Are you Positioned?

What’s our biggest enemy in the markets?

This one’s invariably…

…our Self.

Cut to ’07.

Fancy hotel banquet room, snacks and drinks, chief investment officer of JP Morgan is talking…

…and we’re listening.

My friend and I…

…sitting on profits…

…feeling smug about ourselves…

…young guns…

…ready to conquer the world…

…nothing can stop us now.

Or can it?

“There will always be a correction…”. These words catch my ear.

I raise my hand.

“Yes? The gentleman with the lime-green tie has a question?”

I stand up, and before I know it, I ask the deadly question.

“Don’t you think there’s been a paradigm-shift with regard to India, and that India has decoupled from the rest of the world?”

“How old are you, Sir?”

“37”.

This was ’07, remember?

“I’m going to excuse your question, because you’re young, and have probably experienced the markets for…?”

“3 years”.

“Exactly. That’s why I’ll only answer your question with a smile.”

How controlled.

“You see, globalization is a reality, and decoupling is a myth”.

Myth, really?

“It’s fancy phrases like “paradigm-shift” that catch the inexperienced investor’s imagination, leading to huge market mistakes”.

In these few sentences, my entire comprehension of markets was blown up and thrown out the window.

And that would have been a good thing…

…had I listened.

Such is the arrogance of “youth”, that “youth” doesn’t listen.

Soon, the ’08 crash happened.

I lost big time.

Was humbled.

Took me a long time to get back and stabilize.

I remember my stomach churning and my unwillingness to meet people as markets crashed to lower and lower levels.

I almost couldn’t take it.

We are our worst enemies.

What’s it going to be this market high?

We’ve learnt, and are positioned.

However, there will be newbies (like we were) who are going to go through this chain of events.

What buzz-words or phrases will catch their imagination?

BitCoin?

Liquidity?

Vaccine?

Quantitative Easing?

FIIs?

Pending rally in small-caps?

There’s a new cocktail doing the rounds this time around.

This cocktail will ensnare.

Even the topmost analysts are beginning to feel that a correction could take some time coming.

Some weeks ago, most felt that a correction could happen anytime now.

Player psychology is set for the cocktail to do its work.

Then one needs a pinprick.

In ’08 this was perhaps Lehman on the world scale and the Reliance Power IPO in India.

What’s it going to be this time?

It doesn’t matter.

Remember? There will always be a correction.

Are you positioned?

What’s on your mind, Mr. Nath?

Any questions, Mr. Nath?

Ya, I did have something on my mind. 

Ask.

I want to ask someone else.

Who?

Mrs. Market.

How are you going to do that?

I’ll just imagine that I could.

And, what’s the question, for the sake of discussion?

It’s not so much a question, really…

What is it then?

An observation perhaps…

…or a regret, maybe…

… not able to pinpoint exactly.

Hmmm, why don’t you just say it in words.

It’s about rewiring. 

Rewiring?

Yes. The words coming out are “Couldn’t you rewire us earlier?”

Who’s the you?

Mrs. Market.

Doesn’t your rewiring depend upon you?

Yes, that’s why perhaps it’s more of a regret.

What is this rewiring?

We are taught to win in life, and to hide our losses, if any, under the rug. That’s how we grow up. And that doesn’t work in the markets.

True. That’s what needs to be rewired?

Yes, to win in the markets, we need to get accustomed to loss, small loss, as a way of life. Wins are few, but they are big. So big, that they nullify all losses and then some. We make these wins big by not nipping them in the bud.

How long did it take you to rewire?

Seven years.

What’s your regret? A shorter time-frame would have resulted in half-baked learning. 

You are right, it’s not a regret then. Let’s just call it an observation. 

It’s a very useful observation for someone starting out in the markets. 

Let’s pin-down the bottomline here.

And that would be?

Till one is rewired, one needs to tread lightly. No scaling up…

…till one is rewired. 

And how would one know that one’s rewired?

No sleepless nights despite many small losses in a row, because one has faith in one’s system. Resisting successfully the urge to take a small winner home…

…because it is this small winner that has the potential to grow into a multibagger…

…and a few multibaggers is all that one needs in one’s market-life.