20 Trading Rules for your weekend

1.        KNOW THYSELF
What kind of trading style fits your personality…Trend following? Day Trading? Buy and hold (please NO)? Next, what do you want to accomplish with your trading…Monthly Income? Long-Term Growth? Risk Aversion? And finally, you must have a grip on your emotions, because you will experience failure and success in trading and you need to know how you will react to both.
2.        KEEP IT SIMPLE
You should be able to describe each trading strategy in your war chest on a 3×5 index card.  There are so many different trading tools and indicators out there that it is easy to make trading and investing harder than it is. Find a few technical and/or fundamental indicators that you can apply to your trading, and master them.
3.        DIVERSIFY 
Specialize in a few different trading strategies and then spread your risk out across multiple asset classes using those trading strategies. Make sure all of your trades are not dependent on the same sector, commodity, industry, or idea. 
Only losers add to losing positions. If a trade is going against you, move on and find another trade. It’s not about pride, it’s about profits.
 You must constantly make an investment in your trading education. Read books, go to seminars, or talk to other traders, because over time the traders that make a commitment to never stop learning will be the traders that stay in the game and are able to adjust their trading style to any market environment.   
Having a trading plan creates discipline. Why are you making this trade? What’s your risk? What’s your reward? How much margin is required? What will you do if things get bad, or really good? These are questions you should be able to answer on every trade you execute.   
I don’t care who you are, you are going to have bad trades. When you have a bad trade, take a break from trading, go to a movie, or kick the dog (once), but don’t sit around and pout.   It’s important that you move on and start planning how you are going to get it back. 
Trust your research, feel confident in the time and energy you have put into your trading strategy and know that no matter what the market does in the short term, you have the ability to make money in the long term. 
9.        THE MARKET IS GOING…????
Nobody knows where the market is going and you don’t either.    So pick trading strategies that allow a little wiggle room in case you wake up one morning and the market doesn’t do exactly what you told it to. (See trade schools)
 This word sums up a long term trader. You must have the discipline to follow your systems and manage your emotions hour after hour, day after day, year after year. If you are undisciplined in other areas of your life, don’t be surprised if one day you break your trading rules. You must practice discipline 24 hours a day.  (more…)

Ferri, The Power of Passive Investing

He cites several studies and some of his own tests that demonstrate the futility of seeking alpha. Among the findings, a single actively managed fund has a 42% chance of beating a comparable index fund over the course of a single year, a success rate that drops to 12% over 25 years. The statistics get much worse as you add more active funds. If you own ten funds, you have a 27% chance of beating an all index fund portfolio over one year and a mere 1% chance over 25 years.

Ferri’s own work analyzed the returns of actively managed funds within a generic asset class over five years. He found that a portfolio of five randomly selected active funds had only a 16% chance of beating an index fund, that only 5% of them won by 0.5% or more, and that 63% of them lost by 0.5% or more. When the portfolio was expanded to ten active funds, the numbers were much worse. Only 8% were winning portfolios, 1% of them won by 0.5% or more, and 70% lost by 0.5% or more. Ferri then massaged his model to see whether the numbers could be significantly improved; they couldn’t. As he summarized the results, “Active fund investors have strong headwinds against them. The probability of selecting a winning fund is low; the average payout for those winning funds does not compensate them enough for the shortfall from being wrong; the addition of several active funds in a portfolio reduces the probability of success; and the longer that portfolio is held, the odds drop even more. That’s a lot of headwind!” (p. 92) (more…)

Lessons from Richard Bernstein, David Rosenberg,Bob Farrell

Richard Bernstein’s Lessons
1. Income is as important as are capital gains. Because most investors ignore income opportunities, income may be more important than are capital gains.
2. Most stock market indicators have never actually been tested. Most don’t work.
3. Most investors’ time horizons are much too short. Statistics indicate that day trading is largely based on luck.
4. Bull markets are made of risk aversion and undervalued assets. They are not made of cheering and a rush to buy.
5. Diversification doesn’t depend on the number of asset classes in a portfolio. Rather, it depends on the correlations
between the asset classes in a portfolio.
6. Balance sheets are generally more important than are income or cash flow statements.
7. Investors should focus strongly on GAAP accounting, and should pay little attention to “pro forma” or “unaudited” financial
8. Investors should be providers of scarce capital. Return on capital is typically highest where capital is scarce.
9. Investors should research financial history as much as possible.
10. Leverage gives the illusion of wealth. Saving is wealth.

David Rosenberg’s Lessons
1. In order for an economic forecast to be relevant, it must be combined with a market call. (more…)

Book Review: Market Indicators


Every one one us has limited bandwidth for analysis of data. We pick and choose a few ideas that seem to work for us, and then stick with them. That is often best, because good investors settle into investment methods that are consistent with their character. But every now and then it is good to open things up and try to see whether the investment methods can be improved.

For those that use market indicators, this is the sort of book that will make one say, “What if? What if I combine this market indicator with what I am doing now in my investing?” In most cases, the answer will be “Um, that doesn’t seem to fit.” But one good idea can pay for a book and then some. All investment strategies have weaknesses, but often the weaknesses of one method can be complemented by another. My favorite example is that as a value investor, I am almost always early. I buy and sell too soon, and leave profits on the table. Adding a momentum overlay can aid the value investor by delaying purchases of seemingly cheap stocks when the price is falling rapidly, and delaying sales of seemingly cheap stocks when the price is rising rapidly.

Looking outside your current circle of competence (more…)

Great Expectations

The best things in life are unexpected – because there were no expectations – ELI KHAMAROV 


 Legendary trader Roy Longstreet was once asked by Intermarket Magazine, “Why have you succeeded in trading to such a degree and why do most traders fail?”  Roy answered “Many major problems people have in trading are caused by their expectations – of where the market is headed, how much money will they make from this trade, etc. One thing I learned that has helped me: it is wrong for a person to enter any market with any preconceived expectations.” 

He went on to say, “I know that there’s always the possibility that what I don’t want to happen, will happen. The market will not act in accord with my expectations. You have to ask yourself the question, how must you function to survive? The answer is to be able to accept a loss. Not having expectations makes it a little easier to accept a loss. You must realize that losing is part of soul growth, so to speak. It’s necessary. It’s hard to accept, but necessary.” 

This problem of attaching ourselves to an outcome is not exclusive to trading, but is a problem in investing in general. Expectations of higher and higher returns have become commonplace in an environment of lower opportunity to do so. Few people consider the fact that when they invest today, the riskless marketplace pays close to zero.  For example, the one month Treasury Bill pays $40 for a $100,000 investment, and inflation is running around -1.3%, based on the Consumer Price Index.  (more…)

Investment philosophy

  • “Good information, thoughtful analysis, quick but not impulsive reactions, and knowledge of the historic interaction between companies, sectors, countries, and asset classes under similar circumstances in the past are all important ingredients in getting the legendary ‘it’ right that we all strive so desperately for.” 
  • “[T]here are no relationships or equations that always work. Quantitatively based solutions and asset-allocation equations invariably fail as they are designed to capture what would have worked in the previous cycle whereas the next one remains a riddle wrapped in an enigma. The successful macro investor must be some magical mixture of an acute analyst, an investment scholar, a listener, a historian, a river boat gambler, and be a voracious reader.Reading is crucial. Charlie Munger, a great investor and a very sagacious old guy, said it best: ‘I have said that in my whole life, I have known no wise person, over a broad subject matter who didn’t read all the time — none, zero. Now I know all kinds of shrewd people who by staying within a narrow area do very well without reading. But investment is a broad area. So if you think you’re going to be good at it and not read all the time you have a different idea than I do.'” 
  • “[T]he investment process is only half the battle. The other weighty component is struggling with yourself, and immunizing yourself from the psychological effects of the swings of markets, career risk, the pressure of benchmarks, competition, and the loneliness of the long distance runner.”  (more…)

Lessons from Lehman: ‘Don’t Panic’

WEEKEND-READINGWarren Buffett is not called the ‘Oracle of Omaha’ for nothing.

‘Be fearful when others are greedy, and be greedy when others are fearful’ is good investment advice looking back at the turmoil of September 2008.

The demise of Lehman Brothers five years ago marked the start of a truly fearful six months for investors. Only in March 2009 had risky asset prices fallen far enough for bargain-hunting buyers to begin picking up equities and lower-quality bonds.

On the anniversary this weekend of Lehman’s collapse, those investors who stayed the course in equities and junk bonds can afford a smile. The S&P 500 index has gained 50 per cent.

They have done well, though alternative bets made in 2008, such as buying a New York City taxicab medallion, have done even better. (more…)

Five Defining Features of Market Pros

Upon thinking about the differences between the highly successful traders I recently talked with and their less successful counterparts, five features stand out. Pretty much everything else follows from these five:.

1) The less successful traders are anticipating market movement and trading accordingly. The highly successful traders are identifying asset class mispricings and trading off those.

2) The less successful traders are trading particular instruments and pretty much stick to those. The highly successful traders recognize that any combination of trading instruments can be considered an asset class and appropriately priced (and gauged for mispricing).

3) The less successful traders think of their market as *the* market. The highly successful traders focus on interrelationships among markets that cut across nationalities and asset classes.
4) The highly successful traders place just as much emphasis on understanding markets as predicting them. The less successful traders don’t ask “why” questions.

5) The less successful traders are convinced they have proprietary information of value that they must not disclose to anyone. The highly successful traders use their proprietary information to selectively share with other highly successful participants, thereby gaining a large informational edge.

If I had to use one phrase to capture the essence of the highly successful traders, it would be analytical creativity. These traders are creative in their thinking about markets and rigorous in their pursuit of this creativity

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