Jeremy Grantham's 10 Investment Lessons

1. Believe in history: “history repeats and repeats, and forget it at your peril. All bubbles break, all investment frenzies pass away.”

2. Neither a lender nor a borrower be: “Unleveraged portfolios cannot be stopped out, leveraged portfolios can. Leverage reduces the investor’s critical asset: patience.”
3. Don’t put all your treasure in one boat: “This is about as obvious as any investment advice could be … Several different investments, the more the merrier, will give your portfolio resilience, the ability to withstand shocks.”
4. Be patient and focus on the long term: Wait for the good cards. If you’ve waited and waited some more until finally a very cheap market appears, this will be your margin of safety.”
5. Recognize your advantages over the professionals: “The individual is far better-positioned to wait patiently for the right pitch while paying no regard to what others are doing, which is almost impossible for professionals.”
6. Try to contain natural optimism: “optimism comes with a downside, especially for investors: optimists don’t like to hear bad news.” (more…)

Larry Hite quote about Chance

“Life is nothing more than a series of bets and bets are really nothing more than questions and their answers. There is no real difference between, ’should I take another hit on this Blackjack hand?’ and ‘Should I get out of the way of that speeding and wildly careening bus?’ Each shares two universal truths: a set of probabilities of potential outcomes and the singular outcome that takes place. Everyday we place hundreds if not thousands of bets – large and small, some seemingly well considered and others made without a second thought. The vast majority of the latter, life’s little gambles made without any thought, might certainly be trivial. ‘Should I tie my shoes?’ Seems to offer no big risk, nor any big reward. While others, such as the aforementioned ’speeding and wildly careening bus’ would seem to have greater impact on our lives. However, if deciding not to tie your shoes that morning causes you to trip and fall down in the middle of the road when you finally decide to fold your hand and give that careening bus plenty of leeway, well then, in hindsight the trivial has suddenly become paramount.”
Larry Hite, Trader

Ed Seykota-Quotes

(So you didn’t have a clear exit point) In other words, the only way you could stop trading was by losing.

If you can’t take a small loss, sooner or later you will take the mother of all losses.

There are old traders and there are bold traders, but there are very few old, bold traders.

Dramatic and emotional trading experiences tend to be negative. Pride is a great banana peel, as are hope, fear, and greed. My biggest slip-ups occurred shortly after I got emotionally involved with positions.

I prefer not to dwell on past situations. I tend to cut bad trades as soon as possible, forget them, and then move on to new opportunities.

The elements of good trading are: 1. Cutting losses, 2. Cutting losses, and 3. Cutting losses. If you can follow these three rules, you may have a chance.

Trying to trade during a losing streak is emotionally devastating. Trying to play “catch up” is lethal. (more…)

A Method to Measure Risk and Return

Placing a trade with a predetermined stop-loss point can be compared to placing a bet: the more money risked, the larger the bet. Conservative betting produces conservative performance, while bold betting leads to spectacular ruin. A bold trader placing large bets feels pressure or heat from the volatility of the portfolio. A hot portfolio keeps more at risk than does a cold one. Portfolio heat seems to be associated with personality preference; bold traders prefer and are able to take more heat, while more conservative traders generally avoid the circumstances that give rise to heat. In portfolio management, we call the distributed bet size the heat of the portfolio. A diversified portfolio risking 2% on each of five instrument & has a total heat of 10%, as does a portfolio risking 5% on each of two instruments. Our studies of heat show several factors, which are: Trading systems have an inherent optimal heat. Setting the heat level is far and away more important than fiddling with trade timing parameters. Many traders are unaware of both these factors. COIN FLIPPING One way to understand portfolio heat is to imagine a series of coin flips. Heads, you win two; tails, you lose one is a fair model of good trading. The heat question is: what fixed fraction of your running total stake should you bet on a series of flips?


Of course there is always a reason for fluctuations, but the tape does not concern itself with the why and wherefore.
My plan of trading was sound enough and won oftener than it lost. If I had stuck to it I’d have been right perhaps as often as seven out of ten times.
What beat me was not having brains enough to stick to my own game.
But there is the Wall Street fool, who thinks he must trade all the time. No man can always have adequate reasons for buying or selling stocks daily or sufficient knowledge to make his. play an intelligent play.
The desire for constant action irrespective of underlying conditions is responsible for many losses in Wall
Street even among the professionals, who feel that they must take home some money every day, as though they were working for regular wages.
It takes a man a long time to learn all the lessons of all his mistakes. They say there are two sides to everything. But there is only one side to the stock market; and it is not the bull side or the bear side, but the right side. It took me longer to get that general principle fixed firmly in my mind than it did most of the more technical phases of the game of stock speculation.
My losses have taught me that I must not begin to advance until I am sure I shall not have to retreat. But if I cannot advance I do not move at all. I do not mean by this that a man should not limit his losses when he is wrong. He should. But that should not breed indecision.
I was still ignoring general principles; and as long as I did that I could not spot the exact trouble with my game.
I can’t tell you how it came to take me so many years to learn that instead of placing piking bets on what the next few quotations were going to be, my game was to anticipate what was going to happen in a big way.
Their specialty was trimming suckers who wanted to get rich quick.
I had to make a stake, but I also had to live while I was doing it.
I was twenty when I made my first ten thousand, and I lost that. But I knew how and why, because I traded out of season all the time; because when I couldn’t play according to my system, which was based on study and experience, I went in and gambled. I hoped to win, instead of knowing that I ought to win on form.
And when you know what not to do in order not to lose money, you begin to learn what to do in order to win. Did you get that? You begin to learn!
No diagnosis, no prognosis. No prognosis, no profit.
The average chart reader, however, is apt to become obsessed with the notion that the dips and peaks and primary and secondary movements are all there is to stock speculation. If he pushes his confidence to its logical limit he is bound to go broke.
The game of beating the market exclusively interested me from ten to three every day, and after three, the game of living my life.
I couldn’t afford anything that kept me from feeling physically and mentally fit.
I was acquiring the confidence that comes to a man from a professionally dispassionate attitude toward his own method of providing bread and butter for himself.
It taught me, little by little, the essential difference between betting on fluctuations and anticipating inevitable advances and declines, between gambling and speculating.
He knows all the don’ts that ever fell from the oracular lips of the old stagers excepting the principal one, which is: Don’t be a sucker!
It never was my thinking that made the big money for me. It always was my sitting. Got that? My sitting tight!
That is why so many men in Wall Street, who are not at all in the sucker class, not even in the third grade, nevertheless lose money. The market does not beat them. They beat themselves, because though they have brains they cannot sit tight.
Disregarding the big swing and trying to jump in and out was fatal to me. Nobody can catch all the fluctuations.
Without faith in his own judgment no man can go very far in this game.
It was that I gained confidence in myself and I was able finally to shake off the old method of trading. 

Why Do More People Just Not Say: Hypocrite


From Bloomberg Nov 4, 2011:

Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway Inc. (BRK/A) said third-quarter profit fell 24 percent as derivative bets declined in value.

From BBC March 4, 2003:

Mr. Buffett argues that such highly complex financial instruments [derivatives] are time bombs and “financial weapons of mass destruction” that could harm not only their buyers and sellers, but the whole economic system. Some derivatives contracts, Mr. Buffett says, appear to have been devised by “madmen”. In his letter Mr. Buffett compares the derivatives business to “hell…easy to enter and almost impossible to exit”…

He might be rich, but let’s face it: he is one manipulative character.

Don’t be a hero. Don’t have an ego

What does it mean to be a hero in trading?

In poker, a “hero call” is sometimes appropriate. It refers to the call of a very large river bet with medium strength — or even Ace-high — based on a strong read that your opponent whiffed on a draw and is representing a huge hand to steal the pot.

In markets and trading, there is no official definition, but we can more or less surmise being a “hero” looks like the following:

Putting your foot down and saying “markets will do X, I’m sure of it!”

Pointing to the sky like Babe Ruth — “this is where my profits on this trade are going to go!” (more…)

Morgan Stanley probed by Federal authorities

May 12 (Reuters) – U.S. federal investigators are probing whether Morgan Stanley (MS.N) misled investors about mortgage derivative products it helped create and sometimes bet against, the Wall Street Journal said, citing people familiar with the matter.

Morgan Stanley arranged and marketed to investors pools of bond-related investments called collateralized debt obligations (CDOs), and its trading desk at times placed bets that their value would fall, the Journal said, citing traders.

Federal investigators are examining whether Morgan Stanley made proper representations about its roles in the mortgage derivative deals, the newspaper said.

Two particular deals — named after U.S. Presidents James Buchanan and Andrew Jackson — were scanned by the investigators, the paper said, citing a person familiar with the matter.

Morgan Stanley helped design the deals and bet against them, but did not market them to clients, according to the paper.

Traders called them the “Dead Presidents” deals, the Journal said. The firm made money on those deals, but any profit was far overshadowed by the $9 billion the firm lost on bullish mortgage bets in 2007, the paper said

citing a person familiar with the matter.

Morgan Stanley helped design the deals and bet against them, but did not market them to clients, according to the paper.

Traders called them the “Dead Presidents” deals, the Journal said. The firm made money on those deals, but any profit was far overshadowed by the $9 billion the firm lost on bullish mortgage bets in 2007, the paper said.

“We have not been contacted by the Justice Department about the transactions being raised by The Wall Street Journal and we have no knowledge of a Justice Department investigation into these transactions,” Morgan Stanley spokesman Mark Lake told Reuters by telephone.

Spokespeople for the Manhattan Attorney’s office and the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) declined to comment to the Journal.

Updated at 11:17/12th May/Baroda/India

17 Investors in One Word Each

#1 Warren Buffett: Focus

This is the word Warren Buffett uses to describe himself when asked about the key to his success. He focused moe on making money than most people. A lot more than Ben Graham or Charlie Munger. Focus is also a good word to describe Buffett’s investment style. He only makes big investments on big ideas. And at some times he concentrated his investment on an industry like media & advertising in the 70s or consumer products in the 80s.

 #2 Charlie Munger: Smart

I thought he’s the smartest person I knew after reading Poor Charlie’s Almanack. I like his ideas about a multi-disciplinary approach. And I like the way he waits and bets big when opportunities appear. I agree with him that diversification is to protect against ignorance. People may think he’s arrogant. I think he has earned the right to be arrogant.

 #3 Ben Graham: Lazy

Actually Ben Graham did a lot of things. He wrote a Broadway play. He read French novels. He recited Spanish poets. Investing was just one of his interests. By lazy, I mean he didn’t focus on investing as much as Warren Buffett. He wanted to find a safe system for investing. But that doesn’t mean he’s not good. He’s great. He knows where to apply his system.

 #4 Phil Fisher: Conviction

For all his life, Phil Fisher followed what he believed. He wanted to find companies with the capabilities to constantly find new products/services for growth. And when he believed he found the right company, he never sold.

 #5 Tom Russo: Long-Term

I like his investment style. He learned to buy and hold the stocks that he understood best after listening to Warren Buffett’s talk to his Stanford business school class in 1980. He mainly focuses on food and beverage companies. And he holds for very long time. He bought one of his favorites, Nestle, in 1987. And he still owns it today. (more…)

Trading Lessons

The market is a tough battle.  Each day there are chances and opportunities to make money though, it is the greatest form of free market capitalism known to man.  It’s a vast ocean with treasures; we just have to be able to unearth them at the right moment.  We have the ability to navigate carefully through markets, put our bets out there and see where the chips fall.

But if we are too loose with our capital then we are headed for a bad ending.  Discipline is one of the keys to success:  learn your craft and practice.  Each day that passes is one more great learning experience – capture it, analyze it and grow from it.  Use a trading system, pay attention to the timeless patterns of price/volume and believe in what you see and not what you hear. (more…)

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