System Addict

System. 

Make. 

Now. 

Life in the markets requires a plan.

No plan…no life…in the markets. 

Many don’t know this. 

Some are finding out…the hard way. 

Others are looking for free lunches…and not finding any. 

Few…have found out. 

They’re perfecting their plan…chiseling away. 

When they have something substantial…it’s called a system. 

Have system…will move. 

It’s as simple as that. 

That’s another master-word. 

What?

Simple. 

The most powerful systems in the world…are simple. 

They consist of a few basic elements, woven into a mother element. 

They have an on-off switch which even a donkey can operate. 

But that’s about it. The donkey can operate the on-off switch. Only the maker can operate his or her system properly.

Why?

Because the maker knows the nitty-gritty. 

Nitty-grittiness shows itself while making. 

No one else knows it. 

Only you do, as a system-maker. 

Also, no one else needs to be bothered about your system, because your system only applies to you, and to no one else. Unfortunately, it ain’t so in real life. Many don’t want the hard work involved in developing a system. They just want the system. That’s dangerous. 

Why?

You see, those who have a system falling into their lap, well, they don’t know its pitfalls. They can’t know. They haven’t had that alone time, when the system showed its limitations. That’s why, they’re in for a big surprise if things get ugly. They risk losing everything. 

Don’t bother about anyone else’s system. 

Develop your own. Know how to work it. Know when to work it. Know when to stop. Know when to find remedies. Know when to pull the plug and develop a new system. 

This game is about you. Not about the markets. Not about the money. Not about anyone else. Not about anything else. 

It’s about you. 

Realise that. Now. Please.

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Happy Second Birthday, Magic Bull !!

Seasons change. So do people, moods, feelings, relationships and market scenarios.

A stream of words is a very powerful tool to understand and tackle such change.

Birthdays will go by, and, hopefully, words will keep flowing. When something flows naturally, stopping it leads to disease. Trapped words turn septic inside the container holding them.

Well, we covered lots of ground, didn’t we? This year saw us transform from being a money-management blog to becoming a commentary on applied finance. The gloom and doom of Eurozone didn’t beat us down. Helicopter Ben and the Fed were left alone to their idiosyncrasies. The focus turned to gold. Was it just a hedge, and nothing but a hedge? Could it replace the dollar as a universal currency? Recently, its glitter started to actually disturb us, and we spoke about exit strategies. We also became wary of the long party in the debt market, and how it was making us lazy enough to miss the next equity move. Equity, with its human capital behind it, still remained the number one long-term wealth preserver cum generator for us. After all, this asset class fought inflation on auto-pilot, through its human capital.

Concepts were big with us. There was the concept of Sprachgefühl, with which one could learn a new subject based on sheer feeling and instinct. The two central concepts that stood out this year were leverage and compounding. We saw the former’s ugly side. The latter was practically demonstrated using the curious case of Switzerland. There was the Ayurvedic concept of Satmya, which helps a trader get accustomed to loss. And yeah, we meet the line, our electrolytic connection to Mrs. Market. We bet our monsters, checked Ace-high, gauged when to go all-in against Mrs. Market, and when to move on to a higher table. Yeah, for us, poker concepts were sooo valid in the world of trading.

We didn’t like the Goldman attitude, and weren’t afraid to speak out. Nor did we mince any words about the paralytic political scenario in India, and about the things that made us go Uffff! We spoke to India Inc., making them aware, that the first step was theirs. We also recognized and reacted to A-grade tomfoolery in the cases of Air India and Kingfisher Airlines. Elsewhere, we tried to make the 99% see reason. Listening to the wisdom of the lull was fun, and also vital. What would it take for a nation to decouple? For a while, things became as Ponzi as it gets, causing us to build a very strong case against investing a single penny in the government sector, owing to its apathy, corruption and inefficiency. We were quite outspoken this year.

The Atkinsons were an uplifting family that we met. He was the ultimate market player. She was the ultimate home-maker. Her philanthropy stamped his legacy in caps. Our ubiquitous megalomaniac, Mr. Cool, kept sinking lower this year, whereas his broker, Mr. Ever-so-Clever, raked it in . Earlier, Mr. Cool’s friend and alter-ego, Mr. System Addict, had retired on his 7-figure winnings from the market. Talking of brokers, remember Miss Sax, the wheeling-dealing market criminal, who did Mr. Cool in? She’s still in prison for fraud. Our friend the frog that lived in a well taught us about the need for adaptability and perspective, but not before its head exploded upon seeing the magnitude of an ocean.

Our endeavors to understand Mrs. Market’s psychology and Mr. Risk’s point of view were constant and unfailing, during which we didn’t forget our common-sense at home. Also, we were very big on strategy. We learnt to be away from our desk, when Mrs. M was going nowhere. We then learnt to draw at Mrs. M, when she actually decided to go somewhere. Compulsion was taken out of our trading, and we dealt with distraction. Furthermore, we started to look out for game-changers. Scenarios were envisioned, regarding how we would avoid blowing up big, to live another day, for when cash would be king. Descriptions of our personal war in Cyberia outlined the safety standards we needed to meet. Because we believed in ourselves and understood that we were going to enhance our value to the planet, we continued our struggle on the road to greatness, despite any pain.

Yeah, writing was fun. Thanks for reading, and for interacting. Here’s wishing you lots of market success. May your investing and trading efforts be totally enjoyable and very, very lucrative! Looking forward to an exciting year ahead!

Cheers 🙂

Elephant in a China Shop

Mr. Cool just plugged his trading exam.

Big time, and for the umpteenth time.

It all started out like this. He partied late night. Had one too many, of course. Slept till late morning. Woke up with a headache.

Then he made his first mistake of the new day. He decided to trade.

Why was this a mistake, you ask? After all, trading is his profession.

Two mistakes here, I’d say. Firstly, there was no market preparation. Secondly, health was not up to the mark. Deciding to trade after this backdrop – hmmm – bad call.

The next set of mistakes came right after that. Coolers asked his broker Mr. Ever So Clever the wrong question, this being “What’s moving, mate?”

True to his form was Mr. Cool-i-o. Two mistakes here again. Firstly, you don’t ask your broker technical questions. You tell your broker what to do. You instruct him or her. Asking your broker to instruct you is like asking the second hand car dealer to start ripping you off.

Next, if you are asking Mr. Ever So Clever anything at all, it can be about your funds in transit, or your equity in transit or basically something mechanical. You are not in this business to give Mr. Clever even an inch more of space by asking market questions like what’s moving or what’s going to move.

If you still do, as Mr. Coolovsky obviously proved, then of course Mr. Ever So Clever is going to tout to you what his other clients are squaring off. Specifically illiquid scrips. These need buyers, and if you’ve just announced yourself as a buyer and are asking what to buy, illiquid scrips that others are selling will definitely be touted to you for buying.

Also, a scrip doesn’t have to be illiquid to be touted. One can even be dealing with a very large order which a big player is looking to off-load at a relative peak. A whole set of brokers then does the rounds to get buyers interested.

The bottom-line is this – you are not giving your broker any kind of leeway with regards to what you are buying or selling. You need to do your own technicals, or fundamentals or whatever it is that you do, to gauge what is moving. You don’t ask what is moving.

On many occasions, rallies wind up soon after big players square off. This time was no different. Coolster had loaded himself with a scrip which had already peaked. With no buying pressure to push it up any further, its price started to sink.

Next set of mistakes.

He’d marked a vague stop-loss in his head because everyone had been ticking him off for not applying stops. Specifically our friend Mr. System Addict, remember him? He had been very vocal about it. Because the stop was vague, Mr. Cool wasn’t motivated enough to feed it into his trade as the price neared his stop.

Not feeding in a mental stop – mistake.

As the scrip’s price undershot his mental stop, Coolins did nothing except to hope it would climb back to his buy level, which is when he would exit.

Hoping in a trade – big mistake.

Not taking your loss once stop is undershot – even bigger mistake.

What happened after that can’t be called a mistake anymore (on humanitarian grounds), because Coolinsky had gone into freeze mode. The reason was the sinking scrip. Huge losses were piling up. Coolitzer answered two back to back margin calls in this frozen state of body and mind. He was frozen. Didn’t know what he was doing. Scrip didn’t turn back up before Mr. Cool was cleaned out.

This chronology of events is a kind of worst-case scenario. A grade F minus in an exam.

Every trade is an exam. One needs to tread carefully from step to step, from pre-trade preparation to actual trade to after-trade emotional wind-down.

Remember that, so you fare much, much … much, much better than our F minus candidate. And don’t worry about him, Mr. Cool-Dude will be back. He’s always able to get back, you’ve gotta give credit to Mr. Cool for that.

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.

Jumping Jackstops

Recently, Mr. Cool and Mr. System Addict decide to get into a trade.

Yeah, surprise surprise, Mr. Cool is liquid again!

They’ve decided to trade Gold, and are pretty much in the money already. Their trades have come good first up. Both are leveraged 25:1, which is common with Gold derivatives. Mr. Addict has bet 5% of his networth on the trade, and Mr. Cool, true to his name, has matched Mr. Addict’s amount.

Gold prices jump, and Mr. Addict’s target is hit. He exits without thinking twice, and is pretty pleased upon doubling his trade amount within a week. He pickles 90% of the booty in fixed income schemes, and is planning a holiday for his girl-friend with the remaining amount. Instead of trading further, he decides to recuperate for a while.

Meanwhile, Mr. Cool rubs his hands in glee as the price of Gold shoots up further. His notional-profits now far exceed the actually booked profits of Mr. Addict. When’s he planning to exit? Not soon. He wants to make a killing, and once and for all prove to Mr. Addict and to the world, that he rules. He wants to bury Mr. Addict’s trade results below the mountain of his own king-sized profits. Gold soars further.

Mr Cool has trebled his money, and is still not booking any profits. He picks up his cell to call Mr. Addict. Wants to rub it in, you know.

Mr. Addict puts down his daiquiri by the poolside in his hotel in Ibiza. His girl-friend has at last started admiring him. They’ve been swimming all morning. “All right, all right, he’ll take this one call. Oh, it’s Mr. Cool, wonder what he’s up to?” Mr. Addict is one of the few people in the world who are able to switch off. He’s totally forgotten about Gold and his winning trade, and is really enjoying his holiday.

Mr. Cool tries to rub it in, but receives some unperturbed advice from the other end of the line. He’s being asked to be satisfied and to book profits right now. Of course he’s not going to do that. All right, fine, if he wants to play it by “let’s see how high this can go”, he needs to have a wide-gapped trailing stop in place, says Mr. Addict. Of course he’s got a wide-gapped trailing stop in place, says Mr. Cool. Mr. Addict wishes him luck, cuts the call, and forgets about the existence of Mr. Cool, dozing off into a well-deserved snooze.

As Gold moves higher, Cool starts to think about that wide-gapped trailing stop. Let alone having one in place, he doesn’t even know what it means. A quick call to the broker follows. The broker is ordered to install a trailing stop into Mr. Cool’s trade. Since Cool doesn’t know what “wide-gapped” means, he forgets to mention it. The broker doesn’t like Cool’s attitude and his proud tone. He installs a narrow-gapped trailing stop.

Circumstances change, and Gold starts to drop. It’s making big moves on the downside, falling a few percentage points in one shot. Cool’s narrow-gapped trailing stop gets fully jumped over; it doesn’t get a chance to become activated in the first place, because it is narrow-gapped and not wide-gapped. The price of the underlying just leaps over the narrow gap between trigger price and limit price. Happens. Cool does not install a new stop. Stupid.

Next morning, Cool’s jaw drops when he sees Gold down 15% overnight. On a 25:1 leverage, he’s just about to lose his margin. The phone rings. It’s the margin call. Cool panics. He answers the margin call. His next call is to Mr. Addict, asking what he should do. Mr. Addict is shocked to learn that Cool has answered the margin call. He asks him to cut the trade immediately.

Cool’s gone numb. Gold drops another 4%. Phone rings. Second margin call. Cool doesn’t have the money to answer it. In fact , he didn’t have the money to answer the first one. In the broker’s next statement, that amount will show up as a debit, growing at the rate of 18% per annum.

Mr. Cool’s not liquid anymore. Actually, he’s broke. No, worse that that. He’s in debt. Greed got him.

Happy First Birthday, Magic Bull !

It’s been one year! Writing’s been fun. Didn’t do it for reward, but there’s been a nice reward. The flow of words through the system clears and solidifies concepts in one’s mind. Writing evolves the human being. As I’ve said earlier, this blog helps balance my equation with nature. It’s a “give-back”. One has access […]

System Addict & Mr. Cool

Mr. Cool starts his day.

He wants to know what other people are doing. To be more exact, what they are trading. He listens to tips. Actually, “listens” is an understatement. He’s hungry for tips. He shorts strong stocks, and goes long those that have corrected. He wants to be Mr. Johny-on-the spot where the action is.

Mr. Cool gets up late. Of course no preparation for the trading day is on the agenda. In fact, he has no agenda other than the format stated above. The day starts off with a call to the broker. What’s moving? What are the news projections? Any hot tips? What’s this analyst saying?

Mr. Cool doesn’t live long in the markets. His “strategy” of trading long into correcting stocks and shorting strong ones pays off 80% of the time, but when it goes wrong, it goes wrong big, in fact so big, that Mr. Cool doesn’t feel so cool anymore. He holds on to his losses. He’s scared of taking the hit. He hopes that prices will reverse to his entry price and then he wants to exit. This time around, it doesn’t happen, and his cheap options expire worthless, leaving him broke. By now the markets have scared him so much, that he nevers trades again.

Mr. System Addict is everything Mr. Cool is not. He has a system, and he sticks to it. No tips, no news, no rumours, no non-sense. If the system indicates a buy, he goes long. If it indicates a sell, he goes short. If an exit, he exits. No looking here and there. Belief in the system. Trade to trade system development and enhancement. Solid pre-market preparation and after-market analysis. The works.

Mr. System addict has been around in the markets and he’s going to stay. He’s doing well. Initially, he used to be Mr. Cool, but then he went bust. The only difference was, that he had the strength to lift himself up and become Mr. System Addict.