Dealing with Noise…the Old-Fashioned Way

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

…just shut your ears. 

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. 

You believe your chart. 

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. 

You move on to the next trade setup, without even blinking. 

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

So, here’s what you do. 

You’ve id’d your trend. You’ve latched on. Your stop is in place. Now, don’t look at your trade. 

Till when?

That’s your call. 

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. 

That’s the nature of trading. 

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!

🙂

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Where to, Mr. Nath?

Last month, I scrapped my market-play system.

Happens.

Systems are made to be scrapped later.

One can always come up with a new system.

I love working on a new system.

It’s challenging.

What I want to talk to you about is why I scrapped my last system.

I found four accounting frauds, as I did my market research, all online.

You see, my last system worked well with honest accounting.

It had no answer to accounting frauds.

Also, I got disillusioned.

Are we a nation of frauds?

How does one deal with a nation of frauds?

More importantly, how does one play such a nation?

Does one invest in it? Or, does one sheer trade it?

Questions, questions and more questions. These encircle my mind as I work to put my new system together.

I am in no hurry to come up with an answer. A country like India deserves a befitting answer, and that it will get, even if the sky comes down on me while I put my system together.

Slowly, I started to think. How many systems had I scrapped before?

Hmmm, four or five, give or take one or two.

I have an uncompromising market rule of going fully liquid when I scrap a system.

Full liquidity is a tension-tree state. It allows one to think freely and in an unbiased manner. Being invested during volatility impedes one’s ability to think clearly and put a new system together.

Ok, so what answer would my new system have towards fraud?

All along, it was very clear to me that future market activity would be in India itself. Where else does one get such volatility? I am learning to embrace volatility. It is the trader’s best friend.

Right, so, what’s the answer to fraud?

Trading oriented market play – good. Not much investing, really. First thoughts that come to mind.

Buying above supports. Selling below resistances. Only buying above highs in rare cases, and trailing such buys with strict stops. Similarly , only selling below lows in even rarer cases, and again, trailing such sells with strict stops.

Trading light at all times.

Fully deploying the bulk of one’s corpus into secure market avenues like bonds and arbitrage. You see, bonds in India are not toxic. Well, not yet, and with hawks like the RBI and SEBI watching over us, it might take a while before they turn toxic. If and when they do start turning toxic, we’ll be getting out of them, there’s no doubt about that. Till they’re clean, we want their excellent returns, especially as interest rates head downwards. In India, one can get out of bond mutual funds within 24 hrs, with a penalty of a maximum of 1 % of the amount invested. Bearable. The top bond funds have yielded about 13 – 15% over the last 12 months. So, that 1% penalty is fully digestible, believe me.

With the bulk of one’s returns coming from secure avenues, small amounts can be traded. Trade entries are to be made when the odds are really in one’s favour. When risk is high, entry is to be refrained from. A pure and simple answer to fraud? Yes!

You see, after a certain drop, the price has discounted all fraud and then some. That’s one’s entry price for the long side. On the short side, after a phenomenal rise, there comes a price which no amount of goodness in a company can justify and then some. That’s the price we short the company at.

Of course it’s all easier said than done, but at least one thing’s sorted. My outlook has changed. Earlier, I used to fearlessly buy above highs and short below lows. I am going to be more cautious about that now. With fraud in the equation, I want the odds in my favour at all times.

These are the thoughts going on in my mind just now. Talking about them helps them get organized.

You don’t have to listen to my stuff.

I’m quite happy talking to the wall.

Once these words leave me, there’s more space in my system – a kind of a vacuum.

A vacuum attracts flow from elsewhere.

What kind of a flow will my vacuum attract?

Answers will flow in from the ether.

Answers to my burning questions.

Can We Please Get This One Basic Thing Right? (Part III)

Yeah, we’re digging deeper.

How does an investor arrive at an investment decision?

It’s pretty obvious to us by now that traders and investors have their own rationales for entry and exit, and that these rationales are pretty much diametrically opposite to each other.

So, what’s the exact story here?

The seasoned investor will look at FUNDAMENTALS, and will exhibit PATIENCE before entering into an investment.

The versatile trader will look at TECHNICALS, and will NOT BE AFRAID of entry or exit, any time, any place. He or she will be in a hurry to cut a loss, and will allow a profit to blossom with patience.

What are fundamentals?

Well, fundamentals are vital pieces of information about a company. When one checks them out, one gets a fair idea about the valuation and the functioning of the company, and whether it would be a good idea to be part of the story or not.

A good portion of a company’s fundamental information is propagated in terms of key ratios, like the Price to Earnings Ratio, or the Debt to Equity Ratio, the Price to Book Value ratio, the Enterprise Value to EBITDA Ratio, the Price to Cash-flow Ratio, the Price to Sales ratio, etc. etc. etc.

What a ratio does for you is that in one shot, it delivers vital info to you about the company’s performance over the past one year. If it’s not a trailing ratio, but a projected one, then the info being given to you is a projection into the future.

What kind of a promotership / management does a company have? Are these people share-holder friendly, or are they crooks? Do they create value for their investors? Do they give decent dividend payouts? Do they like to borrow big, and not pay back on time? Do they juggle their finances, and tweak them around, to make them look good? Do they use company funds for their personal purposes? Researching the management is a paramount fundamental exercise.

Then, the company’s product profile needs to be looked into. The multibagger-seeking investor looks to avoid a cyclical product, like steel, or automobiles. For a long-term investment to pan out into a multibagger, the product of a company needs to have non-cyclical scalability.

After that, one needs to see if one is able to pick up stock of the particular company at a decent discount to its actual value. If not, then the investor earmarks the company as a prospective investment candidate, and waits for circumstances to allow him or her to pick up the stock at a discount.

There are number-crunching investors too, who use cash-flow, cash allocation and other balance-sheet details to gauge whether a coveted company with an expensive earnings multiple can still be picked up. For example, such growth-based investors would not have problems picking up a company like Tata Global Beverages at an earnings multiple of 28, because for them, Tata Global’s balance-sheet projects future earnings that will soon lessen the current multiple to below sector average, for example.

Value-based investors like to buy really cheap. Growth-based investors don’t mind spending an extra buck where they see growth. Value-based investors buy upon the prospect of growth. Growth-based investors buy upon actual growth.

The trader doesn’t bother with fundamentals. He or she wants a management to be flashy, with lots of media hype. That’s how the trader will get volatility. The scrips that the trader tracks will rise and fall big, and that’s sugar and honey for the trader, because he or she will trade them both ways, up and down. Most of the scrips that the trader tracks have lousy fundamentals. They’ve caught the public’s attention, and the masses have sprung upon them, causing them to generate large spikes and crashes. That’s exactly what the trader needs.

So, how does a trader track these scrips? Well, he or she uses charts. Specifically, price versus time charts. The trader doesn’t need to do much here. There’s no manual plotting involved. I mean, this is 2012, almost 2013, and we stand upon the shoulders of giants, if I’m allowed to borrow that quote. Market data is downloaded from the data-provider, via the internet and onto one’s computer, and one’s charting software uses the data to spit out charts. These charts can be modified to the nth degree, and transformed into that particular form which one finds convenient for viewing. Modern charting software is very versatile. What exactly is the trader looking for in these charts?

Technicals – the nitty-gritty that emerges upon close chart scrutiny.

How does price behave with regard to time?

What is the slope of a fall, or the gradient of a rise? What’s the momentum like?

What patterns are emerging?

How many people are latching on? What’s the volume like?

There are hundreds of chart-studies that can be performed on a chart. Some are named after their creators, like Bollinger bands. Others have a mathematical name, like stochastics. Names get sophisticated too, like Williams %R, Parabolic SAR and Andrew’s Pitchfork. There’s no end to chart  studies. One can look for and at Elliott Waves. Or, one can gauge a fall, using Fibonacci Retracement. One can use momentum to set targets. One can see where the public supports a stock, or where it supplies the stock, causing resistance. One can join points on a chart to form a trendline. The chart’s bars / candle-sticks will give an idea about existing volatility. Trading strategy can be formulated after studying these and many more factors.

Where do stops need to be set? Where does one enter? Exit? All these questions and more are answered after going through the technicals that a chart is exhibiting.

One needs to adhere to a couple of logical studies, and then move on. One shouldn’t get too caught up in the world of studies, since the scrip will still manage to behave in a peculiar fashion, despite all the studies in the world. If the markets were predictable, we’d all be millionaires.

How does the trader decide upon which scrips to trade? I mean, today’s exchanges have five to ten thousand scrips that quote.

Simple. Scans.

The trader has a set of scan criteria. He or she feeds these into the charting software, and starts the scan. Within five minutes, the software spits out fifty odd tradable scrips as per the scan criteria. The trader quickly goes through all fifty charts, and selects five to six scrips that he or she finds best to trade on a particular day. Within all of fifteen minutes, the trader has singled out his or her trading scrips.

Do you now see how different both games are?

I’m glad you do!

🙂

“Don’t Turn Around – Der Kommissar’s in Town”

There’s activity within our slow-poke government.

Yup, we just got a new finance minister. PC’s back. Or, as the newspaper said, PC reboots.

He’s probably reinforcing backdated taxation.

He’s hinted at interest-rate cuts.

He’s after more service-tax candidates.

He’s transferred lots of portfolios.

He’s trying to dish out motivational quotes, so that the economy revives.

“Alles klar, Herr Kommissar?”

The last time PC was in town, there was volatlity in the markets. First they went up and up and up, and then they went down and down and down. Mr. Chidambaram is a by-word for volatility.

How does he do it?

Frankly, I don’t care.

If I’m getting volatility, I’m taking it.

Not that India as a market lacks any volatility without PC.

We Indians are emotionally volatile people. When we are happy, we are sooooooo happy. When we are down and out, man, we are totally gone. No surprise that our markets reflect our topsy-turvy and dramatic emotional nature. Yes, the trader in India is blessed with a volatile trading scenario by default.

So, PC or no PC, volatile trades make themselves available to us in the Indian markets regularly. What PC does is, he gives the system’s volatility a turbo-boost. Our market’s “beta” goes up wth PC, and it goes up fast, quite fast.

Man, how does he do it?

You know, I still don’t care, but if I did, I think this would be the correct answer.

Der Kommissar seems to do it in two steps. First he creates carrots, lots of carrots. These are dangled before India Inc. Things start hotting up. Foreign investment wakes up – demand – buying pressure – our markets go up. Then, when the balloon is inflated, der Kommissar will appear on television and will let out comments (implementation of stick, like the backdated taxation thing) which the market takes exception to. Or, he might give some interview in the media which India Inc. interprets negatively. Well, down we come crashing. Frankly, I still couldn’t care less. Upwards or down, there’s a trade to be found.

Just a few days in his seat, and pivot points are leading to bounce-backs, supports are holding, resistances cracking (it’s the carrots), and technicals are very, very initially changing from “range-bound” to “trending”.

Fine, let’s just trade the Kommissar while he’s in town.

I’ve quoted Falco above and I’m quoting him again : “Alles klar, Herr Kommissar!”

What Are We, Really? (Part 3)

Heinous crimes … happen in India.

For example the recent Gurgaon r#pe case.

What are we, really?

We were supposed to be reaping a demographic dividend. What happened?

A society that mistreats its women-folk is a sick society.

At its core, the ideology of India is spiritual. And, the driving force of our spiritualism is “Shakti”. The “Shiva” portion is more like a rock of stability. The activity bit is left to Shakti, to rise, purify, and reach Shiva. Shakti is about action. She is the driving spiritual force of India.

So, when from deep inside, our driving force is feminine in nature, and when on the outside, we find ourselves in a male-dominated society, this is a huge paradox that we are forced to deal with.

China has dealt with a similar paradox – with force. Chinese governments, over the ages, have suppressed China’s mandarin-spiritual nature so heavily, that today, it is buried deep, deep down, and is not able to surface. Thus, their paradox is not able to feed off itself, since one pole is out of action. It’s not a solution, but that’s what they’ve done.

In India, spiritualism and basic life go hand in hand. Shakti is beyond suppression. Simultaneously, male domination makes itself felt, in pockets. At every moment, we are faced with our paradox. We need to deal with it, properly, peacefully.

Though the average Indian is dramatic in nature, let’s just get realistic for a while. Which portion of a society is responsible for its continued existence? As in, who bears children?

Bob Marley got his lyrics wrong in one song. “No woman…no KIDS” is what the scene is. No kids … no continued existence … end of your civilization.

A society can only be deemed healthy and fit for continued existence, if it provides a safe and harmonious environment to its women and children. Period.

How are women in India dealing with the paradox?

There is rebellion. Some are able to express themselves. They rebel openly, in their speech, their way of life, dressing-sense, etc. etc. Many others are not able to rebel openly, because of suppression. They rebel in their minds. At the first opportunity, their rebellion will break out.

How is the average dominating male reacting?

There is resentment. Jealousy. Anger. Frustration. Etc. etc. Evolved males are not showing these symptoms. They are dealing with the rebellion peacefully. Unevolved, unemployed, raw / young males are showing the above negative symptoms. They are not able to deal with this new expression of freedom. Their domination is threatened, and their hormones play havoc, which is when they commit heinous crimes, for example r#pe. Unforgivable. Yet, committed.

That’s where we are, people. A two-tier society in every respect. Spiritually (evolved-unevolved divide), structurally (male-female divide), and economically (rich-poor divide). We are still finding ourselves. Please don’t treat us as a mature society.

Specifically, please don’t invest your money here with the idea of steady growth. There will be growth, but it will be hap-hazard, as and when we keep finding ourselves. Many set-backs. Then proper trajectory again. Then road-bumps. And so on, and so forth, till we find ourselves once and for all.

Your money here is set for a volatile ride, till India’s out-of-whack pockets begin to heal.

A Fall to Remember (Part 2)

Part 1 was when Silver fell almost 20 $ an ounce within a week. Like, 40%. Swoosh. Remember? Happened very recently.

And now, Gold does a Silver, and falls 20 % in a few days. These are the signs of the times. “Quick volatility” is the new “rangebound move”. Put that in your pipe and smoke it.

The wrong question here is “What’s a good entry level in general?” Why is this question wrong?

When something new becomes the norm, there is too little precedence to adhere to. It becomes dangerous to use entry rules which were established using older conditions as a standard.

I believe there is one way to go here. The correct question for me, were I seeking entry into Gold or Silver, would be “Is this entry level good enough FOR ME?” or perhaps “What’s a good enough entry level FOR ME?”

Let’s define “good” for ourselves. Here, “good” is a level at which entry doesn’t bother YOU. It doesn’t bother you, because you are comfortable with the level and with the amount you are entering. You don’t need this sum for a while. It is a small percentage of what you’ve got pickled in debt, yielding very decent returns. If the underlying slides further after your entry, your “good” level of entry still remains “good” till it starts bothering you. You can widen the gap between “not-bothering” and “bothering” by going ahead with a small entry at your “good” level, and postponing further entry for an “even better” level which might or might not come.

If the”even better” level arrives, you go ahead as planned, and enter with a little more. If, however, your “good” level was the bottom, and prices zoom after that, you stick to your plan and do not enter after that. This would be an investment entry strategy, which sigularly looks for a margin of safety. Entry is all-important while investing, as opposed to when one is trading (while trading, trade-management and exit are more important than entry).

Trading entry strategies are totally different. Here, one looks to latch on after the bottom is made and the underlying is on the rise. Small entries can be made as each resistance is broken. It’s called pyramiding. Trading strategies are mostly the complete opposite of investing strategies. Please DO NOT mix the two.

Sort yourself out. What do you want to do? Do you want to invest in Gold and Silver, or do you want to trade in them? ANSWER this question for yourself. Once you have the answer, formulate your strategy accordingly. U – good level – how much here? U – even better level – how much there? U – no more entry – after which level?

Life is so much simpler when one has sorted oneself out and then treads the path.

The Power of Leverage

Apart from the D-word, the Street’s got the L-word too.

This L stands for L-E-V-E-R-A-G-E.

So, how much leverage do you enjoy from your spouse?

Or, do you have any leverage on politician so-and-so?

Or, bank so-and-so or brokerage so-and-so is offering a 10:1 or a 16:1 leverage on derivatives.

Just racking up the various uses of the L-word.

In colloquial terms, the amount of leeway your spouse allows you in your marriage is called leverage. Also, the amount of dirt you have on a politician to coerce him into following your wishes – that’s called leverage too. But for now, let’s get back to the Street.

On the Street, The L-word gives the D-word its power to destroy big.

Do you remember what the D-word was? D-E-R-I-V-A-T-I-V-E-S.

A derivative is a stink normal trade without the power of leverage. When brokerages start offering you leverage like 16:1, the stink normal derivative becomes lethal. Then, small amounts of volatility can wipe out the principal put up by you. If a down-turn continues, your loss can become many times your principal. People can go bankrupt like this.

You see, for every market move, your profit or loss is the move times the leverage. On a 5% move, a 16:1 leverage can result in 80% profit or loss. Leverage works on the upside as well as the downside.

The problem arises when the player doesn’t know how to play either side. Most players don’t know.

Leverage can be used to one’s advantage only when the down-side is protected with a stop. Most people don’t use a stop while deploying leverage. That’s why they lose, and lose big.

This singular characteristic of the average market player of not knowing how to use stops results in a spiralling bomb during market down-turns. As losses pile up, selling pressure increases due to dejection or the like as the market heads even lower. What if they’d taken a 2% or a 5% or even an 8% hit when a stop was hit? They’d be out and the market could stabilize near the stop level because of lack of further selling pressure.

Leverage is something that must not be used if one doesn’t fully understand how to use it. Unfortunately, almost everyone consumes leverage as if it were a bar of Snickers. Leverage is served to customers on a platter. Even a loan, or debt on the credit card is leverage.

Leverage is the driving force of consumerism and the modern industrialized world.