The Dark Side of Jesse Livermore
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The Dark Side of Jesse Livermore

Jesse Livermore is commonly cited as one of the best market speculators of all time.

But is this true?  

On the one hand he did invent solid trading rules that have stood the test of time:

  • Cut Your Losses: Never average down and never hope your losses reverse. Just cut them.
  • Infinite Patience: Good trades are rare. Trade for profits, not for action.
  • Learn Macro: Understanding general conditions is essential to market mastery.
  • Price Action Is King: Learn to read the tape and don’t argue with markets — they know more than you.
  • Bet Big / Sit Tight: Ride your winners for all they’re worth.
  • Self-mastery: You are the greatest impediment to your own success. “Know thyself”.

But this widely worshipped man also had a fatal flaw.

Jesse Livermore could create tremendous wealth, but he couldn’t hold onto it.

When you go back and read the newspapers from later in JL’s career, it’s not a pretty picture.

Here’s an NY Times excerpt from April 18th, 1934, right in the middle of the Great Depression, when Livermore was filing for bankruptcy:

Mr. Livermore filed a bankruptcy petition in Federal court on March 5, listing liabilities of $2,259,212.48 and assets of $184,000. It was his fourth failure and second formal bankruptcy. After each previous failure he has been able to come back and repay his creditors, and he appeared confident yesterday he would be able to so again.

Going bust multiple times is not something you’d expect from a master trader. It’s what amateurs do…  

After the 1929 crash, Livermore had amassed $100 million dollars ($1.39 billion in today’s terms). Yet somehow, within just five years, he managed to torch that lofty sum and find himself back in bankruptcy court…

JL definitely had an edge — it’s hard to run up multiple accounts like he did without one — but why did he keep going broke?

It’s because Jesse Livermore habitually bet too large.

This explains how he accumulated mind boggling amounts of money in short periods of time, only to lose it all just as quickly.

And unfortunately for him, JL’s fatal flaw created his fame.

The larger the swings, the more interesting the news story. And since JL took the biggest swings around, he was the one written about in the papers.

The upswings reinforced his bad habit, while the downswings were explained away as “bad luck.”

JL consistently underestimated the size of his edge and bet amounts that guaranteed his bankruptcy over time.

Even if you have a solid edge, luck still plays a role in the outcome of any particular trade. You have to size your positions so that a string of losers won’t blow out your trading account.

At Macro Ops we’re all for sizing large when the stars align — it’s how the trading greats achieved stellar returns. But there’s a limit to how much you can safely bet.

Take the simple example of an unfair coin where heads comes up 90% of the time. And say you’re playing someone willing to give you 1:1 on your money if you guess right.

Obviously betting on heads makes the most sense here. There’s a huge edge. But how much money should you bet?

  • 10% of your net worth?
  • 20%?
  • 100%?

It’s easy to see that if you bet your whole wod every time you’ll eventually go broke. Hit just one tails and you’re in bankruptcy court with Livermore.

You could make huge bets and make astronomical sums in a short time, but keep playing like that and there’s a 100% chance of going belly up.

Jesse Livermore kept betting too large on his unfair coin, hence the nickname “boy plunger.” The deck was stacked in his favor but he lacked the bankroll management to successfully realize his edge over the long haul.

The science behind bet sizing came long after JL’s colorful career. A math genius by the name of Edward Thorp popularized the use of the Kelly Criterion in markets. The Kelly number tells us the maximum amount we can bet on an edge without risking bankruptcy.

Had Livermore known about this concept back in his day, he might of been able to avoid the insane swings that ultimately drove him to suicide.

It takes balls to bet big and jettison yourself to trading greatness. But be aware of the consequences.

The larger you size your trades, the more your success becomes a function of luck rather than skill.

Food for thought: If Livermore bet smaller, would we even know of his name today?

If you would like to know how we approach the bet sizing problem you can check out our investment handbook here.

 

 

How George Soros Finds His Trades

How George Soros Finds His Trades

The following is straight from Operator Kean, a member of the Macro Ops Collective. To contact Kean, visit his website here.

One of the things that makes George Soros a market legend is his uncanny ability to identify lucrative trading opportunities.

Let’s take a look at how he does it.

(I) Look Forward!

Most traders realize they need to be forward looking. But few practice it.

The reality is… herd mentality and groupthink are hard forces to overcome.

Instead of looking at the recent past and extrapolating into the future, Soros focuses on variables that might be misunderstood or overlooked. If one of these variables upsets the present consensus, he knows a large move will likely occur and reward those who anticipated the potential disruption.

In John Train’s Money Masters Of Our Time, Jim Rogers, an ex-colleague of Soros, explained their process:

We aren’t as much interested in what a company is going to earn next quarter, or what 1975 aluminium shipments are going to be, as we are in how broad social, economic, and political factors will alter the destiny of an industry or stock group for some time to come. If there is a wide difference between what we see and the market price of a stock, all the better, because then we can make money.

Stanley Druckenmiller, Soros’ right hand man during Quantum’s epic performance, outlines this concept further:

[My] job for 30 years was to anticipate changes in the economic trends that were not expected by others, and, therefore not yet reflected in security prices.

Too many investors look at the present; the present is already in the price. You’ve got to think out of the box and visualise 18 to 24 months from now what the world is going to be and what (level) securities might trade at… what a company has been earning doesn’t mean anything, what you’ve got to look at is what people think a company’s going to earn and if you can see something in 2 years that’s going to be entirely different than the conventional wisdom, that’s how you make money.

Soros’ Japanese trade in 2012 and 2013 is the best modern example of the master riding a forward looking idea to enormous gains.

After the 2011 Fukushima disaster, foreign investors fled Japanese financial assets. Pessimism surrounding the struggling economy was extremely high.

There were talks of a “nuclear holocaust” as people became concerned about a radiation fallout. And the Eurozone’s sovereign debt crisis (happening at the same time) didn’t help either.

Together they fueled risk aversion across global financial markets, causing the Japanese Yen to strengthen relative to other currencies.

The stronger JPY caused Japanese exporters to earn less after currency translation, which meant their stock prices struggled as well.

For nearly a year after the Fukushima disaster sent prices tumbling lower, the market did next to nothing. Valuations were cheap and depressed.

No one was interested in Japan. Investors were convinced the country would continue its decades-long battle with deflation.

With all this negative sentiment, the market completely overlooked Shinzo Abe taking leadership of the LDP in September 2012…

But Soros didn’t.

Forbes reported that Soros was actively participating in the Japanese equity markets while being short their currency as early as October 2012.

Abe-san only assumed the role of Prime Minister in December, meaning Soros’ firm was early in anticipating the “Abe” variable’s potential effect on Japan’s asset markets. He was positioned before reality materialised.

Anticipating how variables (that the majority aren’t thinking about) could change current security pricing is the hallmark of a successful speculator.

We all know what happened after that.

PM Abe pushed for his promise of “ending deflation’” and the Bank of Japan (BOJ) launched its aggressive monetary easing programme in April 2013.

The JPY got crushed and Japanese equities took off.

An investor using either traditional valuation metrics or plain old technicals would likely have been reluctant to foray into Japan before Abe-san was elected (there would be no buy signal according to their framework). But Soros was able to stay ahead of the crowd and capitalise when the unexpected situation materialised. 

This is macro investing on a higher level. Learn to anticipate!

(II) False Trends —  Learn To Play Them!

Soros once said there are 3 realities:

  1. Things that are true
  2. Things that are untrue
  3. And things that are reflexive

He believes we need to differentiate our circumstances to understand these 3 types of realities. In particular, he emphasises defining false trendswhich occur when a belief is founded on false assumptions, but many believe it.

Since there’s nothing in financial markets that can be determined for sure (with 100% confidence), false trends and reflexive realities are prevalent.

According to Soros, false trends can be so dominant, that they move financial markets, causing a cascading effect on asset prices and secondary effects that reinforce the initial false beliefs. This reflexiveness creates a false reality, which is exactly how bubbles form.

Soros believes you can make money from these trends, even when you know they’re false. Doing so requires establishing positions at appropriate times while maintaining objectivity and flexibility. And of course, sticking to your risk management plan is key.

The steps to exploit a false trend are:

  1. Analyze assumptions to determine if they’re true or not
  2. Identify false trends based on those assumptions
  3. Evaluate how feedback loops form and affect the fundamental reality

Don’t strive for an ideal or perfect explanation in the markets. Be sober, analytical, and pragmatic. Seek to invert your thinking and understand all possible viewpoints.

Big questions of our time like ‘Is China imploding?’ or ‘Are cryptocurrencies the future?’ are issues that fall into these realities. Whether they’re true or not doesn’t matter to the master speculator. What matters is whether you can exploit them to profit!

(III) Look For “Experimental Economics”

Soros is constantly on the lookout for financial situations where there’s a “great amount of experimenting”.

Experimenting with complex systems like economies generally leads to imbalances and unintended consequences. Soros loves to exploit these. As he once said, “the accumulated drawbacks of specific imposed economic models simply provide a playground for financial market speculators”.

Is there a government meddling with the free market (capital controls and such)?

Is there a central bank, for whatever illogical reason, pegging its currency?

These are circumstances that pique Soros’ interest. He’s ruthlessly speculated in many of these situations during his career. The most famous example is his bet against the Bank of England in 1992.

There was also another situation in the 1990s where Soros observed that the boom in Asian economies would reverse and come crashing down if liquidity conditions changed.

The stage was set as most Asian economies had their debt denominated in hard currencies like the US Dollar, while they booked their revenues in their own local currencies. Additionally, many Asian central banks maintained a peg to the greenback to help them tap into international debt financing.

This was a classic reflexive scenario where a strengthening USD would cause severe economic contractions throughout emerging Asian economies. A stronger dollar would also lead an even stronger dollar as the situation reinforced itself, trouncing the Asian economies.

This eventually forced Asian central banks to break their dollar peg after finally being overwhelmed. Soros positioned himself in several markets like Thailand, profiting from the 1997 crisis.

Macro dislocations, far-from-equilibrium situations, politicians meddling with free market affairs… these are all playgrounds for the macro speculator. Look around you — is there any ‘experimental economics’ going on?

(IV) Fade Extreme Investor Positioning

In December 2012, activist investor Bill Ackman went public in his crusade against Herbalife (HLF). He was shorting the company’s stock while accusing it of conducting a huge pyramid scheme.

Ackman’s war against Herbalife also sparked “billionaire battles” as other well-known Wall Street tycoons took sides. The most prominent of them all was Carl Icahn, who went long HLF and publicly sparred against Ackman, debating his claims.

It was reported that Soros went long HLF  sometime in the second quarter of 2013, which spurred a rally in the stock price. About 2 years later, Soros fully exited his long position during the third quarter of 2015.

Soros slipped in and out of the stock while Ackman and Icahn were playing tug-of-war over who was right…

We don’t know who’ll eventually be right, but we do know that Soros profited during that tug-of-war. Regardless of his fundamental view, market sentiment and positioning gave Soros the opportunity to profit off a gigantic short squeeze.

Look for popular trades or overcrowded positions. You may agree with the consensus view, but if most participants are positioned that way, you may want to fade them.

This fourth point may be unorthodox, but that’s how the Palindrome played the game. Remember, you’re here to make money, not to prove whether your opinion is right or wrong!

To learn more from George Soros and other investing legends, click here.

Review:

  1. Be Forward Looking
    • Anticipating how variables (that the majority aren’t thinking about) could change current security pricing is the hallmark of a successful speculator.
  2. Learn To Play False Trend
    • Analyze assumptions to determine if they’re true or not
    • Identify false trends based on those assumptions
    • Evaluate how feedback loops form and affect the fundamental reality
  3. Look For Experimental Economics
    • Governments experimenting with complex economic systems generally leads to imbalances and unintended consequences ripe for exploitation by smart speculators.
  4. Fade Extreme Investor Positioning
    • When everyone is on one side of the boat, sometimes it pays to take the other side!

 

 

Stanley Druckenmiller On Liquidity Macro and Margins
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Stanley Druckenmiller On Liquidity, Macro, & Margins

What’s obvious is obviously wrong… The present is already in the price… And it’s margins and capacity that matter ~ Stanley Druckenmiller

The following are some more words of wisdom from Druck pulled from an old Barron’s interview in 88’. There’s a few notes from me as well…

Gauging the macro environment through three different lens (emphasis by me):

We look at the market in three different ways — and each of them is flashing warning signals. First of all, we look at valuations. We use them to determine, really, the market’s risk level, as opposed to its direction… Valuation is something you have to keep in mind in terms of the market’s risk level… when catalyst’s come in and change the market’s direction… the decline could be very major if you’re coming from the kinds of overvaluation levels witnessed in ‘29 and the fourth quarter of last year (note: this was in the year following the 87’ crash). So valuation is something we keep in the back of our minds.

The major thing we look at is liquidity, meaning as a combination of an economic overview. Contrary to what a lot of the financial press has stated, looking at the great bull markets of this century, the best environment for stocks is a very dull, slow economy that the Federal Reserve is trying to get going… Once an economy reaches a certain level of acceleration… the Fed is no longer with you… The Fed, instead of trying to get the economy moving, reverts to acting like the central bankers they are and starts worrying about inflation and things getting too hot. So it tries to cool things off… shrinking liquidity [While at the same time] The corporations start having to build inventory, which again takes money out of the financial assets… finally, if things get really heated, companies start engaging in capital spending… All three of these things, tend to shrink the overall money available for investing in stocks and stock prices go down…

Druck has also said:

Earnings don’t move the overall market; it’s the Federal Reserve Board… focus on the central banks and focus on the movement of liquidity… most people in the market are looking for earnings and conventional measures. It’s liquidity that moves markets.

This is absolutely true. Liquidity is a key metric we track at Macro Ops. It’s also the most misunderstood by market players. To read more on the topic of liquidity, check out this piece.

Also, this next line is so important to understand:

…the best environment for stocks is a very dull, slow economy that the Federal Reserve is trying to get going.

Once you understand how and why liquidity works, you’ll fully grasp the old Wall St. adage of “Don’t fight the Fed”. The Fed controls the biggest lever on global liquidity. And liquidity is what drives stocks… NOT the economy.

Think about the last eight years of the current bull market. Economic growth has been pathetic, inflation fleeting, and confidence in the direction of the economy dour. But at the same time we’ve experienced one of the largest and longest bull markets in history…  

The pundits and fin-twit bears who’ve been shouting about impending doom and gloom, crying about how detached the market is from the “fundamentals”, don’t understand the most important fundamentals of them all: liquidity and sentiment.

The worse thing that could happen to this current bull market is for the economy to markedly pick up. That growth would spur inflation, which along with improved sentiment, would make the Fed a lot more comfortable tightening at a faster pace. Liquidity would then be pulled from the system and drive the stock market lower.

Don’t confuse the stock market with the economy. Understand that the market is forward looking and the biggest lever on future demand is liquidity. That’s why you need to understand the reaction function of the Federal Reserve.

On valuations and market moves:

In this century the stock market has tended to trade between 1.1 and 2.2 times book… And stocks generally yield between 6% or 7%. When people are feeling good about the world, for some reason, 2.1 to 2.2 times book and 3% yield tend to be the cap…

I do know that every time the stock market has gone down 30% in this century, we’ve had a recession. The only good economist I have found is the stock market. To people who say it has predicted seven out of the last four recessions, or whatever, my response is that it’s still a lot better than any of the other economists I know.

Concentrated bets and the importance of focusing on margins:

To try to add value to our portfolio, we make very concentrated bets in industry sectors, rather than simply being overweight or underweighted in terms of the S&P. If you look at our portfolios over time, four to five industries tend to represent 90% of the holdings — long and short… We choose these industries by trying to buy companies where we feel the margins are going to be higher in one to three years and selling companies where we feel they’re going to be lower in one to three years.

[In response to the question of why focus on margins?] It’s tied in with my liquidity argument. When corporate America is operating at very high rates, it starts building capacity, which sucks out liquidity; it also lowers companies margins two years out. And that’s the opposite of when a bull market starts…

With the longs, we are trying to identify situations where we feel that margins are going to be higher over the next year or two. We’re trying to identify industries that are operating at fairly low rates, which will be rising, but where you won’t see capacity increases for at least a couple of years, and where the profit margins will be much higher by then. [And] we don’t sell things just on a valuation basis… We need to see what is going to make the margins come down…

There are a number of important points here. Druck is noting the importance of trading off future outcomes in relation to current expectations instead of trading the present reality. In a talk at USC a number of years ago he said:

Too many investors look at the present, the present is already in the price. You have to look think of the box and sort of visualize 18 to 24 months from now what the world is going to look like and what securities might trade at.” What a company is earning right now doesn’t mean anything. What you have to look at is, what a company is earning and what people think it’s going to earn and if you can see something that in two years is going to be entirely different than the conventional wisdom, that’s how you make money. My first boss said “what’s obvious is obviously wrong.”

A useful tool for valuing potential future outcomes is the margins of sectors and industries. There’s a cyclicality in margins that provides a window into the point of the capital cycle a particularly industry or sector is in.

Fat profit margins attract competition. Competition leads to increased investment. Increased investment leads to glut and contracting margins until capacity is taken offline. And then the cycle begins anew.

Stanley Druckenmiller is among the greatest traders to ever play the game. His big advantage is that he understands liquidity and how it drives macro. And knowing macro is one of the most important keys to market success. As one of Druck’s proteges, Scott Bessent put it:

Recently, I was at a money manager roundtable dinner where everyone was talking about “my stock this” and “my stock that”. Their attitude was that it doesn’t matter what is going to happen in the world because their favorite stock is generating free cash flow, buying back shares, and doing XYZ. People always forget that 50% of a stock’s move is the overall market, 30% is the industry group, and then maybe 20% is the extra alpha from stock picking. And stock picking is full of macro bets. When an equity guy is playing airlines, he’s making an embedded macro call on oil.

For a deeper look into how our team’s evaluates liquidity, check out our Macro Ops Handbook here.

 

 

What Traders Can Learn From Professional Horse Betting
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What Traders Can Learn From Professional Horse Betting

Thegreek.com, a horse racing blog, discusses the “seven deadly sins” losing horse bettors commit. Repeat these sins in your trading and you’ll suffer the same fate as the losers at the track.

Here are the four most important sins to avoid:  

Deadly Sin No.1: The most important thing is picking winners.

Wrong! Professional horse bettors will tell you that trying to pick the winner of the race is a failed strategy and that it’s far more important to get value. What’s “value?” Consider this: A horse that you handicap as a legitimate even-money favorite should win about half the time. So that horse is a bad play at 4/5 or less. A horse that you analyze should win about one in four times the race is run, should be about 3/1. That horse won’t win as often as the even money shot but if you can get value, say 5/1 or higher, you’ll make money in the long run.

The few horse bettors good enough to make a living know it’s not about picking a winner. It’s about identifying positive expected value. Oftentimes that means the lower probability play is the better bet.

If an option is currently priced to profit 1 in 10 times, but you think it’ll profit 2 in 10 times, then buy it. It’s a value. It doesn’t matter that most of the time the option will expire worthless. Over the long haul, the buyer will walk away profitable.

Deadly Sin No.3: You should bet more on a horse you really like, such as your “best bet.”

Ridiculous. Why bet if you don’t like who you’re betting? Put another way, any horse worth betting is one worth betting significantly. Sophisticated bettors usually bet about the same amount on every bet. After all, as one professional gambler told me, “If I knew what my ‘best bets’ were I’d only bet those.” A “best bet” is a media creation. If you know what you’re doing, your best bet always should be the next bet you make.

Professional track gamblers understand that bet size is incredibly important. Sizing your bets based on “hunches” leaves you susceptible to accidently betting big on losers and tiny on winners.

Imagine three trades where you’re right on the first two and wrong on the last. And since you thought you had a “hot hand”, you bet really big on that last loser. This would result in the losses from the last trade cancelling out the gains from your first two winners. Your account would end up net negative.

Sizing up has a time and a place in trading. Soros would bet big when the stars aligned. But you need lots of experience before you can start sizing up on what you think are great trades.

Until you’re seasoned and able to decipher between a good and great bet, keep your position sizes consistent. If you don’t, you risk going broke from bad luck.

Deadly Sin No. 4: Statistical betting trends are important.

Actually, they’re not. “Technical handicapping,” as it’s called, is another of those manufactured disciplines used by professional touts, not professional horse racing bettors. Mostly, technical handicapping—wherein statistics are employed to predict an outcome—are little more than “backfitting,” a practice where someone makes up a theory to fit a set of numbers. It’s a lazy handicapping shortcut and no replacement for hard analysis.

Ever wonder why those really smart quants with the fancy degrees end up blowing up? It’s because they have too much trust in a model tightly fit to past data.

Studying the past can help you figure out what’ll happen in the future, but only within reason. If you create a trading model based on the premise that the future will play out exactly like the past… it will fail.

Keep historically based assumptions as simple as possible. That will help thread the needle between useful insight and robustness.

Deadly Sin No. 7: Specialize in certain aspects of the game and pick your spots.

Why limit yourself? If you never bet grass races or stay away from maidens you may be missing some great betting opportunities. When you gamble, having more options always is preferable.

That’s why our team at Macro Ops trades global macro. If stocks dry up, we have the flexibility to drop into the grains market or currencies or any other market where there’s high expected value profit opportunities. The more markets you learn to trade, the easier it is to trade only the most attractive setups.

For a deeper look into our team’s trading strategy, check out our Macro Ops Handbook here.

 

 

Exploit Errors To Find Your Edge
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Exploit Errors To Find Your Edge

Market speculation is a zero-sum game. In order for someone to win, someone else needs to lose.

You can think of the market as a collection of players… some weak, some average, and some strong. Your goal is to take action against the weak players and relentlessly separate them from their money.

To do this you’ll need an edge.

Now the word edge is thrown around a lot in finance, but what it really means is the ability to exploit the errors of your opponents.

If you can’t find these errors, or if your opponents just aren’t making them, you can’t win.

Why?

Because to make a bet with positive expectation, someone else needs to make a bet with negative expectation.

A bet with positive expected value or “positive EV” means that placing it repeatedly will result in net profits. The outcome of any single instance may be negative due to variance or luck, but over the long-run the bet’s edge will express itself and profit.

The opposite is true for a “negative EV” bet. A negative EV bet may win in the short-term due to variance or luck, but over the long-term it’ll produce net losses.

To thrive in this zero-sum environment you need a relentless focus on other players’ errors. You need to find and exploit them.

How To Find Errors

Finding errors begins with asking the right questions:

  • Which market players make the most errors?
  • Why do they make them?
  • What market situations trigger these errors?

In answering these questions, we can break market errors into two types — unintentional and intentional.

Unintentional Errors

Unintentional errors are made by players who try to win, but then fail because of flaws in their process and implementation. Taking advantage of these errors can be very lucrative.

Here’s a list of the most common reasons weak players make bad bets:

  • Ego
  • Fear
  • Myopia
  • Labeling

Ego

Many players are only in the market to stroke their own ego. True or not, they want the world to know they have the “biggest dick” in the room.

In the poker world we call these guys “ballers”. They aren’t at the casino to win, but are instead trying to bully the table in order to come off as rich and aggressive. They could care less about making positive EV bets. These guys are there to show off.

You can easily spot ego-driven market players on Finance Twitter. These are the ones who hold onto particular narratives with a vice grip until the bitter end, win or lose. In the process they make tons of negative EV bets which are perfect for the astute Operator to exploit.  

Look no further than the gold bugs to see ego in action.

Gold bugs will never stop buying gold. It doesn’t matter where the price is going. They have a certain set of beliefs about inflation and central bank policy that need to be proven right. The system has to fall apart, vindicating the gold bugs who can finally yell “told ya so!” Nothing else matters.

Their desire to be right about gold is purely to satisfy their own ego.

Making a trading decision based on ego instead of positive expectation is a huge error that can easily provide you with profit. A gold bug will always be there to buy the gold you’re trying to short in a downward trend. And as you know, it’s pretty easy for a bear to crush a bug…

Fear

Fear is a key evolutionary emotion that helped keep us alive over millions of years. But in the game of speculation, it only kills us.

Succumbing to fear creates large unintentional trading errors. A great example is the investing public that consistently sells at market lows. Fear overwhelms their trading decisions and leads to them sell at the bottom when they should be buying.

It takes a considerable amount of time, effort, and mental rewiring for an investor to overcome the fear of losses. But doing so gives you an edge over those who haven’t.

Take hedge fund titan David Tepper for example. In 2009 he loaded up on shares and debt of various banks when everyone thought they were headed for bankruptcy. By the end of the year he pocketed himself a cool $2.5 billion…  

Watch for trades made out of fear. You can take the opposite side for huge gains.

Myopia

It’s tough for investors to picture a future drastically different than their immediate past. Weak players lack the imagination and foresight to do so. This can be exploited.

Many short sellers, for example, constantly step in front of innovation trains and get mowed down in the process. The unimaginative bears in Tesla have been getting flattened for years…

Tesla Revolutionize Auto and Energy Industries

Their first mistake is not accepting that Tesla could indeed revolutionize both the auto and energy industries. Their second mistake is discounting the power of other investors’ belief in that same possibility. Herding and reflexivity can push prices much higher than what “conventional” valuation methods infer.

Watch for these trigger happy short sellers fighting large upside momentum. Most of them can’t take the pain and puke out. The resultant buying pressure they create from covering their shorts will send the market screaming higher once again. It’s easy to benefit if you’re on the right side.

Labeling

In professional fund management there exists a game within a game. You have the trading game and then you have the asset gathering game. Managers have to balance both. This means that sometimes a manager may have to take a negative EV action in trading because it’s a positive EV action in asset management.

I call this “labeling”.  

Since a manager may be known as the “oil bull”, “equity bear”, or “value guy”, he’s forced to tilt his bets towards his brand. That way he can maximize the business side of his fund (sales and marketing).

The charming and brash founder of Eclectica, Hugh Hendry, paid greatly for his industry label. Hugh defined his brand by betting on a market collapse in 2008. He knocked it out of the park and his assets under management swelled.

But from then on he was forced to stick to his permabear view. That’s what his new investors hired him to do. They didn’t want him to own beta. They wanted protection if the global economy went double dipped.

Unfortunately for Hugh that meant fighting the central banks and putting up multiple years of poor performance.

Eventually this label drove him mad. In late 2013 he finally decided to flip the cards and go full bull.

I was actually on the investment call the moment he announced his decision to bet on higher prices. The fund of funds at my prior employer had money with him.

His reasons for turning bullish were sound. The central banks had too much control over the current macro narrative and it was a fool’s errand to fight them. But his investor base didn’t listen. Everyone began pulling out like crazy, including my employer.

And guess what? Hugh ended up being right!

Despite the fact that he took a positive EV bet in the trading game, Hugh took a massive negative EV bet in the asset gathering game. His fund management business suffered greatly for it. Hugh’s assets under management are now a fraction of what they were even though he’s trading better.

Errors stemming from the reality of professional fund management make fertile hunting grounds for traders on the outside. Track the “big brands” and fade their trades when the data clearly supports the opposite of their brand biases.

Intentional Errors

Capitalizing on unintentional errors is definitely lucrative, but it takes significant time and energy. Players making these errors still want to win the game. They’ll put up a fight and force you to wrestle their money away. Sometimes they’ll even beat you if you aren’t on your A-game.

On the other hand, players committing intentional errors are literally giving you their money. These guys are much easier targets.  

Intentional errors come from players who don’t care if their trade has positive expected value. They’re willing to lose on trades because their goal isn’t long-term profitability.

Now that may sound a little crazy… who in their right mind is willing to consistently lose on every trade?

Answer: Central banks and hedgers.

Central Banks

CB’s are the ultimate source of intentional errors. They’re like the guys at the casino willing to donk off millions of dollars with no regard for risk control. In poker we call these players Whales. Nothing is more profitable than exploiting a Whale. Nothing.

CB’s don’t care if their trades have positive expected value. Their goal, no matter the cost, is market stability (whatever that means). Post-2008 CB’s made their intentions very clear when injecting record stimulus into the system. They said they’d buy bonds no matter the price. You can make a TON of money exploiting scenarios like this.

Ray Dalio has been taking advantage of CB’s for decades. He modeled their behavior into his macro machine and has been benefiting ever since.  

George Soros plays the CB’s like a fiddle as well. Back in 92’ he broke the Bank of England by taking the other side of their negative EV trade defending the European Exchange Rate Mechanism. Then in late 2012, when Japan began their unprecedented QE program, Soros shorted the yen and massively increased his Scrooge McDuck sized chip stack.

These guys know how to exploit a whale — a must-have skill for any serious speculator.

Hedgers

Central banks may be the most lucrative whale in the game, but they’re not the only profit gusher. Hedgers make plenty of intentional errors you can take advantage of too.

Trader’s have been extracting profits from commodity hedgers since the beginning of the futures markets.

When a farmer shorts grain futures, he’s doing so to avoid unexpected shocks to his income come harvest time. The farmer isn’t worried about his hedges’ expected value. He’s only focused on his crop and its profits.

A large portion of the CTA industry lives off this fact. They consistently make money by taking the other side of farmers’ hedging.  

The same goes for FX markets as well. Multinationals hedge foreign currency exposure to keep their core operations running smoothly. And once again, they’re not focused on making positive EV bets on the trading side.

In equity markets, large institutions like pension and insurance funds hedge their accounts to meet short-term cash flow obligations during volatility events. They purchase protection at a premium and are willing to consistently lose money to avoid liquidity crunches.

These negative EV hedging trades create extraordinary opportunity for the nimble speculator who can take the other side when conditions align.

Attack The Whales First

Whales making intentional errors don’t care that they’re losing. They’re willing to pay you for decades without batting an eye. You can systematically extract profits without them noticing.

Compare that to a weak speculator. They need to win or at least break even to stay active. If they’re consistently losing it won’t be long until they go broke or evolve to stop the bleeding. Once they leave the game, there’s nothing left for you to harvest.

Ask yourself, “How long can I expect this player to continue making errors?” The best edges come from those who are willing to make mistakes repeatedly without changing their strategy.

Use this concept as a starting point for your search.

It’s All One Giant Competition

Speculation means fighting for a living. Instead of delivering value in exchange for dollars, you need to find weak players and take their dollars. This means constantly searching for poorly performing players and the errors they make. If you’re not thinking in this fashion… then you’re probably the one getting exploited.

I’ll let Buffett close this one out.

“If you’ve been playing poker for half an hour and you still don’t know who the patsy is, you’re the patsy.”

If you’d like to learn more about exploiting errors, then check out our Trading Handbook here.

 

 

The Man Behind Quantum George Soros Philosophy and Mindset

The Man Behind Quantum: George Soros’ Philosophy & Mindset

The following is straight from Operator Kean, a member of the Macro Ops Hub. To contact Kean, visit his website here.

The Quantum Group of Funds is one of the most successful hedge funds in history. Built by uber-investor George Soros, it was only recently overtaken by Bridgewater to become number 2 on the list of the most profitable hedge funds of all time. Given Quantum’s success, there’s much we can learn studying the investment philosophy and mindset of the man who ran it.

(I) Uncertainty is the name of the game!

Have you ever been 100% sure about something which turned out to be completely wrong?

Soros has.

That’s why he understands that humans are fallible creatures. We’re imperfect beings with an imperfect understanding of the world around us.

Soros was originally intrigued by a concept from Quantum Mechanics called the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle. It postulates that the precise position and momentum of a particle cannot be measured 100% accurately. No matter how sure you are of the process, there’s always an element of uncertainty involved.  

Understanding and accepting uncertainty is crucial. Doing so gives you the courage and conviction to:

  1. Admit you can be wrong
  2. Acknowledge the markets can be wrong
  3. Accept that both you and the markets can be wrong in varying degrees

Soros believes that markets cannot be understood merely through traditional economics. There’s nothing real and tangible involved. It’s all just a mix of opinions and belief systems. This means that in order to survive, we need to think in possibilities, and constantly adapt to an ever-changing paradigm.

(II) Risk is inevitable. Manage it!

Most believe risk is two-dimensional — to make higher returns, you need to assume higher risk.

But Soros sees it differently. He believes in asymmetry. Instead of abiding by “more risk = more return”, Soros obsesses over risking as little as possible to make as much as possible.

He also understands that everything has an element of risk that’s unknowable (uncertainty principle). In reality, what most consider a “risk-free” asset could actually be disastrous in extreme and unexpected circumstances. Instead of “risk-free”, Soros would prefer calling these assets “low risk based on what I or others know”. Notice the difference? It’s subtle, but comes with a drastic shift in mindset.

Soros’ deep understanding of risk allows gives him comfort in tough times. Multiple biographies quote Soros calling his period as a refugee during WW2 as the “best time of his life”. He was comfortable “living riskily” in that environment during his youth. Later on in life, while managing Quantum, Soros was known for taking big bets that seemed overly risky to others. He’s the one who pushed Druckenmiller to size up their pound trade and “break the Bank Of England”.

The point is that Soros fully understands and accepts risk down to his core — both the known and unknown kind. This allows him to maintain a healthy relationship with risk through which he can successfully manage it. That’s what it takes to win in this game.

(III) The bottom line is all that matters!

Soros is limitlessly flexible. He doesn’t care about abiding by a particular investment strategy or set of rules. He only cares about profits.

In fact, when recalling his investment activity, Soros failed to find just one system or list of rules that he maintained throughout his career. He instead found constantly changing patterns that were unforeseeable beforehand. Every new form of speculation was different than the prior. It all depended on circumstances. In both Inside the House of Money and Soros on Soros he’s quoted as saying:

I don’t play the game by a particular set of rules; I look for changes in the rules of the game.

This is why Quantum was unique. They never had a set strategy. The fund was highly opportunistic, investing across all asset classes, across the world. They had no directional bias and played both the long and short sides. Soros believed that setting a strategy was merely an ego-building exercise that would turn one myopic.

Soros also had no qualms about riding bubbles and manias. He once said that when he sees a bubble forming, he rushes in to buy, “adding fuel to the fire”.

He doesn’t mind going against the crowd either. Soros famously crusaded against various central banks in the 1990s, betting big and capitalising on the collapses of currency pegs in Europe and across emerging markets.

This unconstrained and ruthless approach evolved Quantum into what is now — a family office that consists of everything from real assets, to private equity, and even venture capital vehicles. The fund adapted to whatever made money…

This philosophy and mindset is what made George Soros the market legend that he is today. Following his principles will help you on your road to market success as well.

To learn more from George Soros and other investing legends, click here.

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Managing Your Losing Trades

Amateurs focus on finding trades.

Operators focus on managing trades.

Inexperienced traders spend far too much time on trade identification. Their misguided goal is to find the perfect trade with the perfect entry.

The truth is… perfect doesn’t exist. You’re not gonna find some magical combination with a 98% win rate.

Identifying a trade is really only 10% of the process. The other 90% is managing the trade.

Take it from Peter L. Brandt, a legend who’s averaged over 40% compounded returns throughout his 40 year trading career(!!):

Consistently profitable commodity trading is not about discovering some magic way to find profitable trades. [T]rade identification is the least important of all. In my opinion, learning the importance of managing losing trades is the single most important trading component. Consistently successful trading is founded on solid risk management.

Consider an average year for PLB. Only 30% of his trades become winners. The rest either break even or lose. Yet he’s still extremely profitable.

How is that possible?

It’s because he keeps his losses extremely small. PLB’s major edge is in risk management. Limiting his losses ensures his winners more than make up for the losers. He consistently avoids the big mistake that would knock him out of the game. That’s how he achieves long-term success.

Recently our team dug into a stock called Neonode (NEON).

The fundamental thesis was solid.  

We had a left-for-dead company on the brink of a massive turnaround. NEON previously suffered from “too early” syndrome with its product fit, but now its market was finally catching up.

The play was contrarian to say the least. The stock had already fallen over 80% from its recent highs. Investors hated it. But these same investors were also blind to the drivers behind its soon-to-be revival…

We entered our position.

A few weeks later, quarterly earnings were released. And sure enough the stock plummeted over 20%.

Ouch.

You’d think a loss like that would put a dent in our portfolio…

But it didn’t.

And that’s because we managed our risk.

We deployed a three-pronged defense for this trade.

First, we entered on a breakout from a long-term descending triangle pattern. This technical setup gave us an intelligent price level to determine where we’d be wrong. If our risk point was hit, we’d exit our position.  

Second, we put an automatic stop at our risk point. That way if price overshot that level (as it did on earnings day) we’d automatically be out.

Third, we sized our position small. As we said, this was a contrarian play. And while these plays can be extremely lucrative, they’re also very hard to time. We weren’t surprised to get knocked out on our first attempt. That’s why we entered small with the goal of building size over time.

Had we entered NEON heavy, with no technical breakout, and no stop, we’d be in a tough situation right now.

But because of our risk management, we’re just fine. Our portfolio is intact and we plan on establishing another position when a new technical setup forms.

Our original fundamental thesis hasn’t changed. If anything, this price drop makes it an even sweeter deal. But it may take some time before the market comes around to this stock’s value. We’re willing to wait.

That’s the benefit of trade management. It allows you to play another day. Our first entry wasn’t the end all be all. We have an opportunity to try again.

PLB is no stranger to quickly getting knocked out of a position either. He gives himself three tries to hit a trend. We take multiple attempts as well.  

It’s hard being a contrarian. But the reason we not only survive, but thrive, is because of our risk management.

If you’d like to learn more about how we manage risk at Macro Ops, click here to get our Trading Handbook.

 

 

Liquidity The Most Important Fundamental
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Liquidity: The Most Important Fundamental

I’m sure you’ve heard analysts, financial pundits, and other babbling heads yabber on and on about how these markets don’t reflect the “fundamentals”.

They’ve ranted non-stop about how the fundamentals prove that a bear market is around the corner.

They’ve raved about valuations being stretched and how stocks will collapse any day now…

If you’ve been taking investment advice from these doomsdayers, then please accept my condolences for your portfolio loss.

These broken clocks should heed the words of Mark Twain:

Denial ain’t just a river in Egypt.

No, denial is not just a river in Egypt, it’s also the perpetual state most market participants live in.

Now I’m not bashing the usefulness of what are commonly thought of as fundamentals. Things like earnings per share, book value, and revenue growth are indeed important.

What I’m saying is that these are only a few pieces of a much larger puzzle.

The dictionary defines the word fundamental as, “a central or primary rule or principle on which something is based.”

If there’s one “central or primary rule” on which all fundamentals are based, it’s liquidity. Liquidity is the Mac-Daddy of fundamental inputs. And not surprisingly, it’s the least known and understood.

Here’s one of the greatest of all time, Stanley Druckenmiller, on the importance of liquidity (emphasis mine):

Earnings don’t move the overall market; it’s the Federal Reserve Board… focus on the central banks and focus on the movement of liquidity… most people in the market are looking for earnings and conventional measures. It’s liquidity that moves markets.

So what is liquidity exactly?

In simple terms, liquidity is demand, which is the willingness of consumers to purchase goods and other assets. This demand is driven by the tightening and easing of credit.

What we usually think of as money (the stuff we use to buy things) is comprised of both hard cash + credit. The amount of hard cash in the system is relatively stable. But credit is extremely elastic because it can be created by any two willing parties. It’s this flexibility that makes it the main factor in driving liquidity/demand.

The majority of credit, and therefore money, is created outside the traditional banking sector and government. Most is created between businesses and customers. When businesses purchase wholesale supplies on credit; money is created. When you open a Best Buy credit card to purchase that new flat screen TV; money is created. And when you purchase stocks on margin from your broker; money is created.

The logic is simple. The more liquidity and credit in the system, the more demand, which in turn pushes markets higher.

Which leads us to our next question: What are the largest levers that affect the amount of credit, money, and liquidity in the system?

The answer to that is interest rates. These are set by both central banks and the private market.

The primary rate set by central banks is the largest factor in determining the cost of money. And the cost of money in turn determines liquidity/demand in the system.  

When the cost of money is low (low interest rates) more demand is created in two ways: [1] it makes sense to exchange lower yielding assets for riskier, higher yielding ones and [2] more people are willing to borrow and spend (money is created) because credit is cheaper.

This affects the stock market in two ways: [1] share prices rise as investors trade up to riskier assets and [2] companies’ total sales increase because of higher consumer demand caused by cheaper credit. Liquidity affects both the denominator (earnings) and numerator (price per share) in stock valuations as it drives markets higher.

You may be asking yourself, “well, if the primary rates set by central banks are this important, then will markets stay forever inflated as long as they keep rates low?”

No, they won’t.

Though central bank rates are the largest influence on demand and the cost of money, they are not the only influence.

The private sector assigns its own rates based off the central bank rate, but also includes an additional premium (or spread) that fluctuates according to the credit risks they see in the market.

For instance, even though the Fed Funds rate has remained near zero over the last two years, interest rates on high-yield loans (the primary lending market to the energy sector) ballooned during the recent oil collapse because of increased perceived risks. Money tightened and became more expensive as liquidity became constrained in that sector. This type of liquidity tightening is what causes markets to fall, regardless of whether the primary rate is low or not.

The way liquidity ebbs and flows directly affects market narratives.  

The 2008 financial crisis occurred because central banks cranked up liquidity to jumpstart the economy after the 2000 tech bust. All this extra money got dumped into housing. That’s how the bullish real estate narrative was born. Eventually a bubble formed and later popped as liquidity dried up.   

And of course the central bank’s response was to ease even more. They’ve now kept the liquidity spigots blasting longer than any other time in history. As long as liquidity conditions stay positive, we can expect the bulls to keep running.

Like Druck said “It’s liquidity that moves markets.” Bull markets, bear markets, everything.

Knowing how to gauge liquidity is the number one thing you can do protect your capital and profit.

To learn more about gauging liquidity, download our investment handbook here.

 

 

Lessons From A Trading Great Amos Hostetter
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Lessons From A Trading Great: Amos Hostetter

Amos Hostetter cofounded Commodities Corporation (otherwise known as CC) along with Helmut Weymar back in 1969. CC is the trading shop that produced more legendary trading talent than the Yankees have All-Stars. Alumni include: Bruce Kovner, Michael Marcus, Paul Tudor Jones, Ed Seykota and more…

Hostetter was considered the wise sage and mentor of the group. He’s credited with imbuing many of these trading greats with the wisdom and knowledge they used to achieve their grand heights.

Upon his untimely death in a car accident in 1977, the directors of CC commissioned one of their traders, Morris Markovitz, to gather and record Hostetter’s timeless philosophy on markets and trading. The goal was to ensure future CC traders could benefit from his invaluable teachings. The resulting work was an internal booklet titled Amos Hostetter; A Successful Speculator’s Approach to Commodities Trading.

Hostetter’s trading philosophy could be boiled down to the following (in Hostetter’s own words):

  1. Try to acquire every bit of fundamental information available. Read extensively.
  2. Simultaneously, post daily charts on commodities and develop a feel for trends.
  3. Follow the fundamentals in your trading but only if and as long as the charts do not cast a negative vote.

He regarded money management as the first priority for any serious market speculator. From Markovitz (emphasis mine):

Sound money management is crucial to successful trading. The best market analysis won’t get a trader to the bottom line — consistent profits — unless he has a sound money-management policy. This is an area where Mr. Hostetter excelled.

Sometimes it is hard to draw a sharp line between trading principles and money-management principles. If I were to paraphrase a famous saying, I think it would provide an accurate summary of one of Mr. Hostetter’s most important trading and money-management principles: the market, to be commanded, must be obeyed. As a trader, Mr. Hostetter was aware of his own fallibility. He tried to protect himself from errors by the trading rules he used and by trying to anticipate areas of potential surprise. This alone, however, was not enough. If the market moved against him for a reason he did not understand, he would often exit without waiting for a trading rule to take him out: as a money manager, he knew he could not afford the luxury of a prolonged argument with the market.

Perhaps his most important money-management principles was “Take care of your losses and the profits will take care of themselves.” This means that a trader should place strong emphasis on keeping his losses small, because two or three large losses in succession would be a crippling blow.

His risk management principle of “taking care of your losses” is similar to Howard Marks of Oaktree Capital: “if we avoid the losers, the winners will take care of themselves.” This truth is the single most important law of speculation. It sounds glib, but cutting your losses and letting your winners run is the most common thread amongst all great traders. If I could travel back in time 15 years, I’d go back and beat this fact into my thick skull… and I’d be much richer today for it.

Hostetter used a multi-pronged approach to assessing markets and potential trades. It’s from him that Michael Marcus likely developed the “Marcus-Trifecta” to gauge markets — looking at “technicals, fundamentals, and market tone”. Here’s an overview of his approach to fundamentals:

Mr. Hostetter’s fundamental approach was, to use his own phrase, “broad brush.” This means that he would look at the overall balance sheet and the statistics that applied to the commodity in which a trade was contemplated. Then, certain basic questions would be asked:

— Will production exceed consumption this season (a stocks build-up)? If so, then the initial premise would be bearish.

— Will consumption exceed production (a stocks draw-down)? If so, then the initial premise would be bullish.

The initial premise would then be refined by other considerations. For example: weather could destroy the current production estimate for an agricultural commodity; a change in general economic conditions could destroy the demand or consumption estimate; the high price of meat could increase demand for potatoes.; the low price of corn could increase demand for soybean meal; and so forth. The last two items are intended to illustrate the flexibility, or creativity, of Mr. Hostetter’s thinking, and represent the personal style he brought to commodity analysis. He held facts in the highest regard, yet he remained constantly alert to the principle that the facts can and do change.

The key phrase is flexibility of thinking, which is the opposite of stubbornness. Mr. Hostetter knew that, whatever his fundamental analysis might show today, there was a good chance it would show something different by the time the last day of the season had arrived… In brief, Mr. Hostetter would never wed himself to a precise position on the outlook for the future; he had often enough experienced the phenomenon of a significant price change before the reasons behind it became general knowledge. He kept himself prepared for surprises, in both directions, in advance. If one does a little “dreaming” about the possibilities on both sides, then he is in possession of possible explanations for surprises, and will be less hesitant to act if and when they come.

Maintaining an open-mind and staying aware of your biases is critical. Markets serve ample helpings of humble pie to those who arrogantly wed themselves to a “market prediction”.

Hostetter took a nuanced approach to using technicals, similar to how we utilize price action in our trade analysis at Macro Ops. Markovitz writes:

Mr. Hostetter definitely did not accept the clear-cut dichotomy between fundamental and technical trading. Both methods can be used successfully, but he blended the two. It is my impression that Mr. Hostetter would have agreed with the following statement:

The pure fundamentalist concerns himself with production, consumption, stocks, and other basic economic data, viewing these as the causes and price as the effect, while the pure technician regards price as its own cause. In fact, to draw a sharp line of choice between these two approaches is not the best policy. Price itself should also be regarded as a fundamental. It can play the role of cause or effect or both under different circumstances.

The market’s own behavior can, in a real sense, be classified as a fundamental variable. The method of analysis, however, is completely different. The technical aspect of Mr. Hostetter’s trading consists primarily of:

1. Trend following
2. Support and resistance areas
3. Pattern recognition

These are listed in order of their importance, although any one of them may be the dominant influence at a  given time.

Within this technical framework Hostetter employed a number of useful heuristics to help him read the tape:

Many of the techniques Mr. Hostetter used depended on a time factor. In general, as with congestion areas, most patterns accrue more significance if they take more time to form, and a trader should be aware of time as well as price when considering any technical pattern. For example, a bear market that has persisted for a year is unlikely to form its bottom in a week, nor is a two-month bull market likely to take a year to form a top. A trader should keep in mind the duration of recent major moves and expect commensurate time periods for the formation of the current pattern. (Patience is an important virtue — hastiness rarely pays).

I find Hostetter’s thoughts on the “time factor” useful in analyzing where price may be headed. Markets tend to follow a certain symmetry over long periods of time. Some technical heuristics Hostetter used are:

  • He would become seriously concerned if a bull market was unable to make a new high for thirty days (the same is true for a bear market that hadn’t made new lows for thirty days).
  • A poor price response to bullish news is itself an ill omen for long positions, especially if other cautionary signs are present (e.g., the bull market is old, the vigor has shown some signs of waning, prices are near a fundamental objective, etc.)
  • The most important timing issue is patience. One should wait for his opportunity, wait until everything lines up according to his expectations. It is far better to miss an opportunity here or there than to jump in too early without a clear plan. Too much patience is rarely the problem for any trader.
  • A trader should do his fundamental homework, keep his eye on the charts, and patiently observe. Once he is able to form a definite fundamental opinion, he should wait for confirming market action before proceeding.

Practicing the necessary patience to win is one of the hardest aspects of speculation. Fear is man’s strongest emotion and is behind one of a trader’s most common foibles — the fear of missing out (FOMO). Success comes to those who realize that Pareto’s Law dominates the distribution of returns. Only a handful of trades a year will account for the majority of profits. It pays to sit and wait patiently for those fat pitches to come along.

Lastly, here’s a list of maxims and trading do’s and don’ts as recorded by Hostetter in his own words.

GENERAL PRINCIPLES AND MARKET MAXIMS

  • A very general and important rule is: take care of your losses and your profits will take care of themselves. This is both a trading maxim and a money-management tool. A trader needs big winners to pay for his losses and he won’t capture these big wins unless he stays with the trend all the way.
  • There is never any objection to taking a loss. There must always be a good reason before you can permit yourself to close out a profit.
  • When in doubt, get out. Don’t gamble. Be sure, however, that your doubt is based on something real (fundamentals, market action, etc.), and not simply on your own nervousness about the price level. If it is only the price level that is making you nervous, then either stick with the winner or at worst use a more sensitive stop-loss point. Give the major trend all the chance you can to increase your profits.
  • All major trends take a long time to work themselves out. There are times when the best approach is just to sit and do nothing, letting the power of the underlying trend work for you while others argue about the day-to-day news. Be patient.
  • Surprising price response to news is one of the most reliable price forecasters. Bullish response to bear news, or vice-versa, means that the price had already discounted the news and the next move will probably go the other way. Actually, this is only one example of a wider principle: When a market doesn’t do what it “should”, then it will probably do what it “shouldn’t”, and fairly soon. (Note that false breakouts, up or down, are also subsumed under this more general principle. When new lows are achieved in a long-term bear market, for example, the market ‘ ‘should” follow through with weakness—after all, it is a bear market. If, instead, it rallies quickly, this provides some evidence against the bear market premise).

THE DANGERS IN TRADING CAUSED BY HUMAN NATURE

  1. Fear — fearful of profit and one acts too soon.
  2. Hope — hope for a change [in the] forces against one.
  3. Lack of confidence in one’s own judgment.
  4. Never cease to do your own thinking.
  5. A man must not swear eternal allegiance to either the bear or bull side. His concern lies in being right.
  6. Laziness prevents a trader from keeping posted to the minute.
  7. The individual fails to stick to facts.
  8. People believe what it pleases them to believe.

DON’TS

  1. Don’t sacrifice your position for fluctuations.
  2. Don’t expect the market to end in a blaze of glory. Look out for warnings.
  3. Don’t expect the tape to be a lecturer. It’s enough to see that something is wrong.
  4. Never try to sell at the top. It isn’t wise. Sell after a reaction if there is no rally.
  5. Don’t imagine that a [market] that has once sold at 150 must be cheap at 130.
  6. Don’t buck the market trend.
  7. Don’t look for breaks. Look out for warnings.
  8. Don’t try to make an average from a losing game.
  9. Never keep goods that show a loss and sell those that show a profit. Get out with the least loss and sit tight for greater profits.

SUGGESTIONS

  1. Experience must teach. Follow it invariably.
  2. Observation gives the best tips of all. Observe [market] behavior and experience shows how to profit.
  3. Buying on a rising market is the comfortable way. The point is not so much to buy as cheap as possible or go short at top prices, but to buy and sell at the right time.
  4. Remember [a market is] never too high for you to begin buying or too low to begin selling. Let your tape reading show you when to begin. After the initial transaction don’t make a second unless the first shows a profit.
  5. There is a great deal in starting right in every enterprise.
  6. When something happens on which you did not count when your plans were made, it behooves you to utilize the opportunity.
  7. In a bear market it is always wise to cover if complete demoralization develops suddenly.
  8. Stick to facts only and govern your actions accordingly.
  9. What is abnormal is seldom a desirable factor in a trader’s calculations. If a [market] doesn’t act right, don’t touch it.

To get more wisdom from trading greats like Hostetter, click here.

 

 

The Embodiment Of Trading Greatness

Donald Trump: The Embodiment Of Trading Greatness

Paul Tudor Jones, Bruce Kovner, Jesse Livermore… forget about em.

The only name you need to know when it comes to trading greatness is Donald Trump.

He’s everything a trader should aspire to be. When it comes to having “strong opinions, weakly held”, Trump has EXTREMELY strong opinions, EXTREMELY weakly held.

At the beginning of his campaign, The Donald was 2000% sure that China was a currency manipulator. But after a single piece of chocolate cake with his new buddy Xi, China was a problem no more.

In fact, that piece of cake was SO good that Trump is now looking to improve trade relations with the country. Along with changing his stance on NATO, Trump has quickly transformed from a staunch isolationist against all imports (other than his wife) to an avid globalist.

That’s what makes him amazing. He has an ability to turn on a dime that is uncanny. You can never pin him down to one idea, because he’s always switching his stance. He’s more flexible than a Cirque du Soleil performer.

Some people call Trump a populist, changing his position to whatever the most people want, but that’s not true. In reality, he’s just extremely fallible.

Trump is a master of changing his mind as soon as “new” information becomes available.

Everyone thought Trump and Putin were best buds. But they quickly ate their words when Trump hit Syrian President Bashar al-Assad with a few Tomahawks.

Maybe Trump and Putin were friends at one time, but that was before Trump saw that infomercial of the Syrian kids. This “new” information forced him to rip off the friendship bracelet Putin gave him and take action.

See? Huuuuuuge amounts of fallibility.

As Stanley Druckenmiller once explained:

I’ve learned many things from [George Soros], but perhaps the most significant is that it’s not whether you’re right or wrong that’s important, but how much money you make when you’re right and how much you lose when you’re wrong.

In Trump’s case, it’s not about doing what’s right or wrong, but how much money (or votes) you come away with in the end.

If you want to be a great trader, you need to be like Trump. Start with your fallibility and then move on to fixing your hair.

Good luck!

We’re kidding. Obviously. To learn from the real trading greats, click here.