'I Was Merely a Small Cog in the Machine'

-Worth Reading Interview :-

French rogue trader Jerome Kerviel arriving in court in early October.

The fall of Societe Generale trader Jerome Kerviel became symbolic of the entire financial crisis. In October, he was sentenced to five years in jail for losing almost 5 billion euros of his employer’s money. In an interview with SPIEGEL, he says his bank knew exactly what he was doing and that his trades were nothing unusual.

SPIEGEL: Monsieur Kerviel, in early October, a Paris court sentenced you to five years in prison, with two suspended, and ordered you to pay €4.9 billion ($6.7 billion) in restitution to Societe Generale, the French bank and trading house where you worked from 2000 to 2008. How did you react to the sentence?

Jerome Kerviel: I see it as a major injustice. It felt like someone had repeatedly whacked me over the head with a bludgeon — at first with the five years of imprisonment, and then with the multi-billion euro fine. And the bank has been cleared of all complicity.

SPIEGEL: At your current salary of €2,300, you would have to work over 177,000 years just to pay the fine.

Kerviel: The judge simply adopted the line of reasoning used by the lawyers of my former employer, Societe Generale. This judgment doesn’t factor in any of the mitigating circumstances that we presented during the trial. People obviously were trying to protect the bank and the financial community in Paris. And, to do so, Jerome Kerviel had to be “shot down.”

SPIEGEL: The Paris daily Le Figaro described you in the courtroom as follows: “A lonely man takes deep breaths, sitting groggily with hanging head.” Were you really that surprised by the court’s decision?

Kerviel: It pulled my legs right out from under me, it was so unexpected. At first, I was paralyzed. More than anything, I was anxious on my mother’s behalf that I would have to go straight to prison. The whole affair has been very upsetting for her. I don’t understand the verdict; it negates the financial crisis and rests the blame on me alone. We presented the court with evidence that many traders had been doing things in a way similar to how I did them and that my bosses knew what was going on. And then the bank is cleared of all complicity… (more…)

NASA: Civilization will end in 2013

In 2013, the earth will be attacked from space, with one possible outcome being mind-bogglingly severe disruption to our tech-centric way of life.
“The sun is waking up from a deep slumber, and in the next few years, we expect to see much higher levels of solar activity,” says Richard Fisher, head of NASA’s Heliophysics Division. “At the same time, our technological society has developed an unprecedented sensitivity to solar storms.”
Fisher’s comments came during the run-up to last week’s Space Weather Enterprise Forum 2010, at which scientists gathered to discuss how to prepare for the massive solar storms set to strike the earth in 2013.

“We know it is coming but we don’t know how bad it is going to be,” Fischer told The Daily Telegraph. “It will disrupt communication devices such as satellites and car navigations, air travel, the banking system, our computers, everything that is electronic. It will cause major problems for the world.”

The earth has been battered by solar storms before, but never has civilization been so vulnerable, since it’s now so dependent upon both electrical and electronic infrastructure.

In pre-electronic and barely electrical 1859, a “perfect space storm” shorted out telegraph lines in the US and Europe, causing numerous fires. It also made the Northern Lights visible as far south as Rome, Havana, and Hawaii, according to NASA — contemporary accounts relate how a group of campers in the Rocky Mountains were awakened by an “auroral light, so bright that one could easily read common print. Some of the party insisted that it was daylight and began the preparation of breakfast.”

In 1921, a solar storm induced ground currents that crippled the New York transit system. In 1989, another solar storm brought down the entire Quebec power grid due to those pesky ground currents, and plunged six million people into darkness on a cold, cold Canadian night.

Fischer sees serious trouble ahead from the 2013 peak solar activity attacks. “I think the issue is now that modern society is so dependent on electronics, mobile phones and satellites, much more so than the last time this occurred,” he said. “There is a severe economic impact from this. We take it very seriously. The economic impact could be like a large, major hurricane or storm.”

That economic impact could be a “space weather Katrina,” according to a 2008 report from the US National Academies of Sciences’ Space Studies Board entitled “Severe Space Weather Events: Understanding Societal and Economic Impacts”.

“Strong auroral currents, which wreaked havoc with the telegraph networks during the [1859] event,” the report warns, “can disrupt and damage electric power grids and may contribute to the corrosion of oil and gas pipelines.

“Economic and societal costs attributable to impacts of geomagnetic storms could be of unprecedented levels,” the report concludes. The cost of hurricane Katrina, estimated to be between $81 billion to $125 billion, would be piddling when compared to the effect of a “future severe geomagnetic storm scenario,” which the report estimates could run as high as $1 trillion to $2 trillion in the first year. Depending on damage, the report contends, full recovery could take 4 to 10 years.

Scary estimates, indeed, but — as with that other scary eventuality, global climate change — preparation could help mitigate the effects of another “perfect space storm”.

Fisher told the Telegraph that precautions could include, for example, creating power-grid backup systems so that if transformers or giant load-balancing capacitors are fried by a solar outburst, Plan B could go into effect. “If you know that a hazard is coming … and you have time enough to prepare and take precautions, then you can avoid trouble,” he said.

You can keep tabs on what the sun is throwing at us at the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Space Weather Prediction Center. But don’t worry too much — after all, if the Mayan calendar is correct, we need not fret about 2013

Know yourself.

 Easier said than done, but it’s worth spending time understanding who you are in relation to risk, money, hard work, uncertainty, and a number of other things you will face as a trader. While you’re at it, also consider what skills you need to develop: a better understanding of probability? Deeper knowledge of financial markets? Any specific analytical techniques?

There are many ways to work toward the goal of knowing yourself, and it’s probably the process that matters more than anything. Some people will talk to a therapist, some will go on long walkabouts, some will journal and reflect, and some may work on the answers in the quiet moments each day. There’s no wrong way to do this, but the market is going to make you face the best and worst in yourself.

Trading To Win

One of the easiest mistakes any trader can make is not a ‘trading’ mistake at all. Rather, the mistake is complacency with his or her trading skills and knowledge. Unfortunately, trading is not like riding a bike – you can (and will) forget how. Obviously you’ll always know how to enter orders, but the efficiency and accuracy of your trading will diminish without constant renewal of your trading mindset.

The reason that most traders don’t undergo psychological self-development is a lack of time, and that’s understandable. However, a good book, DVD or Coaching Class is actually an investment in yourself, and ultimately an investment in your bottom line. Today as a primer, and a challenge, I’d like to review some self-development concepts that Ari Kiev explores in his book ‘Trading To Win, The Psychology Of Managing The Markets‘. This in no way is a substitute for his excellent book, but they are still useful ideas even in this abbreviated form. None of them are going to be new to you, but all of them will be valuable to you.

1. Plan the entire trade before you enter the trade. Have an entry strategy, and an exit point (both a winning exit point and a non-winning exit point). This will inherently force you to look at your risk/reward ratio. Write these entries and exits down in a journal.

2. Eliminate distractions.
It’s difficult enough to find trading time at all if it’s not your regular job. If you’re a part-time trader who trades at work between meetings and phone calls, think about this: there are full-time professional traders who are concentrating on nothing other than taking your money. It’s not that they’re better or smarter than you – they just have the time to focus. If you must trade, set aside blocks of time to study or trade without distraction. Or it may be more feasible to do your trading on an end-of day basis, meaning you
place your orders and do your ‘homework’ the night before when you can
focus on it.

3. Choose a method or a small group of methods, and stick to them.
Far too often we see a trader adopt a new indicator or signal only to see it backfire. Become a master of your favorite signals, rather than a slave to any and every signal. Understand that an indicator will fail sometimes. That’s ok. The sizable winning trades should more than offset the small losing trades initiated by an errant signal. This trading method is designed to eliminate the emotional bias of trading.

4. Choosing not to trade can also be a prudent choice. You’ll frequently hear ‘don’t fight the tape’. The same idea also applies to a flat market – you can’t make stocks do something they’re just not going to do. Wait for good entries into a developing trend rather than force a bad entry into an unclear trend. (more…)

Go to top