Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Squeeze, "Another Nail For My Heart"

Haven't gone to the 80s in awhile.

The RO Report, "Metaphor" Edition

Today, the market was many things. And it caused a few of us to search for metaphors, to explain it all...

One might say, for example, that the market was like a dog tied to a stake in a backyard. That was mine...

"Trader MV," not a member of the RO, but someone I speak with each day offered the following... "The market was like a patient etherized upon a table; heavy, lifeless and hard to move." Not bad.

Another trader who shall remain unidentified (you'll soon realize why) opined that the market was "like an alright chick u bring home who's pretty drunk and u know u can fuck her. but the second she steps in the door she vomits on ure new northface fleece that's sitting on ure dining room table. and then ure like, 'i wonder if i can still fuck her.'" Questionable, indeed.

Perhaps the market was like a mouse, spinning endlessly on it's little mousewheel. Trying to run as fast as it can, and getting nowhere fast. That was Trader A's neat metaphor. A little gay, but harmless enough.

And finally, I'll leave you with a metaphor from one of our Manservants... Trader E, who said that the market was like "a cock to the face."

In other words, today sucked. Now, for the numbers...

Out of 29 traders today, 17 were gross positive, or 62%. 3 traders made over $1,000 gross and 6 traders lost over $1,000 gross. A mess. I was #9 of 29. I'm happy to be green.

History post dropping tomorrow.

"Lucky Pierre" - Trader H*, $3,626 on 17,800 shares traded.

2. Trader Z, $2,304 on 45,060 shares traded.
3. Trader B, $2,290 on 162k shares traded.
4. Trader I, $884 on 30,200 shares traded.
5. Trader 7, $696 on 10,000 shares traded.

"Chambermaid" - Trader N, -$2,874 on 84,800 shares traded.

2. Trader V, -$2,366 on 53,400 shares traded.
3. Trader F, -$2,127 on 33,000 shares traded.
4. Trader 10*, -$1,482 on 0 shares traded.
5. Trader E, -$1,200 on 19,800 shares traded.

Brian's take.

Michael Marcus: Market Wizard

So, this will be the first book club post... it's very sloppy, but I wanted to get it up anyway.

The book I'm currently reading is a trading classic, Market Wizards, and the first chapter discusses the futures trader Michael Marcus.

Now, you could argue that Market Wizards is a bit like watching 1970s porn. Why would you do it? People didn't "shave" back then for chrissakes and the sound editing was awful. But Michael Marcus wasn't a porn star and the market hasn't changed nearly as much as the porn industry has.

Anyway, I'm not going to summarize the chapter or anything, because that would be boring. Instead, I'll just point out the things I found interesting.

First of all, the dude lost consistently for the first couple of years.  I thought of Dr. Suess, sending his books out to like 60 publishers and getting rejected by them all before becoming a huge success.  

The moral is, if you love something, keep trying.  However, don't expect it to be easy. 

I mean, the guy lost a lot of money... money he borrowed from his Mom even. And things didn't really turn around for Mr. Marcus until the market hit a wild inflationary run in the mid 70s.  I thought that was interesting too... the market always has active periods.  Like, take September to December for example of 2008.  The RO cleaned up, made loot.  Periods like that are what you have to take advantage of.  There are lots of dry spells where you can lose your ass if you're not careful... a good trader needs to take advantage of opportunity when it is present.  And don't discount luck.

Marcus kept trying, took advantage of a good market, gained confidence, and became successful.

But he didn't do it all on his own.  He had a legendary trading mentor, Ed Seykota (Rudy, you still out there?) who helped him early on.  However, despite that, he said the following, which I agree with:

You also have to follow your own light.  Because I have so many friends who are talented traders, I often have to remind myself that if I try to trade their way, or on their ideas, I am going to lose.  Every trader has strengths and weaknesses.  Some are good holders of winners, but may hold their losers a little too long.  Others may cut their winners a little short, but are quick to take their losses.  As long as you stick to your own style, you get the good and the bad in your own approach.  When you try to incorporate someone else's style, you often wind up with the worst of both styles.  I've done that a lot.

He also claimed that trend following systems were "doomed to mediocrity."  He said this sometime in the 80s I guess.  Clearly, trend following systems haven't gone away.  I think the thing about this that I want to highlight is that the market changes less than our relation to it.

Another thing, and this I point out for my friends who have been successful, he mentions how he was an awful investor.  I can't tell you how many trading friends I've seen make a lot of money and then squander it on bad investments, including me.  Look, if you're a good trader and have made a lot of money, don't lose respect for that money.  Save it.  You'll need it someday.  Don't go investing in bullshit.

Now, it's not like you get many exact trading rules from Market Wizards.  It's really more a book about personalities and fun trading stories.  However, I did find one rule that you can take out of the Marcus interview.  It applies to all time frames and is especially important in our current market.

You absolutely want to put down a [short] bet when a market acts terribly relative to everything else.  When the news is wonderful and a market can't go up, then you want to be sure to be short.

Also, I thought the following was right on when asked about what makes a good trader...

His objectivity. A good trader can't be rigid. If you can find somebody who is really open to seeing anything, then you have found the raw ingredient of a good trader.

Finally, in a touch of psychology that Trader X and Attitude Trader would enjoy, Marcus claims that, "in the end, losing begets losing. When you start losing, it touches off negative elements in your psychology; it leads to pessimism."

So, this is why I like Market Wizards. I mean, Michael Marcus traded the commodity markets in the 1970s yet you can still find lots of wisdom in this interview that pertain to trading the stock market today. In fact, you can take this wisdom and apply it to any market you trade.

Next Tuesday, I'll "discuss" the Bruce Kovner interview.  Carry on.