Five Rules for Traders

You can avoid the emotionalism, the second guessing, the wondering, the agonizing, if you have a sound trading plan (including price objectives, entry points, exit points, risk-reward ratios, stops, information about historical price levels, seasonal influences, government reports, prices of related markets, chart analysis, etc.) and follow it. Most traders don’t want to bother, they like to ‘wing it.’ Perhaps they think a plan might take the fun out of it for them. If you’re like that and trade futures for the fun of it, fine. If you’re trying to make money without a plan-forget it. Trading a sound, smart plan is the answer to cutting your losses short and letting your profits run.

Do not overstay a good market. If you do, you are bound to overstay a bad one also.

Take your lumps, just be sure they are little lumps. Very successful traders generally have more losing trades than winning trades. They don’t have any hang-ups about admitting they’re wrong, and have the ability to close out losing positions quickly.

Program your mind to accept many small losses. Program your mind to ‘sit still’ for a few large gains.

Recognize that fear, greed. ignorance, generosity, stupidity, impatience. self-delusion, etc., can cost you a lot more money than the market(s) going against you, and that there is no fundamental method to recognize these factors.

Book Review : All About Market Timing, 2d ed.

“If you were in a leaking boat,” Leslie N. Masonson writes, “you’d have three choices: 1. Stay in the boat and stop the leak = Go short. 2. Get out of the boat = Switch to cash. 3. Go down with the ship = Buy-and-hold.” (p. 60) In this second edition of All About Market Timing: The Easy Way to Get Started (McGraw-Hill, 2011) Masonson explains why market timing is superior to buy-and-hold and describes some timing strategies that have been profitable in the past.

Most people, I assume, would prefer market timing to buy-and-hold—if it really were a viable strategy. The main argument against timing is that it can’t be done. The investor will end up being out of the market on the best days, in on the worst days, and poorer for his efforts. Better just sit there, say the critics, take your lumps in bear markets, and trust that the market will eventually power ahead, taking you along with it. Unfortunately the market can be very slow to recuperate from downdrafts, as the author documents in several tables.

Masonson presents five familiar market timing strategies: the best six months, presidential cycles combined with seasonality, simple moving averages, the Value Line 3 and 4 percent, and the Nasdaq Composite 6 percent. These strategies are best pursued using ETFs rather than individual stocks or mutual funds. (more…)

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