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. 

What about strategy? 

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. 

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Steps are the New Currency

Walking walking walking…

… steps.

We’re logging them.

We’re thinking more about them than dollars, pounds, euros or rupees.

How many steps’ve you done today?

And who’s we?

We’s a collective. People who’ve gotten financial basics sorted, but perhaps not health basics. However these people have realized that. Smart.

Why smart?

Simple.

To enjoy one’s financial basics, one’s health basics need to be in place.

Place health before wealth, and you enjoy your wealth.

No health, but wealth, well, then you don’t enjoy your wealth.

We’re also in it for quality of life, right?

Therefore, yeah, treat steps as a very valid currency that gives you the ticket to enjoy other physical currencies and their benefits.

Logged 10k for the day yet? Or 15k?

Yeah? Super.

No? Why not? What are you waiting for? Step up, buddy!

Can I Really Really Really Do Without Fundamentals?

I like to trade without a bias. 

Lack of bias means freedom… 

… freedom to think independently…

… not falling prey to another person’s opinion…

… which then allows you to listen to your system…

… trade identification…

…setup demarcation…

…trigger-entry…

…trade triggered…

…trade management…

… trigger-exit…

… exited.

That’s it, move on to the next trade. 

News gives me a bias. 

No news. 

You know what else gives me a bias?

Fundamentals. 

I don’t wish to look at fundamentals. 

If my eyes are seeing a setup in the EuroDollar, I would like to take it without the nagging thought of “what will happen if Scotland says NO or YES”.

I don’t want to care about inflation numbers, or job figures, or industrial output or what have you. 

I mean…can I just …do it?

Meaning, can I just do away with fundamentals, and focus on technicals only, which is my area of specialization?

Sometimes, I get a little unsure. 

I start looking around. 

How are others doing it? The experts, that is. 

My uncertainty gets fanned a little more, when I see experts not really ignoring fundamentals, even though they might be specialized in technicals. Hmmmm. I’m still not happy looking into fundamentals. I mean, why should I take time-out from my strong suit, and devote it to my very weak suit?

No, I decide. I’m really not going to look at fundamentals. 

What’s the worst that could happen?

Let me just see if the worst that could happen is bearable.

Ok…I ID a trade…demarcate a setup…and the trade goes against me because of the announcement of some number in the afternoon. People looking at fundamentals would have waited for the announcement of the number and then traded. Fine. 

In the world of trading, it is always good to have the worst-case scenario unwrapped and right before your eyes to see what it really means. 

You know, I can take this. 

Would you like to know why?

Firstly, I would like you to understand that we are looking at large sample-sizes here. Any sensible reasoning would only apply to large sample-sizes. 

Over the long run, and over many, many trades, Mrs.Market will go either way after an announcement of a fundamental number with a chance of roughly 50:50. 

If this is true, it is very good news for me, good enough to just kick fundamentals out of the equation. 

At times, the market reacts as per the crowd’s anticipation. 

At other times, it reacts in the opposite fashion. 

I assume that the ratio of the above two directions taken by Mrs. Market over a very large sample-size would be 50:50.

I think my assumption is correct. I don’t want to go through the labour of proving it mathematically. 

Ok, let’s assume that my assumption is correct. I then kick fundamentals, and go about my work while relying on my strong-suit, i.e. technicals. This trajectory will very probably have a happy ending. 

Now let’s assume that my assumption is wrong. 

What saves my day?

Technicals. 

Technicals very often give setups that factor in crowd behaviour and crowd anticipation of market direction. 

Technical setups get one into the build-up to an announcement. 

More often than not, one is already in the trade, in the correct direction, enjoying the build-up to an announcement without even knowing that the announcement is coming, if one is not following fundamentals. 

Technicals can actually do this for you. I’ve seen them do it. I mean, the GBPUSD has been giving short setups during the entire 1000 pip run-down recently. To have availed such a setup, people haven’t needed to know that a referendum is coming. All they’ve needed to do is to take the trade once they see the setup. 

Actually, that’s it. I don’t need more.  

I don’t need to reason anymore with myself. Everything is here. 

I think I can let go of fundamentals safely.

Even this trajectory should have a happy ending.

Am I Taking Bitcoin Seriously?

Yeah.

Bitcoin is a serious new kid on the block.

Am I getting into it? That’s the more important question, isn’t it?

Well, not yet.

First up, I know very little about it. I’m not going to get into something because of the smoke. Gone are the days.

So, I’m educating myself.

The Web tells me that Bitcoin is not alone. Numerous Crypto-currencies have emerged. Confusing.

Many of these have their main servers or their secondary addresses located in ex-Soviet / ex-iron-curtain nations. Intimidating. I’m afraid.

Then I look at the bid-ask spread for Bitcoin. There’s typically a 1% difference between buying and selling price. That is huge. In fact, it’s outrageous.

After that I look at the Bitcoin price vs time chart.  I can see the panic in the chart. I don’t like panic. I generally stay away from panic markets. If I’m entering a long-term market, I like entering on a solid base foundation. The panic dust hasn’t settled yet. Technical bases build after panic settles, and only if the underlying has long-term mettle. They’re visible on the chart as horizontal stretches. Not happening as yet on the Bitcoin price vs time chart. Means I’m not entering yet.

Then there’s this mining stuff. Like, virtual mining. I don’t understand it. Yet. Looks silly, off-hand. Could this be connected to currency-backing? Or, is this just a hype-creating gimmick that doesn’t make economic sense? I’m not sure, I tell myself.

Last point I’m making against current Bitcoin entry – theft and loss. If I store Bitcoin on my computer, it becomes a potential target. I don’t wish to have the 5 million odd extremely sharp ex-Soviet ex-chess wizard brains targeting my computer. Period.

So, where do we stand?

Meaning, why am I taking Bitcoin seriously?

The USD has nothing backing it. The US seems to be following a fiscal policy with high risk of implosion due to escalating debt. They’ve got no reserves left. Savings are nil. The USD will probably maintain its hierarchy till the world has another alternative.

A few years ago, I thought that Gold could be this alternative. Today, I think Bitcoin is a more serious contender.

First, I need to convince myself that Bitcoin is backed. Meanwhile, the noise will even out, and only the most solid crypto-currencies shall live on. I’d like Bitcoin to still be at the top of all crypto-charts once the noise settles. By then, there’ll be someone reliable in my own country offering Bitcoin investment and trading, someone I know, like an HDFC Bank, or a Kotak Securities. Volumes will escalate. Slippage will be down to a bearable 0.1% or less. Bitcoin’s chart will show a base foundation. I’ll have understood the virtual mining stuff, and hopefully it’ll be connected to currency-backing. Banks will store Bitcoin as an e-holding, which will reflect in one’s Netbanking.

That’s when I’ll enter Bitcoin.

Taking the Pan out of Panic

Panic – Pan = ic = i see = I SEE.

Times are unprecedented.

We’re breaking new lows of evil everyday.

Ours looks to be a hopeless nation.
Is it over for us?

Shall we pack up our bags and migrate?

Just take a deep breath. Bear with me for a moment. Try and cast your panic aside. Try and think clearly.

I’ll share with you an observation. Take any Indian. Doesn’t have to be an outperformer. Take an under-averagely performing Indian, for all I care. Weed him or her out of our pathetic system, and place him or her in a nation with good governance.

Lo and behold, our candidate will start performing. Not only that, soon, he or she will be outperforming. After a decade or so, he or she will probably have mastered the system and punctuated it with innovative short-cuts.

Get my point?

We are a resilient race. We might look fickle, frail and harmless superficially, but we can struggle, bear, survive, and finally break out. Just give us good governance.
Don’t panic. We’re not going down that easily.

What’s happening currently is a purge. Yeah, it’s a catharsis with a big C. While it continues, asset classes across the board will probably get hammered.

What does that mean for you?

Only one thing.

Stay in cash. Accumulate it. Learn to sit on cash. Sit on it as long as the purge lasts. Let its value depreciate, doesn’t matter. Park it safely with a conservative private bank. Fixed deposits would be the instruments of choice. Yeah, you don’t want to leave unattached cash lying around. Potentially, unattached cash could be susceptible to online fraud. Attach your cash, safely, and keep it before your eyes. Put some watch-dogs in place, as in sms and email alerts. Password-change attempt? You are immediately alerted. New payee added? You are immediately alerted. Watch-dogs bark.

As per my instinct, though we probably won’t go bankrupt as a nation, we might just go a long way down before the purge is over. After the purge, there will be tremendous bargains on offer, across the board, in all asset-classes. Cash will be king. Save your cash and sit on it – for that day.

Meanwhile, your wealth-manager will try to push you into panic purchases with your cash. As in, buying gold at 32k, and the USD at 65. Don’t listen. These are crazy levels. One doesn’t invest at crazy levels. These are not even normal trading levels. Yes, they are institutional trading levels. One does not invest at institutional trading levels.

It’s time to use your common-sense and maintain a cool head.

You can only do that by refusing to panic.

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 🙂

Isn’t This Other Party Getting Too Loud?

We in India have decided to go for gold after the Olympics.

I mean, there’s a whole parallel party going on in gold.

What’s with gold?

Can it tackle inflation?

No.

Is there any human capital behind it?

No.

Meaning, gold has no brains of its own, right?

Correct.

Is there a storage risk associated with gold?

Yes.

Storage volume?

Yes.

Transport inconvenience?

Yes.

Price at an all time high?

Yes, at least for us in India. We’d be fools to consult the USD vs time chart for gold. For us, the INR vs time chart is the more valid one for gold, because we pay for gold in INR.

Getting unaffordable?

Yes.

No parameter to judge its price by, like a price to earning ratio for example?

No.

Then how am I comfortable with gold, you ask?

Right, I’m not.

Can I elaborate, is that what you are requesting?

Sure, it’s exorbitance knocks out its value as a hedge. A hedge is supposed to balance and stabilize a portfolio. Gold’s current level is in a trading zone. It is not functioning as an investor’s hedge anymore.

Why?

Because from a huge height, things can fall big. Law of gravity. And gold’s fallen big before. It doesn’t need to begin it’s fall immediately, just because it is too high. That alone is not a valid reason for a big fall, but the moment you couple the height with factors like improvement in world economics, turnaround in equities (if these factors occur) etc., then the height becomes a reason for a big fall. Something that can fall very big knocks out stability and peace of mind from an investor’s portfolio. The investor needs to bring these conditions back into the portfolio by redefining and redesigning the portfolio’s dynamics.

How?

By selling the gold, for example, amongst other things.

What’s a good time to sell?

Well, Diwali’s a trigger.

Right.

Then, there are round numbers, like 35k.

What about 40k?

Are you not getting greedy?

Yeah – but what about 40k?

Nothing about 40k. Let 35k come first. I like it. It’s round. It’s got a mid-section, as in the 5. It’s a trigger, the more valid one, as of now.

Fine, anything else?

Keep looking at interest rates and equities. Any fall in the former coupled with a turnaround in the latter spells the start of a down-cycle in gold.

Is that it?

That’s a lot, don’t you think?

I was wondering if you were missing anything?

No, I just want to forget about gold max by Diwali, and focus on equities.

Why’s that?

There are much bigger gains to be had in equities. History has shown us that time and again. Plus, there is human capital behind equities. Human capital helps fight inflation. What more do you want? Meanwhile, gold is going to go back to its mean, as soon as a sense of security returns, whenever it does.

And what is gold’s mean?

A 1 % return per annum, adjusted for inflation, as seen over the last 100 years.

That’s it?

Yeah.

And what about equities?

If you take all equities, incuding companies that don’t exist anymore, this category has returned 6% per annum over the last 100 years, adjusted for inflation.

And what if one leaves out loser companies, including those that don’t exist anymore.

Then, equity has returned anything between 12 -15% per annum over the last 100 years, adjusted for inflation.

Wow!

Yeah, isn’t it?