The Line of Least Resistance

We stand on the shoulders of giants.

I’m not guilty about using their work and ideas.

Firstly, obviously, I’m going to quote them. Then, I plan to achieve something new, whilst standing on their shoulders. Those will be my two pennies, and feel free, people, to use my two pennies copiously.

The phrase “line of least resistance” was first coined by none other than Mr. Jesse Livermore. He lost a fortune finding it, then won a fortune following it, and again lost a lot of money at times when he ignored his own discovery.

Pioneers have it tough.

Carving out a new path is perilous, to say the least.

So, what is the line of least resistance?

Imagine yourself to be poking and shoving around, looking for a clear path in the dark. Something gives. You push further, and discover that you can easily traverse the path that emerges, without stumbling. For a while.

Let’s just remain there.

You are travelling along seamlessly on this path you’ve discovered after poking and shoving around.

Freeze.

Now imagine the price of an underlying. Any underlying, that tends to trend. GBP vs USD would be a great example.

Price pokes and shoves (at resistance), as it tries to break out.

Once it has broken out, you need to understand why it has broken out.

It is not encountering enough resistance to make it stop.

It’ll keep moving along this line of least resistance, till there develops sufficient new resistance that is enough to make price stop, or even reverse.

That’s a price move. You want to be part of it. Thus, you look for it. The pokes and the shoves are your entry tries. One of your entries will chance upon the line of least resistance. You’ll experience a clear move, which you’re a part of. The move will continue till resistance builds up again.

The idea, obviously, is to stay with the move to make up for failed entries and then some.

You stay in the trade till there is enough resistance to make the underlying reverse more than your threshold.

That would be your trigger stop.

When a concept is broken down to its absolute basics, it becomes easy to understand.

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Approaching a Contrarian Buy as a Pivot Point Trade


Long live Jesse Livermore!

In his colourful life, Jesse pioneered the science of pivot points. He went bust many times while trying to understand pivot points, but ever since the fundamentals have been delineated by him, pivot points have stood the test of time.

After falling to a pivot point, where there is heavy volume, a stock then doesn’t look back for a while. Entry into a stock is considered ideal at or around a pivot point. Due to the surge-potential at pivot points, one’s trade gets into the money very fast here.

I don’t think pivot points can be predicted off-hand. Potential pivot points make themselves visible at newer lows. Their trademark is the accompanying very high volume.

So, what does one do here?

One punches in a trigger-buy above the pivot-bar or pivot-candle.

If the point pans out as a pivot, and the characteristic surge follows, one’s entry is triggered as the price pierces the pivot-bar high. Good entry.

Now manage the trade, and exit properly.

How does one exit properly?

I’ve spoken about this many times, and will do so again, not today, but very soon.

Cheers!

Approaching a Contrarian Buy as a Pivot Point Trade

And How Are You This 20k?

20k’s knocking on our sensory index.

How are you feeling, this 20k?

I remember my trading screen, the first time 20k came. Lots of blue till it came, and when it came, the screen just turned into a sea of red.

Sell orders hit their auto-triggers, as if it were raining sell orders along with cats and dogs.

What is it about round numbers?

Why do they engulf us in their roundness?

I don’t think I am making a mistake in stating that the first person to recognize the significance of round numbers in the game was Jesse Livermore, the legendary trader. Jesse developed a round number strategy that he pulled off repeatedly, with enormous success. It is because of Jesse Livermore that a trader takes round numbers … seriously.

So, what is it about the roundness of 20k?

Plain and simple. The 0s engulf the 2. You don’t see the 2 anymore, and the 0s scare you. Or, they might excite you. Round numbers make the human being emotional.

Big question for me, to understand my own mindset – how am I reacting to 20k?

I would like to share my reaction with you, because it could help you understand your own reaction.

Also, writing about it makes me understand my own reaction better. Thoughts get assimilated.

Yeah, it’s not all social service here, there’s some selfish element involved too.

Besides, I have a bit of a guilty conscience about the amount of research the internet allows me to do, free of cost. I mean, I can get into the skin of any listed company with a few button-clicks. All this writing – is a give-back. You’ll get your calling soon enough. Nature will tell you where you need to give back. When that happens, don’t hold back – give freely. It’s a million dollar feeling!

Back to the topic.

I’ve seen 20k twice before, I think, perhaps thrice. Oh right, between late September and December ’10, it came, was broken, then it came back, to be again broken on the downside, all within a few months.

The aftermath of the first time I saw it (in November ’07) hammered me, though, and taught me my biggest market lessons. I’m glad all this happened in my early market years, because one doesn’t normally recover from huge hammerings at an advanced stage in one’s market career.

The second / third time I saw 20k, I was profiting from it to a small extent. A vague kind of strategy was developing in my mind, and I was trying all kinds of new trading ideas so as to formulate a general strategy for big round numbers.

This morning, I saw 20k for the fourth time, for a few minutes.

By now, I was on auto-pilot.

A human being will have emotions. A successful market player will know how to deal with these emotions.

I bifurcated my emotions into two streams.

One was the fear stream.

The other was the exuberance stream.

The former helped me decide my future investment strategy.

The latter helped me decide my future trading strategy.

In my opinion, a good investment strategy in times of market exuberance would be to not look for fresh investments anymore. This morning, I decided to stop looking for fresh investments, till further notice.

Sometimes, when you’re not looking for an investment, you might still chance upon a company that sparks your investment interest.

If that happened, I would still scrutinize such a company very, very thoroughly, before going ahead. After all, these were times of exuberance.

Yeah, fresh investments would be on the backburner till margins of safety were restored.

Now let’s speak about the exuberance stream.

Market looked ripe for trading. Fresh market activity would take the shape of trading.

Trading is far more active an activity, when compared to investing. We’ve spoken a lot about the difference between trading and investing, in previous posts. Investors enter the market when stocks are undervalued, because the general market is unable to see their intrinsic value. Traders take centre-stage when stocks are overvalued, because the general market is repeatedly attributing more and more value to stocks, much more than should be there. Traders ride the market up, and then short it to ride it down.

Yeah, till further notice, I would be spending my energies trading. After a while, I would re-evaluate market conditions.

That’s what I thought to myself this morning.

Learning to Sit (Part II)

Can you sit?

I mean, can you really sit?

Maximum money is made by sitting, not by wiggling about.

I didn’t say that, but people far, far greater did.

To name just two who did say so, I’m sure you’ve heard of Jesse Livermore and Warren Buffett.

Fact remains – if you’re a long-term investor, you have to be able to sit.

One can’t sit for very long if one isn’t comfortable.

So, logic dictates – make yourself comfortable first.

Get rid of all extra background noise that disturbs you.

Keep consolidating – till you are comfortable to a point of not wanting to move from where you are.

You’ve gotten rid of investments you don’t understand.

Then, you’ve also dumped those investments that you do understand, but which don’t interest you.

Your rapport with your family is healthy.

You eat and sleep well.

You enjoy your life.

Then, the investments that you’re gonna sit on – are their volumes influencing the normal flow of your life?

If yes, it’ll be hard to stay focused somewhere down the line, because some fragment of your life will invariably be disturbed positively or negatively due to the voluminous investment in question.

Can you digest the volume such that its level does not interfere with your daily life?

What is your capacity for volume digestion?

Some have very large digestive capacities, like RJ. Such people can sleep comfortably on gigantic invested volumes for a very long time.

Others don’t digest volume at all, and can’t sleep over volume, like that day-trader who lives down the road. When the market closes, his invested volume is nil. Otherwise, the rest of his day is ruined.

Identify your volume threshold.

Invest below it. Then, you’ll be able to sit on your investment.

Any investment must have a rationale. Is your investment rationale sound? You’ll only be able to sit long-term on an investment made with sound rationale.

Therefore, take your time. Do solid research. Your research is pivotal for your investment. It doesn’t have to be so technical or so fundamental as to psyche a lay-person. It doesn’t have to deal with nitty-gritty. It doesn’t have to look for wheels within wheels.

In my opinion, market research needs to be broad-minded, and done with common-sense. Researching a company is an art. One doesn’t need to go ballistic with numbers, mathematics, projections, charts etc. One needs to formulate the long-term picture in one’s mind, based on key ratios, charting basics, knowledge of cycles, quality of management etc., and of course (based on) the million dollar question – is one looking at a multibagger? You can fill in the blanks here, for yourself.

Then, don’t enter with too big a bang. That’s my formula. Enter small. You can always top up later, if your conviction about your investment has grown. That’ll allow you to sit if your investment goes wrong in the initial stages. If you’ve entered too big and things go awry, you won’t be able to sleep, and then the first thing you’ll do is exit. So, enter small.

See, you can average down if you’re an expert, but for the longest time and till you get the hang of things, do not average down.

Why am I saying this?

Averaging down can make you even more jumpy if the stock in question goes down further. Your chances of sitting on your investment become even lesser.

Now for the flip-side. Sitting on a profit? Are you booking? Yes? No?

Depends. On you. On your outlook.

I mean, are you going to nip a multibagger in the bud?

I think you got the point.

So, till when do you sit?

Till you’re comfortable. Till you can sleep and eat well. Till you have a happy family life. Again, define you own “tills”.

The rest, as they say, is (your own investing) History.

Do You Believe in You(rself) ?

Still not hit the success button?

Suffering from an inferiority complex?

Market got you down?

Is it over for you?

Which brings us to the more important question : Do you believe in YOU?

Wrong English, I know, I know. Sometimes I misuse the language for effect. The effect is more important to me than how silly I look because of bad grammar.

Ok, so you want to succeed, make it big in the markets, blah blah blah.

Who doesn’t?

You obviously can’t last out if you don’t believe in yourself. Markets are draining, and tend to suck the living blood out of one’s body, so one needs to last. Market forces exhaust the system. It’s something about them, something electronic. This something consumes your stamina. So, no two ways, you need to last out. 20, 30, 40 years maybe…

I’m not saying it’s going to take you that long to succeed. For all I know you’re the next Jesse Livermore in a few years. Getting there is one thing, but staying there is another. Consistency. Maintaining success for many years in a row. That’s big. Something like that can be, and probably is, a trader’s lifetime goal.

It all starts with belief.

Baby steps.

First, weave a safety net around you. This involves the creation of a regular source of income to sustain your family’s basic needs. Such income needs to be independent of the market, any market. Your trading is not really begging you to earn your basic income. It can well do without that extra pressure. A comfortable slot for your trading to be in is when it can generate additional and bonus income for you. That’s the sweet-spot, and you want to be in it, with a comfortable safety net around you, free to trade the markets with no extra pressure.

Then, create a reliable system to trade the markets.

This can even take many years. I mean, some of us take seven odd years to recognize their basic risk-profile. Good, at least we are recognizing our risk-profile, because everything else is going to be built up on top of that.

As your system starts to perform, your belief in yourself gets stronger. Good going, stranger, now do humanity a favour and support others who are struggling to find themselves. In any way you can. It’s good Karma, and will help you further on your own path.

Then, you hit it big-time, your system catches some huge market swings, and you are there.

Now, other things start happening. Success brings with it its own entourage.

Remain on the ground, please. That’s how you are going to last out. Keep trading. Hitting the magic spot is not enough, you need to milk it as long as possible. Your new status of “successful” will bring many to your doorstep. The crowd wants to acquire the magic formula from you. People want your time. Deal with it, buddy. In a manner that still keeps you performing in the Zone, trade after trade. Also, in a manner that keeps you from hurting anybody’s feelings. I know, thin line, difficult to do, but you don’t additionally want the remnant emotional baggage of hurting people to affect your trading.

Apart from fame, there are other members in the entourage of success, and I’m just classifying them ad-hoc under the header “extra-curricular activities”. Yup, these will come your way. That’s part of being successful and famous. Well, do what you want, you’re a grown-up, nobody’s going to tell you where to draw the line. All one can say is, that if any extra-curricular baggage starts seeping into your trading, you’re going down Sir. Period.

Oh, where did it all start? Belief, right. Look where it can get you.

So come on, get up from your drawdown. Drawdowns happen. They are part of the learning process. The earlier they happen, the better it is for you. Now, you probably won’t let them happen when the stakes are big. When a future drawdown looms, you are prepared, and nip it in the bud. You don’t let it grow into an ulcer. That’s what your earlier drawdowns have taught you.

So get up and give it another shot.

All it takes is a bit of belief.

Wisdom of the Lull

It’s awfully quiet.

Are you enjoying the silence?

Or are you fretting and fuming, that there’s no action?

There’s a buzz to silence. It’s charged.

And you can harness that charge.

What for?

For the storm of course. Which is to follow. Don’t you want to be ready for it?

Cycles, people. Finance moves in cycles.

In the ’00s, I used to move from market to market. Action here, action there, action everywhere. Result was, well, I became a “Jack of all trades”, and a master of none.

Well, that’s changed now. With time, I’ve zeroed in on the markets I wish to master. I stay with these markets. No abandoning.

Tell you a secret – every market has idiosyncrasies. These four words take long to find out. Lots of hits. And then one learns these magic words.

Nuances, markets have nuances. Market A will have nuance Z, and market B will have nuance Y.

To master a market , you need to stay with it. Don’t abandon it when it is quiet. You do want to master it, right? So stay. Watch. Don’t do anything if you don’t wish to, but watch. Recognize the idiosyncrasies and their patterns.

Welcome to the wisdom of the lull.

A lull gives you time to consolidate and get your action-plan ready. It allows your nervous system to recharge. You can catch up with stuff you’ve missed out on. Financially, you’re not worried, even if you’re not trading.

Why?

Because your trading corpus is giving you fixed income when its units are not being utilized for trading, silly. And, this fixed income is large enough to support you and your family and then some, remember? That was a basic tenet we had carved out for ourselves before we got into serious trading. Don’t forget the basics. Keep reminding yourself. Financially, a lull needs to give you enough income to support your family and then some, such that you are not required to pull a single trade. Trading 1.0.1. If that’s not the case, first muster up a large enough corpus that fulfills this condition, before you get into serious trading.

Why?

A lull should not have you jumping in your pants, eager to implement dozens of trades in an effort to get basic income going. When Mrs. Market goes nowhere, your trades will eventually keep getting stopped out, because of money stops or time-stops. That’s how you recognize a lull. Now you can shut shop, recharge, watch, and your corpus is still generating basic fixed income, allowing you to harness the full wisdom of the lull.

This is also a time to go over previous trading errors. Let me tell you a story. Remember Jesse Livermore? Well, Jesse was eccentric. Geniuses are eccentric. Jesse was a genius trader. Since there would be no trading action around the end of December and the beginning of January, Jesse used to lock himself up in a bank-vault during this period, stocked with ample food and drink supplies . He would then go over all his trades implemented in the previous year, trying to understand the mistakes he had made. He would come out of the vault when the previous year’s trading had been fully digested by his system. When he emerged from the vault, he was ready to take on the new year.

Why a bank-vault, you ask?

Jesse said he wanted to get a physical feel for money. He wanted to be with it for a while. Trading was too abstract, and one lost touch with reality. By living with real money in a closed space for a few days, Jesse’s system was acknowledging that trading has to do with real money, real losses, real profits.

Yeah, I’m sure the vault had a washroom. Jesse Livermore could pull any stunt with his bankers.

Jesse Livermore was the first trader to realize and harness the wisdom of the lull.

Thanks, Jesse.