Making the 99% See Reason

Hey 99%,

Fine, fine, #OccupyWallStreet and all…

To be honest, this needs to be more about brains than brawn. The 1% are where they are because they’ve used their devious and canniving brains to become super-rich. Now you need to use yours to first extract yourself from your debt-trap situation and then to work towards financial freedom. Something like this can only work long-term. Using brawn, you’ll probably break the law and land up in jail, simultaneously exacerbating your predicament.

The first step is to SAVE. That’s what your forefathers did. They saved. They made your country a super-power because of their SAVINGS. If you’re not in a position to save, please get yourself into such a position. There’s no way out. To attain financial freedom, you have to start saving.

Tear your credit cards into two. Don’t consume. Don’t use and throw. Use, repair and reuse. Eat less if you have to, but extract yourself from the debt-cycle at any cost. There’s no other way.

Once you’ve started to save, you’ll need to learn how to manage your savings. Don’t ask the 1% to manage them for you. Instead, learn how to manage them on your own. With that, you’ll be putting yourself into the business of money- and asset-management, and then you can truly and totally boycott the 1%. That would be a message to the 1% that could make them scramble for survival. Believe me, to survive, they’ll be forced to change their ways. They don’t understand your brawn. It just aggravates them.

There’s enough material on the web available, that’ll get you going. The best thing is, most of it is free of cost. Go for it. Learn how to manage your savings on your own and make them grow. You can start by reading this very blog.

Continuous savings, over years and years, and the intelligent and independent management of these savings – these two acts will lead you towards financial freedom. Perhaps you will be too old to fully benefit at that time, but your children will benefit.

There’s no point beating about the bush – this is a long-term pursuit. No short-term effort or remedy is going to solve it.

Do it for your children.

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When Cash is King

I don’t like crowds.

The last thing I ever want to do is to conform to crowd behaviour.

That’s one goal defined.

What does this mean?

Very clearly, for starters, it means singing one’s own tune, i.e. defining one’s own path.

It also means not listening to anyone. That requires mental strength, and the power to resist. Very tough.

In life, generally, one likes to be in tandem with the Joneses. And then, smart cookies that we are, we like to go one up on the Joneses, which would be the cue for the Joneses to catch up and then overtake us. Hypothetically, this is how the Joneses and the Naths could blow up all their cash.

It doesn’t stop there. To keep up, the average citizen doesn’t think twice before leaping into debt.

Bottomline is, when cash is king, hardly anybody has cash. In fact, most people owe money at that time.

This is the age of black swans. Crisis after crisis, then a bit of recovery, then another crisis, then some recovery, followed by a mega-crisis.

When a master-blaster crisis ensues, cash becomes king. Quality stuff on the Street starts to sell so cheap, that one needs to pinch oneself to believe the selling prices. Margins of safety are unprecedented. Now’s the time one can salt away a part of one’s cash in Equity, for the long-term.

That’s if one has cash to spare. This is report card time. How have you done in your REAL investment exam? Have you learnt to sit on cash? Have you learnt to buy with margin of safety? The Street doesn’t care for your college degree, in fact, it vomits on your college degree. Your college degree has no value on the Street, it’s just a piece of paper.

Learning on the Street happens everyday, with every move, every investment, every trade, every observation. Unless and until your own money is on the line, this learning is ineffective.

Get real, wake up, so that when cash is king, you feel like an emperor!

An Elliott-Wave Cross-Section through a Crowd Build-Up

At first, there’s smart money.

Behind this white-collared term are pioneering investors who believe in thorough research, and who are willing to take risks.

Smart money goes into an underlying, and the price of this underlying moves up. Wave 1.

At the sidelines, there are those who have been stuck in this underlying. As the price moves above their entry level, they begin to off-load. There’s a small correction. Wave 2.

By now, news of the smart money has perforated through the markets. Where is it moving? What did it pick up? Who is behind it? Thus, more investors following news or fundamentals (or both) enter. The price moves past the very recent short-term high of Wave 1, accompanied by a surge in volume.

This is picked up on the charts by those following technicals, who enter too. By now, there are analysts speaking in the media about the turn-around in company so and so, and a large chunk of people following the media do the honours by entering. Wave 3 is under way.

Technical trend-followers latch on, and soon, we are at the meat of Wave 3, i.e. the middle off the trend.

Analysts on the media then speak about buying on dips. All dips are cut short by a surge of entrants seeking to be part of the crowd.

The first feelings of missing the bus register. The pangs of these cause more people to enter.

Meanwhile, the short community has been getting active. Large short positions have been in place for a while, and they are bleeding. Eventually, the short community throws in the towel, and there’s massive short-covering, causing a further surge in price.

Short-covering is sensed by gauging buying pressure despite very high price levels. It is the ideal time for smart money to exit. That’s exactly what it does, without any dip in the price of the underlying whatsoever.

Short-covering is over. Smart money starts boasting about its returns of X% in Y days, openly, at parties, in the media, everywhere. This causes pangs of jealousy and intense feelings of missing the bus in those still left out. Some enter, throwing caution to the wind.

The price has reached a level at which no one has the guts to enter. Demand dries up. With no buying pressure, the price dips automatically. Bargain hunters emerge, and so do shorters. The shorters sell to the bargain hunters right through a sizable dip. This dip happens so fast, that most of the crowd still remains trapped. Wave 3 has ended, and we are now looking at the correcting Wave 4 in progress.

At this stage, technical analysts start advising reentry upon Fibonacci correction levels. Position traders buying upon dips with margin of safety enter, and so does the second-last chunk of those feeling they’d missed the bus. The price edges up to the peak of Wave 3 and past it. That’s the trigger for technical traders to enter.

We now see a mini-repeat of Wave 3. This is called Wave 5. Once Wave 5 crosses its meat, the last chunk of those still feeling they’d missed the bus makes a grand entry with a sharp spike in the price. These are your Uncle Georges, Aunt Marthas and Mr. Cools who know nothing about the underlying. They cannot discern a price to earnings ratio from an orangutan. They desperately want to be a part of the action, since everyone is, at whatever the price. And these are the very people that traders sell to as they exit. With that, the crowd is at its peak, and so is the price. There are no more buyers.

What’s now required is a pin-prick to burst the bubble. It can be bad news in the media, the emergence of a scandal, a negative earnings report, anything.

The rest, they say, is History.

Dealing with Distraction

I’m a huge Sherlock Holmes fan.

The stand-out quality I admire about Holmes, apart from his mastery in observation and deduction, is his ability to switch off.

In the midst of the most engrossing case, Holmes will switch off for half a day or more, and will visit the museum, or will play the violin. While having switched off, there will not be a single thought on his mind concerning the ongoing investigation. He will be fully and totally involved in the recreational activity. Of course he switches off at a juncture where he knows that nothing of consequence is happening for the next so many hours, but that’s not the point.

The ability to switch off is a huge asset to the trader. It allows the trader’s mind and body to recuperate. Also, it does away with overtrading. If a position is showing good profit, the trader who installs a trailing stop, and then switches off, opens the window for still larger profits.

At many times, one is distracted. It is potentially dangerous to trade while distracted, just as it is dangerous to drive while communicating on the cellphone. While distracted, the trader needs to switch off. As long as it takes. Till the source of distraction is nullified, at least in the trader’s mind.

Just a minute, forget about the trader. Investors need to be experts at switching off too, after having entered into an investment. If they don’t have this ability, they’ll be thinking about their investment day in, night out, for years at a stretch. The investment will eat into their life. If we’re looking at the average investor with 10 to 20 investments and without the ability to switch off, we’re also looking at a mental and emotional wreck.

Traders and investors both need to learn how to switch off from Sherlock Holmes.

Taking Compulsion Out of One’s Trading Equation

Mr. Cool’s next trading cameo starts a few months after his last blow-up. He keeps coming back, you’ve gotta give him that.

This time around, his girl-friend wants a fur coat. Cool is determined to buy a fur coat for her from his trading profits.

Thus, Mr. Cool has put himself in a position where he is compelled to trade. Compulsion adds pressure. A trader under pressure commits basic blunders. There’s no question of getting into the Zone while pressure mounts.

Sure enough, Cool overtrades. Apart from that, he fails to cut his position-size after the first run of losses. These are two basic mistakes. They are being caused by compulsion. Mrs. Market is ruthless with players who commit basic blunders. As usual, Cool blows up, yet again. The fur coat is not happening. In fact, there’s no girl-friend anymore.

Meanwhile, Mr. System Addict has been evolving. He’s achieved a large-sized fixed income by ploughing previous profits into safe fixed-income products. He’s under no compulsion to trade. His fixed income allows him to live well, even without trading. He has a lot of time to think. Often, he gets into the Zone, where he’s moving in tandem with the market, and is able to swing with the market’s turn. What makes him get into the Zone so often?

It’s the lack of pressure. He’s comfortable. A free mind performs uniquely. There’s no question of making basic mistakes, because full focus is there. Addict is a human being who is aware. He knows when he is in the Zone. That’s when he doubles up his position-size and logs his trade. His win : loss ratio is 70:30 by now. His trading income surpasses his fixed income for the year.

Is Commodity Equity Equal to Commodity?

Rohit likes Aarti, but has no access to her.

Priya wants to be friends with Rohit. Priya looks a bit like Aarti and behaves like her too, at times.

Rohit and Priya become friends.

Is Priya = Aarti?

Can this question be answered with a resounding yes or no?

Of course Priya is not equal to Aarti. Priya is Priya and Aarti is Aarti. Ask Rohit about it during one of Priya’s temper tantrums.

And, at other times, Priya is just like Aarti. At still other times, Priya is as calm as the Pacific Ocean. Even calmer than Aarti. At those times, Rohit feels he is even better off with Priya than he would have been with Aarti.

After this short diversion into human relationships, let’s study the correlation between commodities and commodity equity.

The average working individual does not have access to commodities as an asset class. He or she is not a farmer, and doesn’t have the time or the nerve to play futures and options, in an effort to put some money in commodities.

Is there any avenue such a person can access, to invest a piece of his or her pie in commodities.

It’s time to study the world of commodity equity.

For example, we are talking about agriculture stocks, precious and non-precious metal mining stocks, oil and natural gas stocks etc. etc.

Do such stocks always behave as their underlying commodity?

Can one put one’s money in commodity equity, and then feel as if one has put the money in commodities?

These questions can be answered in terms of correlation.

There are times when Gold moves x%, and Gold equity also moves x%, in the same direction. At such times, the correlation between Gold and Gold equity is 1:1.

At other times, the levels of movement can be mismatched. For example, the correlation can be 0.8:1, or 1.2:1. Sometimes, there is even a negative correlation, when Gold moves in one direction, and Gold equity in the other. At still other times, one moves, and the other doesn’t move at all, i.e. there is no correlation.

You see, Gold equity first falls under the asset class of equity. It is linked to the mass psychology of equity. When this mass psychology coincides with the mass psychology towards commodities, here specifically Gold, there is correlation. When there is no overlap between these psychologies, there is no correlation. When the public just dumps equity in general and embraces commodities, or vice-versa, there is negative correlation. These relationships can be used for all commodities versus their corresponding commodity equity.

What does this mean for us?

Over the long-term, fundamentals have a chance to shine through, and if there is steady and rising demand for a commodity, this will reflect in the corresponding commodity equity. Over the long term, the discussed correlation is good, since truth shines forth with time. That’s good news for long-term investors.

Over the medium-term, you’ll see correlation at times. Then you’ll see no correlation. You’ll also see negative correlation. Position traders can utilize this information to their benefit, both in the long and the short direction.

Over the short-term, things get very hap-hazard and confusing. It would be wrong to look for and talk in terms of correlation here. In the short-term, for trading purposes, it is better to treat commodity as commodity and commodity equity as equity. If you are trading equity, a gold mining stock or any other commodity equity stock might or might not come up in your trade scan. When such a stock does get singled out for a trade as per your scan, well, then, take the trade. Don’t be surprised if at the same time your friend the commodities trader is trading oil futures instead, or is just sitting out. That’s him or her responding to his or her scan. You respond to your scan. In the world of short-term trading, it is hazardous to mix and correlate commodities with commodity equity.

Phew, that’s it for now. It’s taken me a long time to understand commodity equity, and I thought that I’d share whatever I understood with you.