Five Fatal Flaws

If you’ve been trading for a long time, you no doubt have felt that a monstrous, invisible hand sometimes reaches into your trading account and takes out money. It doesn’t seem to matter how many books you buy, how many seminars you attend or how many hours you spend analyzing price charts, you just can’t seem to prevent that invisible hand from depleting your trading account funds.

Which brings us to the question: Why do traders lose? Or maybe we should ask, ‘How do you stop the Hand?’ Whether you are a seasoned professional or just thinking about opening your first trading account, the ability to stop the Hand is proportional to how well you understand and overcome the Five Fatal Flaws of trading. For each fatal flaw represents a finger on the invisible hand that wreaks havoc with your trading account.

The killer flaws? They are:

Fatal Flaw No. 1 – Lack of Methodology
Fatal Flaw No. 2 – Lack of Discipline
Fatal Flaw No. 3 – Unrealistic Expectations
Fatal Flaw No. 4 – Lack of Patience
Fatal Flaw No. 5 – Lack of Money Management

10 Common Trading Errors

What are the common errors, the improprieties, the lack of attention to proper mores, the p’s and q of trading that cause so much havoc and could be rectified with a proper formal approach? Here are a few that cost one fortunes over time.10-Common Errors

1. Placing a limit order in and then leaving the screen and not canceling the limit when you wouldn’t want it to be filled later or some news might come out and get you elected when the real prices is a fortune worse for you

2. Not getting up or being in front of screen at the time when you’re supposed to trade.

3. Taking a phone call from an agitating personage, be it romantic or the service or whatever that gets you so discombobulated that you go on tilt.

4. Talking to people during the trading day when you need to watch the ticks to put your order in.

5. Not having in front of you what the market did on the corresponding day of the week or month or hour so that you’re trading for a repeat of some hopeful exuberant event which never happens twice when you want it to happen.

6. Any thoughts or actual romance during the trading day. It will make you too enervated or too ready to pull the trigger depending on what the outcome was.

7. Leaving for lunch during the day or having a heavy lunch.

8. Kibbitsing from people in the office who have noticed something that should be brought to your attention.

9. Trying to get even when you have a loss by increasing your size and risk.

10. Not having adequate capital to meet any margin calls that mite occur during the day, thereby allowing your broker to close out your position at a stop while he takes the opposite side. What others do you come up with?

A Bird’s Eye View of Yourself

When did position management enter my consciousness?  I think it stems from experiences that gave me an appreciation for the psychology behind our behavior.  Sure, I had read the classic from Edwin Lefevre, and believed in William O’Neil stop-loss rules.  The image that still sticks with me comes from a tiny book I read in 1994 that doesn’t get the pub it deserves.

In his tiny 1930 classic, Fred Kelly gives the example of the farmer who had 12 chickens in a cage, and one slipped out.  So he propped open the door and set food out in an attempt to lure the chicken back.  Of course, 2 more chickens now escaped.  Surely, he can’t accept having only 9 chickens when he just had 11.  His repeated efforts to get back to “breakeven” left him panicking to salvage 2 at the end…sound familiar with anyone’s early trading efforts?

The lessons stayed personal until managing an order desk stamped those lessons as universal.   Seeing these episodes play out over and over among traders led to a true appreciation of the human wiring that wreaks havoc with our trading.  These observations led me in the late 90′s to step outside of myself on every trade and ask if I was that person.  Am I holding a short against a wave of strength that will sweep me away tomorrow anyway? If so, why not cover now instead of panicking with my fellow (wrong) shorts later? It was in those moments that I realized the power of anticipating group emotions.  I already had a respect for taking losses, but I gradually moved from exiting in panic, to exiting in fear, to exiting when the slightest bit of hope creeped in.

Remember this…if you’re hoping a position bounces back to being a winner, you’re not alone at that moment.  Hope is said to be a good companion, but a poor guide.  Turn that on its head by realizing that you have a chance to act in defense of your equity by taking your loss before the other “hopers” are forced by emotions to act.  Sure, you’re putting yourself in a position of huge regret if the position then recovers, but you’re also preventing the possibility of acting in a panicked state later.  Stops can be great teachers…if you find yourself repeatedly getting stopped out just before your idea gets recognized, then you need wider stops.  Been there…I now operate with smaller positions and wider stops, giving myself room to be right but not putting my equity at undue risk.

If the image of the farmer doesn’t do it for you, consider 2 traders, Roger and Andy.  Both are caught in a bad situation, hoping for the best.  Andy decides to come clean and admit his mistake.  Roger decides to dig in and show he’s right.  Bad idea.  A small lie today will be a bigger lie tomorrow…rip the band aid now.  Any idea who played that trade right?

It’s OK to be wrong, not OK to stay wrong…that’s the difference between champ and chump.  The longer we stay in a trading range, the more explosive the resulting trend will be, and there will be no place for hope.  Be ready to trade today’s ego hit for a chance to play again tomorrow, and you give yourself a chance to replace any negative episode with your best one yet.

A Monster $69 Trillion Order Wreaked Havoc On The Stockholm Stock Exchange

Trading was halted in index derivatives on the Stockholm Stock Exchange today after a monster futures order valued at around $69 trillion appeared in the system, according to Swedish business newspaper SvD Näringsliv.

 The “trade” was a buy order for nearly 4.3 billion OMXS30 warrants (valued at nearly 460 trillion kronor), an amount over 131 times Sweden’s GDP. The OMXS30 is the exchange’s flagship stock index, and the error apparently caused enough problems to force a closure of the market.

report in Investment Europe said that despite safeguards, “somehow the order made its way into the order book, causing chaos for traders.”

SvD Näringsliv’s Gustaf Palm reports (via Google Translate):

According to the Exchange spokesman Carl Norell has no order of that size team into the system. Instead, it is about a parsing incurred in exchange system due to a technical error. The order, Norell writes in an email, anullerades, but still remains a problem why the index derivatives market is closed since just before 10 am this morning.

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