Why Most Investors and Nearly All Traders Lose Money

I strongly suggest that you do not confuse being an Investors with being a Trader. I’ve been pointing out for many years that the Stock Market is greatly influenced by day-traders, flash-traders, program-trading firms, in for quick trades of a few hours, a couple of days at most, and back out again. That’s not Investing and certainly not Investing Wisely.

The problem for Investors is that they have for decades, for the most part, considered themselves to be Buy and Hold Investors, (married to the stocks and mutual funds) through both good times and bad. When they finally get discouraged, (and they do!)they get out, usually due to large losses, and they tend to stay out for very long periods. An excellent current example is / are those who have been on the sidelines since the big bear market plunge of October 2007 through early last year, not enticed back in for even part of the new bull market of last year plus.

They (Mutual Fund Investors) tend to listen to Wall Street saying they need to have a long-term perspective when their stocks and mutual funds are plunging 25% – 50% and more, and so hold on. When they do decide to ‘reposition’ their portfolio they tend to listen to mutual fund managers, and brokerage firm sales persons and spokesmen on TV shows and in magazines, advising them to buy a stock that should be 30% higher 24 months from now, without considering that it might first be 30% lower three or more months from now.

Historically (way back when) Buy and Hold strategies and long-term outlooks work well in secular bull markets, when there is /was much less downside risk, when bear markets are more spaced out, less severe, and short-lived. In secular bull markets the long term trend is up, and when bear markets end the market ‘comes back’ to its previous high in the next cyclical bull market and continues on to still higher highs, continuing to be interrupted by only occasional mild bear markets.

Those days are gone and possible gone forever.

It’s the cyclical bull markets that are temporary, not exceeding previous highs before the next cyclical bear market takes the market back down again. In both secular and cyclical bear markets Buy and Hold is probably the worst imaginable investment strategy. Not only does it not produce gains, but even the most determined Buy and Hold investors are likely to give up with the worst of timing, after their losses have become larger than they can handle either financially or emotionally. (more…)

8 Trading Psychology Quotes

Your biggest enemy, when trading, is within yourself. Success will only come when you learn to control your emotions. Edwin Lefevre’s Reminiscences of a Stock Operator (1923) offers advice that still applies today.

  1. CautionExcitement (and fear of missing an opportunity) often persuade us to enter the market before it is safe to do so. After a down-trend a number of rallies may fail before one eventually carries through. Likewise, the emotional high of a profitable trade may blind us to signs that the trend is reversing.
  2. PatienceWait for the right market conditions before trading. There are times when it is wise to stay out of the market and observe from the sidelines.
  3. ConvictionHave the courage of your convictions: Take steps to protect your profits when you see that a trend is weakening, but sit tight and don’t let fear of losing part of your profit cloud your judgment. There is a good chance that the trend will resume its upward climb. (more…)

Control Your Emotions

1. Caution.

Excitement (and fear of missing an opportunity) often persuade us to enter the market before it is safe to do so. After a down-trend a number of rallies may fail before one eventually carries through. Likewise, the emotional high of a profitable trade may blind us to signs that the trend is reversing.

2. Patience.

Wait for the right market conditions before trading. There are times when it is wise to stay out of the market and observe from the sidelines.

3. Conviction.

Have the courage of your convictions: Take steps to protect your profits when you see that a trend is weakening, but sit tight and don’t let fear of losing part of your profit cloud your judgment. There is a good chance that the trend will resume its upward climb.

4. Detachment.

Concentrate on the technical aspects rather than on the money. If your trades are technically correct, the profits will follow.

Stay emotionally detached from the market. Avoid getting caught up in the short-term excitement. Screen-watching is a tell-tale sign: if you continually check prices or stare at charts for hours it is a sign that you are unsure of your strategy and are likely to suffer losses.

5. Focus

Focus on the longer time frames and do not try to catch every short-term fluctuation. The most profitable trades are in catching the large trends. (more…)

Trading advice for preparing for your best trading day

Trading advice1. Harness the power of intention

As you become more and more focused as a trader and as you learn to clear your emotions the power of your intention will become stronger and stronger. Begin the day by setting the intention that you will be successful, that you will be profitable, and that you will be safe. If possible visualize it, or feel that it will happen.

If any feelings or thoughts come up contrary to that intention (e.g. I lost yesterday perhaps I’ll lose today) go straight to the next point and clear that thought/feeling.

2. Clear limiting thoughts and emotions

Did anything happen yesterday or on previous trading days that is bothering you? Anything happening in your personal life that may be affecting your state of mind? Any recurring thoughts or feelings that come up during the trading day?

3. Brain power

Make sure that you have exercised and eaten properly so that your mind is clear and fresh. Have the right snacks at hand so that you can keep your blood sugar balanced, so that you mind stays fresh and optimally focused.


4. Know when you are going to trade

You may say “How do I know when I am going to trade ahead of time?”. In response I’d say, “if your trading system doesn’t tell you when you are going to be trading ahead of time, then you are missing out on a huge advantage”. As you’ll see from the various posts on cycle trading I am convinced that time is as important a factor in determining entries as price. This is why I use a combination of cycles and harmonics in addition to regular technical analysis to determine entries.

Adopting this trading methodology was the single biggest contributing factor for me in becoming a consistently profitable trader, because I can calmly prepare for the times that I am going to trade and I can relax my focus during the times when I know I should be on the sidelines.


One of the most important keys is to take action. You cannot be on the sidelines and expect to become an expert.

You can learn the basics of reading the tapes, reading of the charts, and deciphering the news. However, to be really good at it, it becomes an art. It is a skill that you can develop.

The things you need to keep in mind are:

    • Be in the game.
    • Keep track of your actions.
    • Examine you actions and see if they serve you or if they need any adjustments.
    • Have an expectation of winning, instead of not losing.

“To think is easy. To act is difficult. To act as one thinks is the most difficult of all.”


Resistance is a powerful word, but in the market it can mean the end of a long climb up the latter of a successful bullish run. Points of resistance aren’t necessarily concrete, think of them more as a tightened rubber band that if you push into it to hard, it can send you plummeting very quickly.

Resistance is what it implies, a possible push against current price action. There are two correct responses you can have at a resistance, turn back (with a proper candlestick confirmation), or wait to see if the resistance is overcome, You never want to go head on into resistance because chances are you will get your butt handed to you. The other thing you don’t want to do is automatically turn back without a little push. YOU DON’T ALWAYS WANT OR HAVE TO BE IN THE MARKET. There are times when you need to be on the sidelines in observation mode; at a point near resistance is one of those times. Trying to break resistance is like trying to run over a locomotive on a bicycle. You can’t do it!! Your best option at resistance is to rest to see either the strength or weakness of your price action. Whether price is successful at demolishing or chipping away resistance or does a turnabout, wait until it makes a concrete decision before following. NOTE: wherever price leads, follow until you get a signal that it is no longer safe to do so, or until you have had your fill of a nice fat profit.

Let other traders jump in front of the locomotive to slow it down; DON’T YOU DO IT! Save yourself and wait until it is safe. Resistance points can either be safety zones put in place to help you protect your profits or the force and authority to crush you if you try to cross the line. When you come to a resistance point it means STOP!!!!, DO NOT PROCEED WITH CAUTION it is a RED LIGHT, when it is green, proceed with caution because there are times when price will break resistance only to fall back limp under the weight of the break through triumph.

3 Trading Myths

Risk/reward is set in concrete. Nothing in trading, with the exception of the process, is set in stone. I have seen that stone sink many peoples trading careers. Risk/reward is as much of a filtering process as it is risk management. We look at market in terms of volatility, it keeps us out of slow times but it can dry up quickly. If it does we get out before the “reward”. If we see it expanding and everything lines up we will get out after the “reward”. We are always adjusting to the situation.

Every market move is a reason to trade. There are so many opportunities that there is no reason to create one. Once again, this is where the selection process comes in play. Staying on the sidelines is a trade. Being able to separate what happened from how you felt is important and makes it easier. Missing a move is part of being a trader, you can get over it now or later.

Traders take big risks. Bad traders take big risks. The difference between a retail and a professional is the professional trades bigger taking the same risk as the retail trader. That is in part because a professional sees more of the market and is flexible. They understand what they are comfortable risking and never get beyond that point with very limited exceptions. You cannot run away from the risk, it always reverts to the mean. But what you did before and when it does revert is the difference between profitable and unprofitable traders.

Five Market Scenarios

  1. Bad Markets – A good pattern won’t bail you out of a bad market, so move to the sidelines when conflict and indecision take hold of the tape. Your long-term survival depends on effective trade management. The bottom line: don’t trade when you can’t measure your risk, and stand aside when you can’t find your edge.
  2. Bad Timing – It’s easy to be right but still lose money. Financial instruments are forced to negotiate a minefield of conflicting trends, each dependent on different time frames. Your positions need to align with the majority of these cycles in order to capture the profits visualized in your trade analysis.
  3. Bad Trades – There are a lot of stinkers out there, vying for your attention, so look for perfect convergence before risking capital on a questionable play, and then get out at the first sign of danger. It’s easy to go brain dead and step into a weak-handed position that makes absolutely no sense, whether it moves in your favor or not. The bottom line: it’s never too late to get out of a stupid trade.
  4. Bad Stops – Poor stops will shake you out of good positions. Stops do their best work when placed outside the market noise, while keeping risk to a minimum. Many traders believe professionals hit their stops because they have inside knowledge, but the truth is less mysterious. Most of us stick them in the same old places.
  5. Bad Action – Modern markets try to burn everyone before they launch definable trends. These shakeouts occur because most traders play popular strategies that have been deconstructed by market professionals. In a sense, the buy and sell signals found in TA books are turned against the naïve folks using them.

Richard Rhodes’ 18 Trading Rules

“Old Rules…but Very Good Rules”

  1. The first and most important rule is – in bull markets, one is supposed to be long. This may sound obvious, but how many of us have sold the first rally in every bull market, saying that the market has moved too far, too fast. I have before, and I suspect I’ll do it again at some point in the future. Thus, we’ve not enjoyed the profits that should have accrued to us for our initial bullish outlook, but have actually lost money while being short. In a bull market, one can only be long or on the sidelines. Remember, not having a position is a position.
  2. Buy that which is showing strength – sell that which is showing weakness. The public continues to buy when prices have fallen. The professional buys because prices have rallied. This difference may not sound logical, but buying strength works. The rule of survival is not to “buy low, sell high”, but to “buy higher and sell higher”. Furthermore, when comparing various stocks within a group, buy only the strongest and sell the weakest.
  3. When putting on a trade, enter it as if it has the potential to be the biggest trade of the year. Don’t enter a trade until it has been well thought out, a campaign has been devised for adding to the trade, and contingency plans set for exiting the trade.
  4. On minor corrections against the major trend, add to trades. In bull markets, add to the trade on minor corrections back into support levels. In bear markets, add on corrections into resistance. Use the 33-50% corrections level of the previous movement or the proper moving average as a first point in which to add.
  5. Be patient. If a trade is missed, wait for a correction to occur before putting the trade on.
  6. Be patient. Once a trade is put on, allow it time to develop and give it time to create the profits you expected.
  7. Be patient. The old adage that “you never go broke taking a profit” is maybe the most worthless piece of advice ever given. Taking small profits is the surest way to ultimate loss I can think of, for small profits are never allowed to develop into enormous profits. The real money in trading is made from the one, two or three large trades that develop each year. You must develop the ability to patiently stay with winning trades to allow them to develop into that sort of trade.
  8. Be patient. Once a trade is put on, give it time to work; give it time to insulate itself from random noise; give it time for others to see the merit of what you saw earlier than they.
  9. Be impatient. As always, small loses and quick losses are the best losses. It is not the loss of money that is important. Rather, it is the mental capital that is used up when you sit with a losing trade that is important.
  10. Never, ever under any condition, add to a losing trade, or “average” into a position. If you are buying, then each new buy price must be higher than the previous buy price. If you are selling, then each new selling price must be lower. This rule is to be adhered to without question.
  11. Do more of what is working for you, and less of what’s not. Each day, look at the various positions you are holding, and try to add to the trade that has the most profit while subtracting from that trade that is either unprofitable or is showing the smallest profit. This is the basis of the old adage, “let your profits run.”
  12. Don’t trade until the technicals and the fundamentals both agree. This rule makes pure technicians cringe. I don’t care! I will not trade until I am sure that the simple technical rules I follow, and my fundamental analysis, are running in tandem. Then I can act with authority, and with certainty, and patiently sit tight.
  13. When sharp losses in equity are experienced, take time off. Close all trades and stop trading for several days. The mind can play games with itself following sharp, quick losses. The urge “to get the money back” is extreme, and should not be given in to.
  14. When trading well, trade somewhat larger. We all experience those incredible periods of time when all of our trades are profitable. When that happens, trade aggressively and trade larger. We must make our proverbial “hay” when the sun does shine.
  15. When adding to a trade, add only 1/4 to 1/2 as much as currently held. That is, if you are holding 400 shares of a stock, at the next point at which to add, add no more than 100 or 200 shares. That moves the average price of your holdings less than half of the distance moved, thus allowing you to sit through 50% corrections without touching your average price.
  16. Think like a guerrilla warrior. We wish to fight on the side of the market that is winning, not wasting our time and capital on futile efforts to gain fame by buying the lows or selling the highs of some market movement. Our duty is to earn profits by fighting alongside the winning forces. If neither side is winning, then we don’t need to fight at all.
  17. Markets form their tops in violence; markets form their lows in quiet conditions.
  18. The final 10% of the time of a bull run will usually encompass 50% or more of the price movement. Thus, the first 50% of the price movement will take 90% of the time and will require the most backing and filling and will be far more difficult to trade than the last 50%.

There is no “genius” in these rules. They are common sense and nothing else, but as Voltaire said, “Common sense is uncommon.” Trading is a common-sense business. When we trade contrary to common sense, we will lose. Perhaps not always, but enormously and eventually. Trade simply. Avoid complex methodologies concerning obscure technical systems and trade according to the major trends only.

A Winning Trading Method is Really All About this…..

eagle-newSuccessful trading is the attempt to be on the right side of the flow of capital. Each change in price happens with a new agreement between the current buyer and seller. Buyers and sellers are always equal for a transaction to take place, the cause of movement is determined by whether the buyers want in more than the sellers want out. Prices moves when capital flows into and out of a market, and inflow pushes up prices because demand becomes more than supply, price discovery happens to find out what sellers are willing to take to sell their position.

Many crazy over bought or over sold trends occur because one side has little pressure on it, position holders, shorts, or buyers sit tight as a trend accelerates. Equity markets rise when new money has to enter to be put to work but there is little interest at selling due to position holders sitting on winning positions.

Price resistance on a chart is caused by simply being the place that current holders are taking their profits. Price support happens at the price that people on the sidelines are ready to get back in at. These are simply spots where capital flows in and out. (more…)

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