 1 % in the last hour in S&P and a rise of a corresponding amount in gold. The reaction overnight was the opposite. Why was this news so bullish overnight? Is all news just an opportunity to do the opposite of the initial reaction? What do you think? Is there a systematic way to profit from news announcements? The 9-11 was not a temporary thing. Was that the clue?
Steve Ellison writes:
I would hypothesize that any market reaction to a news event that triggers strong emotions should be faded because of the availability heuristic (people tend to give too much weight to dramatic but rare events).
I would also hypothesize that any market reaction to government statistics should be faded, since they have margins of error and are often significantly revised later. However, when I tested this proposition using the government report that routinely provokes strong market reactions, the monthly US unemployment report, it was not clear there was any edge to trading in the opposite direction of the S&P 500's move on the report day.
Jeff Watson writes:
I generally don't fade USDA crop reports after they come out and grains are offered limit down. However, I've been known to buy wheat right at the top just before the report and have it go limit down on me. I hate that feeling as the noose tightens when the trapdoor opens. In fact that just happened to me on the last go-around.
Alston Mabry writes:
How do you test news events? First, you have to immediately and accurately evaluate what effect the event "should" have, ex ante. And then at some future point in time, compare the predicted to the actual effect the event "did" have, ex post. As there is no objective measure to use for the first step, you wind up simply testing whether or not you're any good at predicting the effects ex ante.
Steve Ellison writes:
I tested using the following logic. If the absolute value of the change from Thursday's close to Friday's close on an unemployment reporting day was greater than the median of the absolute value of the daily change in the previous month, I assumed the market was reacting to the unemployment report and selected that day. For all the selected days, I backtested a one day trade entering at Friday's close and exiting at the next trading day's close, positioned in the opposite direction as Friday's net change. That is, if the net change on Friday was positive, the hypothetical trade was a short. The results were consistent with randomness.
Sushil Kedia writes:
News is a rare commodity in today's world. We are inundated with broadcasts today. Any media missives that bring by a communication of fact and those amongst the fact-set that are beyond the expected may still have some market moving value. The durability of that fact or how out of line of anticipations it was may perhaps have some effect on how much and for how long the prevailing state of prices will be affected. Those broadcasts that provoke emotion are likely that are worth inspecting a fading trade. Whether news of war, crop-failures or any such genre' of information flows that produce an instant or moment of endocrinal rush.
The fine art of speculations rests on anticipations. Broadcasting media would never report what is coming to happen tomorrow, but only what may have (no guarantee that the broadcast is totally factual, since we have more "viewspapers" today than newspapers) already happened. Those who rely more on figuring out what they ought to anticipate on such resources are often the food for those who would rely on these broadcasts to figure out where the likely dead bodies will be buried. Price may not have all the information of what keeps happening every moment, but does have more information than any other resources of what is expected to happen.
Event Study Method may be a decent tool to evaluate the statistical behaviour of specific kind of events that occur repetitively with varying outcomes and of studying the repetitive actions of specific mouth-pieces than of studying erratic and randomly occurring news.
In a highly inter-connected markets' world and where the risk-free rate itself has a volatility the comforts of isolating non-random abnormal returns' evidence too is fraught with risks of playing on a frail advantage that keeps fluctuating in its expected value with ever-changing cycles if not fading away. Thus, it seems fair to me rather than an over-simplification that the most important factor for the next price is the price at this instant or any distant instant is the price at this moment and in the prior moments.
Rocky Humbert writes:
I have one secret on this subject that I will share. Well, actually it was explained by Soros and Druck as the "Busted Thesis Rule." I think I've written about this previously on the Dailyspec.
If there is a news event that SHOULD BE unequivocal in it's meaning (i.e. bullish or bearish), and the market after a bit of time starts going in the opposite direction to the consensus meaning, then it's a wonderful opportunity to throw your beliefs out the window and go with the short-term direction. Many important big moves start this way. For example, XYZ is bullish news, yet the market after a little pop starts going down, down, down, …. don't fight it. Rather, "Sell Mortimer Sell!" P.S. I learned this lesson the hard way when Bell Atlantic made its ultimately ill-fated bid for TCOMA and Bell Atlantic's stock when straight up instead of what it "should" have done … which was go straight down. I won't describe the censure I received by my legendary boss at the time. Amusingly, neither of these companies still exist. Bell Atlantic became Nynex which became Verizon. And if memory serves me, TCOMA was bought by AT&T when they got into the cable tv business…
Gary Rogan writes:
In a similar type of episode, when 3Com spun off 5% of Palm thus giving it a market valuation, and the resultant value of Palm significantly exceeded the value of 3Com that still owned 95% of Palm, this marked the end of the dotcom era.
Pain is a subject with which traders are probably familiar. There is psychic pain and physical pain. The amount or intensity of both kinds of pain is not commensurate with the amount of the loss in all cases. There is not a direct correlation between the increasing amount of loss and the increase in the amount of pain. For example, the pain of losing 100,000 is not a hundred times the pain of losing $1000, and the pain does not increase in a linear fashion. The pain of losing a loved one is not 1000 times more painful than losing say $100,000. (multiply amounts for wealthy readers). The pain of a small burn can be as painful as a major illness.
The other curious thing about pain is that it ends and its hard to remember after its gone. Experiments have shown that in time people tend to revert to their mean disposition even after horrific personal losses. Some people can handle pain better than others or recover at different speeds. When one is tired, small things can feel more painful. Pain and sadness are closely related to anger. There are mental techniques to handle psychic pain and effective drugs to deaden physical pain. I suppose one could write a book on the subject.
Sushil Kedia adds:
Pain is a signal to consciousness or to the mind to search for changing the situation. Those traders who are not experiencing pain up to a level of loss are "willing" to lose that much and will thus have lost that much.
Like all of our perceptions, pain too is relative and there is no absolute measure feasible such as the measurement of temperature. Varying wealth levels or varying risk perceptions will, for one example for traders, bring varying intensity, length or sensitivity to pain.
For another example, in a simple surge-protector the fuse is expected to blow up before "paining" the computer to a point that the computer blows up. Some traders believe their stop loss strategies akin to this surge protector. Others believe their computers can withstand any power-surge, by placing some probabilistic calculations that having a surge protector will increase the probability of a power surge. Different hourses, different courses.
Jeff Watson adds:
The real sad thing is that you can be 100% right and the mistress of the market won't stop flogging you. Need to have my head examined.
Tops happen on good news and when there are not many more fools left to buy. Likewise, bottoms happen on bad news and when there are not many fools left to sell. Old saying.
With a slew of goody goody numbers in the US also not pushing the "S&P 500 momentum" higher, if one tiny-in-comparison bit of bad news from Cyprus whose GDP is a fraction of the total global market capitalization causes concern, then I am inclined to tilt my hat to search for evidence that not many more fools are left to buy.
Short Interest in the US is at multiple year lows. Idiosyncratic demand would be low on declines. Is there a larger mess brewing pricewise?
Google+ is increasingly leaving one with a feeling that Late Mover Advantage can be as significant as the Early Mover Advantage. A lot of thoughtful work seems going into Google+ avoiding so many of the aches that a stand alone twitter or a stand alone Facebook may be giving. This one seems way more integrable into many things in the future, what with the android keeping growing.
I had been bearish on Google as a business earlier, based purely on my nationalistic sentiments of their display of different maps of India when viewed from different locations in the world. I need to look beyond my own sentiments and of course on a longer term business basis, this giant continues to display clairvoyance.
Yet, for a speculative mind, if indeed Late Mover Advantage can be significant, how does one profit systematically from ideas such as if a market takes much more time than other related markets to achieve a movement, is the adage delay is not denial become ever-more profitable? Is there a good way to identify how much bunching of a volatility or delay is a good trigger for firing in a trade?
David Lilienfeld writes:
Microsoft has built a company around Late Movers Advantage–it's their business model. Google has not. The question that needs to be asked, I think, is how and when Google+ can be monetized. As I think most on this list serve know, I'm a skeptic about FB's ability to monetize the 900 million accounts it has. I am equally skeptical about Google+. So far as I can see, the only social media company which has successfully monetized its accounts is LinkedIn. Otherwise (and I know many will disagree), I think social media is the fad-du-jour, much as twitter was the fad-du-jour from a few years back .(Tim Melvin and I had a great correspondence about this when twitter first came in–we followed one another, and neither of us had any idea what it meant to do so!) Or Flickr. Or email (remember when Microsoft bought Hotmail for $400 million? Can someone explain to me how Microsoft has earned any sort of return on that $400 million? I don't think I would change one iota what I think of Google as an investment because of Google+ or anything else it does until it shows it can obtain some revenue from doing so. Otherwise, it's just a freebie, and it doesn't take much to get lots of people using a freebie. Especially since I think Congress is going to shut down the marketing data collection that FB and Acxiom are marketing. And if Congress doesn't act soon (and it's already moving in a bipartisan way to address such data collection), the EU will likely do so.
Bottom line: Where's the revenue? Show me the revenue. Otherwise, it's Larry and Sergei's excellent adventure.
Is Profit an Event or a Process?
Is Loss an Event or a Process?
Is a Trade an Event or a Process?
Is Price an Event or a Process?
Is Chance an Event or a Process?
This list may become never ending. So let me begin with these only and seek answers to some equally important questions.
If these are processes then, what events are we experiencing ever?
If these are events, then seperatedness of any one type, with another event of the same type being time, is time a process?
So then observation being central to identifying an event, is time a process or is time an event?
If time is neither a process, nor an event, then what is time?
March 25, 2012 | 1 Comment
Keep it simple.
The Ideal seldom,
All at once.
Sushil Kedia writes:
My 2 cents:
1. A reward can only come from change.
2. Change, though is the only constant, its expectations are never across people or time.
3. Hence, uncertainty of change only allows for trade to occur. If all are certain ever of the amount and time required for change, prices will only jump and no trade will happen and hence no profits possible.
4. Risk thus is a twin-sister of rewards.
5. No Risk = No Reward.
When, an expected reimbursement for profligate financial behavior to those going bankrupt is causing, a relief from tensions. Can this create wealth? Does it justify the dignity of human enterprise or perilously puts to a sad joke that every media outlet in the universe is singing of the dropping Manna from the skies. Why should the public be right in hoping that the loot will percolate down to it?
The most desperate bullish theses that one ever came across is that the bankrupts will not be allowed to go bankrupt and this somehow is good for everyone. Postponement of a reality check somehow will become a handle for tele-porting the world to well being and such other circuitous arguments are the mark of our times.
If today too, the last available losable dollar from the public's pocket that could take a bet does not, then when it will?
November 8, 2011 | Leave a Comment
Real interest rates are back near their recent record lows (5 year TIP= negative 1.2%; 10 Year TIP= negative 0.15%); and gold's recent behavior is once again consistent with these facts. Riddle me this, Batman:
If I buy a 5-year TIP at a negative 1.2% real yield, and hold it to maturity, that means I am certain to lose 1.2% of purchasing power over the next five years. BUT: Were I instead to short a 5-year TIP at a negative 1.2% yield, and hold the short to maturity, does that mean I am certain to make 1.2% of purchasing power over the next five years? And, how can BOTH of these statements be false?
Private riddle for The Chair:
What do Galton, Batman, and Robin have in common?
Robin: Holy molars! Am I ever glad I take good care of my teeth!
Batman: True. You owe your life to dental hygiene.
Sushil Kedia writes:
Logic Riddle is a misnomer for what is truly a contradiction. The presentation has a contradiction. In life, in markets there are no contradictions. Allow me to quote Ayn Rand from the Atlas Shrugged, "If there is a contradiction, check your premise".
Rocky, your logic is based on inflation remaining what it is right now the same also during the maturity and at the point of maturity of the 5 year TIPS! Market is not pricing that! Market is pricing inflation will come down! That's all. Check the premise, there are no contradictions.
Purchasing Power is a good term to help create this contradiction. Purchasing power will be Cash in your hand on day of maturity Divided by (1+inflation)^5 if I take the Annualized realized inflation readings. Realized Inflation readings five years from now will be known only then.
Rocky Humbert responds:
1. You should check your bloomberg before you check your premise. These bonds are trading above 105 in price (even forgetting about the inflation adjustment).
2. That means it's possible to have not only a negative REAL YIELD but it's also possible to have a negative NOMINAL RETURN! (So much for the risk-less treasury market.
3. Your definition of purchasing power is unusual. Purchasing power has absolutely nothing to do with the cash in your hand. It's WHAT YOU CAN BUY with the cash in your hand. (Stefan — please elucidate this point).
4. Your statement "Market is pricing inflation will come down! That's all. Check the premise, there are no contradictions" is 100% UPSIDE DOWN. There is little justification for locking in a negative 1.2% compounded real yield UNLESS you have no alternative investment that does better. You need an inflation assumption of RISING INFLATION not falling inflation due to the way these seasoned bonds behave.
I reckon, back of the envelope, north of 3.8% compounded CPI…. is required to have these TIPS beat the bullet 5 year … and even then you still lose 1.2% of purchasing power (compounded) per year. If you want to bet on disinflation/deflation, you would short these bonds at 105 with an inflation factor of 226/220 with abandon, and buy 5 year bullet bonds to term.
Batman just ended. The Flintstones are on now.
Charles Pennington writes:
That's a very nice riddle.
These bonds trade dearly I think because there aren't many other competing foolproof CPI inflation hedges.
Obviously if you short the bonds AND hold the short sale proceeds in cash, you are at risk of losing money. You short $1 million in bonds and hold the $1 million proceeds in cash. The bonds could go up in nominal terms by a factor of ten to $10 million. Meanwhile your short sale proceeds sit there in cash, still just $1 million, and when you cover, you lose $9 million. That's a loss in any terms.
Of course, if you could use your short sale proceeds to buy something that tracks the CPI without the built-in "negative carry" that the TIPS have, then you'd have a perfect arbitrage. But such a thing doesn't exist.
Tyler Mcclellan comments:
A 1 year bond is four three month bonds.
A three month bond is a treasury bill financeable for cash as legally defined by the government at the rate set by the federal reserve.
If ex ante you knew that rate, let's say it would be zero for the next year, then if the one year note traded at 1 percent, there would be risk free arbitrage in buying the note (because the note is defined as acceptable collateral to get cash without exception at the overnight rate, it is perpetually fungible).
But all of this is true because arbitrage needs a unit that you're left with at the end, say for example cash, to make the calc.
I will not solve the last part of your riddle yet Rocky.
Let me ask, can the fair value of cash, the unit of account in arbitrage, which is merely the desire to lend known resources today for unknown future wants x years from now, change?
I don't want to lend at these rates.
I'd rather just have the money in the bank.
But if you know the money in the bank is guaranteed to earn zero shouldn't you buy the bonds and finance them at zero?
And if you know that the nominal bond is priced on the arbitrage condition above, and you believe that inflation will be three percent,t hen if you short the bond and earn the overnight rate risk free, and buy the tip and pay the over night rate risk free,and you hold these positions to maturity, since they are both fungible for cash, then you are guaranteed to earn the difference between future CPI and the ex ante break-even, which is an unknown variable free to take any value.
If you had an opinion on the future rate of inflation you could express that view only because of the other variable being priced to remove arb.And the riddle you speak of which seems to be, why would you commit ex ante to a negative real return can be answered by saying arbitrage of the other instruments demands that only the break-even and not the real rate is solved for by the buyers and sellers in the tips market.
Then What is the real rate set by? That is a very tricky question. The answer is in the above, but not obviously.
Duncan Coker writes:
I believe selling the 5 year Tip and buying the 5 year bond would do better than 1.2% (anti negative real rate) and would actually capture the inflation rate of around 2%. Empirically if you convert them to zero coupon for calculations then sell the 5 year tip around 105, buy the 5 year bond at 95, this makes for a compounded return of around 2%, 10 profit, holding to maturing. But then again there is a reason I don't trade bonds much.
Michael Cohn comments:
I think of tips only in term of the real yield. It would take a very unusual set of circumstances to get me excited about investing in a situation where I can earn a negative real return. These bonds, if I recall all have CPI floors built into them so persistent deflation while sapping a bond of its built in inflation accretion can't turn the redemption figure below par. Each bond has a different sensitivity to the built up inflation component depending upon when issued. This is because the bond pays the same real coupon and the principal balance is adjusted by prior CPI (riding on a train so can't look up)
Certainly these bonds are one of the only high quality ways to hedge inflation. There are a number of global ways to do this but France, etc. Have bigger issues.
So what can happen when you short one of these. I wonder for those who can obtain info what the cost to borrow for the short is here. Obviously the overnight reinvestment is not a plus here.
Seems like I should expect to earn the real yield in this case which is a depreciation toward par but what is my short cost?
Tyler McClellan responds:
I set up my example clearly.
The reason the thirty year bond cannot be arbitraged to short term rates is very simple. There is no way to credibly make the claim that short term rates will be X for thirty years. There is no institution that can impose the stick. I put very little weight on all the other things. Its the fact that short terms rates could be radically different in the future that generates the volatility not the other way around. Long bonds are very convex and thus this is a major reason they should have a lower yield, offsetting the term premium.
Your examples about LTCM and MF Global are meaningless. Their assets were never fungible at 100 percent leverage for the overnight rate. The Fed conducts monetary policy by making cash and bonds of certain maturities exchangeable for each other at certain overnight rates. To compare this to MF global where the bonds are explicitly not instantaneously fungible with cash (euros) is very odd.
Your example about RV strategies in fixed income is a good counterpoint to the limits of arbitrage. I agree that a one year rate 29 years forward is not subject to the same laws of arbitrage as other instruments. This is for a simple reason. The one year rate 29 years forward is not something that is dynamically set in the market by participants trading until equilibrium. It is an artifice of other things that are traded in this manner and thus it "falls out" of other asset prices.
In general arbitrage is the mechanism by which the sum of views in the market derive their equilibrium condition. You have to have a variable that reflects some view for arbitrage to do heavy lifting. I cannot arbitrage a one day interest rate 17.75 years forward for the simple fact that there are no views on that variable and thus it is merely an artifice that arises from the ecology of the market.
As for mingling "real and nominal". You do not understand your own analysis. The market already believes that we will have about 2% inflation and is nonetheless holding cash at 0%. So the accepting of negative real returns ex ante exists in many markets as a necessary fall out of accepting other variable. To say that this comes from the TIPS market is strange. All the tips market does is allow people to have differing views on the future rate of inflation. Everything else is determined by much more liquid (and therefore likely to be subject to arbitrage pricing) markets.
You will get negative real returns (your vaunted guaranteed decline in real wealth (a phrase that I dont understand)) ex ante in either the nominal or the TIPS market. If you reread what you wrote, you will understand this has nothing to do with TIPS.
As for your last question. You already understand the answer rocky. You get more than PAR day one for being short the TIP.
1) take all those proceeds and reinvest them at the fed fund rate at the future path
2) and if inflation is equal to the breakeven-rate
3) then you will lose the real value of the capital lent to you at exactly the same rate that the market says the real value of the capital lent to you must go down ex ante.
Put another way,
1) you must earn the nominal return priced in the market,
2) experience the inflation rate priced into the market,
3) and deposit your funds at the monopoly price set by the FED,
then you are indifferent between the two outcomes and are guaranteed to earn the same negative return. Which is of course why there is a market. All of which i wrote a long time ago as a explanation for why it might make sense to be short tips but if an only if you could tell me why based on your estimate of the above three variables. Any speculation on the real rate is meaningless, it is not a variable one can have a view on outside of the above (if and this is a key assumption, cash money from the fed reserve is the unit of account you wish to sum all the steps across. Its very possible the real term structure of other commodities is different)
Rocky Humbert responds:
I will address your many points more specifically when I have some time. But I will make a very simple observation (which you ignored)….which has to do with the interactions between inflation and tax policy and the zero interest rate boundary problem.
Let's assume a simple Taylor rule and that the fed sets overnight funds at inflation+100 basis points. Let's further assume a marginal tax rate of 30%.
Case I) Let's assume that inflation is running at 5%. Then fed funds is 6%. Then my after-tax nominal return = 0.7x 6% = 4.2% and my after-tax real return is negative 0.8%.
Case II) Let's assume that inflation is 2%. Then fed funds is 3%…and my after-tax nominal return = 0.7×3%= 2.1% and my after-tax real return is positive 0.1%.
Case III) Let's assume that inflation is NEGATIVE 2%. Then fed funds is 0% … and my after-tax nominal return = 0%, but my after-tax real return is positive 2%.
This is a clear example where real after tax returns behave in counter-intuitive ways…. and so the apparent negative return on TIPS might have less to do with inflation expectations per se, and more to do with the tax effects…. (or more succinctly, an investor in Case III above would be willing to buy a tip that has a negative 2% real yield and would be indifferent to case II, where the same TIP has a +100 real yield.) Just a thought
Tyler McClellan writes:
Very true. I once worked with Paul McCulley on the tax implications of same. As you never posed that as a question I didn't address it.
I agree with your points and thing it is a modest contributor the the current equilibrium pricing.
Philip J. McDonnell writes:
I think one point that has not really been made in this discussion is that TIPS are paid back at the greater of inflation adjusted value or par. This means that they have an implied deflation protector built in.
It is like a deflation put which has intrinsic value in and of itself. In many ways we are in a deflationary environment caused by the great credit bubble unwinding throughout the world economy.
Gary Rogan comments:
I just scanned the riddle discussion. It seems to me that the reason you can't make money shorting TIPS is like the obviously idiotic action of shorting dollars in dollars. Let's say you decide to short a million dollars, and sell it to someone for a million. That's what shorting is, and yet you are in exactly the same situation as you once were.
If TIPs are losing purchasing power against a basket of commodities, but dollars are losing it faster, if you short TIPS you get something that loses purchasing power even faster than TIPS, hence no gain. If you could find a way to get paid for your shorted TIPS with a basket of commodities, and there is high inflation, you can buy them back with fewer commodities, so you make a profit.
One is never better off talking their book.
True in so many ways:
If you speak of a position you hold, not only peers smirk you are talkin' your book, a pressure builds up that starts seeking what you spoke must happen. Rabbit holes of all sorts get clogged and only one remaining open is your forecast. Bad trading.
If you speak of a position you could have taken then too much pressure comes from peers that you may be talking your own book while its not true. Pressure gets released that you are not going wrong if forecast is wrong and then the pressure also becomes immense if you are really right but don't have the position.
Trading or talking well are both rare abilities on a stand-alone basis and definitely a feat when done together well.
October 10, 2011 | Leave a Comment
The stock market today [Thursday 2011/10/06] is gunning it into the close ahead of a good jobs number tomorrow?
James Lackey responds:
I dunno Mr Ken, and I don't care about such things. The number will be produced by the random news generator at best or rigged by The Man at worst… but it's not a meal for a lifetime… Please do not send such comments! Thank you.
Anatoly Veltman writes:
Lack, this is not about the number. It's about expectation, based on market moves ahead of the number. The lesson to me is calendar-based trading - where money is made because the number is scheduled. Not because you know the number. Is there lesson in that?
Rocky Humbert issues a challenge:
You guys want a meal for a lifetime? How about this meal for the day:
Here are the most likely NFP numbers:
A) between -100k and -50k
B) between -50k and 0
C) between 0 and +50k
D) between 50k and 100k
The person who best assigns a 4pm SPX closing price to each of these 4 choices — and gets the answer right within 10 spx points — will receive a dinner voucher for 2 at my favorite restaurant. (That is, an acceptable submission would look like A=1102, B=1120, C=1160, D=1190.)
The purpose of this challenge is to demonstrate that EVEN IF you knew the NFP, you still won't be able to accurately predict the market's reaction (unless it's a complete outlier).
The judge's decision is final.
Sushil Kedia responds:
Without any intent to contest the judges decision, my two humble cents:
A reflexivist, who often is a winner in the markets, may need to put up an answer most of the time, as E = 1155, irrespective of where the NFP numbers come.
If the judge so wishes that it may be proper for a complete illustration on the futility of information being beyond markets, may consider providing such a fifth choice. Up to the judge.
The unemployment number is released at 8:30am Eastern Time on Friday. Rocky Humbert responds:
Mr. Collins: One notes that the NFP headline number was 103k — which was above the choice D range (+50k to +100k). The judges are conferring as to whether this constitutes a scratch. They will announce their decision forthwith.
Nonetheless, and for good order, here were the entries in the contest:
Anatoly: SP will drop 90 points
Jonathan Bower: 1125 1125 1125 1125
Mr. Rogan: 1130 1140 1150 1170
Tim Collins: 1099.22 1119.66 1131.24 1149.86
Sushil Kedia: An "unlawful entry" of 1155 in all cases. (Because of his "unlawful entry," from this day forward, Sushil shall be known as Mister Meanor.).
Alex Forshaw: 1155 - 25= 1130; 1155 - 35= 1120 ; 1155 - 45 = 1110; 1155- 55 = 1100
Rocky Humbert writes further:
I am penning this at 3:43pm — and due to the impending holiday, I need to leave early and hence will not know the final challenge result for about 30 hours. The point of this challenge was to convincingly demonstrate that EVEN IF one knows a macro data point in advance, it's frequently impossible to know Mr. Market's reaction. The signal-to-noise ratio is simply too low. Whether or not my primary point is accepted, (as of this moment) it looks like I've also convincingly demonstrated an equally important truth: "Even a blind squirrel finds a nut." (Or more accurately, it looks like Mr. Rogan has won the challenge.) But I cannot depart for my day of atonement on that note. Tomorrow (Yom Kippur) ends the Ten Days of Repentance (Aseret Y'mai Teshuvah).
It is a requirement that during this period, one must make amends to those whom we may have hurt in the past; and to ask for and to grant forgiveness to those who ask for it. It is not sufficient to ask God for his forgiveness. One must ask for the forgiveness from one's fellow man. Mindful of the fact that I've dished out some harsh words over the past year to some of you — and I apologize for that — and I hope that you forgive me. It's especially poignant that Mr. Rogan appears to be the winner of the challenge, as he has been the target of some of my more vituperative slings — I apologize to you Mr. Rogan — and I'll try to do better in the year, 5772.
Gary Rogan responds:
Hey Rocky, it appears that I may not have won after all, but I appreciate your apology although no offense had been taken. You made me realize how important it is to take the Prozac regularly instead of at random intervals and varying amounts so it's all good. Happy atonement!
Rocky Humbert responds:
I have re-emerged from atonement and post-atonement eating to find an envelope with the judge's FINAL decision. The winner is: Mr. Tim Collins who was within 6 points. The biggest loser is Sushil (aka Mister Meanor), who almost perfectly nailed the closing price, but because he was more interested in sounding smart than being right, he is guilty of a misdemeanor charge of "unlawful entry" s and walks away empty-handed. There is a meal for a lifetime here too. If Mr. Tim will mail me his US Mail address (off-site), his dinner voucher for 2 at my favorite restaurant will be posted forthwith. Thank you to all for participating and demonstrating many useful points.
If time is defined as a measure of seperated-ness of events then,
i) Does time not exist in vacuum, where there are no events?
ii) Does time not exist in black holes, where there are no events?
Analogously to someone watching the tape tick by tick (HFT guys you are doing that, only, albeit with faster machines than most others) market-time does not exist in a price jump / gap? Market-time does not exist when at a single tick very large volume occurs?
How can such a perspective alter any enterprises modelling markets on (dis)continuous time, in any more profitable ways than the traditional ones?
Funny thing, did you know Domino Pizza's subsidiary in India is called Jubilant Foodworks. It's listed. It does about 1/6th the revenues and profits of the original US based Dominos. Yet the market cap of Indian Dominos is more than the US Dominos!
What does this say? Scarcity of stock? Cornered position in a few strong hands? Does the many times larger P/E of Indian Dominos than the parent imply in any way that Indians will provide greater growth to Dominos than Americans?
I would say, the story unfolds as the price does, and all logical/fundamental explanations are determined by the colour of the pit.
Greetings to the Specs gathering at the Speculators Party 2011.
I would have loved to meet all at this looked forward to event, but able to travel into New York only in early September.
So here is my question, does the parabolic zoom in gold recently qualify to be a candidate for inspecting if a Lobogalaesque thud will come now?
What are the good ways to be on the lookout for a parabolic move to be turning into a Lobogalaesque detour, in general?
A Currency Note is akin to a Time Insensitive Zero Coupon Bond with zero regard to the idea of Inflation. Whether you present it now or a year later the Promissory Note that a Currency Note is will provide you with goods or whatever you have agreed to obtain against it at the face value that day.
Over simplification being a standard problem of modelling, the diversification with cash idea propounded by Markowitz is a numerical illusion. Since the face value of cash does not change it dampens volatility. We understand high school level Mathematica. Thank you very much Mr. Markowitz for showing us how by doing nothing one can reduce risk. I as a student of markets am interested in figuring out how can I reduce my risk while I am still doing something.
Yet, things could have been still tolerable had the negative rate of return on cash implicit due to unavoidable inflation would have been plugged in somewhere in the diversification model.
Holding cash for dampening volatility for a very short period of time is fine. But then Portfolio Management is such an aggrandized term that traders cannot even come remotely close to it and has to be a long term religion. How does anyone ever reduce risk by holding onto a guaranteed to lose investment in their portfolios?
Using even my high School standards only Maths I cannot accept to believe ever that cash that keeps getting trashed over time in value will ever add anything but negative returns in my portfolio and even if a theoretically flawed calculation of a dampened volatility is accepted as still correct then too bring me to a higher utility curve.
The higher investment utility curves built using cash to me appear similar to claims of reaching higher states of consciousness by starving. All I have known people reaching is altered states of consciousness by starving.
Hold cash and starve. Simple. Why do I need a celebrated model and an entire marketplace revolving around such a flawed reasoning. Well I need this since without such mass hysteria, where is the money to be made?
Mr. Krisrock writes:
Cash is a proxy for the currency… that's why the Japanese bond market can be among the best performers despite near zero rates. Smart bond men are willing to accept zero if the total return is simply the currency appreciation. Ask John Taylor he called all this…
Sushil Kedia replies:
I cannot agree more with your point here. Accepting zero interest is fine if the interest rates on other currencies are higher and thus the currency in which the zero interest rate bond is denominated will appreciate.
Yet that is a different point.
I am only crying over the years consumed in living with Portfolio Theory that was drilled down my brains in the MBA days.
Between any two occurrences what changes is time. This is true in life other than in markets. For a life in the markets, between penury and wealth what changes is price. Between a well funded account and a margin call, what changes is price. A mere change of time as known in the world will not bring by these changes in a life in the markets. But a change in price will bring these by. So, an equivalent notion of time in markets is then price. It is the connecting thread on which all change propagates.
In this frame of thinking then, measuring progress or regress of one's affair with the markets then against only time is at best half the story or likely less than half. The real story is in measuring things against price. Two stocks both move the same dollar amount over the same time period but one was priced at 100 and the other 200, for example, when you opened the long position. Obviously your capital and you succeeded more with the stock priced at 100.
Now measuring things against price may be more than half the story. Yet, life in the markets has more and immediate refinements. The stock at 100 may move the same amount as the stock at 200 and yet the stock at 100 may waver around a lot more. So not only do we need to measure our enterprise against price but also the likely distribution of prices or the risk undertaken and risk realized.
Time, continues to stick in our brains, being the primordial human instinct. Life in the markets is contested against the primordial instincts of avoiding risk. Market is a place where human beings contest their abilities at claiming better understanding of uncertainty (risk).
Compared to all other forms of human enterprises from the arts, sports, sciences, war, love, cooking, eating, family matters to any thing, the market is a place that requires one to be past one's most basic instinct of time. Of course, who does not time the markets, with some acknowledging it and some not acknowledging the act of timing. Yet, neither the timers nor the self-advertised non-timers are both playing a game that at best is only half as good.
The beauty of the beast called the market then expands to another dimension. You cannot even debate creating time or reversing time. But prices reverse all the time and it is still an ongoing debate if prices can be created. Well some do it most of the time.
With this humble thread of thought, do I get any clues from anyone if the Einsteinian equivalence of time and distance can be modified to include not just the price as holding some equivalence relationship with time, but the distribution of price along with it may fit into some sort of equivalence with price?
With the President being so concerned with the markets on Monday in the absence of a debt deal, is this not a test of who is calling the tune? Bernanke points to the Russell 2000 to judge QE2 a success. Does the market have to come down Monday to keep the theme alive? I would think if non-Governmental market participants had their say, they would rally stocks as a giant middle finger to the President. Who is he to invoke markets?
Gary Rogan writes:
It's a test whether the truth can triumph in spite of all the propaganda
Sushil Kedia adds:
The Zimbabwean markets went up like something….. with their QE ad infinitum. Eventually the only thing everyone needed to buy was chastity locks…
A village wrestler in the rustic state of Haryana in India, so goes the story, used to be the only one to keep huge moustaches. Tipped nicely and pointing to the sky it stood clear to all the moustaches were a mark of his power over the villagers.
One day, the village grocer decided its time for him to sport similar moustaches. He grew his. Tipped nicely and pointing to the sky his moustaches matched the apparent mojo the wrestler’s displayed.
Now, in a village only one could be the supreme. The wrestler presented himself promptly at the grocer’s on hearing about the other big moustache. He challenged the grocer into a duel. The one who wins should be the one entitled to keep his mouche.
The grocer scratched his head. He proffered, why create a fight and enmity that will go on forever. Whoever loses will leave his kin come forward and challenge another duel and so on and so forth. So, instead he proposed that they should fix up a date for a full fledged fight between the two clans – the grocer’s vs the wrestler’s and a time and day three months from then was finalized. Both agreed to assemble all there relatives, friends and well wishers to partake from their sides.
The wrestler sent over message to all the nearby villages calling for all his kind to assemble and build bodies and prepare for the coming fight in 90 days. The grocer continued to sell goods at his grocery. The wrestlers bought milk, butter, cheese, fruits, meats and nuts day in and day out. The big wrestler with the mouche was of course financing the preparation of bodies for the big fight. Scores of wrestlers were keeping gobbling the goodies, pushing iron, pressing benches and raising the village dust for 90 days.
On the day of the appointed fight the wrestler roared outside the grocer’s establishment with his well built battalion of four scores of other wrestlers, all well fed and well prepared.
The grocer came out of his shop. Surveyed the well built bodies, folded both his hands in obeisance and twirled his own moustache down and offered to shave it off conceding defeat. The wrestlers laughed at his cowardice. The grocer still said he was sorry and went back to his shop, took a razor and shaved off the moustache immediately before all.
The wrestlers went back to their respective villages The big wrestler was left with his huge moustache all alone again in the village. He was also left now with a pawned house, sold off oxens and a pile of debt on his head.
Moral of the story:
1) There is no money in ego.
2) Money is power. Power may not be money.
3) Humility, at the right time, pays.
Now, in the global village one worries if China is the village wrestler or the village grocer.
On one hand West has kept on funding one bubble after another. Bubble not in the traditional financial markets’ context, but a more simplistic one, funding consumption beyond the means of the consumers. Yet on the other hand China has been supplying to global consumers at prices below which no sensible producer of any goods should be selling.
China too has gone ahead funding its asset financing spirals. Company A listed on the stock market in Shanghai holds 30% of Company B listed there which holds 30% in company C and so on and so forth. Talking about the opacity of Chinese numbers, whether at the Corporate level or at the level of aggregate Government released data is as good as passe’. No one bothers to even talk about it now.
One wonders if after a 100 years a bestseller would be written with the title, “Extraordinary delusions of Economists and Madness of Central Bankers” based on what this world is right now doing and pushing itself to.
Every Government, every Central Banker and every Treasury Chancellor in today’s world has is mouche twirled up and pointing to the sky. Lets see who will turn out to be humble, wise grocer shaving the mouche off, in time. Any thoughts?
Wall Street Raider is a computer software game. Costs less than 20 Dollars. Fairly imaginative in including short sales, options, commodities, running ticker tape, ability spread rumors, inflict and defend lawsuits, mergers, greenmailers, LBOs. Changing economic scenarios, FED policies, ability to maneuver earnings of companies you control, multiple players possible, stock splits, changing banks, tax free liquidations, taxable liquidations, buying tax assessed loss making companies for reducing taxes, synthetic database of 1500 unique companies created each time you start the game with corporation names as colorful as JPM Wall Street et al make this a fairly educative widget to have.
Young minds at home curious enough to know what pa is doing but running out of questions will find this a good resource to cut their teeth on, acquire newer curiosities and one never knows if playing with hypothetical dollars a few beer and pizza challenges real life traders can achieve greater conceptual clarities of their own response mechanisms to various market stimuli.
Researching companies with certain attributes such as ROI > X or P/E <Y is possible too. Share buybacks, bond call-ins etc etc. much stuff loaded here.
You can download a trial version before purchasing.
I would recommend a good explore rating to this one, over any action thriller games or any other mumbo jumbo that our kids get exposed to on computers easily these days. Time for my 12 year old to inquire why should bonds go up if FED moves from a neutral to easy money policy.
May 12, 2011 | 7 Comments
The Winners of the least effort contest were jointly in a tie. Mr. Gary Rogan and Mr. Steve Ellison. I will split the prize between them. The creative and physical ideas of Mr. Rogan were very excellent and best of all, but there was no testing. Mr. Ellison gave a great test, and a complete answer, but Rogan can't be denied his place either. vic
I'll give a prize of 1000 to the person or locus of his choice that comes up with the best way to test the principle of least action or a related principle of least effort.
It's in honor of my grandfather. Whenever I'd ask him which way he thought the market would go he'd say, "I think the path of least resistance is down" starting with Dow 200 in 1950. We need some more quantification around here.
You might consider max to min or a path through a second market back to home. Or round to round? Or amount of volume above or blow. Or angle of ascent versus angle of descent. Or time to a past goal versus the future? Or some mirror image or least absolute deviation stuff?
Sushil Kedia writes:
With utmost humility and clearly no cultivated sense of any derision for the Fourth Estate, I would submit that since it is the public that is always flogged and moves last, the opinions of all media writers, tv anchors are the catalysts, the penultimate leg of the opinion curve. A test of the opinions of the fourth estate on the markets would provide the most ineffective wall of support or so called resistances. Fading the statistically calculated opinion meter (if one can devise one such a 'la an IBES earnings estimate a media estimate of market opinion) and go against it consistently over a number of trades, one is bound to come out a winner. Can I test it? Yes its a testable proposition, subject to accumulation of data.
Alston Mabry writes:
The following graph (attached and linked) is not an answer but an exploration of the "least effort" idea. It shows, for SPY daily since August last year, the graph of two quantities:
1. The point change for the SPY over the previous ten trading days.
2. The rolling 10-day sum of the High-Low-previous-Close spread, i.e., "max(previous Close, High) minus min(previous Close, Low)". This spread is a convenient measure of volatility.
Notice how these quantities move in tight ranges for extended periods. These tight ranges are some measure of "least effort", i.e., the market getting from point A to point B in an efficient fashion. As one would expect, the series gyrate when the market takes a temporary downturn. Also note how when one of the quantities swings above or below it's mean or "axis", it seems to need to swing back the other way to rebalance the system.
Bill Rafter writes:
This nicely illustrates how relative high volatility is bearish on future price action.
Jim Sogi writes:
The path of least resistance would be the night session. Low liquidity allows market mover to move market. Every one is asleep. Dr. S did a study some years ago. Updating shows total day sessions yielding 94 pt, but night session yielding 232 points. Don't sleep…stay up all night or move to Singapore. Recent action is in line with hypothesis.
Bill Rafter writes:
Haugen's "The Beast on Wall Street" (i.e. volatility) came to the conclusion that if you want less volatility in the markets, keep them closed more, to essentially force the liquidity into specified periods. That is, 24 hour markets promote volatility. Or a corollary was that a market is never volatile when it is closed. [this is from memory and I may also be regurgitating from a personal conversation with him]. An oft cited example is the period in the summer of 1968 when equities were closed on Wednesdays to enable the back offices to get up to date with their paperwork and deliveries. During that time the Tuesday close to Thursday opening was less volatile than expected (twice the daily overnight vol).
One could take this thought and stretch it to say that the periods of least resistance would be those without heavy participation. One could easily compare the normalized range (High/Low) of those periods versus the same of the well-participated periods.
Craig Mee writes:
You would have to think that in 68 there was sufficient control of price and news dissemination. In these times of high speed everything, that this could create bottlenecks and add to the volatility. No doubt a bit of time to cool the heels i.e limit down and up for the day restrictions, is a reasonable action, even if it goes against "fair open and transparent markets" but unfortunate it seems little is these days.
Bill Rafter replies:
I should have been more specific about the research: take the current normalized range for those periods of high liquidity (when the NY markets are open) and compare that to the normalized range of the premarket and postmarket periods. Do it for disjoint periods (but all in recent history) so you don't have any autocorrelation. My belief is that you will find there is less volatility intra-period during the high liquidity times. While you are at that you can also check to see during which period you get greater mean-reversion versus new direction.
If that research were to show that (for example) you had greater intra-period volatility during the premarket and postmarket times, and that those times also evidenced greater mean-reversion, you could then conclude that those were the times of least resistance. That would answer Vic's question. Okay, now what? Well you could then support an argument that with high volatility and mean reversion you should run (or mimic running) a specialist book during those times. That's not something I myself am interested in doing as it would require additional staff, but those of you with that capacity should consider it, if you are not yet doing so.
Historical sidebar: '68 was a bubble period caused in part by strange margin rules that enabled those in the industry to carry large positions for no money. The activity created paper problems as the back offices were still making/requiring physical delivery of stock certificates. The exchanges closed trading on Wednesday to enable the back offices to have another workday to clear the backlog. The "shenanigan index" was high during that time.
Phil McDonnell writes:
Bill, you said "During that time the Tuesday close to Thursday opening was less volatile than expected (twice the daily overnight vol)."
For a two day period and standard deviation s then the two day standard deviation should be sqrt(2)s or 1.4 s. So the figure of twice the volatility would seem higher than expected.
Or am I missing something?
Steve Ellison submits this study:
The traditional definition of resistance is a price level at which it is expected there will be a relatively large amount of stock for sale. Starting from this point, my idea was that liquidity providers create resistance to price movements. If a stock price moved up a dollar on volume of 10,000 shares, it would suggest more resistance than if the price moved up a dollar on volume of 5,000 shares. To test this idea, I used 5-minute bars of one of my favorite stocks, CHSI. To better separate up movement from down movement, for each bar I calculated the 75th and 25th percentiles of 5-minute net changes during the past week. If the current bar was in the 75th percentile or above, I added the price change and volume to the up category. If the current bar was in the 25th percentile or below, I added the price change and volume to the down category. Looking back 200 bars, I divided the total up volume by the total up price change to calculate resistance to upward movement. I divided total down volume by the total down price change to calculate resistance to downward movement. I divided the upward resistance by the downward resistance to identify the path of least resistance. If the quotient was greater than 1, the past of least resistance was presumed to be downward; if the quotient was less than 1, the path of least resistance was upward.
Previous 200 bars Up Date Time Up Points Volume Down Points Volume Resistance 3/25/2011 15:50 53 6.49 99431 61 -7.38 149867 15311 Down Resistance Actual Resistance Ratio net change 20310 0.754 -0.03
Unfortunately, the correlation of the resistance ratio to the actual
price change of the next bar was consistent with randomness.
It's interesting to see the big gaps, active overnight sessions, and sleepy daytime session in SP. Seems overseas traders are starting to wag the dog.
Sushil Kedia writes:
The Senator taught me a trick when he was in Mumbai almost five years ago to treat the overnight gaps as the cost the public is paying and the intraday range as the action of the pros.
Overseas or local, the battle is fought in that same pit. Senator's attitude to gaps left a few meals for a lifetime.
What would be the correct way of running a multiple correlation to check this theses that a major part of the Rsquared comes from the DXY? Run one with it and one without it and see the R squared. Perhaps not enough. How much of the variation is explained by DXY amongst a bouquet of "relevant" variables.
Perhaps I am trying asking too many questions in a single one. Quants on the list will perhaps not mind tossing me out of the kitchen table with just a few strokes of their insightful knives.
Bill Rafter writes:
What would be the correct way of running a multiple correlation to check this theses that a major part of the Rsquared comes from the DXY? Run one with it and one without it and see the R squared. Perhaps not enough. How much of the variation is explained by DXY amongst a bouquet of "relevant" variables.
Perhaps I am trying asking too many questions in a single one. Quants on the list will perhaps not mind tossing me out of the kitchen table with just a few strokes of their insightful knives.
April 19, 2011 | Leave a Comment
While India is a place today with intensifying struggle against corruption, here is an effort from the establishment to create divergence in the objectives of the bribe giver and the bribe taker by proposing that giving bribes should be no longer considered illegal such as the bribe giver can co-operate in the investigastions. Well it has its own bundle of issues for sure since the creative abound.
A Paper by the Chief Economic Advisor the Finance Ministry, Government of India argues this & is available here.
March 30, 2011 | Leave a Comment
Cricket is played at all places where the English language has been, from across the Indian Sub-continent, South Africa, Australia, West Indies and even in Canada. America doesn't play this game. What could be the significance of this? America innovates its own games? Soccer played the American way is very distinct from how its played elsewhere, for an example.What do the sports historians trace this to?
Does this reflect a certain way in which America has come to be what it is and can it provide any insights on how markets and business in general may have been structured differently for, social innovation factors, if any that may have brought a different way of team sports and games in America?
Stefan Jovanovich comments:
Baseball is a direct descendant of another British game - rounders, which was played by the Scots and the Irish. Cricket was the "polite" game played by the English; rounders was the "rowdy" one played by the people whose allegiance to the Crown was dodgy at best. As the Brittanica entry illustrates, "rounders" has had to be banished from the official record on both sides of the Atlantic: in Britain because it is a reminder of the awful days of real disunion and in the U.S. because we all know baseball was invented by Abner Doubleday.
March 24, 2011 | Leave a Comment
There was an interesting story recently about how actress Anne Hathaway impacts the share price of the Sage's firm. I wonder if someone created a fund called the B3rks#ire Black Swan fund and hired a capable Search Engine Optimisation specialist then what would happen?
The stock price of the firm will be in permanent declines or robotic trading firms will get shocked again and again?
JPY/USD is at a 40 year high!
So is USD/CHF !!
But then Gold/USD is also at a forty year highs!!! Yet neither of the AUD, the CAD nor the ZAR are at 40 year highs!!
And then the so called Big Growth stories of the world India and China have their INR/USD and CNY/USD about 1/7th and 1/4ths of their 40 year highs currently.
Long live the Long Term Funnymentals!!
Whoever said that markets can be irrational in the short term and hence go for those long term bets!!
Ahh… Keynes did say markets can be irrational for longer than you can be solvent. But I doubt if he too had been able to visualize that markets can be so incoherent for such long stretches of time.
So many different kinds of monies and so many different ways in which they are incoherent with each other.
The arithmetic of money is neither additive nor multiplicative. What sort of arithmetic is the world of money following in this world, in the last forty years? Where is the key to Rebecca?
March 18, 2011 | Leave a Comment
The Occam's Razor Principle roughly paraphrased would mean that when there are several explanations possible for any phenomenon usually the simplest is the best.
All fundamental logic would point to a weaker yen and all weak hands were tipping their hats to that side.
The smart, if someone will not call them the crooked, have a reason thus, that since there is only so much money in the pot at any point in time, to tip theirs the other way round.
Stops and risk management ideologies and what have you created a lobogola compressed in time.
Sherlock Holmes or not, it's elementary my dear.
Anatoly Veltman writes:
I'll add, and believe me not– I knew it all along Wed/Thu– the reversal was imminent. The only question was: were there inside parties, with ability to skim off the top. My guess was: yes, in modern virtual finance those parties are ever-present and almost infallible. So here you go: push the thin ice when no one is looking - and all they will see is a geyser!
I'm sure that bottom-feeders were put out of their misery on a split-second 76.50/77.50 quote between the US and Japan sessions: bought back their Yen, closed out at 76.50; end of their account…
"Progress is cumulative in science and engineering but cyclical in finance"
Which part of this claim is more likely to be untrue?
JAB says it most briefly, "when you progress far enough, you arrive at the beginning". Very long term cycle he has in mind when he says this. Is progress in Science and Engineering really cylical? Does a new discovery or a new principle come by only after leading to unbearable frustrations as in expressed by "necessity is the mother of all invention?"
Perhaps we will all agree the cycles of finance are far shorter in span than those of Science and Engineering. Why?
Steve Ellison writes:
The scientific method leads to cumulative progress. To be tested scientifically, a proposition must be falsifiable. Are the Black Eyed Peas superior to Beethoven? There is no objective way to answer that question.
Much science is governed by unchanging physical properties, unlike finance. Once it is established that one can construct a heavier than air flying machine, later innovators can be confident that will continue to be true and move on to improving designs, for example increasing speed. There are no flexions able to change the characteristics of the atmosphere to prevent planes from flying.
February 4, 2011 | 2 Comments
An update on the results:
4.58 32.7 J***** Albert 0.86 8.21 Jack Tierny 0.69 7.06 Pitt Maner 0.58 6.34 Chris Tucker 0.57 6.33 William Weaver 0.49 5.78 Jan-Peter Janssen 0.39 5.1 Marlowe Cassetti 0.37 4.96 Bill Rafter 0.24 4.15 Sam Eisenstadt 0.24 4.14 Vince Fulco 0.24 4.1 Steve Ellisson 0.19 3.77 Anton Johnson 0.13 3.4 Laurel Kenner 0.11 3.24 Sushil Kedia 0.04 2.84 Scott Brooks 0.02 2.71 Gary Rogan 0.01 2.62 Pete Earle -0.05 2.22 Kim Zussman -0.07 2.07 Russ Sears -0.1 1.9 Yanki Onen -0.16 1.48 Michael Bonderer -0.28 0.73 George Parkanyi -0.28 0.73 Tim Melvin -0.62 -1.5 Gordon Haave -0.64 -1.66 Victor Niderhoffer -0.65 -1.72 Dan Grossman -0.87 -3.19 Paolo Pezzutti -0.88 -3.26 Ken Drees -0.89 -3.29 Mr. Krisrock -0.94 -3.64 J. T. Holley -0.98 -3.93 John Floyd -1.02 -4.15 Jay Pasch -1.32 -6.1 Matthew -14.93 -95.7 Phil McDonnell
Suppose each of these performances are the prior information of performance at end of 1 month (say one month), the underlying strategies are known to all participants.
With the respective performances so far, assuming each participant was given X amount of house money to begin the bets, what would with these priors now:
1) Each participant do further if one more X was given to them, if a) They could choose between betting any incremental amounts only on the existing strategy or holding the existing strategy. A wage earner faces this choice at each month end. Why? b) they are allowed to bet on any of the others' strategy including reducing exposure to the current strategy. Why?
2) What would the public do if these were say a closed set of the only bets available ? Why?
Note: this is not part of any process of the Investment Contest. Just the curiosities of one of the hungry minds. No comments is as fine as any detailed or brief comments. Please do not treat this as an opportunity to bet more as its not authorised by the Contest Sponsor and List owner.
With garagantuan formulaic trading bots manned with thousands of smart processors and up to 100 billions in management etc. in multitudes, are there advance warning signals (predictive signals) of moves emanating from different markets of similar nature with lags of few hours to few days?
This struck me hard again as a thought, when on Saturday I was discussing with a trader with large exposure to Kospi2 Futures that unless this contract hit a territory below a certain number on Monday I would urge that shorts be closed there. He fumed asking why should they not continue to slide, what with the massive down-day in Americas on Friday. I maintained that I would ignore all other things at this time like one should at all points in time and focus only on the price action in that pit.
It turned out, both of us were wrong.
He related an action in America as the cause while Korea was giving indications of a rise ahead. Driving by looking at the rear view mirror?
My mistakes are two-fold:
1) Not only I should have been conscious that potentially all markets are generating signals with leads or lags and focusing only on that price pit that is opening earliest is not correct.
2) America rose and Korea did not. Ha ha. Ever changing cycles!
Now to the main business of this post, for the list that is focused on finding testable ideas and testing them:
Can one not look at assembling series of hourly or some such appropriate intra-day price data for many markets from across the globe and arrange to see as the Sun moves from the East to the West if by varying the weightages of each market with the movement of the heavens if a combined global market price equation will provide some kind of logit / probit models that can explain intertwined market behaviours ?
Volume, to me from the back-benches of the Market Microstructure class, is a struggle for the discovery of price. Increase in struggle is a reduction in the polarity of the prevailing meme.
Open Interest, to me from the similar back-benches of the Market Microstructure class, is variation in the participation of the struggle of price discovery. This could be number of trading strategies at work, number of trading minds at work. To this simpleton mind larger open interest implies increasing complexity of bets and reduced open interest means increasing simplicity of bets for a straighter payoff.
So, reduction in open interest if coming more from larger specs than smaller ones would imply the struggle for price discovery is shifting within the minnows and if the small specs are reducing the open interest it means the bigger boys are struggling harder against each other.
The first scenario would likely lead to a change in meme (a.k.a. a change in trend) and the second scenario would likely mean a large jump in prices due to the smaller fish being reduced in numbers in the food chain.
Experts on COT Analysis, your stab please?
Kurt Specht writes:
My guess, and it's purely a guess, is that large companies are getting spooked by the recent run up and are more aggressively hedging through their intermediaries to protect against additional upside during the year. I'm speaking of large manufacturing companies that would see escalation in their production costs and could have their bottom lines impacted negatively for this year if they don't lock in their energy costs now.
A card game I played a lot in my school days we called "who is bluffing?". It was based on the bids each of the four players would make on the total points they were going to score and where the Queen of Spades, a full thirteen points, would be. The winner would be the one making the least points.
On an uncommon day such as today when equities, most of the commodities, and the Dollar are all up together, one can't help but reminisce about the simpler days of "Who is bluffing?".
Headlines like these make one ask "who is bluffing?"
J.T Holley asks:
I haven't done this one in awhile but historically thinkin' about the asset classes stocks, bonds, commodities, real estate, and art/collectibles, I would be inclined to say that off the cuff (countin' faux pax) that the two classes that start with S and C are correlated more than the ones that start with B, R, and A.
Dare I mention that Mr. Total Return has been on record that Ibbotson's SSBI and Triumph of the Optimists are two coffee table books he has out in his home. Wonder what he thinks of this and game of Spades?
Remembering the SBBI text that Morningstar own's now, Somehow magically everyone forgets that in one of the most highest inflationary times in the last 50 years equities did quite well to keep up and crank out above historical returns.
The above is obviously a broad, non-tested statement utilizing memory from texts read. please take and do your own countin' before making your bets or how many tricks you can take.
I just pulled a rudimentary spreadsheet that had the following from Jan' 70 to Dec '05 that I did, wow six years ago? Both returns are CAGR.
S&P 500 GS Commodity
Avg - 11.13 12.45
STD - 17.06 21.35
Tons of stuff to poke holes in these numbers 1) Fiat currency infancy with dollar 2) trendfollowers early dream come true in '70's 3) weighting of GSCI 4) only 7 NBER recessions in that period Dec '69 - Nov '70 was a short one to begin the study 5) historically it includes peak inflation apex points of '75 and '80 6) many many more things that I don't know and am ignorant of.
Speaking of strategy in Spades, I'd much rather be holdin' the Queen on the deal than to have it amongst the other three at the table. Especially if I have at least 3 more Spades in my hand and only two other cards of another suit.
Sushil, I've played Spades, thousands of hands (Navy game onboard ships), and also Hearts. Isn't Spades the objective to get the lowest points to be the winner, but Hearts the one where you bet tricks or hands taken being 13 total a la "Boston"? It seems to me the game you mentioned "who is bluffing" is a joint venture of both combined? I'd like to know the game as I'm a card playing fanatic and love to learn new games?
December 31, 2010 | 61 Comments
- 31 Spec-listers contributed to the 2011 Investment Contest with "specific" recommendations.
- Average 4 recommendations per person (mean of 4.2, median and mode of 4) came in.
- 6 contestants gave only 1 recommendation, 3 gave only 2 and thus 9 out of the total 31 have NOT given the minimum 3 recommendations needed as per the Rules clarified by Ken Drees.
- The Hall of Fame entry for the largest number of ideas (did someone say diversification?) is from Tim Melvin, close on whose heels are J. T. Holley with 11 and Ken Drees with 10.
- The most creatively expressed entry of course has come from Rocky Humbert.
- At this moment 17 out of 31 contestants are in positive performance territory, 14 are in negative performance territory.
- Barring a major outlier of a 112.90% loss on the Option Strategy of Phil McDonnell (not accounting for the margin required for short options, but just taking the ratio of initial cash inflow to outflow):
- Average of all Individual contestant returns is -2.54% and the Standard Deviation of returns achieved by all contestants is 5.39.
- Biggest Gainer at this point is Jared Albert (with his all in single stock bet on REFR) with a 22.87% gain. The only contestant a Z score greater than 2 ( His is actually 4.72 !!)
- Biggest Loser at this point (barring the Giga-leveraged position of Mr. McDonnell) is Ken Drees at -10.36% with a Z Score that is at -1.45.
- Wildcards have not been accounted for as at this point, with wide
deviations of recommendations from the rules specified by most. While 9
participants have less than 3 recommendations, those with more than 4
include several who have not chosen to specify which 3 are their primary recommends. Without clarity on a universal measurability wildcard accounting is on hold. Those making more than 1 recommendations would find that their aggregate average return is derived by taking a sum of returns of individual positions divided by the number of recommends. Unless specified by any person that positions are taken in a specific ratio its equal sums invested approach.
- A total of 109 contracts are utilized by the contestants across bonds, equity indices (Nikkei, Kenyan Stocks included too!), commodities, currencies and individual stock positions.
- The ratio of Shorts to Longs across all recommendations, irrespective of the type of contract (call, put, bearish ETF etc.) is 4 SELL orders Vs 9 Buy Orders. Not inferring that this list is more used to pressing the Buy Button. Just an occurence on this instance.
- The Average Return, so far, on the 109 contracts utilized is -1.26% with a Standard Deviation of 12.42%. Median Return is 0.39% and the mode of Returns of all contracts used is 0.
- The Highest Return is on MICRON TECH at 28.09, if one does not account for the July 2011 Put 25 strike on SLV utilized by Phil McDonnell.
- The Lowest Return is on IPTV at -50%, if one does not account for the Jan 2012 Call 40 Strike on SLV utilized by Phil McDonnell.
- Only Two contracts are having a greater than 2 z score and only 3 contracts are having a less than -2 Z score.
Victor Niederhoffer wrote:
One is constantly amazed at the sagacity in their fields of our fellow specs. My goodness, there's hardly a field that one of us doesn't know about from my own hard ball squash rackets to the space advertising or our President, from surfing to astronomy. We certainly have a wide range.
May I suggest without violating our mandate that we consider our best sagacities as to the best ways to make a profit in the next year of 2011.
My best trades always start with assuming that whatever didn't work the most last year will work the best this year, and whatever worked the best last year will work the worst this year. I'd be bullish on bonds and bearish on stocks, bullish on Japan and bearish on US stocks.
I'd bet against the banks because Ron Paul is going to be watching them and the cronies in the institutions will not be able to transfer as much resources as they've given them in the past 2 years which has to be much greater in value than their total market value.
I keep wondering what investments I should make based on the hobo's visit and I guess it has to be generic drugs and foods.
What ideas do you have for 2011 that might be profitable? To make it interesting I'll give a prize of 2500 to the best forecast, based on results as of the end of 2011.
David Hillman writes:
"I do know that a sagging Market keeps my units from being full."
One would suggest it is a sagging 'economy' contributing to vacancy, not a sagging 'market'. There is a difference.
Ken Drees, appointed moderator of the contest, clearly states the new rules of the game:
1. Submissions for contest entries must be made on the last two days of 2010, December 30th or 31st.
2. Entries need to be labeled in subject line as "2011 contest investment prediction picks" or something very close so that we know this is your official entry.
3. Entries need 3 predictions and 1 wildcard trade prediction (anything goes on the wildcard).
4. Extra predictions may be submitted and will be judged as extra credit. This will not detract from the main predictions and may or may not be judged at all.
5. Extra predictions will be looked on as bravado– if you've got it then flaunt it. It may pay off or you may give the judge a sour palate.
The desire to have entries coming in at years end is to ensure that you have the best data as to year end 2010 and that you don't ignite someone else to your wisdom.
Market direction picks are wanted:
Examples: 30 year treasury yield will fall to 3% in 2011, S&P 500 will hit "x" by June, and then by "y" by December 2011.
The more exact your prediction is, the more weight will be given. The more exact your prediction, the more weight you will receive if right and thus the more weight you will receive if wrong. If you predict that copper will hit 5.00 dollars in 2011 and it does you will be given a great score, if you say that copper will hit 5.00 dollars in march and then it will decline to4.35 and so forth you will be judged all along that prediction and will receive extra weight good or bad. You decide on how detailed your submission is structured.
Will you try to be precise (maybe foolhardy) and go for the glory? Or will you play it safe and not stand out from the crowd? It is a doubled edged sword so its best to be the one handed market prognosticator and make your best predictions. Pretend these predictions are some pearls that you would give to a close friend or relative. You may actually help a speclister to make some money by giving up a pearl, if that speclister so desires to act upon a contest–G-d help him or her.
Markets can be currency, stocks, bonds, commodities, etc. Single stock picks can be given for the one wildcard trade prediction. If you give multiple stock picks for the wildcard then they will all be judged and in the spirit of giving a friend a pearl–lets make it "the best of the best, not one of six".
All judgments are the Chair's. The Chair will make final determination of the winner. Entries received with less than 3 market predictions will not be considered. Entries received without a wildcard will be considered.The spirit of the contest is "Give us something we can use".
Bill Rafter adds:
Suggestion for contest:
"Static" entry: A collection of up to 10 assets which will be entered on the initial date (say 12/31/2010) and will be unaltered until the end data (i.e. 12/31/2011). The assets could be a compilation of longs and shorts, or could have the 10 slots entirely filled with one asset (e.g. gold). The assets could also be a yield and a fixed rate; that is one could go long the 10-year yield and short a fixed yield such as 3 percent. This latter item will accommodate those who want to enter a prediction but are unsure which asset to enter as many are unfamiliar with the various bond coupons.
"Rebalanced" entry: A collection of up to 10 assets which will be rebalanced on the last trading day of each month. Although the assets will remain unchanged, their percentage of the portfolio will change. This is to accommodate those risk-averse entrants employing a mean-reversion strategy.
Both Static and Rebalanced entries will be judged on a reward-to-risk basis. That is, the return achieved at the end of the year, divided by the maximum drawdown (percentage) one had to endure to achieve that return.
Not sure how to handle other prognostications such as "Famous female singer revealed to be man." But I doubt such entries have financial benefits.
I'm willing to be an arbiter who would do the rebalancing if necessary. I am not willing to prove or disprove the alleged cross-dressers.
Ralph Vince writes:
A very low volume bar on the weekly (likely, the first of two consecutive) after a respectable run-up, the backdrop of rates having risen in recent weeks, breadth having topped out and receding - and a lunar eclipse on the very night of the Winter Solstice.
If I were a Roman General I would take that as a sign to sit for next few months and do nothing.
I'm going to sit and do nothing.
Sounds like an interim top in an otherwise bullish, long-term backdrop.
Gordon Haave writes:
My three predictions:
Gold/ silver ratio falls below 25 Kenyan stock market outperforms US by more than 10%
Dollar ends 10% stronger compared to euro
All are actionable predictions.
Steve Ellison writes:
I did many regressions looking for factors that might predict a year-ahead return for the S&P 500. A few factors are at extreme values at the end of 2010.
The US 10-year Treasury bond yield at 3.37% is the second-lowest end-of year yield in the last 50 years. The S&P 500 contract is in backwardation with the front contract at a 0.4% premium to the next contract back, the second highest year-end premium in the 29 years of the futures.
Unfortunately, neither of those factors has much correlation with the price change in the S&P 500 the following year. Here are a few that do.
The yield curve (10-year yield minus 3-month yield) is in the top 10% of its last 50 year-end values. In the last 30 years, the yield curve has been positively correlated with year-ahead changes in the S&P 500, with a t score of 2.17 and an R squared of 0.143.
The US unemployment rate at 9.8% is the third highest in the past 60 years. In the last 30 years, the unemployment rate has been positively correlated with year-ahead changes in the S&P 500, with a t score of 0.90 and an R squared of 0.028.
In a variation of the technique used by the Yale permabear, I calculated the S&P 500 earnings/price ratio using 5-year trailing earnings. I get an annualized earnings yield of 4.6%. In the last 18 years, this ratio has been positively correlated with year-ahead changes in the S&P 500, with a t score of 0.92 and an R squared of
Finally, there is a negative correlation between the 30-year S&P 500 change and the year-ahead change, with a t score of -2.28 and an R squared of 0.094. The S&P 500 index price is 9.27 times its price of 30 years ago. The median year-end price in the last 52 years was 6.65 times the price 30 years earlier.
Using the predicted values from each of the regressions, and weighting the predictions by the R squared values, I get an overall prediction for an 11.8% increase in the S&P 500 in 2011. With an 11.8% increase, SPY would close 2011 at 140.52.
Factor Prediction t N R sq
US Treasury yield curve 1.162 2.17 30 0.143
30-year change 1.052 -2.28 52 0.094
Trailing 5-year E/P 1.104 0.92 18 0.050
US unemployment rate 1.153 0.90 30 0.028
Weighted total 1.118
SPY 12/30/10 125.72
Predicted SPY 12/30/11 140.52
Jan-Petter Janssen writes:
PREDICTION I - The Inconvenient Truth The poorest one or two billion on this planet have had enough of increasing food prices. Riots and civil unrest force governments to ban exports, and they start importing at any cost. World trade collapses. Manufacturers of farm equipment will do extremely well. Buy the most undervalued producer you can find. My bet is
* Kverneland (Yahoo: KVE.OL). NOK 6.50 per share today. At least NOK 30 on Dec 31th 2011.
PREDICTION II - The Ultimate Bubble The US and many EU nations hold enormous gold reserves. E.g. both Italy and France hold the equivalent of the annual world production. The gold meme changes from an inflation hedge / return to the gold standard to (a potential) over-supply from the selling of indebted nations. I don't see the bubble bursting quite yet, but
* Short gold if it hits $2,000 per ounce and buy back at $400.
PREDICTION III - The Status Quo Asia's ace is cheap labor. The US' recent winning card is cheap energy through natural gas. This will not change in 2011. Henry Hub Feb 2011 currently trades at $4.34 per MMBtu. Feb 2012 is at $5.14. I would
* Short the Feb 2012 contract and buy back on the last trading day of 2011.
Vince Fulco predicts:
This is strictly an old school, fundamental equity call as my crystal ball for the indices 12 months out is necessarily foggy. My recommendation is BP equity primarily for the reasons I gave earlier in the year on June 5th (stock closed Friday, June 4th @ $37.16, currently $43.53). It faced a hellish downdraft post my mention for consideration, primarily due to the intensification of news flow and legal unknowns (Rocky articulated these well). Also although the capital structure arb boys savaged the equity (to 28ish!), it is up nicely to year's end if one held on and averaged in with wide scales given the heightened vol.
Additional points/guesstimates are:
1) If 2010 was annus horribilis, 2011 with be annus recuperato. A chastened mgmt who have articulated they'll run things more conservatively will have a lot to prove to stakeholders.
2) Dividend to be re-instated to some level probably by the end of the second quarter. I am guessing $1.00 annualized per ADS as a start (or
2.29%), this should bring in the index hugging funds with mandates for only holding dividend payers. There is a small chance for a 1x special dividend later in the year.
3) Crude continues to be in a state of significant profitability for the majors in the short term. It would appear finding costs are creeping however.
4) The lawsuits and additional recoveries to be extracted from the settlement fund and company directly have very long tails, on the order of 10 years.
5) The company seems fully committed to sloughing off tertiary assets to build up its liquid balance sheet. Debt to total capital remains relatively low and manageable.
6) The stock remains at a significant discount to its better-of breed peers (EV/normalized EBITDA, Cash Flow, etc) and rightly so but I am betting the discount should narrow back to near historical levels.
1) The company and govt have been vastly understating the remaining fuel amounts and effects. Release of independent data intensifies demands for a much larger payout by the company closer to the highest end estimates of $50-80B.
2) It experiences another similar event of smaller magnitude which continues to sully the company's weakened reputation.
3) China admits to and begins to fear rampant inflation, puts the kabosh to the (global) economy and crude has a meaningful decline the likes of which we haven't seen in a few years.
4) Congress freaks at a >$100-120 price for crude and actually institutes an "excess profits" tax. Less likely with the GOP coming in.
A buy at this level would be for an unleveraged, diversified, longer term acct which I have it in. However, I am willing to hold the full year or +30% total return (including special dividend) from the closing price of $43.53 @ 12/30/10, whichever comes first. Like a good sellside recommendation, I believe the stock has downside of around 20% (don't they all when recommended!?!) where I would consider another long entry depending on circumstances (not pertinent to the contest).
Mr. Albert enters:
Single pick stock ticker is REFR
The only way this gold chain wearing day trader has a chance against all the right tail brain power on the list is with one high risk/high reward put it all on red kind of micro cap.
Basic story is this company owns all the patents to what will become the standard for switchable glazings (SPD smart glass). It's taken roughly 50 years of development to get a commercialized product, and next year Mercedes will almost without doubt use SPD in the 2012 SLK (press launch 1/29/11 public launch at the Geneva auto show in march 2011).
Once MB validate the tech, mass adoption and revenues will follow etc and this 'show me' stock will rocket to the moon.
Dan Grossman writes:
Trying to comply with and adapt the complex contest rules (which most others don't seem to be following in any event) to my areas of stock market interest:
1. The S&P will be down in the 1st qtr, and at some point in the qtr will fall at least
2. For takeover investors: GENZ will (finally) make a deal to be acquired in the 1st qtr for a value of at least $80; and AMRN after completion of its ANCHOR trial will make a deal to be acquired for a price of at least $8.
3. For conservative investors: Low multiple small caps HELE and DFG will be up a combined average of 20% by the end of the year.
For my single stock pick, I am something of a johnny-one-note: MNTA will be up lots during the year — if I have to pick a specific amount, I'd say at least 70%. (My prior legal predictions on this stock have proved correct but the stock price has not appropriately reflected same.)
Finally, if I win the contest (which I think is fairly likely), I will donate the prize to a free market or libertarian charity. I don't see why Victor should have to subsidize this distinguished group that could all well afford an contest entrance fee to more equitably finance the prize.
Best to all for the New Year,
Gary Rogan writes:
1. S&P 500 will rise 3% by April and then fall 12% from the peak by the end of the year.
2. 30 year treasury yields will rise to 5% by March and 6% by year end.
3. Gold will hit 1450 by April, will fall to 1100 by September and rise to 1550 by year end.
Wildcard: Short Netflix.
Jack Tierney, President of the Old Speculator's Club, writes:
Equal Amounts in:
TBT (short long bonds)
YCS (short Yen)
GRU (Long Grains - heavy on wheat)
CHK (Long NG - takeover)
BONXF.PK or BTR.V (Long junior gold)
12/30 closing prices (in order):
Bill Rafter writes:
Buy: FXP and IRWD
Hold for the entire year.
William Weaver writes:
For Returns: Long XIV January 21st through year end
For Return/Risk: Long XIV*.30 and Long VXZ*.70 from close today
I hope everyone has enjoyed a very merry holiday season, and to all I wish a wonderful New Year.
Ken Drees writes:
Yes, they have been going up, but I am going contrary contrary here and going with the trends.
1. Silver: buy day 1 of trading at any price via the following vehicles: paas, slw, exk, hl –25% each for 100% When silver hits 39/ounce, sell 10% of holdings, when silver hits 44/ounce sell 30% of holdings, when silver hits 49 sell 60%–hold rest (divide into 4 parts) and sell each tranche every 5 dollars up till gone–54/oz, 59, 64, 69.
2. Buy GDXJ day 1 (junior gold miner etf)—rotation down from majors to juniors with a positive gold backdrop. HOLD ALL YEAR.
3. USO. Buy day 1 then do—sell 25% at 119/bbl oil, sell 80% at 148/bbl, sell whats left at 179/bbl or 139/bbl (whichever comes first after 148)
wildcard: AMEX URANUIM STOCKS. UEC, URRE, URZ, DNN. 25% EACH, buy day 1 then do SELL 70% OF EVERYTHING AT 96$LB u http://www.uxc.com/ FOR PRICING, AND HOLD REST FOR YEAR END.
Happy New Year!
Ken Drees———keepin it real.
Sam Eisenstadt forecasts:
My forecast for the S&P 500 for the year ending Dec 31, 2011;
S&P 500 1410
Anton Johnson writes:
Equal amounts allocated to:
EDZ Short moc 1-21-2011, buy to cover at 50% gain, or moc 12/30/2011
VXX Short moc 1-21-2011, buy to cover moc 12/30/2011
UBT Short moo 1-3-2011, buy to cover moc 12/30/2011
Scott Brooks picks:
Evenly between the 4 (25% each)
Sushil Kedia predicts:
3) Japanese Yen
30% moves approximately in each, within 2011.
Rocky Humbert writes:
(There was no mention nor requirement that my 2011 prediction had to be in English. Here is my submission.) … Happy New Year, Rocky
Sa aking mahal na kaibigan: Sa haba ng 2010, ako na ibinigay ng ilang mga ideya trading na nagtrabaho sa labas magnificently, at ng ilang mga ideya na hindi na kaya malaki. May ay wala nakapagtataka tungkol sa isang hula taon dulo, at kung ikaw ay maaaring isalin ito talata, ikaw ay malamang na gawin ang mas mahusay na paggawa ng iyong sariling pananaliksik kaysa sa pakikinig sa mga kalokohan na ako at ang iba pa ay magbigay. Ang susi sa tagumpay sa 2011 ay ang parehong bilang ito ay palaging (tulad ng ipinaliwanag sa pamamagitan ng G. Ed Seykota), sa makatuwid: 1) Trade sa mga kalakaran. 2) Ride winners at losers hiwa. 3) Pamahalaan ang panganib. 4) Panatilihin ang isip at diwa malinaw. Upang kung saan gusto ko idagdag, fundamentals talaga bagay, at kung ito ay hindi magkaroon ng kahulugan, ito ay hindi magkaroon ng kahulugan, at diyan ay wala lalo na pinakinabangang tungkol sa pagiging isang contrarian bilang ang pinagkasunduan ay karaniwang karapatan maliban sa paggawa sa mga puntos. (Tandaan na ito ay pinagkasunduan na ang araw ay babangon na bukas, na quote Seth Klarman!) Pagbati para sa isang malusog na masaya at pinakinabangang 2011, at siguraduhin na basahin www.rockyhumbert.com kung saan ako magsulat sa Ingles ngunit ang aking mga saloobin ay walang malinaw kaysa talata na ito, ngunit inaasahan namin na ito ay mas kapaki-pakinabang.
Dylan Distasio comments:
Gawin mo magsalita tagalog?
Gary Rogan writes:
After a worthy challenge, Mr. Rogan is now also a master of Google Translate, and a discoverer of an exciting fact that Google Translate calls Tagalog "Filipino". This was a difficult obstacle for Mr. Rogan to overcome, but he persevered and here's Rocky's prediction in English (sort of):
My dear friend: Over the course of 2010, I provided some trading ideas worked out magnificently, and some ideas that are not so great. There is nothing magical about a forecast year end, and if you can translate this paragraph, you will probably do better doing your own research rather than listening to the nonsense that I and others will give. The key to success in 2011 is the same as it always has (as explained by Mr. Ed Seykota), namely: 1) Trade with the trend.
2) Ride cut winners and losers. 3) Manage risk. 4) Keep the mind and spirit clear. To which I would add, fundamentals really matter, and if it does not make sense, it does not make sense, and there is nothing particularly profitable about being a contrarian as the consensus is usually right but turning points. (Note that it is agreed that the sun will rise tomorrow, to quote Seth Klarman) Best wishes for a happy healthy and profitable 2011, and be sure to read www.rockyhumbert.com which I write in English but my attitude is nothing clearer than this paragraph, but hopefully it is more useful.
Tim Melvin writes:
Ah the years end prediction exercise. It is of course a mostly useless exercise since not a one of us can predict what shocks, positive or negative, the world and the markets could see in 2011. I find it crack up laugh out loud funny that some pundits come out and offer up earnings estimates, GDP growth assumptions and interest rate guesses to give a precise level for the year end S&P 500 price. You might as well numbers out of a bag and rearrange them by lottery to come up with a year end number. In a world where we are fighting two wars, a hostile government holds the majority of our debt and several sovereign nations continually teeter on the edge of oblivion it's pretty much ridiculous to assume what could happen in the year ahead. Having said that, as my son's favorite WWE wrestler when he was a little guy used to say "It's time to play the game!"
Ill start with bonds. I have owned puts on the long term treasury market for two years now. I gave some back in 2010 after a huge gain in 2009 but am still slightly ahead. Ill roll the position forward and buy January 2012 puts and stay short. When I look at bods I hear some folks talking about rising basic commodity prices and worrying about inflation. They are of course correct. This is happening. I hear some other really smart folks talking of weak real estate, high jobless rates and the potential for falling back into recession. Naturally, they are also exactly correct. So I will predict the one thing no one else is. We are on the verge of good old fashioned 1970s style stagflation. Commodity and basic needs prices will accelerate as QE2 has at least stimulated demand form emerging markets by allowing these wonderful credits to borrow money cheaper than a school teacher with a 750 FICO score. Binds go lower as rates spike. Our economy and balance sheet are a mess and we have governments run by men in tin hats lecturing us on fiscal responsibility. How low will they go Tim? How the hell do I know? I just think they go lower by enough for me to profit.
Nor can I tell you where the stock market will go this year. I suspect we have had it too good for too long for no reason so I think we get at least one spectacular gut wrenching, vomit inducing sell off during the year. Much as lower than expected profits exposed the silly valuations of the new paradigm stocks I think that the darling group, retail , will spark a sell-off in the stock market this year. Sales will be up a little bit but except for Tiffany's (TIF) and that ilk margins are horrific. Discounting started early this holiday and grew from there. They will get steeper now that that Santa Claus has given back my credit card and returned to the great white north. The earnings season will see a lot of missed estimates and lowered forecasts and that could well pop the bubble. Once it starts the HFT boys and girls should make sure it goes lower than anyone expects.
Here's the thing about my prediction. It is no better than anyone else's. In other words I am talking my book and predicting what I hope will happen. Having learned this lesson over the years I have learned that when it comes to market timing and market direction I am probably the dumbest guy in the room. Because of that I have trained myself to always buy the stuff that's too cheap not to own and hold it regardless. After the rally since September truly cheap stuff is a little scarce on the ground but I have found enough to be about 40% long going into the year. I have a watch list as long as a taller persons right arm but most of it hover above truly cheap.
Here is what I own going into the year and think is still cheap enough to buy. I like Winn Dixie (WINN). The grocery business sucks right now. Wal mart has crushed margins industry wide. That aside WINN trades at 60% of tangible book value and at some point their 514 stores in the Southeast will attract attention from investors. A takeover here would be less than shocking. I will add Presidential Life (PLFE) to the list. This stock is also at 60% of tangible book and I expect to see a lot of M&A activity in the insurance sector this year and this should raise valuations across the board. I like Miller Petroleum (MILL) with their drilling presence in Alaska and the shale field soft Tennessee. This one trades at 70% of tangible book. Ill add Imperial Sugar (IPSU), Syms (SYMS) and Micron tech (MU) and Avatar Holdings (AVTR) to my list of cheapies and move on for now.
I am going to start building my small bank portfolio this year. Eventually this group becomes the F-you walk away money trade of the decade. As real estate losses work through the balance sheet and some measure of stability returns to the financial system, perhaps toward the end of the year the small baileys savings and loan type banks should start to recover. We will also see a mind blowing M&A wave as larger banks look to gain not just market share but healthy assets to put on the books. Right now these names trade at a fraction of tangible book value. They will reach a multiple of that in a recovery or takeover scenario. Right now I own shares of Shore Bancshares (SHBI), a local bank trading at 80% of book value and a reasonably healthy loan portfolio. I have some other mini microcap banks as well that shall remain my little secret and not used to figure how my predictions work out. I mention them because if you have a mini micro bank in your community you should go meet then bankers, review the books and consider investing if it trades below the magical tangible book value and has excess capital. Flagstar Bancorp(FBC) is my super long shot undated call option n the economy and real estate markets.
I will also play the thrift conversion game heavily this year. With the elimination of the Office of Thrift Services under the new financial regulation many of the benefits of being a private or mutual thrift are going away. There are a ton of mutual savings banks that will now convert to publicly traded banks. A lot of these deals will be priced below the pro forma book value that is created by adding all that lovely IPO cash to the balance sheet without a corresponding increase in the shares outstanding. Right now I have Fox Chase Bancorp (FXCB) and Capital Federal Financial(CFFN). There will be more. Deals are happening every day right now and again I would keep an eye out for local deals that you can take advantage of in the next few months.
I also think that 2011 will be the year of the activist investor. These folks took a beating since 2007 but this should be their year. There is a ton of cash on corporate balance sheets but lots of underperformance in the current economic environment. We will see activist drive takeovers, restructures, and special dividends this year in my opinion. Recent filings of interest include strong activist positions in Surmodics(SRDX), SeaChange International (SEAC), and Energy Solutions. Tracking activist portfolios and 13D filings should be a very profitable activity in 2011.
I have been looking at some interesting new stuff with options as well I am not going to give most of it away just yet but I ll give you one stimulated by a recent list discussion. H and R Black is highly likely to go into a private equity portfolio next year. Management has made every mistake you can make and the loss of RALs is a big problem for the company. However the brand has real value. I do not want town the stock just yet but I like the idea of selling the January 2012 at $.70 to $.75. If you cash secure the put it's a 10% or so return if the stock stays above the strike. If it falls below I' ll be happy to own the stock with a 6 handle net. Back in 2008 everyone anticipated a huge default wave to hit the high yield market. Thanks to federal stimulus money pumping programs it did not happen. However in the spirit of sell the dog food the dog will eat a given moment the hedge fund world raised an enormous amount od distressed debt money. Thanks to this high yield spreads are far too low. CCC paper in particular is priced at absurd levels. These things trade like money good paper and much of it is not. Extend and pretend has helped but if the economy stays weak and interest rates rise rolling over the tsunami f paper due over the next few years becomes nigh onto impossible. I am going take small position in puts on the various high yield ETFs. If I am right they will explode when that market implodes. Continuing to talk my book I hope this happens. Among my nightly prayers is "Please God just one more two year period of asset rich companies with current payments having bonds trade below recovery value and I promise not to piss the money away this time. Amen.
PS. If you add in risk arbitrage spreads of 30% annualized returns along with this I would not object. Love, Tim.
I can't tell you what the markets will do. I do know that I want to own some safe and cheap stocks, some well capitalized small banks trading below book and participate in activist situation. I will be under invested in equities going into the year hoping my watch list becomes my buy list in market stumble. I will have put positions on long T-Bonds and high yield hoping for a large asymmetrical payoff.
Other than that I am clueless.
Kim Zussman comments:
Does anyone else think this year is harder than usual to forecast? Is it better now to forecast based on market fundamentals or mass psychology? We are at a two year high in stocks, after a huge rally off the '09 bottom that followed through this year. One can make compelling arguments for next year to decline (best case scenarios already discounted, prior big declines followed by others, volatility low, house prices still too high, FED out of tools, gov debt/gdp, Roubini says so, benefits to wall st not main st, persistent high unemployment, Year-to-year there is no significant relationship, but there is a weak down tendency after two consecutive up years. ). And compelling arguments for up as well (crash-fears cooling, short MA's > long MA's, retail investors and much cash still on sidelines, tax-cut extended, employee social security lowered, earnings increasing, GDP increasing, Tepper and Goldman say so, FED herding into risk assets, benefits to wall st not main st, employment starting to increase).
Is the level of government market-intervention effective, sustainable, or really that unusual? The FED looks to be avoiding Japan-style deflation at all costs, and has a better tool in the dollar. A bond yields decline would help growth and reduce deflation risk. Increasing yields would be expected with increasing inflation; bad for growth but welcomed by retiring boomers looking for fixed income. Will Obamacare be challenged or defanged by states or in the supreme court? Will 2011 be the year of the muni-bubble pop?
A ball of confusion!
4 picks in equal proportion:
long XLV (health care etf; underperformed last year)
long CMF (Cali muni bond fund; fears over-wrought, investors still need tax-free yield)
short GLD (looks like a bubble and who needs gold anyway)
short IEF (7-10Y treasuries; near multi-year high/QE2 is weaker than vigilantism)
Alan Millhone writes:
I note discussion over the rules etc. Then you have a fellow like myself who has never bought or sold through the Market a single share.
For myself I will stick with what I know a little something. No, not Checkers —
Rental property. I have some empty units and beginning to rent one or two of late to increase my bottom line.
I will not venture into areas I know little or nothing and will stay the course in 2011 with what I am comfortable.
Happy New Year and good health,
Jay Pasch predicts:
2010 will close below SP futures 1255.
Buy-and-holders will be sorely disappointed as 2011 presents itself as a whip-saw year.
99% of the bullish prognosticators will eat crow except for the few lonely that called for a tempered intra-year high of ~ SPX 1300.
SPX will test 1130 by April 15 with a new recovery high as high as 1300 by the end of July.
SPX 1300 will fail with new 2011 low of 1050 before ending the year right about where it started.
The Midwest will continue to supply the country with good-natured humble stock, relatively speaking.
Chris Tucker enters:
Buy and Hold
Wildcard: Buy and Hold AVAV
Gibbons Burke comments:
Mr. Ed Seykota once outlined for me the four essential rules of trading:
1) The trend is your friend (till it bends when it ends.)
2) Ride your winners.
3) Cut your losses short.
4) Keep the size of your bet small.
Then there are the "special" rules:
5) Follow all the rules.
and for masters of the game:
6) Know when to break rule #5
A prosperous and joy-filled New Year to everyone.
John Floyd writes:
In no particular order with target prices to be reached at some point in 2011:
1) Short the Australian Dollar:current 1.0220, target price .8000
2) Short the Euro: current 1.3375, target price 1.00
3) Short European Bank Stocks, can use BEBANKS index: current 107.40, target 70
A Mr. Krisrock predicts:
1…housing will continue to lag…no matter what can be done…and with it unemployment will remain
2…bonds will outperform as republicans will make cutting spending the first attack they make…QE 2 will be replaced by QE3
3…with every economist in the world bullish, stocks will underperform…
4…commodities are peaking ….
Laurel Kenner predicts:
After having made monkeys of those luminaries who shorted Treasuries last year, the market in 2011 has had its laugh and will finally carry out the long-anticipated plunge in bond prices.
Short the 30-year bond futures and cover at 80.
Pete Earle writes:
All picks are for 'all year' (open first trading day/close last trading day).
1. Long EUR/USD
2. Short gold (GLD)
MMR (McMoran Exploration Corp)
HDIX (Home Diagnostics Inc)
TUES (Tuesday Morning Corp)
PBP (Powershares S&P500 Buy-Write ETF)
NIB (iPath DJ-UBS Cocoa ETF)
KG (King Pharmaceuticals)
Happy New Year to all,
Paolo Pezzutti enters:
If I may humbly add my 2 cents:
- bearish on S&P: 900 in dec
- crisis in Europe will bring EURUSD down to 1.15
- gold will remain a safe have haven: up to 1500
- big winner: natural gas to 8
J.T Holley contributes:
The Market Mistress so eloquently must come first and foremost. Just as daily historical stats point to betting on the "unchanged" so is my S&P 500 trade for calendar year 2011. Straddle the Mistress Day 1. My choice for own reasons with whatever leverage is suitable for pain thresholds is a quasi straddle. 100% Long and 50% Short in whatever instrument you choose. If instrument allows more leverage, first take away 50% of the 50% Short at suitable time and add to the depreciated/hopefully still less than 100% Long. Feel free to add to the Long at this discretionary point if it suits you. At the next occasion that is discretionary take away remaining Short side of Quasi Straddle, buckle up, and go Long whatever % Long that your instrument or brokerage allows till the end of 2011. Take note and use the historical annual standard deviation of the S&P 500 as a rudder or North Star, and throw in the quarterly standard deviation for testing. I think the ambiguity of the current situation will make the next 200-300 trading days of data collection highly important, more so than prior, but will probably yield results that produce just the same results whatever the Power Magnification of the Microscope.
Long the U.S. Dollar. Don't bother with the rest of the world and concern yourself with which of the few other Socialist-minded Country currencies to short. Just Long the U.S. Dollar on Day 1 of 2011. Keep it simple and specialize in only the Long of the U.S. Dollar. Cataclysmic Economic Nuclear Winter ain't gonna happen. When the Pastor preaches only on the Armageddon and passes the plate while at the pulpit there is only one thing that happens eventually - the Parish dwindles and the plate stops getting filled. The Dollar will bend as has, but won't break or at least I ain't bettin' on such.
Ala Mr. Melvin, Short any investment vehicle you like that contains the words or numerals "perpetual maturity", "zero coupon" and "20-30yr maturity" in their respective regulated descriptions, that were issued in times of yore. Unfortunately it doesn't work like a light switch with the timing, remember it's more like air going into a balloon or a slow motion see-saw. We always want profits initially and now and it just doesn't work that way it seems in speculation. Also, a side hedge is to start initially looking at any financial institution that begins, dabbles, originates and gains high margin fees from 50-100 year home loans or Zero-Coupon Home Loans if such start to make their way Stateside. The Gummit is done with this infusion and cheer leading. They are in protection mode, their profit was made. Now the savy financial engineers that are left or upcoming will continue to find ways to get the masses to think they "Own" homes while actually renting them. Think Car Industry '90-'06 with. Japan did it with their Notes and I'm sure some like-minded MBA's are baiting/pushing the envelopes now in board rooms across the U.S. with their profitability and ROI models, probably have ditched the Projector and have all around the cherry table with IPads watching their presentation. This will ultimately I feel humbly be the end of the Mortgage Interest Deduction as it will be dwindled down to a moot point and won't any longer be the leading tax deduction that it was created to so-called help.
Short Gold, Short it, Short it more. Take all of your emotions and historical supply and demand factors out of the equation, just look at the historical standard deviation and how far right it is and think of Buzz Lightyear in Toy Story and when he thought he was actually flying and the look on his face at apex realization. That plus continue doing a study on Google Searches and the number of hits on "stolen gold", "stolen jewelery", and Google Google side Ads for "We buy Gold". I don't own gold jewelery, and have surrendered the only gold piece that I ever wore, but if I was still wearing it I'd be mighty weary of those that would be willing to chop a finger off to obtain. That ain't my fear, that's more their greed.
Long lithium related or raw if such. Technology demands such going forward.
Long Natural Gas. Trading Day 1 till last trading day of the year. The historic "cheap" price in the minds of wannabe's will cause it to be leveraged long and oft with increasing volume regardless of the supply. Demand will follow, Pickens sowed the seeds and paid the price workin' the mule while plowin'. De-regulation on the supply side of commercial business statements is still in its infancy and will continue, politics will not beat out free markets going into the future.
Long Crude and look to see the round 150 broken in years to come while China invents, perfects, and sees the utility in the Nuclear fueled tanker.
Long LED, solar, and wind generation related with tiny % positions. Green makes since, its here to stay and become high margined profitable businesses.
Short Sugar. Sorry Mr. Bow Tie. Monsanto has you Beet! That being stated, the substitute has arrived and genetically altered "Roundup Ready" is here to stay no matter what the Legislative Luddite Agrarians try, deny, or attempt. With that said, Long MON. It is way more than a seed company. It is more a pharmaceutical engineer and will bring down the obesity ridden words Corn Syrup eventually as well. Russia and Ireland will make sure of this with their attitudes of profit legally or illegally.
Prepare to long in late 2011 the commercialized marijuana and its manufacturing, distribution companies that need to expand profitability from its declining tobacco. Altria can't wait, neither can Monsanto. It isn't a moral issue any longer, it's a financial profit one. We get the joke, or choke? If the Gummit doesn't see what substitutes that K2 are doing and the legal hassles of such and what is going on in Lisbon then they need to have an economic lesson or two. It will be a compromise between the Commercial Adjective Definition Agrarians and Gummit for tax purposes with the Green theme continuing and lobbying.
Short Coffee, but just the 1st Qtr of 2011. Sorry Seattle. I will also state that there will exist a higher profit margin substitute for the gas combustible engine than a substitute for caffeine laden coffee.
Sex and Speculation:
Look to see www.fyretv.com go public in 2011 with whatever investment bank that does such trying their best to be anonymous. Are their any investment banks around? This Boxxx will make Red Box blush and Apple TV's box envious. IPTV and all related should be a category that should be Longed in 2011 it is here to stay and is in it's infancy. Way too many puns could be developed from this statement. Yes, I know fellas the fyre boxxx is 6"'s X 7"'s.
This is one category to always go Long. I have vastly improved my guitar playin' in '10 and will do so in '11. AAPL still has the edge and few rivals are even gaining market share and its still a buy on dips, sell on highs empirically counted. They finally realized that .99 cents wasn't cutting it and .69 cents was more appropriate for those that have bought Led Zeppelin IV songs on LP, 8-track, cassette, and CD over the course of their lives. Also, I believe technology has a better shot at profitably bringing music back into public schools than the Federal or State Gummits ever will.
Long - Your mind. Double down on this Day 1 of 2011. It's the most capable, profitable thing you have going for you. I just learned this after the last 36 months.
Long - Counting, you need it now more than ever. It's as important as capitalism.
Long - Being humble, it's intangible but if quantified has a STD of 4 if not higher.
Long - Common Sense.
Long - Our Children. The media is starting to question if their education is priceless, when it is, but not in their context or jam.
Short - Politics. It isn't a spectator sport and it has been made to be such.
Short - Fear, it is way way been played out. Test anything out there if you like. I have. It is prevalent still and disbelief is rampant.
Long - Greed, but don't be greedy just profitable. Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps was the pilot fish.
I had to end on a Long note.
Happy New Year's Specs. Thanks to all for support over the last four years. I finally realized that it ain't about being right or wrong, just profitable in all endeavors. Too many losses led to this, pain felt after lookin' within, and countin' ones character results with pen/paper.
Russ Sears writes:
For my entry to the contest, I will stick with the stocks ETF, and the index markets and avoid individual stocks, and the bonds and interest rates. This entry was thrown together rather quickly, not at all an acceptable level if it was real money. This entry is meant to show my personal biases and familiarity, rather than my investment regiment. I am largely talking my personal book.
Therefore, in the spirit of the contest , as well as the rules I will expose my line of thinking but only put numbers on actual entry predictions. Finally, if my caveats are not warning enough, I will comment on how a prediction or contest entry differs from any real investment. I would make or have made.
The USA number one new product export will continue to be the exportation of inflation. The printing of dollars will continue to have unintended consequences than its intended effect on the national economy but have an effect on the global economy.. Such monetary policy will hit areas with the most potential for growth: the emerging markets of China and India. In these economies, that spends over half their income on food, food will continue to rise. This appears to be a position opposite the Chairs starting point prediction of reversal of last year's trends.
Likewise, the demand for precious metals such as gold and silver will not wane as these are the poor man's hedge against food cost. It may be overkill for the advanced economies to horde the necessities and load up on precious metals Yet, unlike the 70's the US/ European economy no longer controls gold and silver a paradigm shift in thinking that perhaps the simple statistician that uses weighted averages and the geocentric economist have missed. So I believe those entries shorting gold or silver will be largely disappointed. However in a nod to the chair's wisdom, I will not pick metals directly as an entry. Last year's surprise is seldom this year's media darling. However, the trend can continue and gold could have a good year. The exception to the reversal rule seems to be with bubbles which gain a momentum of their own, apart from the fundamentals. The media has a natural sympathy in suggesting a return to the drama of he 70's, the stagflation dilemma, ,and propelling an indicator of doom. With the media's and the Fed's befuddled backing perhaps the "exception" is to be expected. But I certainly don't see metal's impending collapse nor its continued performance.
The stability or even elevated food prices will have some big effects on the heartland.
1. For my trend is your friend pick: Rather than buy directly into a agriculture commodity based index like DBA, I am suggesting you buy an equity agriculture based ETF like CRBA year end price at 77.50. I am suggesting that this ETF do not need to have commodities produce a stellar year, but simply need more confirmation that commodity price have established a higher long term floor. Individually I own several of these stocks and my wife family are farmers and landowners (for full disclosure purposes not to suggest I know anything about the agriculture business) Price of farmland is raising, due to low rates, GSE available credit, high grain prices due to high demand from China/India, ethanol substitution of oil A more direct investment in agriculture stability would be farmland. Farmers are buying tractors, best seeds and fertilizers of course, but will this accelerate. Being wrong on my core theme of stable to rising food/commodity price will ruin this trade. Therefore any real trade would do due diligence on individual stocks, and put a trailing floor. And be sensitive to higher volatility in commodities as well as a appropriate entry and exit level.
2. For the long term negative alpha, short term strength trade: I am going with airlines and FAA at 49.42 at year end. There seems to be finally some ability to pass cost through to the consumer, will it hold?
3. For the comeback of the year trade XHB: (the homebuilders ETF), bounces back with 25% return. While the overbuilding and vacancy rates in many high population density areas will continue to drag the home makes down, the new demand from the heartland for high end houses will rise that is this is I am suggesting that the homebuilders index is a good play for housing regionally decoupling from the national index. And much of what was said about the trading of agriculture ETF, also apply to this ETF. However, while I consider this a "surprise", the surprise is that this ETF does not have a negative alpha or slightly positive. This is in-line with my S&P 500 prediction below. Therefore unless you want volatility, simply buying the S&P Vanguard fund would probably be wiser. Or simply hold these inline to the index.
4. For the S&P Index itself I would go with the Vanguard 500 Fund as my vehicle VFINXF, and predict it will end 2011 at $145.03, this is 25% + the dividend. This is largely due to how I believe the economy will react this year.
5. For my wild card regional banks EFT, greater than IAT > 37.50 by end 2011…
Yanki Onen writes:
I would like to thank all for sharing their insights and wisdom. As we all know and reminded time to time, how unforgiven could the market Mistress be. We also know how nurturing and giving it could be. Time to time i had my share of falls and rises. Everytime I fall, I pick your book turn couple of pages to get my fix then scroll through articles in DSpecs seeking wisdom and a flash of light. It never fails, before you know, back to the races. I have all of you to thank for that.
Now the ideas;
-This year's lagger next year's winner CSCO
Go long Jan 2012 20 Puts @ 2.63 Go long CSCO @ 19.55 Being long the put gives you the leverage and protection for a whole year, to give the stock time to make a move.
You could own 100,000 shares for $263K with portfolio margin ! Sooner the stock moves the more you make (time decay)
-Sell contango Buy backwardation
You could never go wrong if you accept the truth, Index funds always roll and specs dont take physical delivery. This cant be more true in Cotton.
Right before Index roll dates (it is widely published) sell front month buy back month especially when it is giving you almost -30 to do so Sell March CT Buy July CT pyramid this trade untill the roll date (sometime at the end of Jan or begining of Feb) when they are almost done rolling(watch the shift in open interest) close out and Buy May CT sell July CT wait patiently for it to play it out again untill the next roll.
- Leveraged ETFs suckers play!
Two ways to play this one out if you could borrow and sell short, short both FAZ and FAS equal $ amounts since the trade is neutral, execute this trade almost free of margin. One thing is for sure to stay even long after we are gone is volatility and triple leveraged products melt under volatility!
If you cant borrow the shares execute the trade using Jan 12 options to open synthetic short positions. This trade works with time and patience!
Vic, thanks again for providing a platform to listen and to be heard.
Phil McDonnell writes:
When investing one should consider a diversified portfolio. But in a contest the best strategy is just to go for it. After all you have to be number one.
With that thought in mind I am going to bet it all on Silver using derivatives on the ETF SLV.
SLV closed at 30.18 on Friday.
Buy Jan 2013 40 call for 3.45.
Sell Jan 2012 40 call at 1.80.
Sell Jul 25 put at 1.15.
Net debit is .50.
Exit strategy: close out entire position if SLV ETF reaches a price of 40 or better. If 40 is not reached then exit on 2/31/2011 at the close.
George Parkanyi entered:
For what it's worth, the Great White North weighs in ….
3 Markets equally weighted - 3 stages each (if rules allow) - all trades front months
3 JAN 2011
BUY NAT GAS at open
BUY SILVER at open
BUY CORN at open
28 FEB 2011 (Reverse Positions)
SELL and then SHORT NAT GAS at open
SELL and then SHORT SILVER at open
SELL and then SHORT CORN at open
1 AUG 2011 (Reverse Positions)
COVER and then BUY NAT GAS at open
COVER and then BUY SILVER at open
COVER and then BUY CORN at open
Hold all positions to the end of the year
3 JAN BUY PLATINUM and hold to end of year.
. Markets to unexpectedly carry through in New Year despite correction fears.
. Spain/Ireland debt roll issues - Europe/Euro in general- will be in the news in Q1/Q2
- markets will correct sharply in late Q1 through Q2 (interest rates will be rising)
. Markets will kick in again in Q3 & Q4 with strong finish on more/earlier QE in both Europe and US - hard assets will remain in favour; corn & platinum shortages; cooling trend & economic recovery to favour nat gas
. Also assuming seasonals will perform more or less according to stats
If rules do not allow directional changes; then go long NAT GAS, SILVER, and CORN on 1 AUG 2011 (cash until then); wild card trade the same.
Gratuitous/pointless prediction: At least two European countries will drop out of Euro in 2011 (at least announce it) and go back to their own currency.
Marlowe Cassetti enters:
FXE - Currency Shares Euro Trust
XLE - Energy Select
BAL - iPath Dow Jones-AIG Cotton Total Return Sub-Index
GDXJ - Market Vectors Junior Gold Miners
AMJ - JPMorgan Alerian MLP Index ETN
VNM - Market Vectors Vietnam ETF
Kim Zussman entered:
long XLV (health care etf; underperformed last year)
long CMF (Cali muni bond fund; fears over-wrought, investors still
need tax-free yield)
short GLD (looks like a bubble and who needs gold anyway)
short IEF (7-10Y treasuries; near multi-year high/QE2 is weaker than
From The Mathematics of Money Management: Risk Analysis Techniques for Traders by Ralph Vince, pp xv:
Cutting the fat out of the market requires more than an understanding of
money management concepts. It requires discipline to tolerate and endure
emotional pain to a level that 19 out of 20 people cannot bear. This you will
not learn in this book or any other. Anyone who claims to be intrigued by
the "intellectual challenge of the markets" is not a trader. The markets are
as intellectually challenging as a fistfight. In that light, the best advice I
know of is to always cover your chin and jab on the run. Whether you win or
lose, there are significant beatings along the way. But there is really very little
to the markets in the way of an intellectual challenge. Ultimately, trading
is an exercise in self-mastery and endurance.
December 20, 2010 | 2 Comments
One has been reading a book on speed mathematics by Bill Handley. Most kids who take the course can do all arithmetic operations much faster in their head then with a calculator, a very useful thing I've found. To multiply 98 by 97 take 2 from 97. That becomes 9500. Then add 2×3 for 9506. To multiply 11 by any 2 digit number, like, 11 x 32, the answer has a 3 and a 2 in it at the ends, and the sum of digits 4 in between 3 4 2. I'm not that good at it yet as there are as many rules as memorizing the tables almost.
But… one wonders whether there are any speed rules for making a profit that apply to all markets.
Alan Millhone writes:
Tom says. Move in haste - repent in leisure.
Does that fall under the "speed rule" for the Market?
Jeff Watson writes:
Most successful pit traders had a mastery of "quick arithmetic" out of necessity. In fact, I never ran across one that wasn't an arithmetic whiz.
Steve Ellison writes:
Arthur Benjamin's Secrets of Mental Math has many similar techniques. For example, the square of any 2-digit number ending in 5, let's call the number n5, always ends in 25. The product of n and n+1 goes before the 25. For example, 75 squared is 5625 (7×8 with a 25 tacked on).
Professor Benjamin recommends solving math problems left to right, contrary to the standard method of solving right to left and carrying digits. An advantage of solving left to right is that if one wants to instantly answer a problem called out by the audience, as Professor Benjamin does at his public appearances, one can start speaking the first part of the answer while still working out the final digits.
My daughter and I were watching a video of Professor Benjamin in which he showed a standard multiplication table from 1 to 10 and asked what the sum of all the results was. In 2 seconds, my daughter called out a formula, which was easily solvable using one of the mental shortcuts.
There are some mental shortcuts for the stock market that have become part of Wall Street lore and seem to have some validity, although they are far from 100% accurate:
- "Sell in May and go away"
- "Don't fight the Fed"
- "Never short a dull market"
- "Cut losses and let profits run"
My suggestions for the stock market would be: - Liquidity premium (when there is forced buying or selling as evidenced by a sharp price move, it often pays to take the other side)
- Follow the insiders
- "Always copper the public play" (Bacon)
For physical commodities:
- Buy backwardation; sell contango
- "The trend is your friend"
Sushil Kedia writes:
Vedic Mathematics, a book I remember having sent to you by post a few years ago is a brilliant SYSTEM of only 10 rules that will facilitate a very wide variety of calculations. It can calculate as good as instantly a multiplication of any digits of numbers multiplied by any number of digits too. There are recipes in that…
December 3, 2010 | 1 Comment
What has been the history of any hedge funds that launched with the sole goal of focusing only on options as a trading and investment vehicle, other than of course the Long Term player and the pretty much re-incarnated again Imperial One? As a broad Fund class what is the history?
With or without that being available, what would the astute citizens of this list think are the challenges before anyone wanting to focus on such a strategy getting lured by the theoretical mispricing due to the "retail effect" in a not so old equity options market in a so called third world country? Some sort of a SWOT would help propel thoughts for sure, if you could care.
Other than the alinear payoffs and the "theoretically" infinite gains possible on calls and the theoretically "limited" downside on the puts which ignore comfortably the notions of widely changing leverage without undertaking any additional actions after the initial entry are there any specific risk return attributes that may help a larger investor diversify well in including such a Fund in its overall portfolio?
I know I have been dismissive, or at least sounding such, ab initio of any such advantages. But then, there are so many bright minds out here, that can prove me wrong in a jiffy. Waiting to be cut wide open and get some more education that may be appropriate for a speculator.
Today is 20/10/2010. What exceptional things happened today? Why did no one say anything about it today. At least I did not hear or read anything ?about it. Why are some symmetrical dates more talked about than others?
Do special number combinations have any significance on the way affairs are conducted? Like on 07/07/07 so many people married the world over. Why did nothing exceptional happen today?
October 21, 2010 | 2 Comments
One wonders if by considering the distances and weight of one market from another one would create a gravitational attraction possibly related to square of distance. Would this be even better way to explain recent market moves than twitter? So many markets are up that they pull stocks with it. Every day the crude and the gold and the grains and the metals exert their gravitational attraction on stocks and it's hard for stocks to go down when gravity of everything else is pulling them up?
Ken Drees comments:
Attraction theory may also pull monies from undervalued sectors-like nat gas for example– keeping these sectors starving for investment.
Anatoly Veltman writes:
My take is the former recent relationship has been more a product of U.S. dollar's daily devaluation. Thus the commodity part of it was only a further derivative.
Phil McDonnell writes:
Imagine we are on an island with only two things to trade stocks and gold. Naturally we use sea shells for money. At any given time there is only so much money M. So the total price of stock and gold is proportional to that. In fact we can visualize the possible prices as a circle with radius M and the X and Y axis are the prices of gold and stock respectively. The locus of possible points they can lie on is given by:
M^2 = G^2 + s^2
where I have changed the x and y to g for gold and s for stock.
Since M^2 is a constant at any given time we can just call it c and then we have.
s^2 = c - g^2
showing the relationship. This is all very pretty theory but does it stand up empirically?
The coincident correlation base on daily percent changes between gld and spy for the last 105 days was about 1%, so not much linear going on. but when we look at the relationship between spy^2 and gld^2 we get a 42% correlation consistent with the formula above. When we rewrite the formula for m and not m^2 we get:
m = ( g^2 + s^2 ) ^ .5
which is just the distance formula from high school.
Thought question: What happens when the Fed adds Q to M during QE 2?
Sushil Kedia writes:
The House Money effect works the same way. There is more valuable collateral, there is a larger amount of mental wealth, there is a larger appetite for risk. Akin to the rabbit coming out of an empty hat, money grows in the minds of the market players, when things are moving up.
As one large down move comes in a widely betted asset it gravitationally sucks away the value of the collateral utilized for playing other assets. Like the invisible forces of gravity the various contracts naturally move by in varying proportions broadly in similar directions, mostly together.
I would be inclined to recognize the effect of the varying amount of bets inside different pits and the varying spread of those bets across hands of differing strengths. With that in place any static relationships in assets or contracts is less than likely to be existent for any periods of prediction worthy time horizons. The ever changing cycles are likely originating from this varying nature of the spread of the bets. The vector sum total of all current and past and future bets may indeed by hypothesized as zero. Yet the similar sum at the present moment is not zero. Every changing tick hurts or rewards different sets of people simultaneously.
So, without so much as trying to invoke my limited numeracy skills before the mighty minds, I lay a case, that the pursuit of discovering constant relationships in the markets is the innate desire of men to find a constant while knowing fully well that the meal for a lifetime indeed is the knowledge of ever changing cycles.
Ralph Vince comments:
I lay a case, that the pursuit of discovering constant relationships in the markets is the innate desire of men to find a constant while knowing fully well that the meal for a lifetime indeed is the knowledge of ever changing cycles.
What could be more true than that statement?
We build models of the market– some, with ever-increasing complexity.
Take the stochastic differential equation for price changes in continuous time, where the second term is the Weiner process:
S0 = u S1 dt + dX
Involved math for many of us– but, as a model for how prices change, …it too is pathetically lacking. Our models are not reality, just little peepholes on it's behavior at times.
Sushil Kedia replies:
To add, one early school beginner's physics question:
If gravity works the same way on a feather as well as on a stone, then why does the stone drop sooner to the ground?
Well, the air that provides so much of rest to the feather that it takes longer to come down.
Likewise, the "air" inside the markets that is the varying size of bets of any individual participant as well as the varying size of the total bets present in a market bring by the gravitational pulls to still carry wide and varying variances.
I would love to hear comments from you all if you've seen Oliver Stone's new Wall Street II. Yesterday, my companion and I went to see the movie and nearly walked out after 15 minutes, it was that bad. Blaming speculators for the "Crisis," irrelevant discussion of "Moral Hazard," the Lehman and Bear Sterns references, heroic yet cutthroat actions of the bankers, artful cutouts of the talking heads of CNBC, the Oracle of Omaha, the improbable plot line, the horrible dialogue, Michael Douglas' insufferability, the resurrection of the corpse of Eli Wallach, the Phoenix like rise of Gordon Gekko, the tangled plot line!!!
I could go on and on. Does anyone else agree with me or am I overreacting? Frankly, instead of wasting my money on this horrible movie, I wish I would have sat home watching the local Spanish Channel watching my favorite telenovela, where the passion is real, and the revenge is sweet…and believable.
Sushil Kedia writes:
I attended the movie too. One good thing was the movie hall, the seats were extra comfortable, and it had a really good ambiance. Some things in India have changed for the better, in such measure.
But that's not all. Michael Doulgas resembled someone too popular on Wall Street. Someone whose name reads backwards and forwards the same kept coming to mind on the facial lines and contours that Douglas exuded effortlessly. The flinch, the long deep gaze, so many other things were all pretending to mimick the famous name. Was it a flawed make up design or a purposeful resemblance created for getting "eyeballs"?!
As a movie making exercise, this seems to me an outright fraud. But then again, I did witness such fraud pass by in the form of a movie effortlessly. The crowds in India may not have noticed it, really.
In the same vein, my two humble cents submitted herewith are that for non Wall Streeters the movie could well be a good entertaining account of so many things relating to lives on the Wall Street. A movie is after all an illusion and an entertainment. For those from the Street and around it, of course the real stuff is so much more real that forget Oliver Stone, any other movie maker will find it difficult to please us and to get close to portrayals of genuine resemblance.
But then, how could Douglas be made to resemble the big name so well. Accident? Design? Transferred Epithet?
The human touch, the daughter, the fetus, the tears all came in to show that the street does have living beings. Huh! I would say the guy scripting the story forecasted the depressing markets would be lasting until the 3rd quarter of 2010 and settle with a simpler way of reasoning why the movie is what it is: It wasn't made for educating this universe about what Wall Street is. It was made for making money while the makers forecasted the Street would still be not making any. Bad forecast, that's all. Else the movie being a movie is fine.
Jeff Watson writes:
Did you notice the photo-shopped picture on the fireplace mantle of Josh Brolin with his character and the Palindrome? I got a kick out of that one.
Letter to my daughters on obtaining cent percent marks at Mathematics Term Examination, together:
Dear Muskaan & Khushboo,
Congratulations on achieving the highest possible score in your mathematics test. In the past too each of you has obtained a similar score but on different occasions.
I am all the more happy when I today receive your test reports and find that both of you have together achieved the highest possible, together while being in the VIIth standard and the Vth standard of your schooling, when you are 12 years and 9 years old respectively.
Concentration that helps in putting your best at whatever you are doing at a particular moment is clearly you have begun to exercise often. I want you to remember that when required you can practice the highest levels of concentrations necessary to get the best out of you. This score has been possible only with that.
Within a fixed period of time that an examination must be completed to think of nothing but the work at hand within a time bound manner is a mark of disciplined thinking and action. I encourage you to call upon this faculty as often as you are out to achieve anything, anywhere.
Mathematics is not just about numbers. Its an elegance of a state of mind and personality that transcends above the rhythms and cycles of perception and focuses on the completeness of relations, functions and theorems that describe specific constructs. Your ability today together, puts me at greater confidence that you will be achieving such poise and grace as often as you are required to excel at a particular situation.
The joys that can be achieved by solving a puzzle, a problem a challenge are ever present in any mathematical question that you attempt to solve. The prowess at mathematics should give you the opportunity to realize your ability at solving varieties of problems and puzzles that can be represented by symbols, signs and formulae. As you continue to grow as persons and as your repertoire of skills gets richer you should realize with ease that the most widely known scientist of our times, Albert Einstein, is known to have said that, “What can be counted may not matter in life and what matters in life may not be counted.” In stating such an idea he was never dismissive of the utility of counting but was emphasizing that the scientific approach, the path of reason, the pursuit of enquiry may not be limited by any one’s inability at converting thoughts to numbers, since before you can enumerate an idea or a thought you must grasp it to a depth that relationships of that idea to so many other ideas should be appearing very clear to you. Then an approach to quantification to test the consistency of the thoughts should get easier.
The bright glint that I noticed in the eyes of both of you as I met you with your reports tells me that achievement itself is a reward. The smiley that your teacher drew next to your marks is a memento of appreciation and acknowledgement. In life, there may be moments when appreciation for any achievement may not be as instantaneous and it may be a while before those around you will begin to appreciate of your work or contributions. I am sure you will remember the glint in your eyes today that you carry together and it shall be yours again and again in the future whenever you get the similar inner satisfaction of having done your best without having to wait for a smiley.
I must thank your teacher particularly, for such a nice and sweet gesture of saying so much to you in so few strokes of her pen. Brevity at any communication is elegant. So is the pursuit of any mathematical solution. Two different people can get the same answer, yet the one who achieves that with the minimum amount of reasoning and explaining has done a better job. Economy of movement is a hall mark of most achievers and in the elegantly written answer books that I see before me, clean hand-writing and simple solutions make me believe you are acquiring the correct attitude.
Objectivity that is feasible much more easily at Mathematics is not the sole reason for the higher probability of obtaining cent percent scores in this subject. There is a unique answer in Mathematics, most of the time. At other times if there is no single answer, there is a definite range or set of answers available most of the time. There are however, the irrational numbers, the indeterminate quantities, the undefined values (that often mistakenly are labeled as infinite) yet even in those outcomes it is uniquely possible to arrive at those conclusions. The abilities that you gather as good students of mathematics should help you acquire the wisdom to be able to cope up with the less deterministic situations that you would face in most other walks of your pursuits. The in-deterministic, non-deterministic and the undetermined are all to be studied with the help of the deterministic. That is what Isaac Newton, who perhaps was the best known scientist of the previous century, meant to say when he said, “standing on the shoulders of giants".
To be able to learn from others, to be intellectually humble in knowing and accepting you do not know something is the critical start necessary for beginning to know anything that you are going to know.
Lastly and as importantly as everything I have written to you in this letter, do remember always that numbers even if an invention of mankind as much any other language are perhaps most easily manifest everywhere in nature as compared to any other language known to man and thus likely your best medium for communicating the inner beauty that you carry.
Best wishes from a proud father that you both continue to achieve many encores,
Sushil Kedia— keep looking »
- September 2016
- August 2016
- July 2016
- June 2016
- May 2016
- April 2016
- March 2016
- February 2016
- January 2016
- December 2015
- November 2015
- October 2015
- September 2015
- August 2015
- July 2015
- June 2015
- May 2015
- April 2015
- March 2015
- February 2015
- January 2015
- December 2014
- November 2014
- October 2014
- September 2014
- August 2014
- July 2014
- June 2014
- May 2014
- April 2014
- March 2014
- February 2014
- January 2014
- December 2013
- November 2013
- October 2013
- September 2013
- August 2013
- July 2013
- June 2013
- May 2013
- April 2013
- March 2013
- February 2013
- January 2013
- December 2012
- November 2012
- October 2012
- September 2012
- August 2012
- July 2012
- June 2012
- May 2012
- April 2012
- March 2012
- February 2012
- January 2012
- December 2011
- November 2011
- October 2011
- September 2011
- August 2011
- July 2011
- June 2011
- May 2011
- April 2011
- March 2011
- February 2011
- January 2011
- December 2010
- November 2010
- October 2010
- September 2010
- August 2010
- July 2010
- June 2010
- May 2010
- April 2010
- March 2010
- February 2010
- January 2010
- December 2009
- November 2009
- October 2009
- September 2009
- August 2009
- July 2009
- June 2009
- May 2009
- April 2009
- March 2009
- February 2009
- January 2009
- December 2008
- November 2008
- October 2008
- September 2008
- August 2008
- July 2008
- June 2008
- May 2008
- April 2008
- March 2008
- February 2008
- January 2008
- December 2007
- November 2007
- October 2007
- September 2007
- August 2007
- July 2007
- June 2007
- May 2007
- April 2007
- March 2007
- February 2007
- January 2007
- December 2006
- November 2006
- October 2006
- September 2006
- August 2006
- Older Archives
Resources & Links
- The Letters Prize
- Pre-2007 Victor Niederhoffer Posts
- Vic’s NYC Junto
- Reading List
- Programming in 60 Seconds
- The Objectivist Center
- Foundation for Economic Education
- Dick Sears' G.T. Index
- Pre-2007 Daily Speculations
- Laurel & Vics' Worldly Investor Articles