Winning on Psychology

Hey!

🙂

It’s been a while…

Didn’t feel the need to write since beginning May…

There’s a thing about words.

When they want to come out…

…they do…

…and one should let them.

Right, and there’s a need for words, since…

…(wouldn’t you say),…

it’s time for a status check.

Where do we stand?

Positions are running.

How long?

When to cut?

What’s the plan?

Hmmmm.

Frankly, I don’t believe in cutting something I like and am convinced about.

Well, there’ll be no cutting of anything I’m convinced about.

If and when we reach euphoria levels, we’ll take another call about what kind of profit one is booking from one’s high-conviction holdings.

It’s very possible, though, that there will be no profit booked here.

Why?

High conviction holdings translate into multibaggers.

If I’m booking even part of such a holding, I’m lessening my quantum of multibagger-holding in the future.

So that’s sorted – high-conviction holdings – not booking.

Maybe, at extreme euphoria, we might take the cream off the top of an overflowing glass.

Now let’s come to other holdings.

Along the way, one’s conviction in certain holdings tends to waiver.

We’re booking all of these.

How much?

Completely.

When?

At extreme euphoria.

How to know when that’s happening?

Look for signs.

Least likely people will start behaving like market-experts.

You’ll start getting calls from lay-people, asking whether they should double their SIP.

Other-field mavericks have now become F&O maniacs, voluming seven figures per day as if it’s a normal activity, like eating food.

You’re suddenly being asked about all kinds of stocks running at absolute peaks, whether they are good investments.

Don’t get irritated.

Listen.

You’re privy to the best possible indicator – human psychology.

This one will never change.

Earlier, you fell here.

Now, this avenue has become your guiding stone to gauge market bottoms, and tops.

It’s a win-win for you.

Equity – The New Normal for Parking

Who’s the biggest…

…Ponzi…

…of them all?

Insurance companies?

There’s someone bigger.

The government. 

Legit.

Probably not going to go bust…

…at least in a hurry. 

Moves money from A to B…

…with minimum accountability. 

Resurrects skeletons and gives them infinite leases of life…

…with good, clean and fresh funds…

…that flow out of the pockets of helpless citizens. 

So, what about the government’s bond?

Sovereign debt.

The herd is flowing to sovereign debt, and to some extent to 100% AAA max 3 month paper duration liquid funds. 

This is after the johnnies at FT India miscalculated big-time, and had to wind-up six debt mutual fund schemes in their repertoire.

Should one do what the herd is doing?

Let’s break this down. 

First up, the herd exited credit-risk funds en-masse, post FT India’s announcement. Logical? Maybe. Safety and all that. Took a hit on the NAV, due to massive redemptions. I’m guesstimating something to the tune of 3%+. 

This seems fine, given the circumstances. Would have done the same thing, had I been in credit-risk. Perhaps earlier than the herd. Hopefully. No one likes a 3%+ hit on the NAV within a day or two.

Let’s look at the next step.

Sovereign debt is not everyone’s cup of tea. 

Especially the long-term papers, oh, they can move. 3% moves in a day are not unknown. 13-17% moves in a year are also not unknown. A commoner from the herd would go into shock, were he or she to encounter a big move day to the downside in the GILT (Government of India Long Term) bond segment. Then he or she would commit the blunder of cashing out of GILT when 10% down in 6 months, should such a situation arise. This is absolutely conceivable. Has happened. Will happen. Again.

There are a lot of experts advocating GILT smugly, at this time. They’re experts. They can probably deal with the nuances of GILT. The herd individual – very probably – CAN’T. The expert announces. Herd follows. There comes a crisis that affects GILT. Expert has probably exited GILT shortly before the onset of crisis. Herd is left hanging. Let’s say GILT tanks big time. Herd starts exiting GILT, making it fall further. Expert enters GILT, yeah – huge buying opportunity generated for expert.

More savvy and cautious investors who don’t wish to be saddled with the day to day tension of GILT, and who were earlier in credit-risk, are switching to liquid funds holding 100% AAA rated papers.

Sure. 

This is probably not a herd. Or is it?

Returns in the 100% AAA liquid fund category are lesser. Safety is more. How much are the returns lesser by? Around 1.5 to 2% lesser than ultra-short, floating-rate and low-duration funds. 

Ultra-short, floating-rate and low-duration funds all fall under a category of short-term debt which people are simply ignoring and jumping over, because apart from their large size of AAA holdings, a chunk of their holdings are still AA, and a small portion could be only A rated (sometimes along with another smallish portion allocated in – yes – even sovereign debt – for some of the mutual funds in this category).

The question that needs to be asked is this – Are quality funds in the category of ultra-short, floating-rate and low-duration funds carrying dicey papers that could default – to the tune of more than 2%?

There’s been a rejuggling of portfolios. Whatever this number was, it has lessened.

The next question is, if push comes to shove, how differently are 100% AAA holdings going to be treated in comparison to compositions of – let’s say – 60% AAA, 30% AA and 10% A?

I do believe that a shock wave would throw both categories out of whack, since corporate AAA is still not sovereign debt, and the herd is not going to give it the same adulation. 

The impact of such shock wave to 100 % AAA will still be sizeable (though lesser) when compared to its cousin category with some AA and a slice of A. Does the 2% difference in returns now nullify the safety edge of 100% AAA?

Also, not all corporate AAA is “safe”. 

Then, if nobody’s lending to the lower rung in the ratings ladder, should such industry just pack up its bags? If the Government allows this to happen, it probably won’t get re-elected.

The decision to remain in this category encompassing ultra-short, floating-rate and low-duration bond mutual funds, or to switch to 100% AAA short-term liquid funds, is separated by a very thin line

Those who follow holdings and developments on a day to day basis, themselves or through their advisors, can still venture to stay in the former category. The day one feels uncomfortable enough, one can switch to 100% AAA. 

This brings us to the last questions in this piece. 

Why go through the whole rigmarole?

Pack up the bond segment for oneself?

Move completely to fixed deposits?

Fine.

Just a sec.

What happens if the government issues a writ disallowing breaking of FDs above a certain amount, in the future, at a time when you need your money the most?

Please don’t say that such a thing can’t happen.

Remember Yes bank?

What if FD breakage is disallowed for all banks, and you don’t have access to your funds, right when you need them?

Sure, of course it won’t happen. But what if it does?

You could flip the same kind of question towards me. What happens if the debt fund I’m in – whether ultra-short, or floating-rate, or low-duration, or liquid – what happens if the fund packs up?

My answer is – I’ve chosen quality. If quality packs up 100%, it’ll be a doomsday scenario, on which FDs will also be frozen dear (how do you know they won’t be?), and GILTs could well have a 10%+ down-day, and, such doomsday scenario could very probably bring a freeze on further redemptions from GILT too. When the sky is falling, no one’s a VIP.

Parked money needs to be safe-guarded as you would a child,…

…and,…

…there spring up question marks in all debt-market categories,…

…so,…

…as Equity players, where do we stand?

Keep traversing the jungle, avoiding pitfalls to the best of one’s ability. 

How long?

Till one is fully invested in Equity. 

Keep moving on. A few daggers will hit a portion of one’s parked funds. Think of this as slippage, or as opportunity-cost. 

Let’s try and limit the hit to as small a portion of one’s parked funds as possible. Let’s ignore what the herd is doing, make up our own mind, and be comfortable with whatever decision we are taking, before we implement the decision. Let’s use our common-sense. Let’s watch Debt. Watch it more than one would watch one’s Equity. Defeats the purpose of parking in this segment, I know. That’s why we wish to be 100% in Equity, parked or what have you, eventually. 

As we keep dodging and moving ahead, over time, the job will be done already.

We’re comfortable with the concept of being fully parked in Equity. 

Whereas the fear of losing even a very small portion of our principal in the segment of Debt might appear overwhelming to us, the idea of losing all of one’s capital in some stocks is not new for us Equity players. We have experienced it. We can deal with it. Why? Because in other stocks, we are going to make multiples, many multiples, over the long-term.

Equity seems to be the new normal for parking

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.