Trading Time Frames

Trading across multiple-time frames must be one of the hardest things to do as a trader. Many I know have chosen to avoid this completely while others wait patiently until all time frames correlate with their general read, which sometimes can take weeks if not months depending on the various time frames in question.

Some struggle with the volatility of the tape, while others struggle with a psychological bias. At present I am struggling with the different pictures on different time frames. Currently I have trades on both sides of this argument taking index shorts against the weekly pattern while playing daily longs as they setup. The net gain has been a whole bunch of nothing which is making me ask the question if the different trades are worth it or if it would have been better to simply wait for one picture to resolve itself and correlate with the other. In hindsight this certainly sounds like it would have been the smarter play.

—Patience is never fun but until we have some solid resolution I still believe it to be the best play.

There’s that ‘P’ word again…

Cognitive Biases That Affect Traders

Humans have weaknesses that hamper their trading capabilities. Many were developed in ancient times and were important for survival. I will enumerate the most important:
1) Loss Aversion: the strong tendency for people to prefer avoiding losses over acquiring gains

2) Sunk Cost Effect: The tendency to treat money that already has been committed or spent as more valuable than money that may be spent in the future

3) Disposition Effect: the tendency for people to lock in gains and ride losses

4) Outcome Bias: The tendency to judge a decision by its outcome rather then by the quality of the decision at the time it was made

5) Recency Bias: the tendency to weigh recent data or experience more than earlier data or experience

6) Anchoring: the tendency to rely too heavily, or anchor, on readily available information (more…)

The Four Poisons

There is a Korean martial art called Kum Do. This is a brutal game that involves a fight to the death with very sharp swords. The way it is practiced today is with bamboo sticks, but the moves are the same. Kum Do teaches the student warriors to avoid what are called “The Four Poisons of the Mind.” These are: fear, confusion, hesitation and surprise. In Kum Do, the student must be constantly on guard to never anticipate the next move of the opponent. Likewise, the student must never allow his natural tendencies for prediction to get the better of him. Having a preconceived bias of what the markets or the opponents will do can lead to momentary confusion and—in the case of Kum Do—to death. A single blow in Kum Do can be lethal, and is the final cut, since the object is to kill the opponent. One blow—>death—>game over.

Instead of predicting, anticipating, and being in fear and confusion, you must do exactly the opposite if you are to survive a death blow from the market movements. You must watch with a calm, clear and collected attitude and strike at the right time. A few seconds of anticipation, hesitation or confusion can mean the difference between life and death in Kum Do—and wins or losses in the stock markets. If you are not in tune with the four poisons of fear, confusion, hesitation or surprise in the markets, you are at risk for ruin. Ruin means that your money is gone and the game is over.

How can you avoid the four poisons of the trading mind: fear, confusion, hesitation and surprise?

Replace fear with faith—faith in your trading model and trading plan

Replace confusion with the attitude of being comfortable with uncertainty

Replace hesitation with decisive action

Replace surprise with taking nothing for granted and preparing yourself for anything.

My Trading Lessons for Traders

Read….When ever you are Free.

  • Prepare, be confident & be decisive

  • Follow my trading rules without exception

  • Plan every trade with profit exit, stop exit and risk/reward ranking

  • Trade only when you have time AND you have an edge

  • Formulate and write down a trading/investing plan

  • Exit a position at my stops and not “hope” it will recover tomorrow

  • Trade the market I actually see, not the one I think I will see

  • Focus more on what’s actually happening rather than what I wish would happen

  • Learn to prevent my skepticism and opinion over the economy from keeping me from making good trades

  • Have a plan every day to trade the market and to not let my opinions of the market interfere with my trading

  • Concentrate on rule based trade management and not the outcome of the specific trade

  • Follow price action as opposed to listening to the fundamental “experts”

  • Listen to the market signal rather than market noise

  • Don’t be afraid of making mistakes

  • To pay more attention to technical signals to determine purchase/sell points rather than emotion & personal reasoning

  • Have more confidence in my trade ideas and believe in myself more often

  • Do not have a bias but instead let the charts be the guide

  • Have the discipline and fortitude to stick to my trade plans

  • To improve my organization of stock lists and automation of stock alerts

  • Do not over-leverage

  • Select only the most favorable setups

  • Try not to over analyze every potential trade

  • Lose less when I am wrong

  • Spend less time reading words and more time reading charts

  • Stick with winners and sell the losers

  • Allocate 2-3 hours each day & 5 hours every weekend to finding attractive setups

  • Increase position size and be in the market more (more…)

  • CNBC Lowers Bar Again

    BARTIROMOIt’s become something of a custom for CNBC personalities to be silly and/or ignorant, but it’s generally on matters related directly to monetary policy or the markets (except for the Fast Money crew, those guys are cool). It’s rare that any of the CNBC peeps get to flaunt their half-witted chops outside the confines of the network’s rather limited subject matter, but when they do, it’s gold. Such as today, when everyone’s favorite Money Honey displayed a kind of shocking lack of comprehension of what Medicare even is. Pardon the bias, HuffPo never claimed to be objective.

    At one point, Bartiromo was critical of the government-managed health care system in the United Kingdom. “How do I know the quality [of health care in the United States] is not going to suffer” with a public option? she asked. (more…)

    What Not to Do-What to Do

    What Not to Do

    1. Have an opinion. One sure way to find yourself trading against the market is to have a market opinion. Trading with a rigid belief about what the market will do next can limit your ability to see what the market is actually telling you. 
    2. Have someone else’s opinion. Adopting some market guru’s market opinion is actually worse than having your own. Market gurus are notoriously inaccurate in their predictions.  Embracing another’s market judgment prevents you from learning to read the market on your own. Besides, it’s doubtful the guru will be texting you to let you know when his or her opinion has changed.
    3. Make your opinion public. Putting your bias into a chat room or forum thread makes it public. Making something public gives it a psychological life of its own. It’s hard to back off an opinion once you have announced it to others. 
    4. Let your ego get involved. Everyone wants to be right. In trading, learning to accept being wrong and the losses associated with being wrong is a big part of the game. This is no place for big egos.
    5. Ride a loser. Still wanting to be right? Having a bias, making it public, and getting your ego involved will cause you to hold losers far longer than you should.

    What to Do

    1. Anticipate. Avoid having an inflexible bias. Identify areas where the market might turn, break out, or continue, and think through what that would look like. Anticipate the alternative ways the market may trade. When you see the market trading as anticipated, you already know what to do.
    2. Keep your own counsel. Avoid gurus. Jesse Livermore viewed trading as a “lone-wolf” business, and it is. Learn to read the market and make your own decisions.
    3. Avoid the forums while trading. Use the good ones as a source of education, but refrain from making your trades public.
    4. Check your ego. Be aware of when you want to be right. Ask yourself, “What is more important, being right or making money?” Then, make the correct decision.
    5. Cut losses short. Use hard stops and be merciless with losing trades. When the market turns against you, exit.

    Getting Back Up

    Sometimes in trading you have to pick yourself up and dust yourself off. It is the simple truth and anyone who has been involved in the game for longer than a cup of coffee will tell you the same. There will be times when you are caught with a blow up, caught in a squeeze or simply caught leaning in the wrong direction but over the years what I have learned is it is always about getting back into the ring for another round.

    It’s important to have a routine for handling those times when not only your financial capital gets bitten but your emotional capital sinks as well.

    1) Reposition:  Whether you are caught in a downturn or short squeeze, removing the position is often the best way to remain objective. So often when people start to see a position run against them they freeze up and start to rely on hope rather than remaining in control of the trade. When I see stocks breaking down or acting poorly, they are sold immediately and I am able to start fresh.

    2) Check the Charts and your Bias:  I have written many times before that price action is never wrong. If you are caught on the wrong side of price action it is a must to re-evaluate the charts you are viewing and check any bias you may have. It is imperative to embrace the prevailing direction and avoid seeing what is not there. Having raised cash and avoiding any further significant draw, take a fresh look at the action and once again analyze your position accordingly.

    3) Embrace the New Day:  Trading is unique in that each and every day presents a new opportunity. This must be embraced as it is one of the features that makes trading so great. Rather than dwelling on the past, embrace the future. Each and every day presents new opportunities but not unless you are looking for them.

    4) Move Slow and Small:  Most people make the mistake in believing that restoring financial capital will improve emotional capital when I would argue it is actually the opposite. One can only trade at peak performance when his emotional tank is filled and confidence is high. Regardless of how long you have been trading there will be times when this tank takes a dip and before moving on to make any new financial progress, it is imperative to restore the emotional side first. The best way to do this is to move very slow and small. Rather than taking full positions, take quarters or even tenths. Paper trade if you need to and analyze results. As time goes on your emotional capital will be restored and you will soon have the confidence to re-enter the game at full speed.

    If you trade, one thing is for sure, you will have good times and you will have bad times. The best way to handle the bad times is to know they will come and have a plan in place to follow so that you may bounce back quickly and put them in the past.

    Think Like A Fundamentalist & Trade Like A Technician

    emailSomeone once said that to trade successfully, you must think like a fundamentalist but trade like a technician. Do you agree?

    A:  Yes, I agree with it. Understanding the context and fundamentals, even when you trade the technicals can be helpful as long as you’re able to separate the two when needed. The problem is that many traders will have a bias toward one discipline over the other and will justify poor technicals with faith for the fundamentals. How traders handle these conflicts that arise from time to time and how flexible they are based on market conditions will make a huge difference.

    Winning Traders -Never Quit

    1. They accept losing trades quickly but it does not define them, they learn and try again. This trade more wise than the last one.
    2. They compartmentalize emotions by not blaming themselves but understanding the historical expectancy of their systems returns. 
    3. They have a bias toward action by constantly doing things that move them closer to their goal of being a rich trader. (Homework, chart study, reading, being mentored, back testing)
    4. They change their minds sometimes, they know when to stop doing something that does not work and move in the direction of trading success through new lessons. 
    5. They prepare for things to go wrong through risk management an position sizing  instead of just going naively toward their goals they are ready to make adjustments as needed.
    6. They’re comfortable with discomfort, they will accept losses and draw downs in their method, they are willing to pay tuition to the markets to get to where they want to be.
    7. They’re willing to wait, they patiently improve each day setting themselves up for those winning trades that will be very profitable in the future.
    8. They have trading heroes that inspire them to be better than they are now and give them the hope of achieving their dreams.
    9. They have more than passion they are on a mission, their desire for success gives them the drive to not quit until they win.
    10. They know only time separates them from their goals of wealth.
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