Understanding and Assimilating the Fear-Greed Paradox

Holy moly, what are we talking about?

Let’s say you’ve done your homework.

You’ve identified your long-term stock.

Fundamentals are in place. Management is investor-friendly. No serious debt issues. Earnings are good.

Valuation is not right.

You wait.

How long?

Till the price is right.

What happens if that doesn’t happen.

You don’t pull the trigger. It’s difficult, but you just don’t pull.

Let’s say the price is becoming right.

You are looking for an extra margin of safety.

You are waiting to pounce. How long?

What’s your indicator?

Your gut?

Many things have been said about the gut.

It does feel fear.

Look for that fear.

Scrip is near a very low support, but holding. You are afraid that this last support might break and that the scrip might go into free-fall. Look for that fear. There goes your buying opportunity, you are probably saying. Intraday, support is broken. You are now sure it’s gone. Look for that feeling. Intraday, scrip comes back. Closes over support. Large volume. This chronology is your buy signal. You pick up a large chunk. Scrip doesn’t look back.

You don’t have to go through this rigmarole. You don’t have to bottom-pick. This exercise is for those who want that extra margin of safety.

Now invert the situation.

You’re sitting on a multibagger.

Lately, you’re not agreeing with the company’s business plans. You want out. Best time for you to exit would be now, sure. But, scrip is in no resistance zone, and is going up and up and up. What do you do?

Look for greed within yourself, when you start saying “Wow, this is going to be the next 100-bagger!” Look for the moment during this phenomenal rise when you’re getting attached to the scrip and don’t want to get rid of it, despite having concluded that you don’t agree with the vision of the promoters. Look for the time you start going “My Precious!”

Sell.

This chronology is your intrinsic sell signal.

Sure, radical.

I agree.

Sure, I’m combining trading techniques to fine-tune my investing.

I’ve stood on the shoulders of giants.

I’ve seen from their heights.

It’s time I start contributing.

Advertisements

Who’s Responsible for that Last Technical Bit?

Planning a technical trade?

You’ve got your chart open. Scrip’s been falling.

You plan to initiate a buy on that last support. Still a few percentage points to go. 

Your buy point seems a bit off, right? 

Scrip might not reach it, huh?

It might just take off before reaching your buy point, hmmm?

What you need to understand is this – for nothing comes nothing.

You don’t want to risk a buy at current market price. That’s a fact. An acceptable one. Fine … as long as you are willing to pay the price for this fact. 

The price is that you might not be in the trade as the scrip might take off without your stop-type trigger entry price being hit. 

The up-side is that the scrip might correct to your buy price, triggering your entry, and thereby giving you a perfect technical entry point, along with a great margin of safety, since you’ll then have bought low as compared to current market price. 

Yeah, that’s the trade-off.

Is this trade-off acceptable to you?

Yes?

Fine. In my opinion, you would not be doing anything wrong in going ahead with your planned course of action, as long as you have mentally accepted the trade-off. 

What’s the other guy at? You know, the fellow who’s entering at current market price. Well, he’s taking a risk. He’s buying a little high, without margin of safety. What’s his trade-off? For starters, he’s in the trade. Scrip can take off immediately for all he cares, leaving you behind. He’ll be most happy. What’s his down-side? Scrip can correct to technical support, your buy-point. He’ll already be in a losing trade, and you’ll be just entering. In his worst-case scenario, his stop will already be hit as you are just entering. If the scrip takes off on him now, he’ll probably be puking. Yeah, that’s his trade-off. He’s accepted it mentally. After such acceptance, in my opinion, he’s doing nothing wrong by entering at current market price. 

What’s going to happen?

No one knows. Either of the outlined scenarios can play out.

Who’s that last technical correction left for? Yeah, who or what exactly will be responsible for that last technical correction?

An event. A negative one.

At this point, a negative event can happen. On the other hand, it may not happen. 

If it happens, the scrip will very probably open at the technical buy point the next day, and your buy will be triggered. 

If there’s no negative event, and buying pressure goes up, the scrip will take off without you.

Why is that last bit left to an event?

Events give prices a push or a pull, depending upon their positivity or negativity. 

That last support was made a bit low, right? You were wondering how the scrip reached so low, huh? In high probability, an event pushed it low for a few hours, and a low was made. If this low coincided with a past low, one started to speak of a lowish support, which was a little low considering current market price, and for which the scrip needed a pull-back to reach. 

Like this morning’s pull-back. The US decides to allow air-strikes in Iraq. Japan opens 3% down. India opens 1% down. 

A lot of scrips open really down this morning. 

Some of them even open at lowish supports they were not (at all) intending to touch yesterday. 

A Tool By The Name of “Barrier”

Come into some money?

Just don’t say you’re going to spend it all.

Have the decency to at least save something.

And all of a sudden, our focus turns to the portion you’ve managed to save.

If you don’t fetch out your rule-book now, you’ll probably bungle up with whatever’s left too.

Have some discipline in life, pal.

The first thing you want to do is to set a barrier.

Barrier? Huh? What kind of barrier?

And why?

The barrier will cut off immediate and direct access to your saved funds. You’ll get time to think, when hit by the whim and fancy to spend your funds.

For example, a barrier can be constructed by simply putting your funds in a money-market scheme. With that, you’ll have put 18 hours between you and access, because even the best of money market schemes take at least 18 hours to transfer your funds back into your bank account.

Why am I so against spending, you ask?

Well, I’m not.

Here, we are focusing on the portion that you’ve managed to save.

Without savings, there’s nothing. There can be no talk about an investment corpus, if there are no savings. Something cannot grow out of nothing. For your money to grow, a base corpus needs to exist first.

Then, your basic corpus needs a growth strategy.

If you’ve chalked out your strategy already, great, go ahead and implement it.

You might find, that the implemetation opportunities you thought about are not there yet.

Appropriately, your corpus will wait for these opportunities in a safe money market fund. Here, it is totally fine to accept a low return as long as you are liquid when the opportunity comes. There is no point blocking your money in lieu of a slightly higher return, only to be illiquid when your investment opportunity comes along. Thus, you’ve used your barrier to park your funds. Well done!

Primarily, this barrier analogy is for these who don’t have a strategy. These individuals leave themselves open to be swept away into spending all their money. That’s why such individuals need a barrier.

An online 7-day lock-in fixed deposit can be a barrier.

A stingy spouse can be a barrier.

Use your imagination, people, and you’ll come up with a (safe) barrier. All the best! 🙂

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.

Are you a Pig?

Pigs get slaughtered.

Are you a pig?

Don’t know the answer?

See if you fit into what the market defines as a pig. Be honest to yourself.

A pig is a crowd-follower. He (for convenience purposes, I’m using “he”) doesn’t use his God-given brain. A pig generally enters into an investment in the late stages of a trend. What pushes him into entering is that nagging feeling of missing the bus.

The pig is most interested in knowing what others are doing, and gets swayed by flashy headlines. He doesn’t have a market outlook and blindly follows tips. He panics at the bottom and sells for maximum loss. The pig doesn’t exercise any holding power, even if he might possess it.

If you find yourself fitting into any of these patterns, please get a grip on the situation before it’s too late. Slow down. Start getting to know yourself. Do your own research. Slowly build a market-view. And then invest according to this newly found but solid perspective.

There are many ways to limit risk. The stop-loss and the systematic investment plan are two, for starters. Incorporate such risk-limiting factors into your trading style. Slowly build up an indestructable approach through trial and error.

Yes, make mistakes, because they are the only teachers in this game. Make mistakes with small amounts. A mistake should not be able to slaughter you, because now you are not a pig anymore.

Anatomy of a Ponzi Scheme

Charles Ponzi came up with the brilliant idea of paying early investors dividends from the investment money put in by later investors.

It’s as simple as that, and it’s called a Ponzi scheme.

After the first few dividends, promoter disappears, having lured many investors into a fake scheme with no underlying business.

Latest famous example of a Ponzi schemer – Bernie Maddoff.

Or, if you’ve not seen Damages – Season III, that’s about a Ponzi scheme too.

So what lures the common investor into a Ponzi scheme?

Simple. It’s called greed.

What triggers the greed?

The Ponzi schemer concocts a scheme that promises a rather too lucrative return. This return does not look unrealistic, so the average investor’s alarm signals don’t go off. Nevertheless, it’s more than high enough to make the average investor’s mouth water.

And what’s normally promised is a quick return, mind you. The average investor buys smoothly into the idea of doubling his or her money fast.

Then there’s lots of advertisment. Billboards everywhere. The Ponzi schemer wants to hit the public with ads about the tremendous returns.

The sales-people who sell the scheme are glib-talkers. They are smart, wear expensive stuff, basically exuding sophistication. They want to rub it in that they’ve made it big in life.

A Ponzi scheme’s documentation generally cracks under close scrutiny. I mean, when something is being sold to you without any underlying business, all you have to do is your dose of due diligence. Just pick up the phone and start asking questions.

What works for the Ponzi schemer is human nature. The first investors (who get paid dividends from newbie investor money) start talking. Actually, they start bragging. The human being likes to show off. And, the human being hates missing the boat, even if the boatman is a disciple of Charles Ponzi.