# Playing Over-hot Underlyings with the Call Butterfly

A call butterfly is a fully hedged options trade …

… with an upwards bias.

It consists of four call options.

…and 2 sells.

One can play any overtly rising underlying with the call butterfly, without batting an eyelid.

Why?

Firstly, and most importantly, one is fully hedged.

Meaning?

At first look, the call butterfly seems market neutral as far as basic mathematics is concerned, that is +1, -2, +1, net net 0.

So, net net, one isn’t looking at a large loss if one is wrong.

When is one wrong here?

If the underlying doesn’t move, or if it falls, in the stipulated period, then one is wrong,…

…and one will incur a loss.

However, the loss will be relatively small, because of the call butterfly’s structural market neutrality.

And that’s magic, at least to my ears.

Method to enter anything flying off the handle with the chance of a small loss?

Will take it.

Then, also very importantly, the margin requirement is relatively less, when one uses the following chronology.

Then come the sells.

Upon the upholding of this chronology, the market regulator is lenient with one on margin requirement, as long as the trade-construct is market neutral.

Typically, for one butterfly, total margin requirement is in the range of 50 to a 100k.

Now let’s talk about what one is looking to make.

5k per single-lot trade-construct, if it’s fast, as in execute today, square-off tomorrow, or even intraday, if expiry is close.

10k if slow, as in 7 to 10 days.

If the butterfly is not yielding because the underlying is not moving, then one is looking to exit, typically with a minus of under 3k.

Just do the math. Numbers are great.

What kind of a maximum loss are we looking at, if things go badly wrong, as in if the underlying sinks?

5k to 10k.

Can the loss be more?

If the trade construct is such that the butterfly can even give 40 odd k till expiry, one could even be looking at a max loss of about 15k too.

Here’s an example of a call butterfly trade that can lose around 15-16k, but has the potential to make upto around 45k till expiry. The graphical representation is courtesy Sensibull.

I mean, it’s all still acceptable.

Tweaks?

Let’s say one is losing.

Sells will be in biggish plus.

Square-off the sells. Yeah, break the hedge.

They are losing big.

With some time to go till expiry, if the underlying goes back up, the buys gain.

What one makes off the trade is proportional to how much the underlying goes up.

It’s riskier. Correspondingly, profit potential is higher.

Money risked here will be up to double of the fully hedged version of the trade, and one could lose this amount if the underlying does not come back up appropriately and in time. Pocketed premium of the squared-off sells softens the hit.

Therefore, it makes more sense to pull this tweak with at least ten days to go before expiry, giving the underlying time to recoup.

Got another tweak.

Underlying’s on a roll, and you want to make the most possible off the opportunity.

Square-off the sells at a huge loss.

Let the buys, which are winning big, run for some part of the day.

Chances of them yielding more are very high.

If the underlying promises to close on a high, square-off the out-of-the-money buy before close of trade, and take the in-the-money buy overnight.

Risky, though.

You could lessen your risk, and increase your chances of taking most profits off the table by squaring off the in-the-money buy and taking the out-of-the-money buy overnight.

Square-off the overnight buy next morning on a high, or wherever feasible.

With this particular tweak, the trade becomes somewhat more like a lesser exposed futures transaction, at least for some time, after the hedge is broken.

There’s another thing one can do with the call butterfly.

One can adjust it as per the level of perceived bullishness.

If -1 and -1 are set at the same level, one trades for averagely perceived bullishness.

If one -1 is closer to the lower +1, and the other -1 is above this first -1, then one trades for below average perceived bullishness.

If one -1 is closer to the upper +1, and the other -1 is below this first -1, then one trades for above average perceived bullishness.

Anything else worth mentioning?

Volume. Need it.

Scaling up needs to correspond to one’s risk-profile, requirement, temperament and acumen.

One can make it an income thing by scaling up, during bull runs, or generally, just in case an up move is tending to pan out.

One can make the call butterfly do a lot of things.

It’s a very versatile trade to play a rising market, with low risk and low capital requirement.

🙂

# Bonding

As Equity players…

…we enter the bond segment to…

conserve capital.

There is no other reason.

Return?

We do make a slightly better return than a fixed deposit.

We’re not in bonds to make a killing.

That is outlined for the Equity segment.

We’re Equity players, remember.

I was just going through the top ten holdings of each of FT India’s now “discontinued” (new word for mini-insolvency?) debt funds. (I’m uncertain just now what word they’ve used, was it “stopped”? Or “halted”?) [Just looked up the internet, the words used are “winding up”].

My goodness!

The fund managers in question wanted to outperform all other funds at the cost of asset-quality.

Many of these top ten holdings (for six funds, one is looking at six top ten holdings) one would not even have heard of.

A top ten holding constitutes the backbone of the mutual fund being studied.

If the backbone is wobbly, the whole structure trembles upon wind exposure.

This corona black swan is not a wind. It’s a long-drawn out cyclone, to fit the analogy.

This particular structure has crumbled.

Fund managers concerned have acted out of greed – that’s the only explanation for above top ten holdings.

No other explanation comes to my mind.

That they are also holding large chunks of Yes Bank and Vodafone is more an error in judgement, albeit a grave one.

People commit errors in judgement.

Could one still overlook the a large chunk’s (10%?) segregation in FT India’s Debt folios, where Yes and Voda bonds have been marked down to zero?

Such a hit is huge in the debt segment.

Why are we in debt?

To conserve capital.

10% hit in debt?

NO.

Wobbly top ten holdings?

NNOO!

Had no idea that the FT India debt portfolio had so many red-flags.

Till they dropped the bombshell that they were discontinuing their six debt-funds, from last evening, one had no idea.

Now that it’s dropped, one digs deep to understand their mistakes.

Why?

One doesn’t want to make the same mistakes.

One doesn’t want to be invested in any funds in the debt segment which are making the same mistakes.

However, another look at their holdings reassures one that one won’t be making such mistakes, of greed, and of comprehensive failure to read managements and road conditions – in a hurry.

Nevertheless, one wishes to be aware.

Now that one is, all measures will be enhanced to prevent even an inkling of such an outcome for oneself.

Wait up.

Such measures were already in place.

Greed? In bonds?

We’re in bonds to conserve capital.

No greed there.

Top ten holdings?

Rock-solid.

That’s the fundamental tenet one looks for while entering any mutual fund, whether in the debt or in the equity segment.

We’re good.

# Frozen

Frozen?

It’s ok.

Breathe.

You need to acknowledge that you’re frozen.

Without that, the next step won’t come.

It’s normal to freeze sometimes. Just acknowledge it. Then learn.

For example, I acknowledge that I’m currently frozen wrt to the USDINR short trade. Missed entry. Next opportunity to enter never developed for me, and the underlying is currently in free fall. Don’t have the guts to short it at this level. Yeah, I’m frozen all right.

However, the fact that I’m acknowledging it opens up the learning window.

Why did I miss entry?

I know why I froze. Fear. What I need to understand is why I allowed a situation to develop that would lead to fear.

Ok.

Was running super busy.

Neglected the underlying.

Kept postponing entry…

… till free-fall started.

It’s good to be busy.

Hmmm, so this can happen again.

How do I stop this from happening again?

If I ID a setup, I need to take it.

No second-guessing.

Meaning, am I going with a short strategy for USDINR? Or am I keeping the window open for a long strategy?

See, that’s it.

Keeping short and long windows open makes me second-guess all the time.

So can I go in one-direction wrt USDINR all the time?

What speaks for it?

Underlying is falling from a height. Good.

Short only means no second-guessing. You just go short, period.

Stoploss will save ruin.

Not nipping profits in the bud will amass fortunes.

Can the underlying keep falling over the next few years?

Why not? Modi’s looking set for 2019.

Hmmm, so a short only strategy has a lot going for itself.

There’s more. Future month contracts are quoted at a premium. The premium evaporates over the current month. This move is in your favour if you’re short.

Ok, enough.

Yeah, there’s enough on the table to warrant a short only strategy for USDINR.

SEE?

Learning process.

Why did it happen?

Because I acknowledged that I had frozen.

Now, my strategy is more fine-tuned and I’m probably less prone to second-guessing.

You need to pull off such stuff when you freeze.

Use the freeze to evolve.

# Multiples obey skewed mathematics

Income-oriented linear growth…

… is single-digit.

It’s going to be there tomorrow, and after that.

Safety means less return.

You’re ok with that as far as basic income is concerned.

Not so the case when it comes to wealth.

With wealth, the multiple comes into play.

Multiples dance to a different tune.

The search for multiples can lead to negative return – for a while at least.

It’s risky.

The level of reward is coupled to a corresponding level of risk.

In comes time.

Wealth-play is palatable because of time not pushing you to the wall.

With time on your side, the ingredients of your cooking-pot have ample opportunity to sprout and grow into big trees.

If growth is not able to take off owing to lack of circumstance, this becomes the breeding ground for negative return. High deductibles add to the bleeding. After all, it’s wealth you’re seeking to generate, and there will be a little blood.

Such is the game.

If you can’t stomach the ride till the multiples emerge, play the income-game full-time instead.

However, once you start to digest the wealth-game, you realize that is really quite headache-free and pretty much an auto-pilot avenue.

You’ll even start to like it when the first multiples emerge!

# Dealing from a Position of Weakness

When you’re losing…

Why?

You lower the risk.

Is risk quantifiable?

You bet.

Risk is no abstract entity without a body.

When you’re losing, you either lower the magnitude of your stop, or lower the quantity of your one position.

Till when?

Till your corpus crosses par and then some.

Normal stop.

Normal quantity.

What is normal?

Depends on you.

What is normal for you?

That’s what goes.

Why the caution when below par?

Lots works against you at this time.

Sheer math for example. Downsizing sets this right.

Emotions.

Whoever’s got a remedy for those is king already.

You.

Your body-chemistry is affected. You’re sluggish. More prone to error. Nobody’s got a remedy for you, except you. Wait for your body to heal before trying out that perfect cover-drive, or what have you.

Winning or losing in the markets depends a lot upon psychology, chronology, systems, strategy, application and adaptation of style.

I like to call this “getting one’s meta-game together”.

Let’s go people.

Let’s get our meta-games together.

Then we can scale it up.

🙂

# How much is too much?

Risk?

Sure.

No risk no gain.

However…

… I’m sure you’ve also heard…

… “want gain not pain“.

How do we achieve that?

It boils down to the level of risk.

How much risk is too much?

Do we have a measure?

Sure.

Meaning, without getting into any mathematics?

Yes.

What’s a hands-on everyday TomDickHarry dumdum yet practical cum successful measure for risk without any hype or brouhaha?

Sleep.

Sleep?

Yeah.

How?

Are we sleeping well?

Is our sleep getting disturbed because of the risk we’ve taken?

No?

We’re fine.

The risk we’ve taken is bearable.

It’s not disturbing us enough to disturb our sleep.

Yes? Sleep disturbed? Because of risk?

We’ll, too much then.

Reduce the risk.

By how much?

Till your sleep is not disturbed because of it.

It’s as simple as that.

# When Do You Bet The Farm?

Safety-…

…-net.

Basics.

You gather yourself to carve out a comfortable life for your family.

Build-up.

Debt-free-ness.

Yeah, zero-debt.

Feel the freedom.

Breathe.

No bondage.

No tension.

You have to feel it.

Surplus.

First, small surplus.

Then, big surplus.

You’ve made sure that nobody ever will remind you to pay your bills.

Great! Well done. Now…

… keeping all basics intact…

… you play with small surplus.

Risk. Calculated. Digestible.

Multiplier.

Loss. Cut small.

Win. Allowed to grow.

Small surplus starts giving regular fruit.

You put back the principal into your family’s basic corpus.

Repeat.

Many of your small surpluses have grown into fruit-bearing trees.

Your farm is bursting with grain and fruit.

Have you taken any big, indigestible risks?

No.

Have you ever put your family basics at risk?

No.

Have you ever thought about betting the farm?

NO.

Will you ever bet the farm, no matter how big the lure?

NEVER.

# Monotony

Plan in motion?

Let it play.

Sure, monotonous.

Monotony bores you, right?

Boring monotony yielding acceptable results is a good outcome. Don’t spoil its party.

Try a stunt.

Risk a little.

Maybe one out of your ten stunts works out.

Develop this one further.

Still working.

Scale it up slowly.

Working.

Auto-pilot.

Monotony.

Results still good.

Stop looking.

Let it play.

Look elsewhere.

Do something new with yourself.

Soon, it’ll be time to go.

Meanwhile, build a legacy to leave behind, in your memory, one that benefits many.

# Stop-Loss vs Hedge – what’s what and how?

Insurance.

Makes you sleep easy.

Simultaneously, you are able to take a calculated risk.

Risk?

Why should you take a risk?

No risk no gain.

It’s as simple as that.

You have to put something on the line to possibly gain something.

That’s what market activity is all about.

You’re doing this all the time.

Day in, day out.

You’ve become used to a steady and dynamic LINE. Your line doesn’t harm you anymore. It doesn’t disrupt your life.

Well done.

How did you achieve this?

By using stops and hedges.

What’s the difference?

The difference is technical, and then practical.

For some mindsets and positions, a stop is more suited.

When you don’t mind exposing your market-play, and want to close your terminal and do other stuff, use a stop.

You get up from your desk, engage in other activity, and have forgotten about your position, because now you don’t need to tend to its needs for 24 hours, for example.

Great.

Your position will either play out, or it won’t.

If it doesn’t, your stop will automatically throw you out of your position.

The level of the stop is digestible.

Next morning, you simply move on to a new trade.

Let’s say you don’t want to to expose your market play, or, in some cases, when you don’t need to expose your market play – how do you then insure yourself?

Hedge.

A hedge maintains general market neutrality.

It leaves windows open for what-if scenarios.

For example, the trade could make money, and then the hedge could make money.

Or, vice-versa. As in lose-lose. Sure, there are win-loss and loss-win scenarios too.

The starting point is somewhat neutral, and then there are permutations and combinations.

Some people prefer this kind of play.

They like the possibility of maximizing profit from the total position at a calculated higher risk.

Also fine.

Generally, the idea is for your main position to make money and your hedge to lose money.

It might or might not play out like that.

Some like this uncertainty and know how to benefit from it.

A stop is sure-shot and straight-forward. It is low-risk as long as it is digestible.

Hedges open you to the risks of a meta-game. Play becomes more interesting, consuming, and possibly, more profitable, for experienced hedgers.

In my opinion, a hedge is slightly higher in risk than a stop.

However, both entities lower overall risk.

Currency pair forex trades are typically taken with a stop. However, they can be hedged too.

Market-neutral option-trades are typically taken using hedges.

Step into a trade with either or, for peace of mind and career longevity.

Cheers.

🙂

# Is it a Crime?

With due respect to Sade, no, the next words are not going to be “to say that i love you…”.

Is it a crime? To be oneself? For you to be you?

No.

Then why?

Why what?

Why can’t you be you?

You being you is a winning combination in the markets.

In any market.

Why?

When you’ve recognised who you are, you invest and / or trade as per your risk-profile.

More than half the battle is won here already.

You’re not trying to emulate an RJ, or a WB, or CM or BG for that matter.

You’re too busy being UU.

When does that happen?

After you’ve been there and done that.

Yeah, you tried to do an RJ, but couldn’t sleep the night 40% down on your position, and then you folded.

RJ probably sleeps well, even if 40-down on a position. That’s his risk-profile. When equity markets were badly beaten some years ago, I’ve seen him on TV saying that his bread and butter is safe, and his grossly hammered positions won’t be affecting his day to day life, or something to that effect. He obviously had no intentions of folding. That’s RJ. Not you. So, don’t do an RJ. Do a you.

What happens in the markets when you behave like you really are?

You take digestible risks. Digestible for you.

No risk, no gain. Remember. You’ll have to put something at stake, to be able to gain.

You take a risk, again, and again, and again.

Some play out well. Some badly.

You nip the bad ones in the bud.

You let the good ones play out to their logical conclusion.

This is already a winning strategy.

Cheers!

🙂

# Endgaming?

What’re we up to, in this world?

We’re endgaming.

Am I crazy?

No.

Why am I saying so?

Look at our policies.

It’s not just finance.

Everything.

We’re endgaming everything.

Whether good or bad, we’re in it.

Where does that leave you?

You’re part of we.

You’re in it too.

How should you react?

Build a strategy for an endgame.

Live like there’s a tomorrow.

Your system needs to incorporate endgame parameters.

Distance yourself from those who live like there’s no tomorrow.

Save.

Build structures.

Help.

Teach.

Create positivity. Let its protective bubble go big. So big, that it protects in a radius of kilometers.

Play like you’re playing for your life.

Everything’s at stake.

Give it all you’ve got… and then some.

Lend vital support to those tumbling around you.

This is it.

There’ll only be a tomorrow if there are more like you.

# Meet the BenchWarmers

Yeah, one too many real-estate agents (REAs) have popped up over the last decade.

Any Tom, Dick or Harry (TD/H) who has nothing to do becomes an REA.

Small little office, empty chairs, one TD/H reading a newspaper or watching TV… familiar?

Meet the bench-warmers.

Real-estate is in the dumps.

Sure.

Real-estate bill is in the offing. Might come out soon, might come out later.

Circle-rates are trying to bring the black-money component down.

Government A-B-C categorization is all warped.

Meanwhile, deals have dried. Volumes are zilch.

Is this the bottom?

Who says yes?

I’m afraid not too many have that conviction.

I don’t either.

You see, at bottoms, there’s blood on the streets.

Do you see any blood?

Nope.

Is black-money receding?

Slightly, maybe. Some say significantly. Some say insignificantly. Wishy-washy answers at best. Let’s put this under the “not-sure” category.

Are the bench-warmers packing up their benches?

Nope.

Are more bench-warmers springing up, in anticipation of volume-spikes?

Yeah.

Is this going to make their situation only worse?

Yeah, probably.

When will things start moving finally?

No one knows for certain.

Under the circumstances, how can one call this a bottom?

We’re still way above 2005 levels.

It’s not a bottom, or so I think. Maybe I’m mistaken. However, that’s my opinion.

All right, if it’s not a bottom, what is it then?

Time to wait and watch?

Yeah.

Time to pick up (a property) already?

Probably not.

Time to nibble at a real-estate stock?

Maybe. Just make sure the fundamentals are good and debt-component is negligible. And nibble. That’s all.

What about the bench-warmers? How should they act?

Use their office to generate income. Any which legal way, through any vocation. If not, rent it out with fool-proof lease deed. That’ll generate income too.

Bench-warming degenerates our faculties. It shouldn’t be practised over a prolonged period of time.

# IUCS – Investing Under Controlled Stress

Let’s assume there are funds waiting to be invested.

In what form do you keep them?

Free?

Bound?

What?

Investors have the luxury of time. Traders don’t.

I’m really telling you, an investor’s funds need not be kept in free form.

Traders need to pounce, not investors.

If you don’t need to pounce, don’t keep your funds in free form.

Keep them bound. Semi-bound. Let’s call it stressed. Keep them stressed. Stress that is under your control.

Free funds are open to whims and fancies.

Whose?

Yours. Your bankers’. Anyone’s, who has an eye on the funds.

Plush with free funds, you take liberties. Your defences are down. You are liable to make mistakes, perhaps big ones.

Bound funds, on the other hand, are subject to activation barriers before release.

You think twice before releasing them, or perhaps thrice, if the locking is tight. You win precious time. During the extra time, you can well scrap an investment with a faulty premise, or you can discover hidden agendas or angles which cause you not to follow through. You get saved because of controlled stress.

Furthermore, bound funds don’t reflect on your banker’s system as funds waiting to be invested. He or she won’t bother you or incite you to make a mistake. You’ve knocked him or her out of the equation. Bravo!

Controlled stress can be of different degrees. When funds are irreversibly locked-in, then we cannot talk of control anymore. Anything below that is under our control with varying levels of effectivity. The stronger the (reversible) lock-in, the harder you’ll think about the new investment, because the activation barrier for making funds free again to invest is large.

Let’s not get too carried away. We can just make simple fixed deposits. These are completely within our control. You can break them with a letter to the bank manager. The activation barrier to free them is relatively small. However, you do think twice before freeing them. The’ve disappeared from your banker’s horizon. They’ve also disappeared from any online fraudster’s horizon, who was perhaps looking to clean you out.

Also, actually, you don’t really need to break these fixed deposits to get into a new investment, since breaking goes with a small interest-penalty. If you’ve got fresh funds coming in at a later date, but wish to invest now, you can borrow against a fixed deposit. This will again make you stop and think, because borrowing comes with a cost, i.e. interest. You will only get into the fresh investment if you really, really have to / want to. You will discard any half-baked investment idea. It’s still worth it, despite the interest. You might find this a bit crazy, bit I like to do it like this. For me, the biggest win here is that I am not breaking a former structure. Add to this the extra safety. Plus the extra thinking-time to ward-off bad investments. Add everything up, and you might also think that the borrowing cost is peanuts when compared to the benefits. Don’t forget, since you’ve got fresh funds coming in soon, you’ll soon be releasing the fixed deposits you are borrowing against from their overdraft mode. This is a meta-game strategy.

Yeah, keep investible funds in fixed deposits. It is really as simple as that.

The best things in life are really very simple.

Complication and sophistication are facades used by humans to hide their mediocrity.

A successful person does not need to hide his or her simplicity.

Simplicity is one of the biggest precursors to mega-success.

# What’s the Frequency, Flipkart?

Hmmm, a zero-profit company…

In fact, a loss making company…

Do you get the logic?

People are probably seeing an Amazon.com in the making.

Amazon exists in a highly infrastructure-laden country with systems.

Can we say the same about us?

As of now – no.

Are we on the trajectory?

Sometimes yes, sometimes no. It’s been five steps forward and then three back till now.

Institutions want to make money during the ride.

Whether the ride culminates into an Amazon.com is irrelevant for institutions.

Public opinion acknowledges the ride.

That’s enough for institutions.

They’ll ride to a height and exit, irrespective of any MAT or what have you.

While exiting, they’ll hive off the hot potato to pig-investors in the secondary market, post IPO.

Hopefully, a valuation is calculable by then. Even the PE ratio needs earnings to spit out a valuation. No earnings means no divisor, and anything divided by zero is not defined.

Keep your wits about you. Follow performance. Follow earnings. Follow bearable debt. If you see all three, a sound management will already be in place. Then, look for value. Lastly, seek a technical entry.

Cheers! 🙂

# Finding Structure Within

You are you. He is he. She is she. I am I. It is it.

Even if the above is the only thing that you carry home from this space, you’re done already.

Move on then, with your life, because you’ve understood something big.

You are not I. I am not you. He is not she. She is not he. That’s it.

Here’s the next biggie.

Those who come into funds need to know how to manage them. Period.

Do what you want. Run umpteen miles. Put up a million facades. Muster up all the drama you’re capable of. After that you’ll come to this conclusion …

… that nobody else is more capable of managing your funds than you yourself.

Why?

Because you are you. You know yourself best. A third party is firstly (realistically) not bothered about knowing you, and secondly is only capable of seeping into a minuscule portion of you, if he or she makes the effort. Forget about third parties.

So you realize you need to manage your own funds, what then?

Jump into the water.

While your corpus is small, make mistakes. Learn from them. That’s college. Tuition fees.

Recognize your strengths. Play to them. Pulverize your weaknesses after identifying them.

Then come the structures, from within. These are your structures. They’ll come from inside of you.

There’s you, and there’s the battle-field. The two are face to face. It’s a do or die situation. You go into reflex-action mode. Your systems start to function at full capacity. That’s when structures emerge.

Yeah, structures need an activation barrier to emerge.

There’s a protective structure. It’s your protective structure. It guides you to build your moat. It protects your family.

Then there’s your post-protection bulk-game structure. It guides you towards building up your innings without the worries of basic bread and butter.

Lastly, there’s your multiplication structure. It chalks out high-reward-high-risk strategies, tweaks them towards maximum possible safety, and tells you where to put that minute percentage of your corpus with the intent of achieving extra-ordinary gains.

Allow such structures to emerge. Embrace them. Innovate. Improvise. Achieve. Educate.

Go for the jugular.

# Dealing with Noise…the Old-Fashioned Way

There’s a sure-shot way to deal with noise…

Yeah, the best ideas in the world are – simple.

Let’s not complicate things, ok?

So, what kinda noise are we talking about here?

We’re not talking about audio, you got that right…!

The concept is related, though.

If you’re charting, you’ve dealt with noise.

Yeah, we’re talking about minute to minute, hour to hour or day to day fluctuations in a chart of any underlying.

Markets fluctuate.

While discussing noise, we are pointing towards relatively small fluctuations which generally don’t affect the long-term trend.

However, noise has the capability of deceiving our minds into believing that the long-term trend is turning, or is over.

Don’t let noise fool you.

When has the long-term trend changed?

When the chart proves it to you through pre-defined fashion. That’s it. You don’t let noise to get you to believe that the long-term trend has changed, or is changing. Ever.

Moving averages crossing over? Support broken? Resistance pierced? Trend-line shattered? ADX below 15? Fine, fine, FINE.

Take your pick. You have many avenues giving decent signals that the long-term trend has changed or is changing.

How about eyeballing? Works for some. Like I said, let’s keep this simple.

So let’s get noise out of the way.

Random numbers generate trends – you knew that, right?

You don’t need more.

Once you’ve identified a trend, that’s your cue to latch on to it.

We’re not talking about predicting here. We don’t need to predict. We just need to identify a trend, and latch on. That’s all. No predictions. Not required.

From this point on, two things can happen.

Further random numbers deepen the trend you’ve latched on to. You make money. Good.

Or, the next set of random numbers make your trade go against you, and your stop gets hit.

If your stop is getting hit, please let it get hit. Even that qualifies as a good trade.

What you’re not doing is letting noise throw you out of the trade by deceiving your mind.

So, here’s what you do.

Till when?

Don’t look at your trade till you’ve decided not to look at it. For the day-trader, this could be a couple of hours. For the positional trader, it could be days, or weeks.

By not looking, you won’t let noise deceive you.

If the trend doesn’t deepen, or goes against you, you lose the risked small amount.

Just remember one thing.

A loss has immense informational value. It teaches you about market behaviour patterns. It also highlights your trading errors. Many times, losses occur without any mistakes made by you.

Ultimately, if the trend deepens, you’ll have made good money, and can then further manage your trade after the stipulated period of not looking.

This is the sweet spot.

This is where you want to be, again, and again and again.

Sitting on a large profit gives you room to play for more profit by lifting your stop and your target simultaneously.

To reach this sweet spot again, and again and again, you have to position yourself out there and appropriately, again, and again and again.

This is also the nature of trading.

Wishing you happy and lucrative trading!

🙂

# Options Strategy – Entry, Stop and Exit

What are we doing with options anyways?

We are trying to play a market without needing to be with the market the whole time. Also, we are defining our risk quite exactly. The option premium is the money that’s at risk. You don’t have to lose all of it if the trade goes against you. You can bail out anytime and save whatever option premium is left. The option premium is the total you can lose in the trade. With that, you’ve done one great thing. You’ve installed a stop which will stay with you during the entire trade. Is that possible in any other segment in India? Nope. If my info is correct, stops have to be installed everywhere on a day to day basis. Not so the case with options. You have your stop with you, always.

That allows you to do other stuff. You can have an alternate profession, and still play options.

You don’t need to be afraid of the time element in options. You can trade them in a manner where the time element is rendered useless. I’ll tell you how.

Though you try and go with the overall long-term trend, you try and pick up an option during a retracement. That’s when you’ll get it cheap.

The idea is to buy cheap and sell expensive, right?

Secondly, give yourself breathing space. If the current month is well under way, pick up the corresponding option for the next series month. Give the trade 4-5 weeks to pan out in your favour.

A lot can happen over 4-5 weeks.

Thirdly, you’re trying to pick up out-of-the-money options, which seem to have gotten out-of-the-money as an aberration. These will be even cheaper. Like what happened to Tata Motors the other day. For no apparent reason, the stock drifted towards what was formerly seeming to be an unlikely support to be hit, around the Rs. 430 level. On the previous day, it was nowhere near this level, and didn’t look like reaching it in a hurry at all. An event in the US occurred, and Asia opened down, with the scrip in question falling to the support and bouncing off. At the market price of Rs. 430 – Rs. 435, if you’d have picked up the out-of-the-money option of Tata Motors for the strike price of Rs. 450, which was going very cheap, that would have resulted in a good trade.

Basically you are looking for such predefined setups – buying off a support / selling off a resistance, buying / selling at a defined retracement level, buying / selling upon piercing of a bar etc. etc. etc.

Let’s say you’ve identified a setup.

You’ve seen buying pressure, or selling pressure. Chances of repetition are high, you feel. You try and enter into the option at a time when the buying or selling pressure is off, and everyone thinks that this buying or selling pressure is not coming back.

In this manner you’ll get some cheap entries.

Now you have to wait, to see if your analysis is correct. If not, you’ll probably lose most or all of your option premium. Don’t be afraid of loss. It’s a chance you have to take. Without taking the risk, there is no chance of reward. You have to put yourself in line for the reward by going out there and entering into the option.

It’s possible that the scenario you imagined actually plays out. Let it play out even more.

You can exit in two ways. You could trail the market with a manual stop. This way you’ll be in the trade to perhaps see another day of even more profits. The downside is, that during lulls in the day, your stop could well be hit. The second exit possibility is to calculate an unusually high price, which is slightly unlikely to be reached. You feed in the limit order at this price. If this price is reached, you’re out after having made good money. Now, the scrip can go down for all you care. The downside is that the scrip can go deeper in your trade direction after you’ve exited, and that’s a little painful. The reason this latter scenario is often used is that the time-element keeps getting scraped off the selling price for the option as the series month approaches its end, and your exit on that very day at an unusually high price is more lucrative than you might think. You see, buying or selling pressure in your direction might or might not make itself felt again in the current month. If not, you’ve lost a prime opportunity to cash out at a high. Is it the high? You’ll never know. Therefore, you’ll need to try both exit scenarios and see which suits you more. Sooner or later, you’ll get a feel for both exit scenarios, and will be able to implement either, depending upon the situation.

That’s it for today.

Heavy?

It’s not.

Options are easy.

Playing options is like playing poker. it’s fun!

🙂

# And What’s so Special about Forex?

… the freedom to trade exactly like you want to.

Is there any market in the world which allows you complete freedom?

Equity? Naehhh. Lots of issues. Liquidity. Closes late-afternoon, leaving you hanging till the next open, unless you’re day-trading. Who wants to watch the terminal all day? Next open is without your stop. Then there’s rigging. Syndicates. Inside info. Tips. Equity comes with lot of baggage. I still like it, and am in it. It doesn’t give me complete freedom, though. I live with what I get, because equity does give me is a kick.

Debt market? A little boring, perhaps. Lock-ins.

Commodities? You wanna take delivery? What if you forget to square-off a contract? Will you be buying the kilo of Gold? Ha, ha, ha…

Arbitrage? Glued to screen all day. No like. Same goes for any other form of day-trading.

Mutual Funds. Issues. Fees. Sometimes, lock-ins. MFs can’t hold on to investments if investors want to cash out. Similarly, MFs can’t exit properly if investors want to hang on. And, you know how the public is. It wants to enter at the peak and cash out at the bottom.

Private Equity? Do you like black boxes? You drive your car? Do you know how it functions? You still drive it, right? So why can’t you play PE? Some can. Those who are uncomfortable with black boxes can’t.

CDOs? @#\$!*()_&&%##@.

Real Estate? Hassles. Slimy market. Sleaze. Black money. Government officials. Bribery. No like.

Venture Cap? Extreme due diligence required. Visits. Traveling. The need to dig very deep. Deep pockets. Extreme risk. No.

Forex? 24 hr market. Order feed is good till cancelled. Stops don’t vanish over weekends. Stops can be pin-pointedly defined, and you can even get them to move up or down with the underlying, in tandem or in spurts. You can feed in profit-booking mechanisms too, and that too pin-pointedly. You watch about 10-11 currency pairs; you can watch more if you want to. 10-11 is good, though. You can watch 4, or even 2 or 1, up to you. Platforms are stupendous, versatile, malleable, and absolutely free of charge. You can trade off the chart. Liquidity? So much liquidity, that you’ll redefine the word. No rigging – market’s just too large. The large numbers make natural algorithms like Fibonacci work. Technicals? Man, paradise for technicals. Spreads? So wafer thin, that you barely lose anything on commissions. Oh, btw, spreads are treated as commissions in forex; there’s no other commission. Money management? As defined as you want it to be. Magnitude? As small or as large as you want to play? Comfort? You make your morning tea, sip it, open your platform, feed in orders with trigger-entry, stop and limit, and then forget about the forex market for the rest of the day, or till you want to see what’s happening. Yeah, comfort. Challenge? You’re playing with the biggest institutions in the world. What could be more challenging? I could go on. You’re getting the gist.

Yeah.

Forex is a very special market.

Also, the forex market is absolutely accessible to you, online.

If you decide to enter it one day, play on a practice account till you feel you’re ready for a real account.

If and when you do start with a real account, for heaven’s sake start with a micro account, where 1 pip is equal to 0.1 USD.

🙂

# Who’s Responsible for that Last Technical Bit?

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.

Scrip might not reach it, huh?

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.

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.