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I have an 89% win rate over 18 trades, with a 27% profit. How many trades should I do before going live?
So I've been doing some scalping on pairs with high spreads in cryptocurrencies previously with great success, but I finally figured I'd give forex a real shot (was into it a few years ago, but didn't go live). Last time I scalped in crypto, I had 14 out of 14 successful trades, but only about a 10% profit. I haven't heard about anyone scalping the way I do in crypto, but I find my method extremely reliable when I just find the right pair to trade. This is just to say I have some experience with trading, but I'm by no means an expert. Now, I've been scalping the past few days with a paper trading account on TradingView. I've mostly been trading the US Currency Index, S&P 500 and some crypto pairs thus far. I'm scalping on the 1m time frame using bollinger bands and looking at trends, price action and stoch RSI for confirmation on my entries. I started out with 100k a few days ago and first doubled my account to around 200k and then did a 1,3 mill trade, but I was running like 500-1000 USD per pip, so if the market turned against me, I'd be liquidated real quick. While the trades were good, I figured I was disconnected from the risk I was taking because it isn't real money, and I wanted to try doing more conservative and realistic trades, so I reset the account yesterday. Edit (more trades done): Since the account was reset, I've done 45 trades where I've lost on two of them. If my math serves me right, that's about an 95.5% win rate. I'm up around 77.5% currently. I did lose 1500 on one trade, but that's because I by mistake placed a sell order when I was supposed to add another buy order double down on my long position, so I'm not counting that one in (but I'm not counting the 1500 I lost as profit either). I have a very strict strategy I'm sticking to when doing these scalps. I realize 45 trades is not a huge sample size, but that is kinda why I'm asking: How many trades should I do on the paper trading account before I should run it live with confidence? For anyone who might be interested, here's my account history: https://imgur.com/a/zuRSWwd Edit: here's 6 trades more: https://imgur.com/a/CmbyU6n Edit2: some more trades: https://imgur.com/a/q9xqVyq Edit3: I think we're up to 45 trades now: https://imgur.com/a/CsWZEN7
This may appear to be a noob question, but read on carefully and please try and understand the point I'm trying to make! I'm hoping your answers might be helpful to people both learning Forex and looking to get into it, so please don't hate on me for this post. I am relatively new to FX and have learned about break and retest strategies, MACD crossovers and stop losses below structure and risk to reward ratios (usually going for 1:1 or 2/3:1) and so on. I say this only so you know I've a general (very basic) understanding of charts, price action etc. I definitely do NOT expect to step into the markets and instantly win a majority of my trades, however, to illustrate my thoughts please note the example below. If I am winning 2% on a winning trade and losing 1% on a losing trade (2:1 reward risk per trade), a strategy that wins just 50% of the time trading once per trading day would be +10% each month. (10 days of -1%, 10 days of +2%). +10% is a HUGE increase in accounts and if a $1000 account was +10% per month for 12 months the end of year balance would be over $3138.43 or a 213.84% return! This leads me to a theory that almost NO system can be returning 50% on a 2:1 reward risk, even with careful trade selection (let's say I monitor the 7 major pairs, gold and GBP/JPY as I do and pick one entry a day) Am I wrong? I appreciate it is a hypothetical example designed to make a point, but my thoughts are if you monitored lots of pairs and took only ONE entry a day, we might expect to win 50% of the time. Let's expand this further. I have seen numerous algos (can't name them but looking like they win at LEAST 50% of the time) which tempt me because they appear to indicate moves I could jump on and where I could pull a bunch of pips out of the market. However, there surely cannot be a holy grail or are people making this type of insane return? It cannot be as easy as buying an algo, signing up to $300,000 worth of FTMO funding and earning 10% per month for an easy $21,000 per month income with profit share. Or maybe it is and I'm just cynical?! I end up getting tempted by courses etc. in the hope that if I spent £400 on a good course it would open the door to what I need to do, but I'm nervous this is just another huge mistake. I genuinely would love to trade Forex for a living. Really I would. I hope it's possible and I hope to learn a strategy I can wash, rinse and repeat. I love watching videos and live streamers who seem to have a great understanding of what's going on but I wonder if it's really possible. It seems a million miles away but I'm determined to keep learning and trading. Reading your considered thoughts to this post would be helpful for me and I'm sure others and thank you for reading it.
[Strategies] Here is My Trading Approach, Thought Process and Execution
Hello everyone. I've noticed a lot of us here are quite secretive about how we trade, especially when we comment on a fellow trader's post. We're quick to tell them what they're doing isn't the "right way" and they should go to babypips or YouTube. There's plenty of strategies we say but never really tell them what is working for us. There's a few others that are open to share their experience and thought processes when considering a valid trade. I have been quite open myself. But I'm always met with the same "well I see what you did is quite solid but what lead you to deem this trade valid for you? " The answer is quite simple, I have a few things that I consider which are easy rules to follow. I realized that the simpler you make it, the easier it is for you to trade and move on with your day. I highlight a few "valid" zones and go about my day. I've got an app that alerts me when price enters the zone on my watchlist. This is because I don't just rely on forex trading money, I doubt it would be wise to unless you're trading a 80% win rate strategy. Sometimes opportunities are there and we exploit them accordingly but sometimes we are either distracted by life issues and decide to not go into the markets stressed out or opportunities just aren't there or they are but your golden rules aren't quite met. My rules are pretty simple, one of the prime golden rules is, "the risk is supposed to be very minimal to the reward I want to yield from that specific trade". i.e I can risk -50 pips for a +150 and more pips gain. My usual target starts at 1:2 but my most satisfying trade would be a 1:3 and above. This way I can lose 6/10 trades and still be profitable. I make sure to keep my charts clean and simple so to understand what price does without the interference of indicators all over my charts. Not to say if you use indicators for confluence is a complete no-no. Each trader has their own style and I would be a narcissistic asshole if I assumed my way is superior than anybody else's. NB: I'm doing this for anybody who has a vague or no idea of supply and demand. Everything here has made me profitable or at least break even but doesn't guarantee the same for you. This is just a scratch on the surface so do all you can for due diligence when it comes to understanding this topic with more depth and clear comprehension. Supply and Demand valid zones properties; what to me makes me think "oh this zone has the potential to make me money, let me put it on my watchlist"? Mind when I say watchlist, not trade it. These are different in this sense. 👉With any zone, you're supposed to watch how price enters the zone, if there's a strong push in the opposite direction or whatever price action you're observing...only then does the zone becomes valid. YOU TRADE THE REACTION, NOT THE EXPECTATION Some setups just fail and that's okay because you didn't gamble. ✍ !!!IMPORTANT SUBJECT TO LEARN BEFORE YOU START SUPPLY AND DEMAND!!! FTR. Failure to Return.(Please read on these if you haven't. They are extremely important in SnD). Mostly occur after an impulse move from a turning point. See attached examples: RBR(rally base rally)/DBD(drop base drop). They comprise of an initial move to a certain direction, a single candle in the opposite direction and followed by 2 or more strong candles in the initial direction. The opposite candle is your FTR(This is your zone) The first time price comes back(FTB) to a zone with an FTR has high possibilities to be a strong zone. How to identify high quality zones according to my approach:
Engulfing zones; This is a personal favorite. For less errors I identify the best opportunities using the daily and 4H chart.
On the example given, I chose the GBPNZD trade idea I shared here a month ago I believe. A double bottom is easily identified, with the final push well defined Bullish Engulfing candle. To further solidify it are the strong wicks to show strong rejection and failure to close lower than the left shoulder. How we draw our zone is highlight the whole candle just before the Engulfing Candle. That's your zone. After drawing it, you also pay attention to the price that is right where the engulfing starts. You then set a price alert on your preferred app because usually price won't get there immediately. This is the second most important part of trading, PATIENCE. If you can be disciplined enough to not leave a limit order, or place a market order just because you trust your analysis...you've won half the battle because we're not market predictors, we're students. And we trade the reaction. On the given example, price had already reached the zone of interest. Price action observed was, there was a rejection that drove it out of the zone, this is the reaction we want. Soon as price returns(retests)...this is your time to fill or kill moment, going to a 4H or 1H to make minimum risk trades. (See GBPNZD Example 1&2)
Liquidity Run; This approach looks very similar to the Engulfing zones. The difference is, price makes a few rejections on a higher timeframe level(Resistance or support). This gives the novice trader an idea that we've established a strong support or resistance, leading to them either selling or buying given the opportunity. Price then breaks that level trapping the support and resistance trader. At this point, breakout traders have stop orders below or above these levels to anticipate a breakout at major levels with stops just below the levels. Now that the market has enough traders trapped, it goes for the stop losses above or below support and resistance levels after taking them out, price comes back into the level to take out breakout traders' stop losses. This is where it has gathered enough liquidity to move it's desired direction.
The given example on the NZDJPY shows a strong level established twice. With the Bearish Engulfing movement, price leaves a supply zone...that's where we come in. We go to smaller timeframes for a well defined entry with our stops above the recent High targeting the next demand zone. The second screenshot illustrates how high the reward of this approach is as well. Due diligence is required for this kind of approach because it's not uncommon but usually easily misinterpreted, which is why it's important it's on higher timeframes. You can back test and establish your own rules on this but the RSI in this case was used for confluence. It showed a strong divergence which made it an even easier trade to take. ...and last but definitely not least,
Double Bottom/Top. (I've used double bottoms on examples because these are the only trades I shared here so we'll talk about double bottoms. Same but opposite rules apply on double tops).
The first most important rule here is when you look to your left, price should have made a Low, High and a Lower Low. This way, the last leg(shoulder) should be lower than the first. Some call this "Hidden Zones". When drawing the zones, the top border of the zone is supposed to be on the tip of the Low and covering the Lower Low. **The top border is usually the entry point. On the first given example I shared this week, NZDCAD. After identifying the structure, you start to look for zones that could further verify the structure for confluence. Since this was identified on the 4H, when you zoom out to the daily chart...there's a very well defined demand zone (RBR). By now you should know how strong these kind of zones are especially if found on higher timeframes. That will now be your kill zone. You'll draw another zone within the bigger zone, if price doesn't close below it...you've got a trade. You'll put your stop losses outside the initial zone to avoid wicks(liquidity runs/stop hunts) On the second image you'll see how price closed within the zone and rallied upwards towards your targets. The second example is CHFJPY; although looking lower, there isn't a rally base rally that further solidifies our bias...price still respected the zone. Sometimes we just aren't going to get perfect setups but it is up to us to make calculated risks. In this case, risk is very minimal considering the potential profit. The third example (EURNZD) was featured because sometimes you just can't always get perfect price action within your desired zone. Which is why it's important to wait for price to close before actually taking a trade. Even if you entered prematurely and were taken out of the trade, the rules are still respected hence a re entry would still yield you more than what you would have lost although revenge trading is wrong. I hope you guys learnt something new and understand the thought process that leads to deciding which setups to trade from prepared supply and demand trade ideas. It's important to do your own research and back testing that matches your own trading style. I'm more of a swing trader hence I find my zones using the Daily and 4H chart. Keeping it simple and trading the reaction to your watched zone is the most important part about trading any strategy. Important Note: The trade ideas on this post are trades shared on this sub ever since my being active only because I don't want to share ideas that I may have carefully picked to make my trading approach a blind pick from the millions on the internet. All these were shared here. Here's a link to the trade ideas analyzed for this post specifically Questions are welcome on the comments section. Thank you for reading till here.
Lessons from gaining 500% in a week & losing about half of it
Hello, just want to share my experience trading forex this week. So I had about $55 in my trading account and started trading GBPJPY on Monday. Won 3 out of 4 trades. But the big wins came from the XAUUSD dump this week in which I took a lot of trades and I got lucky. Felt surreal when my account reached $350 and should’ve probably stopped. But still decided to enter trades and that’s where things got pretty bad. I still have an open trade as of writing and my equity is down. XAUUSD is a beast! Been trading for almost a year now but not regularly and I only trade small amounts. This is the 1st time I made such gain and I’m not sure if I can do this again. Here’s a screenshot: https://i.postimg.cc/ZY37hRJX/6-F33601-E-C36-A-4702-A31-B-49986022-D6-F6.jpg Lesson learned:
Stop staring at the chart after entering a trade. Most of my loss happened because I closed the trade during a reversal. Had I waited and stuck to my plan, I would’ve TP’d most of them.
You don’t have to enter a trade all the damn time. (Bad case of FOMO in my part)
Set your goal and don’t be too greedy
Don’t trade on Fridays (had backtested this already but FOMO)
**UPDATE: Been getting DMs asking about my strategy. I use price action and I don’t use any indicators. I draw 1-2 trend lines based from previous strong support and resistance. I want a clean chart as it’s easier for me. I also did 5 years worth of backtesting. My biggest issue, as I’m sure you’ve noticed, are sticking to my trading plan (stop looking at the chart all the time after entering a trade, and closing too soon due to reversals), and discipline (don’t FOMO and setting my goals). I still don’t consider myself as a “trader” per se, so please do your own backtesting. I was also looking for the “best strategy” when I was starting out, until I realize that your results would largely depend on your attitude vs your strategy.
Hello, I‘m on this algotrading journey starting with crypto for exactly one year now. My strategies have not been profitable yet. I have programmed my bot, teached it all the technical indicators I got to know myself first, have left it live trading and losing half of its assigned budget. I‘ve read alot about backtesting on this forum and started learning this wierd pine script language on Tradingview. I got good looking backtest results based on some simple RSI/MACD scripts. The bot got some fresh budget assigned to lose some of it again. Leaving it running for three months the blue backtest profit hill is slowly turning red as well in the meantime. Overfitted to the max obviously. I tried implementing my own backtester to add some machine learning to even more overfit the overfitted values. I somehow left it in the dark for now and have never used it for live trading yet reading so much about overfitted backtesting within this sub. Since two months I have now completely stopped using backtesting due to this disappointing experience and completely went towards paper trading (using virtual budget on my bot). I have also tried to minimize usage of technical indicators because of the lagging. I consider all the coins instead of only BTC now. The price action is clearly linked to BTC tho (very visible!). Managing my (virtual) budget and allocation towards trades is a big learning for me as well. I slightly look into backtesting again to validate my strategies. Still not profitable but won‘t give up there. I feel heavy doubts sometimes using it but it gives back hope as well. How do you balance your efforts from backtesting compared to live/paper trading? With my full time job I have somehow developed a ritual when coming home the first thing in wifi range is checking the paper trades that my bot has done over the day. Most often re-writing the whole strategy due to bad performance. I need to get more patient on that. Next I want to read more about Forex. Ordered my first book about it yesterday. Just wanted to share my story. Hope it can motivate or helps in some way.
Hi! Im from Brasil and i started to trade binary options on the beginning of the pandemic cuz of youtube scammers, i was tricked so i decided to study macroeconomics and trade Forex. But turns out that im really crappy at technical analysis, been focusing too much on fundamental that i totally forgot the only thing this fucking scammer teached me. Now im having difficult times to learn technical analysis cuz the content around here ( Brazillian content ) makes me wanna puke. Somebody could give me some great content ( i like price action ), so that i can learn. Thanks, i really appreciate it. Edit1: i have one question. Do you guys think Al Brooks is trustable?
Former investment bank FX trader: Risk management part II
Firstly, thanks for the overwhelming comments and feedback. Genuinely really appreciated. I am pleased 500+ of you find it useful. If you didn't read the first post you can do so here: risk management part I. You'll need to do so in order to make sense of the topic. As ever please comment/reply below with questions or feedback and I'll do my best to get back to you. Part II
Letting stops breathe
When to change a stop
Entering and exiting winning positions
Letting stops breathe
We talked earlier about giving a position enough room to breathe so it is not stopped out in day-to-day noise. Let’s consider the chart below and imagine you had a trailing stop. It would be super painful to miss out on the wider move just because you left a stop that was too tight. Imagine being long and stopped out on a meaningless retracement ... ouch! One simple technique is simply to look at your chosen chart - let’s say daily bars. And then look at previous trends and use the measuring tool. Those generally look something like this and then you just click and drag to measure. For example if we wanted to bet on a downtrend on the chart above we might look at the biggest retracement on the previous uptrend. That max drawdown was about 100 pips or just under 1%. So you’d want your stop to be able to withstand at least that. If market conditions have changed - for example if CVIX has risen - and daily ranges are now higher you should incorporate that. If you know a big event is coming up you might think about that, too. The human brain is a remarkable tool and the power of the eye-ball method is not to be dismissed. This is how most discretionary traders do it. There are also more analytical approaches. Some look at the Average True Range (ATR). This attempts to capture the volatility of a pair, typically averaged over a number of sessions. It looks at three separate measures and takes the largest reading. Think of this as a moving average of how much a pair moves. For example, below shows the daily move in EURUSD was around 60 pips before spiking to 140 pips in March. Conditions were clearly far more volatile in March. Accordingly, you would need to leave your stop further away in March and take a correspondingly smaller position size. ATR is available on pretty much all charting systems Professional traders tend to use standard deviation as a measure of volatility instead of ATR. There are advantages and disadvantages to both. Averages are useful but can be misleading when regimes switch (see above chart). Once you have chosen a measure of volatility, stop distance can then be back-tested and optimised. For example does 2x ATR work best or 5x ATR for a given style and time horizon? Discretionary traders may still eye-ball the ATR or standard deviation to get a feeling for how it has changed over time and what ‘normal’ feels like for a chosen study period - daily, weekly, monthly etc.
Reasons to change a stop
As a general rule you should be disciplined and not change your stops. Remember - losers average losers. This is really hard at first and we’re going to look at that in more detail later. There are some good reasons to modify stops but they are rare. One reason is if another risk management process demands you stop trading and close positions. We’ll look at this later. In that case just close out your positions at market and take the loss/gains as they are. Another is event risk. If you have some big upcoming data like Non Farm Payrolls that you know can move the market +/- 150 pips and you have no edge going into the release then many traders will take off or scale down their positions. They’ll go back into the positions when the data is out and the market has quietened down after fifteen minutes or so. This is a matter of some debate - many traders consider it a coin toss and argue you win some and lose some and it all averages out. Trailing stops can also be used to ‘lock in’ profits. We looked at those before. As the trade moves in your favour (say up if you are long) the stop loss ratchets with it. This means you may well end up ‘stopping out’ at a profit - as per the below example. The mighty trailing stop loss order It is perfectly reasonable to have your stop loss move in the direction of PNL. This is not exposing you to more risk than you originally were comfortable with. It is taking less and less risk as the trade moves in your favour. Trend-followers in particular love trailing stops. One final question traders ask is what they should do if they get stopped out but still like the trade. Should they try the same trade again a day later for the same reasons? Nope. Look for a different trade rather than getting emotionally wed to the original idea. Let’s say a particular stock looked cheap based on valuation metrics yesterday, you bought, it went down and you got stopped out. Well, it is going to look even better on those same metrics today. Maybe the market just doesn’t respect value at the moment and is driven by momentum. Wait it out. Otherwise, why even have a stop in the first place?
Entering and exiting winning positions
Take profits are the opposite of stop losses. They are also resting orders, left with the broker, to automatically close your position if it reaches a certain price. Imagine I’m long EURUSD at 1.1250. If it hits a previous high of 1.1400 (150 pips higher) I will leave a sell order to take profit and close the position. The rookie mistake on take profits is to take profit too early. One should start from the assumption that you will win on no more than half of your trades. Therefore you will need to ensure that you win more on the ones that work than you lose on those that don’t. Sad to say but incredibly common: retail traders often take profits way too early This is going to be the exact opposite of what your emotions want you to do. We are going to look at that in the Psychology of Trading chapter. Remember: let winners run. Just like stops you need to know in advance the level where you will close out at a profit. Then let the trade happen. Don’t override yourself and let emotions force you to take a small profit. A classic mistake to avoid. The trader puts on a trade and it almost stops out before rebounding. As soon as it is slightly in the money they spook and cut out, instead of letting it run to their original take profit. Do not do this.
Entering positions with limit orders
That covers exiting a position but how about getting into one? Take profits can also be left speculatively to enter a position. Sometimes referred to as “bids” (buy orders) or “offers” (sell orders). Imagine the price is 1.1250 and the recent low is 1.1205. You might wish to leave a bid around 1.2010 to enter a long position, if the market reaches that price. This way you don’t need to sit at the computer and wait. Again, typically traders will use tech analysis to identify attractive levels. Again - other traders will cluster with your orders. Just like the stop loss we need to bake that in. So this time if we know everyone is going to buy around the recent low of 1.1205 we might leave the take profit bit a little bit above there at 1.1210 to ensure it gets done. Sure it costs 5 more pips but how mad would you be if the low was 1.1207 and then it rallied a hundred points and you didn’t have the trade on?! There are two more methods that traders often use for entering a position. Scaling in is one such technique. Let’s imagine that you think we are in a long-term bulltrend for AUDUSD but experiencing a brief retracement. You want to take a total position of 500,000 AUD and don’t have a strong view on the current price action. You might therefore leave a series of five bids of 100,000. As the price moves lower each one gets hit. The nice thing about scaling in is it reduces pressure on you to pick the perfect level. Of course the risk is that not all your orders get hit before the price moves higher and you have to trade at-market. Pyramiding is the second technique. Pyramiding is for take profits what a trailing stop loss is to regular stops. It is especially common for momentum traders. Pyramiding into a position means buying more as it goes in your favour Again let’s imagine we’re bullish AUDUSD and want to take a position of 500,000 AUD. Here we add 100,000 when our first signal is reached. Then we add subsequent clips of 100,000 when the trade moves in our favour. We are waiting for confirmation that the move is correct. Obviously this is quite nice as we humans love trading when it goes in our direction. However, the drawback is obvious: we haven’t had the full amount of risk on from the start of the trend. You can see the attractions and drawbacks of both approaches. It is best to experiment and choose techniques that work for your own personal psychology as these will be the easiest for you to stick with and build a disciplined process around.
Risk:reward and win ratios
Be extremely skeptical of people who claim to win on 80% of trades. Most traders will win on roughly 50% of trades and lose on 50% of trades. This is why risk management is so important! Once you start keeping a trading journal you’ll be able to see how the win/loss ratio looks for you. Until then, assume you’re typical and that every other trade will lose money. If that is the case then you need to be sure you make more on the wins than you lose on the losses. You can see the effect of this below. A combination of win % and risk:reward ratio determine if you are profitable A typical rule of thumb is that a ratio of 1:3 works well for most traders. That is, if you are prepared to risk 100 pips on your stop you should be setting a take profit at a level that would return you 300 pips. One needn’t be religious about these numbers - 11 pips and 28 pips would be perfectly fine - but they are a guideline. Again - you should still use technical analysis to find meaningful chart levels for both the stop and take profit. Don’t just blindly take your stop distance and do 3x the pips on the other side as your take profit. Use the ratio to set approximate targets and then look for a relevant resistance or support level in that kind of region.
Not all returns are equal. Suppose you are examining the track record of two traders. Now, both have produced a return of 14% over the year. Not bad! The first trader, however, made hundreds of small bets throughout the year and his cumulative PNL looked like the left image below. The second trader made just one bet — he sold CADJPY at the start of the year — and his PNL looked like the right image below with lots of large drawdowns and volatility. Would you rather have the first trading record or the second? If you were investing money and betting on who would do well next year which would you choose? Of course all sensible people would choose the first trader. Yet if you look only at returns one cannot distinguish between the two. Both are up 14% at that point in time. This is where the Sharpe ratio helps . A high Sharpe ratio indicates that a portfolio has better risk-adjusted performance. One cannot sensibly compare returns without considering the risk taken to earn that return. If I can earn 80% of the return of another investor at only 50% of the risk then a rational investor should simply leverage me at 2x and enjoy 160% of the return at the same level of risk. This is very important in the context of Execution Advisor algorithms (EAs) that are popular in the retail community. You must evaluate historic performance by its risk-adjusted return — not just the nominal return. Incidentally look at the Sharpe ratio of ones that have been live for a year or more ... Otherwise an EA developer could produce two EAs: the first simply buys at 1000:1 leverage on January 1st ; and the second sells in the same manner. At the end of the year, one of them will be discarded and the other will look incredible. Its risk-adjusted return, however, would be abysmal and the odds of repeated success are similarly poor.
The Sharpe ratio works like this:
It takes the average returns of your strategy;
It deducts from these the risk-free rate of return i.e. the rate anyone could have got by investing in US government bonds with very little risk;
It then divides this total return by its own volatility - the more smooth the return the higher and better the Sharpe, the more volatile the lower and worse the Sharpe.
For example, say the return last year was 15% with a volatility of 10% and US bonds are trading at 2%. That gives (15-2)/10 or a Sharpe ratio of 1.3. As a rule of thumb a Sharpe ratio of above 0.5 would be considered decent for a discretionary retail trader. Above 1 is excellent. You don’t really need to know how to calculate Sharpe ratios. Good trading software will do this for you. It will either be available in the system by default or you can add a plug-in.
VAR is another useful measure to help with drawdowns. It stands for Value at Risk. Normally people will use 99% VAR (conservative) or 95% VAR (aggressive). Let’s say you’re long EURUSD and using 95% VAR. The system will look at the historic movement of EURUSD. It might spit out a number of -1.2%. A 5% VAR of -1.2% tells you you should expect to lose 1.2% on 5% of days, whilst 95% of days should be better than that This means it is expected that on 5 days out of 100 (hence the 95%) the portfolio will lose 1.2% or more. This can help you manage your capital by taking appropriately sized positions. Typically you would look at VAR across your portfolio of trades rather than trade by trade. Sharpe ratios and VAR don’t give you the whole picture, though. Legendary fund manager, Howard Marks of Oaktree, notes that, while tools like VAR and Sharpe ratios are helpful and absolutely necessary, the best investors will also overlay their own judgment. Investors can calculate risk metrics like VaR and Sharpe ratios (we use them at Oaktree; they’re the best tools we have), but they shouldn’t put too much faith in them. The bottom line for me is that risk management should be the responsibility of every participant in the investment process, applying experience, judgment and knowledge of the underlying investments.Howard Marks of Oaktree Capital What he’s saying is don’t misplace your common sense. Do use these tools as they are helpful. However, you cannot fully rely on them. Both assume a normal distribution of returns. Whereas in real life you get “black swans” - events that should supposedly happen only once every thousand years but which actually seem to happen fairly often. These outlier events are often referred to as “tail risk”. Don’t make the mistake of saying “well, the model said…” - overlay what the model is telling you with your own common sense and good judgment.
Coming up in part III
Available here Squeezes and other risks Market positioning Bet correlation Crap trades, timeouts and monthly limits *** Disclaimer:This content is not investment advice and you should not place any reliance on it. The views expressed are the author's own and should not be attributed to any other person, including their employer.
Some trading wisdom, tools and information I picked up along the way that helped me be a better trader. Maybe it can help you too.
Its a bit lengthy and I tried to condense it as much as I can. So take everything at a high level as each subject is has a lot more depth but fundamentally if you distill it down its just taking simple things and applying your experience using them to add nuance and better deploy them. There are exceptions to everything that you will learn with experience or have already learned. If you know something extra or something to add to it to implement it better or more accurately. Then great! However, my intention of this post is just a high level overview. Trading can be far too nuanced to go into in this post and would take forever to type up every exception (not to mention the traders individual personality). If you take the general information as a starting point, hopefully you will learn the edge cases long the way and learn how to use the more effectively if you end up using them. I apologize in advice for any errors or typos. Introduction After reflecting on my fun (cough) trading journey that was more akin to rolling around on broken glass and wondering if brown glass will help me predict market direction better than green glass. Buying a $100 indicator at 2 am when I was acting a fool, looking at it and going at and going "This is a piece of lagging crap, I miss out on a large part of the fundamental move and never using it for even one trade". All while struggling with massive over trading and bad habits because I would get bored watching a single well placed trade on fold for the day. Also, I wanted to get rich quick. On top all of that I had a terminal Stage 4 case of FOMO on every time the price would move up and then down then back up. Just think about all those extra pips I could have trading both directions as it moves across the chart! I can just sell right when it goes down, then buy right before it goes up again. Its so easy right? Well, turns out it was not as easy as I thought and I lost a fair chunk of change and hit my head against the wall a lot until it clicked. Which is how I came up with a mixed bag of things that I now call "Trade the Trade" which helped support how I wanted to trade so I can still trade intra day price action like a rabid money without throwing away all my bananas. Why Make This Post? - Core Topic of Discussion I wish to share a concept I came up with that helped me become a reliable trader. Support the weakness of how I like to trade. Also, explaining what I do helps reinforce my understanding of the information I share as I have to put words to it and not just use internalized processes. I came up with a method that helped me get my head straight when trading intra day. I call it "Trade the Trade" as I am making mini trades inside of a trade setup I make from analysis on a higher timeframe that would take multiple days to unfold or longer. I will share information, principles, techniques I used and learned from others I talked to on the internet (mixed bag of folks from armatures to professionals, and random internet people) that helped me form a trading style that worked for me. Even people who are not good at trading can say something that might make it click in your head so I would absorbed all the information I could get.I will share the details of how I approach the methodology and the tools in my trading belt that I picked up by filtering through many tools, indicators strategies and witchcraft. Hopefully you read something that ends up helping you be a better trader. I learned a lot from people who make community posts so I wanted to give back now that I got my ducks in a row. General Trading Advice If your struggling finding your own trading style, fixing weakness's in it, getting started, being reliably profitable or have no framework to build yourself higher with, hopefully you can use the below advice to help provide some direction or clarity to moving forward to be a better trader.
KEEP IT SIMPLE. Do not throw a million things on your chart from the get go or over analyzing what the market is doing while trying to learn the basics. Tons of stuff on your chart can actually slow your learning by distracting your focus on all your bells and whistles and not the price action.
PRICE ACTION. Learn how to read price action. Not just the common formations, but larger groups of bars that form the market structure. Those formations carry more weight the higher the time frame they form on. If struggle to understand what is going on or what your looking at, move to a higher time frame.
INDICATORS. If you do use them you should try to understand how every indicator you use calculates its values. Many indicators are lagging indicators, understanding how it calculates the values can help you learn how to identify the market structure before the indicator would trigger a signal . This will help you understand why the signal is a lagged signal. If you understand that you can easily learn to look at the price action right before the signal and learn to watch for that price action on top of it almost trigging a signal so you can get in at a better position and assume less downside risk. I recommend using no more than 1-2 indicators for simplicity, but your free to use as many as you think you think you need or works for your strategy/trading style.
PSYCOLOGY. First, FOMO is real, don't feed the beast. When you trade you should always have an entry and exit. If you miss your entry do not chase it, wait for a new entry. At its core trading is gambling and your looking for an edge against the house (the other market participants). With that in mind, treat as such. Do not risk more than you can afford to lose. If you are afraid to lose it will negatively effect your trade decisions. Finally, be honest with your self and bad trading happens. No one is going to play trade cop and keep you in line, that's your job.
TRADE DECISION MARKING: Before you enter any trade you should have an entry and exit area. As you learn price action you will get better entries and better exits. Use a larger zone and stop loss at the start while learning. Then you can tighten it up as you gain experience. If you do not have a area you wish to exit, or you are entering because "the markets looking like its gonna go up". Do not enter the trade. Have a reason for everything you do, if you cannot logically explain why then you probably should not be doing it.
ROBOTS/ALGOS: Loved by some, hated by many who lost it all to one, and surrounded by scams on the internet. If you make your own, find a legit one that works and paid for it or lost it all on a crappy one, more power to ya. I do not use robots because I do not like having a robot in control of my money. There is too many edge cases for me to be ok with it.However, the best piece of advice about algos was that the guy had a algo/robot for each market condition (trending/ranging) and would make personalized versions of each for currency pairs as each one has its own personality and can make the same type of movement along side another currency pair but the price action can look way different or the move can be lagged or leading. So whenever he does his own analysis and he sees a trend, he turns the trend trading robot on. If the trend stops, and it starts to range he turns the range trading robot on. He uses robots to trade the market types that he is bad at trading. For example, I suck at trend trading because I just suck at sitting on my hands and letting my trade do its thing.
Trade the Trade - The Methodology
Base Principles These are the base principles I use behind "Trade the Trade". Its called that because you are technically trading inside your larger high time frame trade as it hopefully goes as you have analyzed with the trade setup. It allows you to scratch that intraday trading itch, while not being blind to the bigger market at play. It can help make sense of why the price respects, rejects or flat out ignores support/resistance/pivots.
Trade Setup: Find a trade setup using high level time frames (daily, 4hr, or 1hr time frames). The trade setup will be used as a base for starting to figure out a bias for the markets direction for that day.
Indicator Data: Check any indicators you use (I use Stochastic RSI and Relative Vigor Index) for any useful information on higher timeframes.
Support Resistance: See if any support/resistance/pivot points are in currently being tested/resisted by the price. Also check for any that are within reach so they might become in play through out the day throughout the day (which can influence your bias at least until the price reaches it if it was already moving that direction from previous days/weeks price action).
Currency Strength/Weakness: I use the TradeVision currency strength/weakness dashboard to see if the strength/weakness supports the narrative of my trade and as an early indicator when to keep a closer eye for signs of the price reversing.Without the tool, the same concept can be someone accomplished with fundamentals and checking for higher level trends and checking cross currency pairs for trends as well to indicate strength/weakness, ranging (and where it is in that range) or try to get some general bias from a higher level chart that may help you out. However, it wont help you intra day unless your monitoring the currency's index or a bunch of charts related to the currency.
Watch For Trading Opportunities: Personally I make a mental short list and alerts on TradingView of currency pairs that are close to key levels and so I get a notification if it reaches there so I can check it out. I am not against trading both directions, I just try to trade my bias before the market tries to commit to a direction. Then if I get out of that trade I will scalp against the trend of the day and hold trades longer that are with it.Then when you see a opportunity assume the directional bias you made up earlier (unless the market solidly confirms with price action the direction while waiting for an entry) by trying to look for additional confirmation via indicators, price action on support/resistances etc on the low level time frame or higher level ones like hourly/4hr as the day goes on when the price reaches key areas or makes new market structures to get a good spot to enter a trade in the direction of your bias.Then enter your trade and use the market structures to determine how much of a stop you need. Once your in the trade just monitor it and watch the price action/indicators/tools you use to see if its at risk of going against you. If you really believe the market wont reach your TP and looks like its going to turn against you, then close the trade. Don't just hold on to it for principle and let it draw down on principle or the hope it does not hit your stop loss.
Trade Duration Hold your trades as long or little as you want that fits your personality and trading style/trade analysis. Personally I do not hold trades past the end of the day (I do in some cases when a strong trend folds) and I do not hold trades over the weekends. My TP targets are always places I think it can reach within the day. Typically I try to be flat before I sleep and trade intra day price movements only. Just depends on the higher level outlook, I have to get in at really good prices for me to want to hold a trade and it has to be going strong. Then I will set a slightly aggressive stop on it before I leave. I do know several people that swing trade and hold trades for a long period of time. That is just not a trading style that works for me.
Enhance Your Success Rate Below is information I picked up over the years that helped me enhance my success rate with not only guessing intra day market bias (even if it has not broken into the trend for the day yet (aka pre London open when the end of Asia likes to act funny sometimes), but also with trading price action intra day. People always say "When you enter a trade have an entry and exits. I am of the belief that most people do not have problem with the entry, its the exit. They either hold too long, or don't hold long enough. With the below tools, drawings, or instruments, hopefully you can increase your individual probability of a successful trade. **P.S.*\* Your mileage will vary depending on your ability to correctly draw, implement and interpret the below items. They take time and practice to implement with a high degree of proficiency. If you have any questions about how to do that with anything listed, comment below and I will reply as I can. I don't want to answer the same question a million times in a pm. Tools and Methods Used This is just a high level overview of what I use. Each one of the actions I could go way more in-depth on but I would be here for a week typing something up of I did that. So take the information as a base level understanding of how I use the method or tool. There is always nuance and edge cases that you learn from experience.
I keep a general high level Macro outlook for currencies. I dont get too deep into Fundamentals and just keep an eye out for news. If I am already in a trade I will hold it if its far enough away from my entry. However, I wont enter right before/during news as it can invalidate your setup.
I started with the basics of learning the standard price action formations/patterns and candles. You can find tons of free info on that online, google is your friend. Then I stared at charts and said "why did the price do that or do this etc" then after a while I started to understand what's happening without having to think about it and I can see the market structure without having to look as closely as I did in the past.
After many many hours of staring at 5 min charts for 15 hours a day 5 days a week I learned how to look at 5 min charts and be like "Oh that's a hammer on the 15 min etc. If you keep track of time you can do the same for hourly candles as well and you will start to see market structure naturally. However I typically trade in a two chart panel window so I have a 15 min and 5 min chart up when trading intra day so I dont have to think too hard about it.
Draw support resistance lines on Daily/4hr timeframes. I prefer to use body of the candle instead of the wick for support/resistance.
You can find support/resistance liquidity levels through out the day as well and trade those if the price retraces back through levels its already been through that same day.
It would be a bit length to explain exactly the best place to draw them. If your unsure there is plenty of free resources on the internet. Just try to use your head and look for price levels where the price was "Supported" or it "Resisted" that price level then slap a line on it. Draw as few or as many lines as you feel helps you and your style. I tend to lean on the side of fewer. I typically do about 6 lines main support/resistances (3 of each).
Draw two Fibonacci Extensions. One on the daily timeframe, and then one on the 4hr time frame. Then you can trade the Fibonacci levels and use them for TP targets or entry zones if price action respects the level. Also you can use it along with support/resistance and pivots if they happen to line up or are very close.
I cannot really figure out how to put it into words how to draw a Fib if you dont know how. I will have to make a picture to demonstrate it. If your interested post below and I will draw one up and post a link. Probably the easiest way to understand. Just keep in mind the Fib you draw on the 4hr time frame will be inside the daily timeframe one.
The TradeVision2020 dashboard that I use just helps me keep a tab on the current market post plus any swing strength/momentum a currency might have on higher time frames. Helps me look for shifts in the market or confirmation that the bias it already has in momentum is continuing. I have found that often currencies when they get really/weak or strong might continue for several days or even longer like a full week or more. We recently had what felt like 1 week or so of flat out Yen weakness which was making some things wonky. All it does is allow me to look at the dashboard instead of a million other charts.
I use two that work well for my intra day style. The Stochastic RSI is just like a RSI but its faster. The second is the Relative Vigor Index which I use to detect swings in momentum and divergences in bullish/bearish momentum. I have used many others in the past, but as I have grown and got better as a trader I have found making my analysis simpler has improved my trading.I dont like the whole idea of have 43 different indicators on 32 different time frames light up a dashboard to be green for me to enter a trade. With how I do it now, I have a clear understanding of what I expect to happen and why. That way when it does happen I understand the move and dont get freaked out if the market moves funny after I am in the trade.
Conclusion I use the above tools/indicators/resources/philosophy's to trade intra day price action that sometimes ends up as noise in the grand scheme of the markets movement.use that method until the price action for the day proves the bias assumption wrong. Also you can couple that with things like Stoch RSI + Relative Vigor Index to find divergences which can increase the probability of your targeted guesses. Trade Example from Yesterday This is an example of a trade I took today and why I took it. I used the following core areas to make my trade decision.
Fundamental Bias: I already had a bullish fundamental outlook on EUUSD with expecting the markets to price in future similes due a higher an higher chance of Biden winning on paper as the election closed in and a "Blue wave" coming which would lead to a weaker dollar. Also, the Euro Zone is getting hammered with COVID pretty hard plus Brexit drama so I had a strong Euro bias.NOTE: As frame of reference, all the other pairs I trade I traded as if they were ranging and trade a range. Markets are messed up right now.
Currency Strength/Weakness: I use a tool that gives me a currency strength/weakness dashboard called TradeVision2020. Helps me track individual currency strength/weakness intra day. Took me about a month to get used to it, but helps me keep track of intra day strength/weakness that can add a bias to trade direction as the day unfolds. Like "Will this run have a 2nd or 3rd push higher" or "I should look to TP at the first sign of weakness in the push" type bias data. You still got to use your brain and figure out the best decision. It wont make choices for you, its only a guide.NOTE: I am not trying to adverse the tool (if providing the code is against sub rules let me know), its just a tool I use every day that helps me with directional bias calls. I am sharing the coupon code that was given to me when I found out about the tool in the TradingView forex chatroom and the guy gave me the code to use when I signed up. I dont want someone to read the name and want to try it out then overpay for no reason. The coupon will give you 40% off. Coupon Code: 3F7A0T5T
Higher Timeframe Analysis: Detected some early signs of Bearish Divergence on the 1hr chart using a on a higher time frame using a Stochastic RSI. Then I saw more confirmation on 5 min charts using Relative Vigor Index to help time my entry mid session.
Pivot Points: I treat pivot points like support/resistance and trade them as such using price action to give me some idea how its being treated by the market. Pretty straight forward.
It may seem like a lot of stuff to process on the fly while trying to figure out live price action but, for the fundamental bias for a pair should already baked in your mindset for any currency pair you trade. For the currency strength/weakness I stare at the dashboard 12-15 hours a day so I am always trying to keep a pulse on what's going or shifts so that's not really a factor when I want to enter as I would not look to enter if I felt the market was shifting against me. Then the higher timeframe analysis had already happened when I woke up, so it was a game of "Stare at the 5 min chart until the price does something interesting" Trade Example: Today , I went long EUUSD long bias when I first looked at the chart after waking up around 9-10pm Eastern. Fortunately, the first large drop had already happened so I had a easy baseline price movement to work with. I then used tool for currency strength/weakness monitoring, Pivot Points, and bearish divergence detected using Stochastic RSI and Relative Vigor Index. I first noticed Bearish Divergence on the 1hr time frame using the Stochastic RSI and got confirmation intra day on the 5 min time frame with the Relative Vigor Index. I ended up buying the second mini dip around midnight Eastern because it was already dancing along the pivot point that the price had been dancing along since the big drop below the pivot point and dipped below it and then shortly closed back above it. I put a stop loss below the first large dip. With a TP goal of the middle point pivot line Then I waited for confirmation or invalidation of my trade. I ended up getting confirmation with Bearish Divergence from the second large dip so I tightened up my stop to below that smaller drip and waited for the London open. Not only was it not a lower low, I could see the divergence with the Relative Vigor Index. It then ran into London and kept going with tons of momentum. Blew past my TP target so I let it run to see where the momentum stopped. Ended up TP'ing at the Pivot Point support/resistance above the middle pivot line. Random Note: The Asian session has its own unique price action characteristics that happen regularly enough that you can easily trade them when they happen with high degrees of success. It takes time to learn them all and confidently trade them as its happening. If you trade Asia you should learn to recognize them as they can fake you out if you do not understand what's going on. TL;DR At the end of the day there is no magic solution that just works. You have to find out what works for you and then what people say works for them. Test it out and see if it works for you or if you can adapt it to work for you. If it does not work or your just not interested then ignore it. At the end of the day, you have to use your brain to make correct trading decisions. Blindly following indicators may work sometimes in certain market conditions, but trading with information you don't understand can burn you just as easily as help you. Its like playing with fire. So, get out there and grind it out. It will either click or it wont. Not everyone has the mindset or is capable of changing to be a successful trader. Trading is gambling, you do all this work to get a edge on the house. Trading without the edge or an edge you understand how to use will only leave your broker happy in the end.
Former investment bank FX trader: Risk management part 3/3
Welcome to the third and final part of this chapter. Thank you all for the 100s of comments and upvotes - maybe this post will take us above 1,000 for this topic! Keep any feedback or questions coming in the replies below. Before you read this note, please start with Part I and then Part II so it hangs together and makes sense. Part III
Squeezes and other risks
Crap trades, timeouts and monthly limits
Squeezes and other risks
We are going to cover three common risks that traders face: events; squeezes, asymmetric bets.
Economic releases can cause large short-term volatility. The most famous is Non Farm Payrolls, which is the most widely watched measure of US employment levels and affects the price of many instruments.On an NFP announcement currencies like EURUSD might jump (or drop) 100 pips no problem. This is fine and there are trading strategies that one may employ around this but the key thing is to be aware of these releases.You can find economic calendars all over the internet - including on this site - and you need only check if there are any major releases each day or week. For example, if you are trading off some intraday chart and scalping a few pips here and there it would be highly sensible to go into a known data release flat as it is pure coin-toss and not the reason for your trading. It only takes five minutes each day to plan for the day ahead so do not get caught out by this. Many retail traders get stopped out on such events when price volatility is at its peak.
Short squeezes bring a lot of danger and perhaps some opportunity. The story of VW and Porsche is the best short squeeze ever. Throughout these articles we've used FX examples wherever possible but in this one instance the concept (which is also highly relevant in FX) is best illustrated with an historical lesson from a different asset class. A short squeeze is when a participant ends up in a short position they are forced to cover. Especially when the rest of the market knows that this participant can be bullied into stopping out at terrible levels, provided the market can briefly drive the price into their pain zone. There's a reason for the car, don't worry Hedge funds had been shorting VW stock. However the amount of VW stock available to buy in the open market was actually quite limited. The local government owned a chunk and Porsche itself had bought and locked away around 30%. Neither of these would sell to the hedge-funds so a good amount of the stock was un-buyable at any price. If you sell or short a stock you must be prepared to buy it back to go flat at some point. To cut a long story short, Porsche bought a lot of call options on VW stock. These options gave them the right to purchase VW stock from banks at slightly above market price. Eventually the banks who had sold these options realised there was no VW stock to go out and buy since the German government wouldn’t sell its allocation and Porsche wouldn’t either. If Porsche called in the options the banks were in trouble. Porsche called in the options which forced the shorts to buy stock - at whatever price they could get it. The price squeezed higher as those that were short got massively squeezed and stopped out. For one brief moment in 2008, VW was the world’s most valuable company. Shorts were burned hard. Incredible event Porsche apparently made $11.5 billion on the trade. The BBC described Porsche as “a hedge fund with a carmaker attached.” If this all seems exotic then know that the same thing happens in FX all the time. If everyone in the market is talking about a key level in EURUSD being 1.2050 then you can bet the market will try to push through 1.2050 just to take out any short stops at that level. Whether it then rallies higher or fails and trades back lower is a different matter entirely. This brings us on to the matter of crowded trades. We will look at positioning in more detail in the next section. Crowded trades are dangerous for PNL. If everyone believes EURUSD is going down and has already sold EURUSD then you run the risk of a short squeeze. For additional selling to take place you need a very good reason for people to add to their position whereas a move in the other direction could force mass buying to cover their shorts. A trading mentor when I worked at the investment bank once advised me: Always think about which move would cause the maximum people the maximum pain. That move is precisely what you should be watching out for at all times.
Also known as picking up pennies in front of a steamroller. This risk has caught out many a retail trader. Sometimes it is referred to as a "negative skew" strategy. Ideally what you are looking for is asymmetric risk trade set-ups: that is where the downside is clearly defined and smaller than the upside. What you want to avoid is the opposite. A famous example of this going wrong was the Swiss National Bank de-peg in 2012. The Swiss National Bank had said they would defend the price of EURCHF so that it did not go below 1.2. Many people believed it could never go below 1.2 due to this. Many retail traders therefore opted for a strategy that some describe as ‘picking up pennies in front of a steam-roller’. They would would buy EURCHF above the peg level and hope for a tiny rally of several pips before selling them back and keep doing this repeatedly. Often they were highly leveraged at 100:1 so that they could amplify the profit of the tiny 5-10 pip rally. Then this happened. Something that changed FX markets forever The SNB suddenly did the unthinkable. They stopped defending the price. CHF jumped and so EURCHF (the number of CHF per 1 EUR) dropped to new lows very fast. Clearly, this trade had horrific risk : reward asymmetry: you risked 30% to make 0.05%. Other strategies like naively selling options have the same result. You win a small amount of money each day and then spectacularly blow up at some point down the line.
We have talked about short squeezes. But how do you know what the market position is? And should you care? Let’s start with the first. You should definitely care. Let’s imagine the entire market is exceptionally long EURUSD and positioning reaches extreme levels. This makes EURUSD very vulnerable. To keep the price going higher EURUSD needs to attract fresh buy orders. If everyone is already long and has no room to add, what can incentivise people to keep buying? The news flow might be good. They may believe EURUSD goes higher. But they have already bought and have their maximum position on. On the flip side, if there’s an unexpected event and EURUSD gaps lower you will have the entire market trying to exit the position at the same time. Like a herd of cows running through a single doorway. Messy. We are going to look at this in more detail in a later chapter, where we discuss ‘carry’ trades. For now this TRYJPY chart might provide some idea of what a rush to the exits of a crowded position looks like. A carry trade position clear-out in action Knowing if the market is currently at extreme levels of long or short can therefore be helpful. The CFTC makes available a weekly report, which details the overall positions of speculative traders “Non Commercial Traders” in some of the major futures products. This includes futures tied to deliverable FX pairs such as EURUSD as well as products such as gold. The report is called “CFTC Commitments of Traders” ("COT"). This is a great benchmark. It is far more representative of the overall market than the proprietary ones offered by retail brokers as it covers a far larger cross-section of the institutional market. Generally market participants will not pay a lot of attention to commercial hedgers, which are also detailed in the report. This data is worth tracking but these folks are simply hedging real-world transactions rather than speculating so their activity is far less revealing and far more noisy. You can find the data online for free and download it directly here. Raw format is kinda hard to work with However, many websites will chart this for you free of charge and you may find it more convenient to look at it that way. Just google “CFTC positioning charts”. But you can easily get visualisations You can visually spot extreme positioning. It is extremely powerful. Bear in mind the reports come out Friday afternoon US time and the report is a snapshot up to the prior Tuesday. That means it is a lagged report - by the time it is released it is a few days out of date. For longer term trades where you hold positions for weeks this is of course still pretty helpful information. As well as the absolute level (is the speculative market net long or short) you can also use this to pick up on changes in positioning. For example if bad news comes out how much does the net short increase? If good news comes out, the market may remain net short but how much did they buy back? A lot of traders ask themselves “Does the market have this trade on?” The positioning data is a good method for answering this. It provides a good finger on the pulse of the wider market sentiment and activity. For example you might say: “There was lots of noise about the good employment numbers in the US. However, there wasn’t actually a lot of position change on the back of it. Maybe everyone who wants to buy already has. What would happen now if bad news came out?” In general traders will be wary of entering a crowded position because it will be hard to attract additional buyers or sellers and there could be an aggressive exit. If you want to enter a trade that is showing extreme levels of positioning you must think carefully about this dynamic.
Retail traders often drastically underestimate how correlated their bets are. Through bitter experience, I have learned that a mistake in position correlation is the root of some of the most serious problems in trading. If you have eight highly correlated positions, then you are really trading one position that is eight times as large. Bruce Kovner of hedge fund, Caxton Associates For example, if you are trading a bunch of pairs against the USD you will end up with a simply huge USD exposure. A single USD-trigger can ruin all your bets. Your ideal scenario — and it isn’t always possible — would be to have a highly diversified portfolio of bets that do not move in tandem. Look at this chart. Inverted USD index (DXY) is green. AUDUSD is orange. EURUSD is blue. Chart from TradingView So the whole thing is just one big USD trade! If you are long AUDUSD, long EURUSD, and short DXY you have three anti USD bets that are all likely to work or fail together. The more diversified your portfolio of bets are, the more risk you can take on each. There’s a really good video, explaining the benefits of diversification from Ray Dalio. A systematic fund with access to an investable universe of 10,000 instruments has more opportunity to make a better risk-adjusted return than a trader who only focuses on three symbols. Diversification really is the closest thing to a free lunch in finance. But let’s be pragmatic and realistic. Human retail traders don’t have capacity to run even one hundred bets at a time. More realistic would be an average of 2-3 trades on simultaneously. So what can be done? For example:
You might diversify across time horizons by having a mix of short-term and long-term trades.
You might diversify across asset classes - trading some FX but also crypto and equities.
You might diversify your trade generation approach so you are not relying on the same indicators or drivers on each trade.
You might diversify your exposure to the market regime by having some trades that assume a trend will continue (momentum) and some that assume we will be range-bound (carry).
And so on. Basically you want to scan your portfolio of trades and make sure you are not putting all your eggs in one basket. If some trades underperform others will perform - assuming the bets are not correlated - and that way you can ensure your overall portfolio takes less risk per unit of return. The key thing is to start thinking about a portfolio of bets and what each new trade offers to your existing portfolio of risk. Will it diversify or amplify a current exposure?
Crap trades, timeouts and monthly limits
One common mistake is to get bored and restless and put on crap trades. This just means trades in which you have low conviction. It is perfectly fine not to trade. If you feel like you do not understand the market at a particular point, simply choose not to trade. Flat is a position. Do not waste your bullets on rubbish trades. Only enter a trade when you have carefully considered it from all angles and feel good about the risk. This will make it far easier to hold onto the trade if it moves against you at any point. You actually believe in it. Equally, you need to set monthly limits. A standard limit might be a 10% account balance stop per month. At that point you close all your positions immediately and stop trading till next month. Be strict with yourself and walk away Let’s assume you started the year with $100k and made 5% in January so enter Feb with $105k balance. Your stop is therefore 10% of $105k or $10.5k . If your account balance dips to $94.5k ($105k-$10.5k) then you stop yourself out and don’t resume trading till March the first. Having monthly calendar breaks is nice for another reason. Say you made a load of money in January. You don’t want to start February feeling you are up 5% or it is too tempting to avoid trading all month and protect the existing win. Each month and each year should feel like a clean slate and an independent period. Everyone has trading slumps. It is perfectly normal. It will definitely happen to you at some stage. The trick is to take a break and refocus. Conserve your capital by not trading a lot whilst you are on a losing streak. This period will be much harder for you emotionally and you’ll end up making suboptimal decisions. An enforced break will help you see the bigger picture. Put in place a process before you start trading and then it’ll be easy to follow and will feel much less emotional. Remember: the market doesn’t care if you win or lose, it is nothing personal. When your head has cooled and you feel calm you return the next month and begin the task of building back your account balance.
That's a wrap on risk management
Thanks for taking time to read this three-part chapter on risk management. I hope you enjoyed it. Do comment in the replies if you have any questions or feedback. Remember: the most important part of trading is not making money. It is not losing money. Always start with that principle. I hope these three notes have provided some food for thought on how you might approach risk management and are of practical use to you when trading. Avoiding mistakes is not a sexy tagline but it is an effective and reliable way to improve results. Next up I will be writing about an exciting topic I think many traders should look at rather differently: news trading. Please follow on here to receive notifications and the broad outline is below. News Trading Part I
Why use the economic calendar
Reading the economic calendar
Knowing what's priced in
First order thinking vs second order thinking
News Trading Part II
Preparing for quantitative and qualitative releases
Data surprise index
Using recent events to predict future reactions
Buy the rumour, sell the fact
The mysterious 'position trim' effect
Some key FX releases
*** Disclaimer:This content is not investment advice and you should not place any reliance on it. The views expressed are the author's own and should not be attributed to any other person, including their employer.
Former investment bank FX trader: news trading and second order thinking
Thanks to everyone who responded to the previous pieces on risk management. We ended up with nearly 2,000 upvotes and I'm delighted so many of you found it useful. This time we're going to focus on a new area: reacting to and trading around news and fundamental developments. A lot of people get this totally wrong and the main reason is that they trade the news at face value, without considering what the market had already priced in. If you've ever seen what you consider to be "good" or "better than forecast" news come out and yet been confused as the pair did nothing or moved in the opposite direction to expected, read on... We are going to do this in two parts. Part I
Why use an economic calendar
How to read the calendar
Knowing what's priced in
First order thinking vs second order thinking
Knowing how to use and benefit from the economic calendar is key for all traders - not just news traders. In this chapter we are going to take a practical look at how to use the economic calendar. We are also going to look at how to interpret news using second order thinking. The key concept is learning what has already been ‘priced in’ by the market so we can estimate how the market price might react to the new information.
Why use an economic calendar
The economic calendar contains all the scheduled economic releases for that day and week. Even if you purely trade based on technical analysis, you still must know what is in store. https://preview.redd.it/20xdiq6gq4k51.png?width=1200&format=png&auto=webp&s=6cd47186db1039be7df4d7ad6782de36da48f1db Why? Three main reasons. Firstly, releases can help provide direction. They create trends. For example if GBPUSD has been fluctuating aimlessly within a range and suddenly the Bank of England starts raising rates you better believe the British Pound will start to move. Big news events often start long-term trends which you can trade around. Secondly, a lot of the volatility occurs around these events. This is because these events give the market new information. Prior to a big scheduled release like the US Non Farm Payrolls you might find no one wants to take a big position. After it is released the market may move violently and potentially not just in a single direction - often prices may overshoot and come back down. Even without a trend this volatility provides lots of trading opportunities for the day trader. https://preview.redd.it/u17iwbhiq4k51.png?width=1200&format=png&auto=webp&s=98ea8ed154c9468cb62037668c38e7387f2435af Finally, these releases can change trends. Going into a huge release because of a technical indicator makes little sense. Everything could reverse and stop you out in a moment. You need to be aware of which events are likely to influence the positions you have on so you can decide whether to keep the positions or flatten exposure before the binary event for which you have no edge. Most traders will therefore ‘scan’ the calendar for the week ahead, noting what the big events are and when they will occur. Then you can focus on each day at a time.
Reading the economic calendar
Most calendars show events cut by trading day. Helpfully they adjust the time of each release to your own timezone. For example we can see that the Bank of Japan Interest Rate decision is happening at 4am local time for this particular London-based trader. https://preview.redd.it/lmx0q9qoq4k51.jpg?width=1200&format=pjpg&auto=webp&s=c6e9e1533b1ba236e51296de8db3be55dfa78ba1 Note that some events do not happen at a specific time. Think of a Central Banker’s speech for example - this can go on for an hour. It is not like an economic statistic that gets released at a precise time. Clicking the finger emoji will open up additional information on each event.
How do you define importance? Well, some events are always unimportant. With the greatest of respect to Italian farmers, nobody cares about mundane releases like Italian farm productivity figures. Other events always seem to be important. That means, markets consistently react to them and prices move. Interest rate decisions are an example of consistently high importance events. So the Medium and High can be thought of as guides to how much each event typically affects markets. They are not perfect guides, however, as different events are more or less important depending on the circumstances. For example, imagine the UK economy was undergoing a consumer-led recovery. The Central Bank has said it would raise interest rates (making GBPUSD move higher) if they feel the consumer is confident. Consumer confidence data would suddenly become an extremely important event. At other times, when the Central Bank has not said it is focused on the consumer, this release might be near irrelevant.
Knowing what's priced in
Next to each piece of economic data you can normally see three figures. Actual, Forecast, and Previous.
Actual refers to the number as it is released.
Forecast refers to the consensus estimate from analysts.
Previous is what it was last time.
We are going to look at this in a bit more detail later but what you care about is when numbers are better or worse than expected. Whether a number is ‘good’ or ‘bad’ really does not matter much. Yes, really. Once you understand that markets move based on the news vs expectations, you will be less confused by price action around events This is a common misunderstanding. Say everyone is expecting ‘great’ economic data and it comes out as ‘good’. Does the price go up? You might think it should. After all, the economic data was good. However, everyone expected it to be great and it was just … good. The great release was ‘priced in’ by the market already. Most likely the price will be disappointed and go down. By priced in we simply mean that the market expected it and already bought or sold. The information was already in the price before the announcement. Incidentally the official forecasts can be pretty stale and might not accurately capture what active traders in the market expect. See the following example.
An example of pricing in
For example, let’s say the market is focused on the number of Tesla deliveries. Analysts think it’ll be 100,000 this quarter. But Elon Musk tweets something that hints he’s really, really, really looking forward to the analyst call. Tesla’s price ticks higher after the tweet as traders put on positions, reflecting the sentiment that Tesla is likely to massively beat the 100,000. (This example is not a real one - it just serves to illustrate the concept.) Tesla deliveries are up hugely vs last quarter ... but they are disappointing vs market expectations ... what do you think will happen to the stock? On the day it turns out Tesla hit 101,000. A better than the officially forecasted result - sure - but only marginally. Way below what readers of Musk's twitter account might have thought. Disappointed traders may sell their longs and close out the positions. The stock might go down on ‘good’ results because the market had priced in something even better. (This example is not a real one - it just serves to illustrate the concept.)
We know that interest rates heavily affect currency prices. For major interest rate decisions there’s a great tool on the CME’s website that you can use. See the link for a demo This gives you a % probability of each interest rate level, implied by traded prices in the bond futures market. For example, in the case above the market thinks there’s a 20% chance the Fed will cut rates to 75-100bp. Obviously this is far more accurate than analyst estimates because it uses actual bond prices where market participants are directly taking risk and placing bets. It basically looks at what interest rate traders are willing to lend at just before/after the date of the central bank meeting to imply the odds that the market ascribes to a change on that date. Always try to estimate what the market has priced in. That way you have some context for whether the release really was better or worse than expected.
Second order thinking
You have to know what the market expects to try and guess how it’ll react. This is referred to by Howard Marks of Oaktree as second-level thinking. His explanation is so clear I am going to quote extensively. It really is hard to improve on this clarity of thought: First-level thinking is simplistic and superficial, and just about everyone can do it (a bad sign for anything involving an attempt at superiority). All the first-level thinker needs is an opinion about the future, as in “The outlook for the company is favorable, meaning the stock will go up.” Second-level thinking is deep, complex and convoluted. Howard Marks He explains first-level thinking: The first-level thinker simply looks for the highest quality company, the best product, the fastest earnings growth or the lowest p/e ratio. He’s ignorant of the very existence of a second level at which to think, and of the need to pursue it. Howard Marks The above describes the guy who sees a 101,000 result and buys Tesla stock because - hey, this beat expectations. Marks goes on to describe second-level thinking: The second-level thinker goes through a much more complex process when thinking about buying an asset. Is it good? Do others think it’s as good as I think it is? Is it really as good as I think it is? Is it as good as others think it is? Is it as good as others think others think it is? How will it change? How do others think it will change? How is it priced given: its current condition; how do I think its conditions will change; how others think it will change; and how others think others think it will change? And that’s just the beginning. No, this isn’t easy. Howard Marks In this version of events you are always thinking about the market’s response to Tesla results. What do you think they’ll announce? What has the market priced in? Is Musk reliable? Are the people who bought because of his tweet likely to hold on if he disappoints or exit immediately? If it goes up at which price will they take profit? How big a number is now considered ‘wow’ by the market? As Marks says: not easy. However, you need to start getting into the habit of thinking like this if you want to beat the market. You can make gameplans in advance for various scenarios. Here are some examples from Marks to illustrate the difference between first order and second order thinking. Some further examples Trying to react fast to headlines is impossible in today’s market of ultra fast computers. You will never win on speed. Therefore you have to out-think the average participant.
Coming up in part II
Now that we have a basic understanding of concepts such as expectations and what the market has priced in, we can look at some interesting trading techniques and tools. Part II
Preparing for quantitative and qualitative releases
Data surprise index
Using recent events to predict future reactions
Buy the rumour, sell the fact
The trimming position effect
Some key FX releases
Hope you enjoyed this note. As always, please reply with any questions/feedback - it is fun to hear from you. *** Disclaimer:This content is not investment advice and you should not place any reliance on it. The views expressed are the author's own and should not be attributed to any other person, including their employer.
I'm 21, from India. I used to think that day trading is a gambling. Recently I bought a low penny stock and had great loss.Then I started to dug deeper and I'd Eureka!! moment. Now I know what I want to do for the rest of life. I've been learning day trading for around a month. But now I'm planning to get into options (as per my budget, I'll be a able to buy around 2 lots with leverage). I just want to know that as a beginner will it be a nice idea to get into options or should I master cash equity first? Forex is a nice option too but Indian govt. allows only 6 pairs. And commodity isn't my cup of my tea for now. I really think that Options will be perfect for me, I understand the risk and obviously plan my trade with proper risk management. (I'll be selling options with 1:4/1:2) But I really need guidance from any experienced trader. Also, if possible please do suggest me some books or online resources. ps: I believe in only price action, I don't use any indicators - no bullshit.(I use indicators just for confirmation sometimes) My capital is $500 only
TLDR: China is actively fighting domestic capital outflows. They are incentivising keeping funds on-shore by pumping the equity markets. Buy large China stocks (BABA, JD). Inb4 pos or ban The Economics China has a fixed exchange rate regime. Blah blah RMB internationalization, blah blah offshore RMB (which is actually settled in US dollars). This places it within line C of the policy trilemma (which says, you can't sustainably have all 3). Since 2005 to about 2017, the government was moving towards free capital mobility because of large amounts of exports which fed the national forex reserves. You bet billions of RMB left China, which the government didn't really like at first because that reduced domestic investment and would contribute to a weaker RMB. Basically, China was trying to do all 3 which works for a short while... until your forex reserves run out. https://preview.redd.it/g0nwsssoe7f51.png?width=580&format=png&auto=webp&s=0e46b6b2cfa12b351b30ff2c5567c2f9992e99b2 The Current Problem The trade war has definitely been bad for China. I am going to try and skip politics, but basically foreign exchange reserves have been gapping down (official Chinese data is 100% fake). China is increasingly bellicose as well, which doesn't improve relations with trading partners who also buy with US dollars. You can't exchange for US dollars anymore. For private citizens, you can only exchange for education purposes or travel . For companies, you need verification of invoices through both SAFE (State Administration of Foreign Exchange) and the tax offices. This used to take 24hrs, but is now taking 2-3 weeks for amounts >$500k. China also has US dollar denominated bank accounts. But unfortunately, you can't take it in cash unless you have the reasons above. Chinese media is also branding holding US dollars as unpatriotic, so I'm afraid my $50k in digital money might be subject to confiscation. If not, it's just fake money (can't take cash or wire out). China has been brrrrrring to the pace of JPOW. Weapon of choice are muni and local bonds, which have been forced upon local banks. This creates a certain credit problem, but let's not worry about that until later. https://preview.redd.it/maul8aope7f51.png?width=1200&format=png&auto=webp&s=36dd4665517ec7303b51aa1416517c9e0ea50bef The Solution China's pretty smart. All those RMB quotes are fake. You can try to get US dollars, but that is almost impossible now. Anyone who wants to buy RMB, contact me and we'll trade at the current price. So looking at the impossible triangle, free capital mobility has become nonexistent. In order to keep exchange rate stability (to avoid a sudden rush towards the door) and keep printing, free capital mobility needs to be 100% sacrificed. How do you do that with a population that has seen the west and aspire to get out? You need to keep the money onshore. Thankfully, all Chinese are greedy and the equity markets are full of retailers that pump stocks up or down 10% per day. This is one of the reasons for the early July State Council report calling for everyone to buy stocks. Who's buying? Everyone. And if it drops, the national team takes over. This creates a powerful incentive to fill the foreign reserves again. Foreigners (funds) would want to get in on the action. They will exchange their dollars for RMB, get those 20% gains, but eventually find out trying to get that money back into USD is impossible. China has also been strengthening the RMB from 7.10 to 6.96 as of yesterday. Smart, because why would you want to sell an asset that's weakening? This is also a reason why China fears gold rallies - buying gold causes RMB to leave. Happily for the SAFE, some banks have stopped offering their paper gold products. China will pump its domestic markets. Unless you have a Chinese account, the closest thing you can get to are mega names like Alibaba, JD and Tencent. I would avoid touching too small companies because of LK coffee problems. Oh yeah the trade war? Well, pussies don't make money.
Have any of you radically changed your political views since childhood?
I grew up in a typical conservative middle-class household in the 90s. Like most conservative families, I grew up hearing about how horrible Sheikh Mujib became after 71, and how people were so relieved after he was murdered in 1975. This is something I heard from everyone, relatives, friends, etc. I, too, used to hate Sheikh Mujib. I thought he was a dictator, pro-India, anti-Islam, traitor, just wanted to be Pakistan's PM, etc. Of course, I was a teenager in the 2001-2006 period when the BNP-Jamat government rammed the entire country into the ground. There were hartals and oborodhs all the time, electricity used to go off every other hour, terrorist would blast a bomb every other week while the government would term it all as a "conspiracy", there was no development and we would stagger from one crisis to another. Mullahs would carry out misils all the time calling for Shariah law, and attacking Ahmadiyya houses. Khaleda Zia had zero control over the country. She just didn't have any leadership qualities. I felt that I wanted to leave this shithole as soon as I got the first opportunity. The BNP regime was interrupted by the caretaker government. Full of "highly educated" bureaucrats, I naturally supported them. But their "Minus 2" plan went nowhere, and they weren't being able to handle the country either. Fakhruddin Ahmed and Moinuddin Ahmed just didn't' have any leadership qualities either. Facing an unfavourable situation, they at least had the decency to organize elections and arrange a respectable exit for themselves. Then we the Awami League get power in 2008. I still hated them back then. Their first term, 2009-2013 was full of turmoil, with the "Shahbag movement" and the "ICT Tribunal" and the hanging of the senior Jamat leaders. But the country gradually started getting into shape. If you look at the economic indicators we started taking off in 2010. By 2014 political stability was re-established. This was all possible due to Sheikh Hasina's leadership qualities, which others lack. The Awami League's electricity reforms paid off, and loadshedding is largely over in Dhaka. Awami League drastically reduced prices of broadband internet, and we got access to bufferless YouTube for the first time. BNP was jumping up and down screaming that government was looting crores of taka under the name of quick rental power plants. But our forex reserves zoomed from 10 billion to 30 billion. New roads were being built everywhere and Bangladesh's Debt-to-GDP ratio remains one of the lowest in South Asia, and in the world. So I was really forced to re-evaluate my hatred of Awami League, Sheik Hasina and Sheikh Mujib. When I looked back at the life of Sheikh Mujib, I found that he dedicated his life to the people of East Bengal. He was a part of the Muslim League to get independence for us, and after witnessing the bloody religious riots changed his worldview to secular democratic socialism. That's something very admirable! That's not anti-Islam at all! And then he joined forces with India to free East Pakistan. That's not treason, his loyalty was to the people of East Pakistan. He single-handedly united 60 million very backward and uneducated people and led them to independence. After that, he presided over the creation of a Constitution that was secular, in a overwhelmingly rural, uneducated Muslim country. He could easily have given in to Saudi Arabia in return for oil, like so many Muslim countries, but did not compromise. He could have chosen to recognize Israel, and have gotten instant recognition and support from the West, but stayed firm to his principles of loyalty to the Palestinian people. All of his actions point towards the qualities of a great leader. Sheikh Mujib did not allow the Indians to stay in Bangladesh and ensured their withdrawal. Just have a look at countries around the world today. Look at Syria, where they have a bastard dictator who murders his own people, and an opposition full of traitors and terrorists. Look at Libya, where the people have no leadership. Look at India, where they are under the thrall of a fascist religious dictator Modi. Sudan is only establishing secularism in their constitution in 2020, while Bangladesh did it 50 years ago!!! Look at Iran, where people are all trying to escape their religious government. Look at Pakistan with their blasphemy laws and their mullahs trying to oppose any law against child marriage! We bypassed all of this thanks to Sheikh Mujib and his foresight!!! The closest leader who resembles Sheikh Mujib would be Mustafa Kemal Ataturk. While Ataturk was objectively greater than Sheikh Mujib, since he was an accomplished military leader who led the actual Turkish War of Independence himself, Ataturk also modernized a backward, rural, uneducated nation overnight into a modern, secular and democratic state. Of course, Ataturk has many haters. They also accuse him of being a dictator. But his achievements greatly overshadow any sacrifices that may have been required to achieve the goal of a modern independent Turkey. The same goes for Shiekh Mujib. Whatever are his faults, Rakkhi Bahini, BAKSAL, I am willing to forgive him for his leadership during our independence and his creation of a secular and democratic Bangladesh. Today we are blessed to have his daughter Sheikh Hasina in power. Lots of you might call her "fascist". That's such a lazy and pathetic position to take. Trust me, if there was any other leader other than SH as PM the government would be just as "fascist" as her government is now. Its so easy to sit back behind a PC and cry "fascist fascist fascist". YOU try organizing a political party in a nation of 165 million people, and then successfully leading that country on the path towards economic development. Without a doubt, if those crying 'fascist fascist' were put into power as PM they would be 100 times more fascistic than Sheikh Hasina is right now. Without a doubt, human rights abuses occur under her. Abrar was beaten to death by BCL thugs (which was fully supported by the 'humanist' Taslima Nasrin btw). But those BCL thugs are in jail now. Major Sinha Rashed Khan was murdered by OC Liakat and Prodip. Both of them are in jail. If SH was as fascist as people claim, they would be out in the streets, like the Hindu thugs who carried out the Delhi riots in February, or the terrorist Mullahs in Pakistan who forcibly convert and kidnap Christian girls. So, from what I have seen, Awami League is an organic political party of the people of East Bengal. They have deeper roots in the hearts of the people than any other political movement. And they should be lauded because they have established secularism and inclusive nationalism where there is space for Bangladeshis of all religions and ethnicities in a united Bangladesh. While sometimes they have acted in a fascist manner, it is excusable because there is no other alternative in Bangladesh who can win elections and be more liberal than BAL. Instead of pathetically criticizing them, those who want the best for Bangladesh should work with them in order to reduce the human rights abuses which do still occur. BAL will be remembered in history like the PAP of Singapore, or the UMNO of Malaysia, or the Chinese Communist Party; all of whom were authoritarian, who were accused of being fascist, but ultimately ensured the evolution of their societies from backward uneducated agricultural societies to modern, secular democratic industrial ones.
Everything You Always Wanted To Know About Swaps* (*But Were Afraid To Ask)
Hello, dummies It's your old pal, Fuzzy. As I'm sure you've all noticed, a lot of the stuff that gets posted here is - to put it delicately - fucking ridiculous. More backwards-ass shit gets posted to wallstreetbets than you'd see on a Westboro Baptist community message board. I mean, I had a look at the daily thread yesterday and..... yeesh. I know, I know. We all make like the divine Laura Dern circa 1992 on the daily and stick our hands deep into this steaming heap of shit to find the nuggets of valuable and/or hilarious information within (thanks for reading, BTW). I agree. I love it just the way it is too. That's what makes WSB great. What I'm getting at is that a lot of the stuff that gets posted here - notwithstanding it being funny or interesting - is just... wrong. Like, fucking your cousin wrong. And to be clear, I mean the fucking your *first* cousin kinda wrong, before my Southerners in the back get all het up (simmer down, Billy Ray - I know Mabel's twice removed on your grand-sister's side). Truly, I try to let it slide. Idomybit to try and put you on the right path. Most of the time, I sleep easy no matter how badly I've seen someone explain what a bank liquidity crisis is. But out of all of those tens of thousands of misguided, autistic attempts at understanding the world of high finance, one thing gets so consistently - so *emphatically* - fucked up and misunderstood by you retards that last night I felt obligated at the end of a long work day to pull together this edition of Finance with Fuzzy just for you. It's so serious I'm not even going to make a u/pokimane gag. Have you guessed what it is yet? Here's a clue. It's in the title of the post. That's right, friends. Today in the neighborhood we're going to talk all about hedging in financial markets - spots, swaps, collars, forwards, CDS, synthetic CDOs, all that fun shit. Don't worry; I'm going to explain what all the scary words mean and how they impact your OTM RH positions along the way. We're going to break it down like this. (1) "What's a hedge, Fuzzy?" (2) Common Hedging Strategies and (3) All About ISDAs and Credit Default Swaps. Before we begin. For the nerds and JV traders in the back (and anyone else who needs to hear this up front) - I am simplifying these descriptions for the purposes of this post. I am also obviously not going to try and cover every exotic form of hedge under the sun or give a detailed summation of what caused the financial crisis. If you are interested in something specific ask a question, but don't try and impress me with your Investopedia skills or technical points I didn't cover; I will just be forced to flex my years of IRL experience on you in the comments and you'll look like a big dummy. TL;DR? Fuck you. There is no TL;DR. You've come this far already. What's a few more paragraphs? Put down the Cheetos and try to concentrate for the next 5-7 minutes. You'll learn something, and I promise I'll be gentle. Ready? Let's get started. 1.The Tao of Risk: Hedging as a Way of Life The simplest way to characterize what a hedge 'is' is to imagine every action having a binary outcome. One is bad, one is good. Red lines, green lines; uppie, downie. With me so far? Good. A 'hedge' is simply the employment of a strategy to mitigate the effect of your action having the wrong binary outcome. You wanted X, but you got Z! Frowny face. A hedge strategy introduces a third outcome. If you hedged against the possibility of Z happening, then you can wind up with Y instead. Not as good as X, but not as bad as Z. The technical definition I like to give my idiot juniors is as follows: Utilization of a defensive strategy to mitigate risk, at a fraction of the cost to capital of the risk itself. Congratulations. You just finished Hedging 101. "But Fuzzy, that's easy! I just sold a naked call against my 95% OTM put! I'm adequately hedged!". Spoiler alert: you're not (although good work on executing a collar, which I describe below). What I'm talking about here is what would be referred to as a 'perfect hedge'; a binary outcome where downside is totally mitigated by a risk management strategy. That's not how it works IRL. Pay attention; this is the tricky part. You can't take a single position and conclude that you're adequately hedged because risks are fluid, not static. So you need to constantly adjust your position in order to maximize the value of the hedge and insure your position. You also need to consider exposure to more than one category of risk. There are micro (specific exposure) risks, and macro (trend exposure) risks, and both need to factor into the hedge calculus. That's why, in the real world, the value of hedging depends entirely on the design of the hedging strategy itself. Here, when we say "value" of the hedge, we're not talking about cash money - we're talking about the intrinsic value of the hedge relative to the the risk profile of your underlying exposure. To achieve this, people hedge dynamically. In wallstreetbets terms, this means that as the value of your position changes, you need to change your hedges too. The idea is to efficiently and continuously distribute and rebalance risk across different states and periods, taking value from states in which the marginal cost of the hedge is low and putting it back into states where marginal cost of the hedge is high, until the shadow value of your underlying exposure is equalized across your positions. The punchline, I guess, is that one static position is a hedge in the same way that the finger paintings you make for your wife's boyfriend are art - it's technically correct, but you're only playing yourself by believing it. Anyway. Obviously doing this as a small potatoes trader is hard but it's worth taking into account. Enough basic shit. So how does this work in markets? 2. A Hedging Taxonomy The best place to start here is a practical question. What does a business need to hedge against? Think about the specific risk that an individual business faces. These are legion, so I'm just going to list a few of the key ones that apply to most corporates. (1) You have commodity risk for the shit you buy or the shit you use. (2) You have currency risk for the money you borrow. (3) You have rate risk on the debt you carry. (4) You have offtake risk for the shit you sell. Complicated, right? To help address the many and varied ways that shit can go wrong in a sophisticated market, smart operators like yours truly have devised a whole bundle of different instruments which can help you manage the risk. I might write about some of the more complicated ones in a later post if people are interested (CDO/CLOs, strip/stack hedges and bond swaps with option toggles come to mind) but let's stick to the basics for now. (i) Swaps A swap is one of the most common forms of hedge instrument, and they're used by pretty much everyone that can afford them. The language is complicated but the concept isn't, so pay attention and you'll be fine. This is the most important part of this section so it'll be the longest one. Swaps are derivative contracts with two counterparties (before you ask, you can't trade 'em on an exchange - they're OTC instruments only). They're used to exchange one cash flow for another cash flow of equal expected value; doing this allows you to take speculative positions on certain financial prices or to alter the cash flows of existing assets or liabilities within a business. "Wait, Fuzz; slow down! What do you mean sets of cash flows?". Fear not, little autist. Ol' Fuzz has you covered. The cash flows I'm talking about are referred to in swap-land as 'legs'. One leg is fixed - a set payment that's the same every time it gets paid - and the other is variable - it fluctuates (typically indexed off the price of the underlying risk that you are speculating on / protecting against). You set it up at the start so that they're notionally equal and the two legs net off; so at open, the swap is a zero NPV instrument. Here's where the fun starts. If the price that you based the variable leg of the swap on changes, the value of the swap will shift; the party on the wrong side of the move ponies up via the variable payment. It's a zero sum game. I'll give you an example using the most vanilla swap around; an interest rate trade. Here's how it works. You borrow money from a bank, and they charge you a rate of interest. You lock the rate up front, because you're smart like that. But then - quelle surprise! - the rate gets better after you borrow. Now you're bagholding to the tune of, I don't know, 5 bps. Doesn't sound like much but on a billion dollar loan that's a lot of money (a classic example of the kind of 'small, deep hole' that's terrible for profits). Now, if you had a swap contract on the rate before you entered the trade, you're set; if the rate goes down, you get a payment under the swap. If it goes up, whatever payment you're making to the bank is netted off by the fact that you're borrowing at a sub-market rate. Win-win! Or, at least, Lose Less / Lose Less. That's the name of the game in hedging. There are many different kinds of swaps, some of which are pretty exotic; but they're all different variations on the same theme. If your business has exposure to something which fluctuates in price, you trade swaps to hedge against the fluctuation. The valuation of swaps is also super interesting but I guarantee you that 99% of you won't understand it so I'm not going to try and explain it here although I encourage you to google it if you're interested. Because they're OTC, none of them are filed publicly. Someeeeeetimes you see an ISDA (dsicussed below) but the confirms themselves (the individual swaps) are not filed. You can usually read about the hedging strategy in a 10-K, though. For what it's worth, most modern credit agreements ban speculative hedging. Top tip: This is occasionally something worth checking in credit agreements when you invest in businesses that are debt issuers - being able to do this increases the risk profile significantly and is particularly important in times of economic volatility (ctrl+f "non-speculative" in the credit agreement to be sure). (ii) Forwards A forward is a contract made today for the future delivery of an asset at a pre-agreed price. That's it. "But Fuzzy! That sounds just like a futures contract!". I know. Confusing, right? Just like a futures trade, forwards are generally used in commodity or forex land to protect against price fluctuations. The differences between forwards and futures are small but significant. I'm not going to go into super boring detail because I don't think many of you are commodities traders but it is still an important thing to understand even if you're just an RH jockey, so stick with me. Just like swaps, forwards are OTC contracts - they're not publicly traded. This is distinct from futures, which are traded on exchanges (see The Ballad Of Big Dick Vick for some more color on this). In a forward, no money changes hands until the maturity date of the contract when delivery and receipt are carried out; price and quantity are locked in from day 1. As you now know having read about BDV, futures are marked to market daily, and normally people close them out with synthetic settlement using an inverse position. They're also liquid, and that makes them easier to unwind or close out in case shit goes sideways. People use forwards when they absolutely have to get rid of the thing they made (or take delivery of the thing they need). If you're a miner, or a farmer, you use this shit to make sure that at the end of the production cycle, you can get rid of the shit you made (and you won't get fucked by someone taking cash settlement over delivery). If you're a buyer, you use them to guarantee that you'll get whatever the shit is that you'll need at a price agreed in advance. Because they're OTC, you can also exactly tailor them to the requirements of your particular circumstances. These contracts are incredibly byzantine (and there are even crazier synthetic forwards you can see in money markets for the true degenerate fund managers). In my experience, only Texan oilfield magnates, commodities traders, and the weirdo forex crowd fuck with them. I (i) do not own a 10 gallon hat or a novelty size belt buckle (ii) do not wake up in the middle of the night freaking out about the price of pork fat and (iii) love greenbacks too much to care about other countries' monopoly money, so I don't fuck with them. (iii) Collars No, not the kind your wife is encouraging you to wear try out to 'spice things up' in the bedroom during quarantine. Collars are actually the hedging strategy most applicable to WSB. Collars deal with options! Hooray! To execute a basic collar (also called a wrapper by tea-drinking Brits and people from the Antipodes), you buy an out of the money put while simultaneously writing a covered call on the same equity. The put protects your position against price drops and writing the call produces income that offsets the put premium. Doing this limits your tendies (you can only profit up to the strike price of the call) but also writes down your risk. If you screen large volume trades with a VOL/OI of more than 3 or 4x (and they're not bullshit biotech stocks), you can sometimes see these being constructed in real time as hedge funds protect themselves on their shorts. (3) All About ISDAs, CDS and Synthetic CDOs You may have heard about the mythical ISDA. Much like an indenture (discussed in my post on $F), it's a magic legal machine that lets you build swaps via trade confirms with a willing counterparty. They are very complicated legal documents and you need to be a true expert to fuck with them. Fortunately, I am, so I do. They're made of two parts; a Master (which is a form agreement that's always the same) and a Schedule (which amends the Master to include your specific terms). They are also the engine behind just about every major credit crunch of the last 10+ years. First - a brief explainer. An ISDA is a not in and of itself a hedge - it's an umbrella contract that governs the terms of your swaps, which you use to construct your hedge position. You can trade commodities, forex, rates, whatever, all under the same ISDA. Let me explain. Remember when we talked about swaps? Right. So. You can trade swaps on just about anything. In the late 90s and early 2000s, people had the smart idea of using other people's debt and or credit ratings as the variable leg of swap documentation. These are called credit default swaps. I was actually starting out at a bank during this time and, I gotta tell you, the only thing I can compare people's enthusiasm for this shit to was that moment in your early teens when you discover jerking off. Except, unlike your bathroom bound shame sessions to Mom's Sears catalogue, every single person you know felt that way too; and they're all doing it at once. It was a fiscal circlejerk of epic proportions, and the financial crisis was the inevitable bukkake finish. WSB autism is absolutely no comparison for the enthusiasm people had during this time for lighting each other's money on fire. Here's how it works. You pick a company. Any company. Maybe even your own! And then you write a swap. In the swap, you define "Credit Event" with respect to that company's debt as the variable leg . And you write in... whatever you want. A ratings downgrade, default under the docs, failure to meet a leverage ratio or FCCR for a certain testing period... whatever. Now, this started out as a hedge position, just like we discussed above. The purest of intentions, of course. But then people realized - if bad shit happens, you make money. And banks... don't like calling in loans or forcing bankruptcies. Can you smell what the moral hazard is cooking? Enter synthetic CDOs. CDOs are basically pools of asset backed securities that invest in debt (loans or bonds). They've been around for a minute but they got famous in the 2000s because a shitload of them containing subprime mortgage debt went belly up in 2008. This got a lot of publicity because a lot of sad looking rednecks got foreclosed on and were interviewed on CNBC. "OH!", the people cried. "Look at those big bad bankers buying up subprime loans! They caused this!". Wrong answer, America. The debt wasn't the problem. What a lot of people don't realize is that the real meat of the problem was not in regular way CDOs investing in bundles of shit mortgage debts in synthetic CDOs investing in CDS predicated on that debt. They're synthetic because they don't have a stake in the actual underlying debt; just the instruments riding on the coattails. The reason these are so popular (and remain so) is that smart structured attorneys and bankers like your faithful correspondent realized that an even more profitable and efficient way of building high yield products with limited downside was investing in instruments that profit from failure of debt and in instruments that rely on that debt and then hedging that exposure with other CDS instruments in paired trades, and on and on up the chain. The problem with doing this was that everyone wound up exposed to everybody else's books as a result, and when one went tits up, everybody did. Hence, recession, Basel III, etc. Thanks, Obama. Heavy investment in CDS can also have a warping effect on the price of debt (something else that happened during the pre-financial crisis years and is starting to happen again now). This happens in three different ways. (1) Investors who previously were long on the debt hedge their position by selling CDS protection on the underlying, putting downward pressure on the debt price. (2) Investors who previously shorted the debt switch to buying CDS protection because the relatively illiquid debt (partic. when its a bond) trades at a discount below par compared to the CDS. The resulting reduction in short selling puts upward pressure on the bond price. (3) The delta in price and actual value of the debt tempts some investors to become NBTs (neg basis traders) who long the debt and purchase CDS protection. If traders can't take leverage, nothing happens to the price of the debt. If basis traders can take leverage (which is nearly always the case because they're holding a hedged position), they can push up or depress the debt price, goosing swap premiums etc. Anyway. Enough technical details. I could keep going. This is a fascinating topic that is very poorly understood and explained, mainly because the people that caused it all still work on the street and use the same tactics today (it's also terribly taught at business schools because none of the teachers were actually around to see how this played out live). But it relates to the topic of today's lesson, so I thought I'd include it here. Work depending, I'll be back next week with a covenant breakdown. Most upvoted ticker gets the post. *EDIT 1\* In a total blowout, $PLAY won. So it's D&B time next week. Post will drop Monday at market open.
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How To Trade With Price Action Only (No Indicators!) - YouTube
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