A VeltmanToday, I want to open the following idea for discussion: I noticed that Bond O.I. has diverged bearishly in recent days. (Definition is simple: O.I. is declining, while Price is moving into new highs.). I eyeballed a daily chart covering about 40 trading days, since June Bond left the board June 19th . It appears that on 75% of those 40 trading days the Price and the O.I. went either both up or both down! To flip this observation: on only 25% of the days the Price and O.I. diverged! What surprised me: Price since that date is 3%+ higher, while O.I. since then is 3%+ lower! (O.I. has now fallen to its lowest in almost a year!). Does that mean that one should fade current rally, once one gets Sell signal from one's other indicators? Note: I'm also intrigued by the fact of continuing bullish pattern of "O.I. down on down-days, up on up-days." How does one reconcile the two?

Christopher Tucker asks:

Shouldn't one fade any rally when one gets a sell signal from one's "other" indicators?

Nigel Davies extends:

GM NigelWe've this kind of issue with cycles. The parameters are intuitively obvious to the human mind but the very devil to explain in a way that a computer can understand.

There is the same problem on the chessboard, for example in understanding positional elements such as pawn structure. Humans are able to divine what is important in a position whilst the computer will assign the weights it was programmed to do even when these things are unimportant. The problem is that it cannot take a holistic view, it can only work on already disected parts.

Besides the Senator's book I think it's worth reading Dee Belveal on this. But once again it's not going to be something that lends itself readily to 'testing' via quant methods because the parameters are very difficult to define. I suggest instead that one adopts the approach chess masters use, and that is to play through all the games by hand in order to acquire a 'feel'.

BTW, I'm indebted to Anatoly for posting in the way that a games player can finally understand.

Manuel Bravochico adds:

I just got back from my monthly luncheon with my friend. He used to manage a restaurant before trading. About all he knows how to do on a computer is flip through charts looking for momentum. He amassed a small fortune and has compounded at the highest rate of return — although with some 50% drawdowns — that I’ve seen, north of 60% since 1999. Verified.

I keep asking him how he does it. He always gives me the same answer, “the chart just looks good.” He has a “general” set of rules that I have never been able to program over the years. At the elite level — Rentech excluded — most trading I think cannot be programmed, i.e. a holistic process unable in this age to be programmed.

Shmuel Layla writes:

The way I deal with false divergence signals that start occurring in the course of a Trend is not by looking at other confirming indicators, but rather by looking for the occurrence of a divergence on a higher time frame corresponding to a different set of peaks and valleys that has yet to resolve itself. I then find that the “local” divergence has more reliability. This is fractal trading for the mathematically challenged such as I. This works on volume charts of the ES contract. Maybe other issues with stronger trending properties require a more sophisticated solution. For the time being there is sufficient liquidity for me in the ES.

Rocky Humbert muses:

Anatoly’s post is indeed thought-provoking. It hits on many different issues. One approach might be to adjust position size to reflect confidence: i.e. you don’t have to go “all in” on every hand that you play. Certainly, this is how some gamblers might handle the problem.

Taking his question literally, however, I continue to argue that increasing open-interest reflects a coincident indicator of trend persistence, rather than an indicator of absolute direction. For an illustration of this phenomenon, look at the bond contract from March 2006 to May 2006 when the contract fell from 112 to 106 and the aggregate open interest increased from about 0.6m to 0.9m.

As the bond contract has been range-bound for the past year, this would be consistent with a declining open-interest. Of course there are other fundamental deleveraging explanations for declining open-interest too.

Anatoly Veltman responds:

Rocky, you picked a remarkable 2006 example! It really helps to understand one of your points: that the reason for currently stagnating O.I. is that bonds have been mired in a boring range (as opposed to the clear chart breakdown in spring of 2006). However, I will always take issue with outright scepticism about using O.I. to derive signals, at times. If not used properly, as in my own hand-picked current bond example, it sure may be of little use. But I know, and have utilized throughout my career, so many fantastic opportunities where I was able to make use of O.I. for prediction/confirmation.



Long faces as NY commods floor trade ends long run
Reuters Friday February 29 2008

The downcast looks came days before open-outcry futures trading on ICE Futures U.S. ends for good when Friday's closing bell rings, concluding a nearly 140-year history of trading agricultural commodities on exchange floors in New York. The contracts will become fully electronic March 3.

As an inhabitant of the pit for many years, I mourn any loss of floor trading. What really disturbs me is that many local members bought into the spin that the exchanges put forth about the benefits of electronic trading and allowed this to happen.  I understand the politics of exchanges, and the fact that the directors don't always have the best interests of the members in mind — mainly their livelihood.  Call me old fashioned, but I prefer the open outcry method to any electronic system.  I haven't quantified the following, but I think that there will be a loss of liquidity and depth once the exchanges all go electronic. I just wonder how the exchanges will adapt in the event of a long term computer glitch, power outage, or other computer disruption.  Somehow, eternal optimist that I am, I think that there will someday be a resurgence of floor trading.

Manuel Bravochico remarks:

Floor traders for the most part were dishonest. But the ones in the NY pits were the absolute worst, many times acting as liquidity takers instead of liquidity makers for screen traders. Thank you ICE and Globex, your success at taking essentially all the pit volume away from the floor traders sends the message. A resurgence of floor trading? Someone forgot to take his meds today.


Resources & Links