US to begin testing coronavirus vaccine in late April, results in July or August

For those looking for a shot of hopium, the WSJ have you covered.

  • Drugmaker Moderna has shipped the first batch of its rapidly developed coronavirus vaccine to U.S. government researchers
  • first human tests … by the end of April to start a clinical trial
  • Initial results could become available in July or August
Link here. (Journal may be gated)
“Late” April is what, two months away? Ugh.
Until then…
For those looking for a shot of hopium, the WSJ have you covered.

German 2019 budget surplus reportedly in low two-digit billions of euros

Sueddeutsche Zeitung newspaper reports


The paper says that Germany generated a federal budget surplus in the low two-digit billions of euros with higher-than-expected tax revenues offset by lower-than-expected interest payment, without identifying the source of its information.

For some context, that should see the figure come just below the 2018 figure of €11.2 billion. The actual figure will be published later today.
This is a bit of a setback for those hoping for Germany to loosen the purse strings a little as such a low surplus will give more reason for lawmakers to not do so. That said, it’s not like those hopes were that high to begin with anyway.

USTR calls out trade news speculation in latest statement

Specifically points the finger to the Wall St Journal ForexLive “Washington, DC –  Bob Davis and Lingling Wei at the Wall Street Journal, based on anonymous sources, have reported at least three times this week that the United States negotiators offered to cut by as much as one half the tariff rates on approximately $360 billion of Chinese imports in exchange for certain purchases.While we do not comment on the content of negotiations, we have said publicly and on the record that this is totally false, untrue and baseless.It did not happen. In addition and to be completely clear, we have personally, and on the record, told Mr. Davis and another Wall Street Journal reporter repeatedly that this is utterly false. No such offer was ever made to China by the United States. There is not a single knowledgeable American negotiator who would support this falsehood. Further, there is no Chinese negotiator who could honestly be this source.We will not speculate on why the Chinese or an American uninvolved with these negotiations would manipulate the story. This is another example of reporting on an  important alleged event based on secret sources, some of which may have obvious bias. The Wall Street Journal should make very clear that those actually involved for the United States have so clearly indicated that they are untrue, fabricated falsehoods. It should also expose possible biases of the anonymous source.” was the article in question that they are specifically referencing. To be fair to the WSJ, there will also never be any proof to substantiate the claims made by the USTR above.

FT report Hedge funds taking the blame for a drop in JGB prices

While we await more Asian centres coming online a piece to check out in the Financial Times

It notes falls in sovereign bonds outside of Japan also of course, “driven by an unusual outbreak of optimism about the global economic outlook”
  • But falls for Japanese Government Bonds “have stood out”
With “some analysts say they bear the fingerprints of trend-seeking computerised hedge funds scrambling to cover losses”
The FT is gated, but if you can access it, here is the link 
While we await more Asian centres coming online a piece to check out in the Financial Times 

EU reportedly set to call Boris Johnson’s bluff on no-deal Brexit

The Sun reports, citing sources from the European Commission


The report says that European leaders can see that it is clear Boris Johnson is trying to build pressure by running down the clock and try to use the European Council meeting in October to demand major concessions on Brexit.

Hence, they are instead planning to turn the October meeting into one preparing for a no-deal Brexit by 31 October instead – by discussing contingency measures and communiques bracing businesses and financial markets ahead of deadline day.
Citing a senior EU source, the report adds:

“It’ll be about where are we heading with the Brits, where do we stand with the implementation of contingency measures. If we’re really in the deal making business this is not a thing you invent on a small piece of paper on the corner of a table at 3am. You don’t do a deal by simply arriving on the 17th after having had a kind of general exchange about what they think in Britain now.”

The political game of chicken resumes again as Johnson is trying the same old trick that May pulled in March this year, only to have led to an extension of the Brexit deadline.

World’s Oldest Trader

World’s oldest Value Investor. Duly noted (hat tip to Mr. Melvin) that Irving Kahn is a former Ben Graham assistant and likes to buy and hold for long time– and not really a “trader” per se.

From the WSJ:

Discipline has been a key for Mr. Kahn. He still works five days a week, slacking off only on the occasional Friday. He reads voraciously, including at least two newspapers every day and numerous magazines and books, especially about science. His abiding goal, he told me, is “to know much more about the stock I’m buying than the man who’s selling does.” What has enabled him to live so long? “No secret,” he said. “Just nature’s way.” He added, speaking of unwholesome lifestyles: “Millions of people die every year of something they could cure themselves: lack of wisdom and lack of ability to control their impulses.”

Here is a link to his current portfolio (he includes a land-based driller). 

Bloodsport teaches trading

In my all time favourite Jean Claude Van Damme film, Bloodsport, JCVD travels to Hong Kong to fight in the Kumite, a legendary, underground fighting tournament that takes place once every four years.

This piece of cheesy dialogue is highly relevant to trading:

Journalist: Why is it that no one will talk about the Kumite? What is this air of mystery? (pause) Why are you fighting in it?

JCVD: It’s personal.

Journalist: You want to prove your manhood to the world?

JCVD: The Kumite is for the fighters, not for the people who read the newspapers.

Lesson: Always remember your motive.

In this clip, JCVD is through to the the final, where he fights Kumite champion Chong Li. Note that Bolo Yeung (the actor who played Chong Li), was 49 years old when Bloodsport was filmed.

Time Tested Rules (Part 1)

timetestedrulesOptimism means expecting the best, but confidence means knowing how you will handle the worst. Never make a move if you are merely optimistic.
Take a trading break. A break will give you a detached view of the market and a fresh look at yourself and the way you want to trade for the next several weeks.
It is a safe bet that the money lost by (short term) speculation is small compared with the gigantic sums lost by those who let their investments “ride”. Long term investors are the biggest gamblers as after they make a trade they often times stay with it and end up losing it all. The intelligent trader will . By acting promptly—hold losses to a minimum.
People who buy headlines eventually end up selling newspapers. Continue reading »

Observations About Jesse Livermore

In his book “How to Trade Stocks” Richard Smitten talks about Jesse Livermore the man and his trading techniques. Here are some of his observations about the legend Jesse Livermore.

He quickly learned that it was never what the brokers, or the customers, or the newspapers said — the only thing that was important was what the tape said. The tape had a life of its own, and its was the most important life. Its verdict was final.

He learned to be interested only in the change in price, not the reason for the change. He had no time to waste trying to rationalize the action of the stock. There could be a million reasons why the price had changed. These reasons would be revealed later, after the fact.

He knew that unless he actually purchased a stock, he could never know how he would handle himself. When a trader made a bet everything changed, and he knew it. Then and only then did the trader enter the heated jungle of emotions.. .fear and greed. You either control them or they control you.

He worked alone.. .never telling anyone what he was doing, never taking on a partner. The trill came from the winning, not the money, though the money was nice.

He never blamed the market. It was illogical to get angry at an inanimate object, like a gambler getting mad at a deck of cards. There was no arguing with the tape. The tape was always right; it was the players who were wrong.

His first conclusion was that he won when all the factors were in his favor, when he was patient and waited for all the ducks to line up in a row. That led him to his second conclusion, that no one could or should trade the market all the time. There were times when a trader should be out of the market, in cash, waiting.

To speculate, a trader had to be a player, not a theorist, or an economist, or an analyst. A speculator had to be a player with money down on the table. It was not the coach or the team’s owner who won the game, it was the players on the field — just as it was not the generals who won the battle, it was the grunts on the ground.

You had to lose, because it taught you what not to do… his conclusions were developing from actual trading, from hands-on participation in the market and constant analysis.

He never used the words bull market or bear market because these terms tended to make too permanent a psychological mind-set.

Livermore was looking for the difference between stock gambling and stock speculation. Livermore’s final conclusion was clear: To anticipate the market is to gamble; to be patient and react only when the market gives the signal is to speculate.

The first step was to concentrate on the overall market before making a trade. He would follow the line of least resistance— up in a bull market, buy long, down in a bear market, sell short. If the market went sideways, he would wait in cash for a clear direction to be established…. He would not anticipate the market by guessing its direction… .Livermore had come to realize that the big money was in the big swings… .it is the big moves that make the big money.

Livermore believed that stocks are never too high to begin buying or too low to begin selling short. Livermore believed that there was only one side of the market to avoid. He could be on the bull side or the bear side — it made no difference to Livermore — just as long as he was not on the wrong side.

From experience, Livermore knew that one of the hardest things to do as a trader was to sell out a position early if he was wrong on the initial purchase and the stock moved against him.

He did not care why things happened in the market, he cared only what happened every day when the market opened…. He observed that the market always did what it wanted to do, not what it was expected to do.

Livermore had a steadfast rule that if something serendipitous, an unplanned windfall, should occur, he must capitalize on it and not be greedy — accept his good fortune and close out his position.

Livermore loved the fact that in trading the market there was no end to the learning process. The game was never over, and he could never know enough to beat the market all the time. The puzzle could never be solved…he never considered himself a market master. He always considered himself a market student who occasionally traded correctly.

Livermore had long ago realized that the stock market was never obvious. It was designed to fool most of the people most of the time. His rules were based on thinking against the grain: cut your losses quickly; let your profits ride unless there’s a good reason to close out the position; the action is with the leading stocks, which change with every new market; new highs are to be bought on breakouts; cheap stocks are often not a bargain, because they have little potential to rise in price. The stock market is a study in cycles. It never goes up forever, nor does it go down forever, but when it changes direction it remains in that new trend until it is stopped.

He considered it necessary to act like a poker player in his business, to never tip his hand or to react emotionally. Because of this inability and unwillingness to express his emotions, the stress on him was permanent.

Timing was everything to a speculator. It was never if a stock was going to move; it was when a stock was going to move up or down.

Livermore always considered time as a real and essential trading element. He often would say it’s not the thinking that makes the money — it’s the sitting and waiting that makes the money… .This has been incorrectly interpreted by many people to mean that Livermore would buy a stock and then sit and wait for it to move. This is not so. There were many occasions where Livermore sat and waited in cash, holding little or no stock, until the right situation appeared. He was able to sit and wait patiently in cash until the perfect situation presented itself to him. When conditions came together, when as many of the odds as possible were in his favor, then and only then would he strike.

Livermore let the market tell him what to do, he got his clues and his cues from what the market told him. He did not anticipate, he followed the message he received from the tape.

It’s scary to think how much money Livermore would make if he traded today.. .his ability to read the tape when the tape wasn’t even that reliable. He is in our opinion the best ever. Since the market is an extension of human psychology and human emotion and because people don’t change, the market doesn’t change. The players change; the underlying issues change; trading doesn’t change, and that’s why over 60 years after he committed suicide, Livermore’s words of wisdom are still relevant.