A Lesson from Einstein

A lesson I learned from Einstein is the benefit of being able and willing to changes one’s mind. At times a pacifist, he changed after witnessing the rearmament in Europe. In physics and science in general when presented with new evidence it is quite normal to revise theories and mathematical proofs, or even to reverse a position entirely. Putting ego aside, he did this many times, most famously dropping his famous Constant variable regarding a static universe when through experiment it was proved no longer necessary. This is skill which comes more naturally at a younger age, but is quite possible for the post 40 crowd as he demonstrated in his long career.

Expectancy

If you perform an internet search on how to calculate expectancy as it relates to trading systems, you will most often see the following:

Expectancy = (probability of win x average win) + (probability of loss x average loss)

The average win and average loss can be either percent gain or loss or it can be dollar values. For example, following are the performance statistics for one of my trading strategies:

• Probability of win = 71.7%
• Average win = 2.72%
• Probability of loss = 28.3%
• Average loss = -3.59%

I can calculate the expectancy in percentage terms as follows:
Expectancy = (0.717 x 0.0272) + (0.283 x -0.0359) = 0.93% (more…)

Justin Mamis – When To Sell

How Professionals Minimize Losses page 73-75:

Blaming ‚them’ is a psychologically and socially acceptable way to avoid blaming oneself. Yet professionals can, and do, make mistakes. When they buy a stock and it doesn’t go up (even if it doesn’t go down) that’s wrong enough for them, simply because it did not perform as expected. The pro reasons that the stock went against his judgement, so he sells it. And he doesn’t expect to be perfect, any more than a professional baseball player expects to bat 1.000. Knowing that losses are inevitable, he seeks to minimize them at all times. To be sure, his ability to take a small loss is enhanced by the benefit of not having to reckon with commission costs, but even so, if he were relatively incompetent he wouldn’t last long in the business; the loss might be less, or slower to pile up, but the return on invested capital would be dismal enough eventually to send him to another field.

Rule One of the professional trader is: When a stock doesn’t do what you expect it to do, sell it. (more…)

Observation and Analysis

“Do not believe in anything simply because you have heard it. Do not believe in anything simply because it is spoken and rumored by many. Do not believe in anything simply because it is found written in your religious books. Do not believe in anything merely on the authority of your teachers and elders. Do not believe in traditions because they have been handed down for many generations. But after observation and analysis, when you find that anything agrees with reason, and is conducive to the good and benefit of one and all, then accept it and live up to it.”

– Siddhārtha Gautama (Buddha)

A commitment to reason, observation and analysis (of the self-reliant empirical variety) has been a winning trade for thousands of years.

Why don’t more people practice this, in markets and in life?

Observation and Analysis

“Do not believe in anything simply because you have heard it. Do not believe in anything simply because it is spoken and rumored by many. Do not believe in anything simply because it is found written in your religious books. Do not believe in anything merely on the authority of your teachers and elders. Do not believe in traditions because they have been handed down for many generations. But after observation and analysis, when you find that anything agrees with reason, and is conducive to the good and benefit of one and all, then accept it and live up to it.”

– Siddhārtha Gautama (Buddha)

A commitment to reason, observation and analysis (of the self-reliant empirical variety) has been a winning trade for thousands of years.

Why don’t more people practice this, in markets and in life?

The Pain is Unjustified

I’ve always said, you don’t have to blow out an entire account before we figure out the significance of being disciplined. You don’t need to feel pain to learn that lesson. You just have to commit to the process of becoming disciplined. It poses a more fundamental question, are you willing to do what it takes to become consistently profitable?

How do we overcome this pain and impulsiveness? Through belief in a system, and a full understanding of the probabilities. You MUST embrace loss as a part of this profession, if you don’t you are in the wrong industry. Do not place another trade. This belief comes with repetitions. The belief has to be earned through proof and practice.

Why 95% fail

When setting a grand goal, (such as total financial freedom via trading world markets) we are mentally prepared at the outset to encounter some kind of difficulty. When we get to it, it can psychologically look something like this:

A large barrier blocks the way to our goal, yet we KNOW that the realization of our goal lies somewhere on the other side if we can surmount this obstacle. With great efforts then we focus our attention and do the necessary work to get over it.

Yet what we then find is another obstacle; the next block. At this, a small percentage might become discouraged and quit, but others tackle this new obstacle with the same determination that they did on the last one. The problem lies in our inability to consider the enormity of the task at hand. If we could look around the wall to see forwards in time, we may see something like this:

If we had the benefit of such insight we might be able to accurately guess at just how far we had to go and how many more difficulties we have to get over, but we don’t. At each wall, a tiny percentage fall by the wayside, exhausted by these seemingly continual fruitless efforts. The only question is at what point do we jack it in at take up some other pursuit? Interestingly no matter how far we got, once we decide to quit and join the 95% we are no different from someone who gave up at the first obstacle, even if we gave up at the very last wall.

Or do we just doggedly keep going over wall after wall? Its obvious that the only option we have is to either quit or keep going at it and never giving up. Which will you be?

Money solves all of your problems.

It is often said, trading introduces you to yourself. I was in my second year of trading when I heard that phrase.  She would go on to ultimately teach me much about life and myself.  The benefit of being in my early 20′s and teaching people in their 40′s and 50′s.  I helped them with trading, they helped me grow up.

What that phrase means is that who ever you are that day will show up in your trading.  This of course comes in varying degrees.

In many professions your emotional state may not effect your earnings or employment.  In trading, a “bad” day can  create a cascading effect. You lost when you should have made money.  You created a bad habit.  Losing doesn’t trigger the right response, etc.

A trader views the market through themselves.  Now, most of the time it is little things that can be easily passed over.  Human beings are always going to have to deal with things they rather would not have to.  Every person has a bad day. (more…)

If You Have to Be Right, Trouble Ahead

“I confess, I think about the future. So do my colleagues. If someone who’s spent decades investing doesn’t have an opinion about what lies ahead, there’s something wrong. I believe our clients want us to apply the benefit of our experience in gauging and reacting to the opportunities and risks that lie ahead.
But I have a mantra on this subject, too: “It’s one thing to have an opinion; it’s something very different to assume it’s right and act on that assumption.” We have views on the future. And they can cause us to “lean” toward offense or defense. Just never so much that for the results to be good, our views have to be right.”
–Howard Marks, Oaktree Capital Management January 10, 2012

Marks is not a technical trend follower, but wise words about not worrying about being right.
Drivin’ that train
High on cocaine
Casey Jones you better
Trouble behind
and you know that notion
just crossed my mind

Trouble with you is
The trouble with me
Got two good eyes
but we still don’t see
Come round the bend
You know it’s the end
The fireman screams and
The engine just gleams

Sun Tzu’s Art Of War For Traders And Investors

Nice passage I just came across going through various trading books this weekend. The following quote is from Dean Lundell: “Sun Tzu’s Art Of War For Traders And Investors”. It is an important reminder to pay attention when to deploy capital, when to be aggressive and when it is best to do nothing. Enjoy.

Sun Tzu finishes this lesson by reminding us to act only when it is to our benefit. A kingdom once destroyed cannot be brought back, nor can the dead be restored to life. This is the way to keep a country at peace and an army intact.

It is often said that the business of a trader is to stay in business. If you are frivolous in your methods, your equity will soon be gone and you will be out of business. So act when you see an opportunity and be content to stand aside when you do not.

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