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Here's some trading advice from a fellow trader
I currently manage around half a million dollars and have been trading for 6+ years with 3 years of consistent profitability. Paid for my trading lessons the hard way by losing a lot of money at first. Here's some advice that might help you. 1) Treat trading like a business. I know you probably heard this 100 times before but I feel like I should emphasize this point. Majority of traders overestimate their ability to make money and underestimate their risk exposure. 2) Think long term. The more complex your trading system is, the less freedom it has in terms of flexibility because of too many variables in your analysis. So, keep your trading system simple. 3) Do not rationalize or predict the market. Do not look for comfort in your strategy. In fact, do the reverse. Find comfort in the thought that markets are chaotic and there's always a good chance of you losing a lot of money. This should keep you up on your toes and controls your greed during a profitable streak (You are not a money printing machine, trust me. ) 4) Every trade you open should be assumed as a loss. This is very important in terms of having a healthy mindset towards managing risk. I never open a position based on how much money I can make. I do it based on how much I can afford to lose in this particular trade. 5) Biggest mistake I have observed while working with other traders is not doing their homework. If you don't plan your trades before the day even began, then you will develop a mindset of chasing the market which will lead to your downfall. Which brings me to my next point 6) Maintain three things - a) your daily trading notes that you read before you begin trading b) market observation notes which includes particular strategies and observations in specific markets and c) a full fledged trading journal where you record everything you traded. Always remember that majority of your trading work is done when you're not trading. 7) Journaling is the most important and also most neglected part of trading and most traders, including some very good traders do it in a wrong way. How do I know that? Let me ask you something : Tell me about what kind of trading setups were the most and least profitable in the last 100 trades. Explain them to me in detail including your analysis and opinion on what you think might have happened. If you can answer this in detail and with specific examples from your last 100 trades then I know you have a good journaling habit. If you cannot , then it's time to improve on your record keeping. Remember that your journals are the only way you can guarantee that you will grow as a trader. 8) Remember this no matter what - Not having a position in the market is itself a position if you know what you are doing. There's no need for you to always trade all day everyday and try to make money. In fact, I can guarantee you that markets will not always behave according to your trading system and during those times trying to "find a needle in a haystack " type of behavior is reckless and will take an emotional toll on your mind. Just sit on the sidelines if the market isn't moving according to your system. 9) There's no thing as overbought or oversold scenarios especially in forex. Heaving a bearish bias because the market moved up by a lot is just ridiculous and most likely guarantee that you miss out on bullish scenarios. If you start developing a bearish bias after a huge bullish move then you better have a damn good reason for it instead of just saying " It moved up by a lot so I'm expecting a reversal". 10) This one is a personal opinion. Always remember to take breaks and relax during the weekends. Managing stress while maintaining performance is a huge part of the job and I don't want you to burn out after a few months of serious trading everyday. Maintain a decent social life outside of trading to keep your sanity intact. Get some hobbies. Your health and well being is very important to your long term performance as a trader so don't neglect it.
So there seems to be a lot of new people on this sub. And makes sense if you have questions a lot of time you'll turn to reddit for the answers (I know I do). Well here are some tips that I think would benefit new traders.
Don't trade ANY Euro pairs. Look I know it's the most traded pair it goes up and down really fast and there's so much potential for you to make money. Turns out there's even more for you to lose money. It's way too volatile specially if you don't know what you're doing. EUUSD is the worst offender.
Trade the Daily. Might think you're cool looking at charts every x amount of times during the day. You get to tell your friends and family that you trade all day and they might be impressed at what you're doing but unless you have some years under you stick to the daily. There's less noise. You can see clearer trends and when you don't stare at the screen all day you're less emotional therefore a more effective trader. I only look at the chart 15 minutes a day to either enter close or manage my trades. Whatever happens when I'm gone is what happens.
There is no holy grail indicator Look for it all you want. It doesn't exist. There are good indicators. There are bad indicators. There are some indicators that are so broken if you do the opposite of what they're intended for you'll actually make a profit. But the fact remains that there's no perfect one. Stop looking. What you should be looking for is an indicator that fits with your strategy.
What currencies to pick. I actually never see this brought up. The notion in forex is that all pairs can be traded equally. To a certain extent that's not false. But until you get the hang of it stick to a strict trading diet. Look for pairs that trend a lot. Duh look for the trend I can hear you say. When I say trend I don't mean a couple of days or weeks. I mean a couple of months. Half a year. Pairs that do that have a higher tendency to stick with one direction for a while. That's where you make your money. An easy way to identify those pairs as well is putting together a volatile currency (USD) with a less volatile one(JPY).
USE YOUR SL Trust me even if not putting a SL has netted you all kinds of gains eventually the market will turn around and bite you. With no safety net you'll lose most if not all your profit. The best offense is a good defense.
How to pick your TP and SL level. Most new traders care so much about that. I put it near the bottom because in my opinion you should know everything listed first. This is my opinion and I use it for my strategy I use the ATR(average true range) indicator. It's a really helpful tool that helps you identify the range at which the candles will either rise or fall. Obviously you want to set your TP inside of that range and your SL slightly outside of it.
Lot sizes. Everyone has a different story about how they pick their lot size. The general consensus is don't risk over 2% of your account. But I'm a simple man and I can't be bothered to figure out what my risk is every single time. So what I do is I put $0.10 for every $100 I have on the account. I then assign $300(minimum) to each pair. That's $0.30 per pair. It's easy to remember. 10 cent for every $100. If you're able to blow $100 with $0.10 then you probably shouldn't trade.
How to avoid reversals. Tbh you can't. There's no way to predict the future so eventually you'll get hit by one. What you can do however is minimize the blow. How I do it is for every pair I take two trades. If you remember in the previous tip is said I do about$0.30 per pair well I divide it 2:1. I take one trade with a TP(2) and one without (1). If my TP is hit I pocket that amount and if the trend keeps going in my direction I make even more. If the trend decides to end or reverses my losses are minimal because at least I kept half.
There is NO right way to trade. Stop listening to people telling the best way to trade is fundamentals or naked charts of to use some specific indicator. There are no right way to do this. It's as flexible and unlimited as your imagination. I personally use indicators but if that's not your thing do YOU! Just remember to manage your trades properly and be level headed when trading. Hell if your trading strategy is flipping a coin with proper trade management you'd probably make some money (don't quote me on that).
Trade money you're willing to lose Don't trade your rent money.
That's all I have for now. If anyone sees this and wants to add more feel free. Hope this helps someone.
My MIL literally showed me and my SO her vagina, AND PATTED IT!!!
Okay, you guys I’m sorry this is so long and the formatting is messed up, this is my first time writing on Reddit, but PLEASE strap on with ya girl through this rollercoaster of my SO’s family, I just need an ear to vent to for a while. So I’m a 22yo Black American and my SO is a 27yo Nigerian who’s been in America for a going on 6 years now. We’ve been knowing each other maybe 4 years but we’ve only been together for 2, because I moved away for college to California (my home state) from Houston (my mom is a traveling nurse so I use to move around all the time as a kid.) But throughout this time, we always talked, even argued a bit but he was always “the one that got away” for me. So during this time we both got into shitty relationships that caused us to both look at ourselves, take accountability where it was needed and grow from the situation. Maybe 6 months after my relationship with my ex, my SO calls me and we get back talking and he flies my out to meet him, and the rest has been history. I left school on my third year and became a housewife for my SO (he’s a traveling wind turbine technician, so yeah I’m still everywhere.) So here’s where shit gets real. So keep in mind how I told you he was Nigerian and I was Black American (apparently 2 different races) Yeah so, his mom met me for the first time, this lady was exceptionally nice, I felt like we even bonded over the fact that we freaking look alike. I mean if we were to go to outside of her house together people would just believe that she was my mom, not the other way around. So we meet this first time (this was like 2 years ago so strap in baby, I’m about to give you the full jist) and I personally believed things went great until maybe a few weeks after that, her and my SO have an argument and she tells him that I’m going to trap him into being a baby father because I’m an Akata (Akata = Africans slur towards black Americans) (SN: If this heifer would have even TRIED to get to know me she would know I don’t even want no damn kids, UGH) But she says all this and my SO takes up for me then hangs up on her, not even a week later this horrible retched human being calls and just acts like nothing happened. My SO was just like whatever cause at this point every time they would get on the phone they would argue so he didn’t want to feel like the person constantly bringing the static. So we were paying their rent ($1890) while his mom was going to school to be a nurse, (she’s 64) under the stipulation that this would stop as soon as she got a job. So she got a job, told us we didn’t have to worry about paying the rent anymore, then called us 2 freaking days before their rent was do to tell us she couldn’t afford it. So we paid it again, and this went on for 5 months after. Until my SO just told her no more. After we paid her rent for the last time, we told her it was the last time and she would need to figure herself out. I mean she has a husband that doesn’t work, he takes her money and spends it on stocks and forex, he will win a little but the will loose everything EVERY FREAKING TIME and this lady still gives him her money. Okay so the second time I went over was after being called a baby mama but before we stopped paying the rent, and I am just like it’s my SO family I’m going to try and show them me, and let them see who I am. But literally on our way to his house his older sister, who I hadn’t met before this, calls and tells him that we shouldn’t stay at his house because we’re not married. So we say whatever to that even though we were paying rent, and we bought a hotel. So once we get to Houston we go to the hotel and then his mom calls and asks where we are and my SO tells her we came to a hotel because of what his sister said. Then his mom tells his is sister doesn’t run nothing so come there, he tries to be like no it’s fine we’ll stay here to keep the peace, this lady literally breaks down crying so my SO is like okay okay we’ll go, so the next day we went, and went we fucking did. Literally as soon as we walked in and got the pleasantries over and then sit down to eat lunch, they began talking shit about this other family that moved from Nigeria to California but couldn’t stay there because it was too expensive and they had to move to Houston. They were saying things like the other family is stupid, they should be able to stay anywhere “I mean it’s America”, how could they not afford their rent (while me and my SO are paying their rent), things like that. So being from California myself I took it upon myself to take up for this other family and explain to his family that staying in California is ALOT different from staying in Houston, from gas prices to rent prices to even cleanliness, it’s a whole different space. So from me saying that his sister began to straight up argue with me about this, she was speaking over me, not letting me finish, everything I hate in an argument and the whole time I sat their and tried to get my point across as best I could without being the loud ghetto black girl, and I applaud myself for this because MY OWN FAMILY don’t even speak to me the way his family has. (I’m literally shaking as I’m writing this OMG I HATE THESE PEOPLE) His sister was saying things like, she can’t stay in a place in CALIFORNIA where people in her apartment building are sagging, she would go to the mid level worker, IN FUCKING CALIFORNIA, and figure out what they do to make it and she would still be there chugging on along. Even after I tried to explain to this girl over and over again that’s not how life works, especially not in California, she still didn’t get it, so my SO just calmed the situation and we went up to his room. After a couple of minutes I left outta his room to go to the restroom and this same bitch that I just met for the first time and got yelled at by over shit she didn’t even know about, who also told my SO that I shouldn’t go to their family house because we’re not married, she asks me if I’m comfortable there. In order to hold myself from cussing her the fuck out. I literally just look at her and kept walking to the bathroom. So on the same trip, one of his mother’s older friends came over (to get FOR FREE NOW my SO old fucked up car because she didn’t have one) and we were cleaning the kitchen because we had a little pressure cooker mishap, so my SO was doing something and this lady was talking to her sons in their language and then says Akata to her sons, I didn’t think anything of it I’m just like whatever she not be talking about me. But as she was leaving this lady gave me the deadliest look, so hard my SO was like okay bye now to get her attention off of me, cause I just smiled at her, (old bitter bitches can’t break my happiness.) So after they leave my SO is like WTF was that and I told him how I also heard her say Akata and he’s pretty pissed I didn’t say anything while she was there, but was like whatever I will tell my mom. We tell his mom, and she is just like, no I don’t believe she would do that, and just left it at that. Yeah so that was my last time going there for a long while. During me not going my SO didn’t go either because this man would legit loose his head if I didn’t always keep it in purse. This is when we stopped paying the rent and the arguments started as well. (SN: We smoke marijuana and that’s a problem for his family as well (he smoked weed before we even met), his family LITERALLY have called us druggies on multiple occasions, while still asking us for money. What kind of druggies would you ask for money?) So yeah now I have caught up to year 20 fucking 20. During our hiatus from Houston, my SO was keeping in small contact with his family and I have always kept in contact with his little sister, she would call me and we would literally be on the phone for hours but that slowed up a lot and and so did his family from telling us their hardships, so in our minds everything was chill, they were learning we have our own minds and way of living and they were becoming okay with it. THE FUCKING LIES I THOUGHT. Nope the whole time they were just talking shit about us behind our backs and then come and ask us for shit. CRAY. So my SO has stuff that we just left at her house because he is a traveling wind turbine technician and we literally just didn’t have anywhere to put them, he had another car in her garage and we had like clothes and just things from other apartments and places we’ve been and we just couldn’t keep taking it around with us. So his mom said something about them moving houses and us having to come and get our stuff. Totally fine so we make plans and literally the next weekend we’re there grabbing our stuff. When we get there his mom then tells him there not gonna move so he can keep stuff there, so we’re like whatever because we were already having problems with the storages, so we just took his little sister driving and then I went shopping while they stayed back in the hotel to play VR and talk. I wasn’t there for this talk but from what my SO told me, his little sister was mad about the way he speaks to his mom, she was telling him her health is bad so he shouldn’t be yelling at her and all of this other stuff and he replied with something to the effect of if she’s doing fucked up things in front of y’all, why is no one else yelling. (I haven’t said what they have been arguing about because it’s a lot of different BS but it always has something to do with his mom chasing money and forgetting logic.) But they have a whole conversation about it or whatever and he tells me that his little sister was agreeing with what he was saying and everything. But the next day when we went to his house to grab our stuff, we realize it’s the complete opposite. I didn’t go in with him first off because I went shopping the day before and I had HELLA bags and shit the back of our truck so I had to move stuff around and make it neat so we could add the stuff from the house. During this time, unbeknownst to me, his little sister and mom are in the back arguing to my SO about who? ME! Saying things like I’m low class, dirty, I didn’t know how to pronounce the name of my university (?????), and that I have no ambition because I don’t have a job. They also talk about us smoking weed and then his little sister (16f) asked my SO what are your 10 year goals. Like WHAT?!?!?!? So after I finish moving all of this stuff I go into the house and the “daddy” then tells me to go to the back room cause that’s where everyone is. I had no idea what was going on and as soon as I walked inside of the room everyone stopped and looked at me. I could tell me SO was pissed but I thought their conversation was about what him and his little sister were talking about the night prior. So when I walk in his mom begins saying her greeting and then complimenting me on my clothes and I then told her how I sewed them myself because I learned how to sew recently, (this whole no ambition thing really fucks me up because I literally know so many skills, I don’t have to pay anyone to do anything for me, from my hair to my fucking acrylics to building furniture, it’s really fucking asinine to me.) So after all of the pleasantries are done, my SO begins helping his dad move stuff around and his mom begins to talk to me about smoking weed. At this point, I was still on the let me respect this old bitch level not knowing what was said about me seconds before. So I let her go on and on, with just a few things where I was like wait but that’s not right and then she would then go on and on on how it was right, when all of her explanations were stupid, and to just keep the peace I just kept saying yes ma’am, okay, all of that. When I say dumb shit I mean dumb shit she was telling me how we shouldn’t be eating out all of the time, when the only time we eat out is when we’re in Houston because knowing that I’m vegetarian they still cook everything with meat so I have to go buy food,which is fine, but don’t then hold it against me you insane crazy crazy bitch. She was even talking shit about my SO about how he is like the bad child, when his brother literally smokes weed too but he’s just too much of a pussy to say anything. So finally we leave, and then my SO tells me about all of this, it’s a 7 hour drive back to where he is stationed and the WHOLE drive I was yelling, I literally lost my voice. So at this point, I am just like fuck it, I need to state my peace. Again I will tell y’all MY OWN FAMILY knows better!!! I can’t allow somebody else’s family to treat me nor my man no type of way. Not at all. So two weeks later (literally last weekend) we go back to Houston once and for all to get all of our shit, move his car and cuss them the fuck out. So when we get to his house we just get busy getting out shit cause him mom wasn’t getting off work until the next day. So we get the stuff and come back the next day and here is again where shit gets the mostest realest OMG!!!! OMG!!! So we get there right before they’re leaving for church, give them little pleasantries or whatever and then we get down to business, my SO started then tossed the mic to me, so I begin VERY VERY calm and started to tell her how my SO told me what they have been saying and I don’t believe it’s right for them to just make assumptions about me without knowing me. This insane crazy bitch, tells me she doesn’t care about me because I’m not her child or her concern. And I say well why have you been talking about me. This woman says she doesn’t remember saying anything and for ME to tell her what she has said. So I was like well for starters you said I was going to make my SO into a baby father. She says, I don’t remember that, and after both my SO and I say YES YOU DID. She says Well it’s true.... (WTFFFFFFF I DONT HAVE CHILDREN I SWEAR I DO NOT HAVE A CHIL) At this point all calm is out, I’m yelling BITCH I DONT HAVE NO KIDS CRAZY, and I also begin walking toward her, now I’m not gonna hit this old ass bitch I just wanna yell in her face a little. And she starts saying oh are you gonna hit me and all of this and by this time I feel like I blacked out because I honestly have no idea what I was saying but I know I called her an old dumb bitch multiple times. But my SO comes in as I’m walking up to her and calms me down so I shut my lips and just let him go in. She was talking shit about me not having a job, he started talking about her husband, his dad, RIGHT IN FRONT OF HIM, calling him a deadbeat because he doesn’t have a job and literally doesn’t do shit and he wastes her money while I save my SO money. His dad literally didn’t do shit. His mom said she was gonna call the police my SO said he will call immigration (his daddy have literally been in this country illegally for over 10 years and she mad that we smoking weed, the fucking nerve.) So through all of my SO yelling and stuff we moved locations into the entryway and she’s telling us to get out but my SO is getting out everything that he’s been feeling. In the fucking mist of them arguing, she’s yelling as well, she begins to pull down her fucking panties (I am just a bystander at this point and I’m listening to the argument and once the panties began coming off, I swear to GOD it was was like a fucking car crash, I couldn’t look away. My brain was trying it’s fucking damnedest to make sense out of fucking nonsense.) This woman strips out of her fucking panties, lays flat backed on the fucking ground and spread fucking eagle shows me and my SO her puss. She literally starts smacking her puss while yelling to my SO that he came out of there. YAAAALLLLLL!!!! In all of this my SO is still yelling, he just turns his head to the side to where he can’t see her and just keeps going. After about 5 more minutes of her standing up then laying back down to show puss, I just told my SO let’s go and we walked out, with her yelling at ME, not to come back to her house. The next day his sister calls him and says their mom said he took me over their house to fight her, she even tells his sister that she showed us her puss, and his sister calls him asks him what happened and he starts telling her and she says well you are a druggie, nothing about the old bitch pussy popping for her son and his girlfriend. He hangs up in her face once she made the druggie comment cause honestly you’re insane if you’re mad at your brother for smoking a little weed but not your mom for popping pussy. These are just tips of the iceberg moments, not even everything I have went through in these SMALL 2 years. I don’t know how to finish this up other than, just pray for me and my SO.
Hi guys, I have been using reddit for years in my personal life (not trading!) and wanted to give something back in an area where i am an expert. I worked at an investment bank for seven years and joined them as a graduate FX trader so have lots of professional experience, by which i mean I was trained and paid by a big institution to trade on their behalf. This is very different to being a full-time home trader, although that is not to discredit those guys, who can accumulate a good amount of experience/wisdom through self learning. When I get time I'm going to write a mid-length posts on each topic for you guys along the lines of how i was trained. I guess there would be 15-20 topics in total so about 50-60 posts. Feel free to comment or ask questions. The first topic is Risk Management and we'll cover it in three parts Part I
Why it matters
Using stops sensibly
Picking a clear level
Why it matters
The first rule of making money through trading is to ensure you do not lose money. Look at any serious hedge fund’s website and they’ll talk about their first priority being “preservation of investor capital.” You have to keep it before you grow it. Strangely, if you look at retail trading websites, for every one article on risk management there are probably fifty on trade selection. This is completely the wrong way around. The great news is that this stuff is pretty simple and process-driven. Anyone can learn and follow best practices. Seriously, avoiding mistakes is one of the most important things: there's not some holy grail system for finding winning trades, rather a routine and fairly boring set of processes that ensure that you are profitable, despite having plenty of losing trades alongside the winners.
Capital and position sizing
The first thing you have to know is how much capital you are working with. Let’s say you have $100,000 deposited. This is your maximum trading capital. Your trading capital is not the leveraged amount. It is the amount of money you have deposited and can withdraw or lose. Position sizing is what ensures that a losing streak does not take you out of the market. A rule of thumb is that one should risk no more than 2% of one’s account balance on an individual trade and no more than 8% of one’s account balance on a specific theme. We’ll look at why that’s a rule of thumb later. For now let’s just accept those numbers and look at examples. So we have $100,000 in our account. And we wish to buy EURUSD. We should therefore not be risking more than 2% which $2,000. We look at a technical chart and decide to leave a stop below the monthly low, which is 55 pips below market. We’ll come back to this in a bit. So what should our position size be? We go to the calculator page, select Position Size and enter our details. There are many such calculators online - just google "Pip calculator". https://preview.redd.it/y38zb666e5h51.jpg?width=1200&format=pjpg&auto=webp&s=26e4fe569dc5c1f43ce4c746230c49b138691d14 So the appropriate size is a buy position of 363,636 EURUSD. If it reaches our stop level we know we’ll lose precisely $2,000 or 2% of our capital. You should be using this calculator (or something similar) on every single trade so that you know your risk. Now imagine that we have similar bets on EURJPY and EURGBP, which have also broken above moving averages. Clearly this EUR-momentum is a theme. If it works all three bets are likely to pay off. But if it goes wrong we are likely to lose on all three at once. We are going to look at this concept of correlation in more detail later. The total amount of risk in our portfolio - if all of the trades on this EUR-momentum theme were to hit their stops - should not exceed $8,000 or 8% of total capital. This allows us to go big on themes we like without going bust when the theme does not work. As we’ll see later, many traders only win on 40-60% of trades. So you have to accept losing trades will be common and ensure you size trades so they cannot ruin you. Similarly, like poker players, we should risk more on trades we feel confident about and less on trades that seem less compelling. However, this should always be subject to overall position sizing constraints. For example before you put on each trade you might rate the strength of your conviction in the trade and allocate a position size accordingly: https://preview.redd.it/q2ea6rgae5h51.png?width=1200&format=png&auto=webp&s=4332cb8d0bbbc3d8db972c1f28e8189105393e5b To keep yourself disciplined you should try to ensure that no more than one in twenty trades are graded exceptional and allocated 5% of account balance risk. It really should be a rare moment when all the stars align for you. Notice that the nice thing about dealing in percentages is that it scales. Say you start out with $100,000 but end the year up 50% at $150,000. Now a 1% bet will risk $1,500 rather than $1,000. That makes sense as your capital has grown. It is extremely common for retail accounts to blow-up by making only 4-5 losing trades because they are leveraged at 50:1 and have taken on far too large a position, relative to their account balance. Consider that GBPUSD tends to move 1% each day. If you have an account balance of $10k then it would be crazy to take a position of $500k (50:1 leveraged). A 1% move on $500k is $5k. Two perfectly regular down days in a row — or a single day’s move of 2% — and you will receive a margin call from the broker, have the account closed out, and have lost all your money. Do not let this happen to you. Use position sizing discipline to protect yourself.
If you’re wondering - why “about 2%” per trade? - that’s a fair question. Why not 0.5% or 10% or any other number? The Kelly Criterion is a formula that was adapted for use in casinos. If you know the odds of winning and the expected pay-off, it tells you how much you should bet in each round. This is harder than it sounds. Let’s say you could bet on a weighted coin flip, where it lands on heads 60% of the time and tails 40% of the time. The payout is $2 per $1 bet. Well, absolutely you should bet. The odds are in your favour. But if you have, say, $100 it is less obvious how much you should bet to avoid ruin. Say you bet $50, the odds that it could land on tails twice in a row are 16%. You could easily be out after the first two flips. Equally, betting $1 is not going to maximise your advantage. The odds are 60/40 in your favour so only betting $1 is likely too conservative. The Kelly Criterion is a formula that produces the long-run optimal bet size, given the odds. Applying the formula to forex trading looks like this: Position size % = Winning trade % - ( (1- Winning trade %) / Risk-reward ratio If you have recorded hundreds of trades in your journal - see next chapter - you can calculate what this outputs for you specifically. If you don't have hundreds of trades then let’s assume some realistic defaults of Winning trade % being 30% and Risk-reward ratio being 3. The 3 implies your TP is 3x the distance of your stop from entry e.g. 300 pips take profit and 100 pips stop loss. So that’s 0.3 - (1 - 0.3) / 3 = 6.6%. Hold on a second. 6.6% of your account probably feels like a LOT to risk per trade.This is the main observation people have on Kelly: whilst it may optimise the long-run results it doesn’t take into account the pain of drawdowns. It is better thought of as the rational maximum limit. You needn’t go right up to the limit! With a 30% winning trade ratio, the odds of you losing on four trades in a row is nearly one in four. That would result in a drawdown of nearly a quarter of your starting account balance. Could you really stomach that and put on the fifth trade, cool as ice? Most of us could not. Accordingly people tend to reduce the bet size. For example, let’s say you know you would feel emotionally affected by losing 25% of your account. Well, the simplest way is to divide the Kelly output by four. You have effectively hidden 75% of your account balance from Kelly and it is now optimised to avoid a total wipeout of just the 25% it can see. This gives 6.6% / 4 = 1.65%. Of course different trading approaches and different risk appetites will provide different optimal bet sizes but as a rule of thumb something between 1-2% is appropriate for the style and risk appetite of most retail traders. Incidentally be very wary of systems or traders who claim high winning trade % like 80%. Invariably these don’t pass a basic sense-check:
How many live trades have you done? Often they’ll have done only a handful of real trades and the rest are simulated backtests, which are overfitted. The model will soon die.
What is your risk-reward ratio on each trade? If you have a take profit $3 away and a stop loss $100 away, of course most trades will be winners. You will not be making money, however! In general most traders should trade smaller position sizes and less frequently than they do. If you are going to bias one way or the other, far better to start off too small.
How to use stop losses sensibly
Stop losses have a bad reputation amongst the retail community but are absolutely essential to risk management. No serious discretionary trader can operate without them. A stop loss is a resting order, left with the broker, to automatically close your position if it reaches a certain price. For a recap on the various order types visit this chapter. The valid concern with stop losses is that disreputable brokers look for a concentration of stops and then, when the market is close, whipsaw the price through the stop levels so that the clients ‘stop out’ and sell to the broker at a low rate before the market naturally comes back higher. This is referred to as ‘stop hunting’. This would be extremely immoral behaviour and the way to guard against it is to use a highly reputable top-tier broker in a well regulated region such as the UK. Why are stop losses so important? Well, there is no other way to manage risk with certainty. You should always have a pre-determined stop loss before you put on a trade. Not having one is a recipe for disaster: you will find yourself emotionally attached to the trade as it goes against you and it will be extremely hard to cut the loss. This is a well known behavioural bias that we’ll explore in a later chapter. Learning to take a loss and move on rationally is a key lesson for new traders. A common mistake is to think of the market as a personal nemesis. The market, of course, is totally impersonal; it doesn’t care whether you make money or not. Bruce Kovner, founder of the hedge fund Caxton Associates There is an old saying amongst bank traders which is “losers average losers”. It is tempting, having bought EURUSD and seeing it go lower, to buy more. Your average price will improve if you keep buying as it goes lower. If it was cheap before it must be a bargain now, right? Wrong. Where does that end? Always have a pre-determined cut-off point which limits your risk. A level where you know the reason for the trade was proved ‘wrong’ ... and stick to it strictly. If you trade using discretion, use stops.
Picking a clear level
Where you leave your stop loss is key. Typically traders will leave them at big technical levels such as recent highs or lows. For example if EURUSD is trading at 1.1250 and the recent month’s low is 1.1205 then leaving it just below at 1.1200 seems sensible. If you were going long, just below the double bottom support zone seems like a sensible area to leave a stop You want to give it a bit of breathing room as we know support zones often get challenged before the price rallies. This is because lots of traders identify the same zones. You won’t be the only one selling around 1.1200. The “weak hands” who leave their sell stop order at exactly the level are likely to get taken out as the market tests the support. Those who leave it ten or fifteen pips below the level have more breathing room and will survive a quick test of the level before a resumed run-up. Your timeframe and trading style clearly play a part. Here’s a candlestick chart (one candle is one day) for GBPUSD. https://preview.redd.it/moyngdy4f5h51.png?width=1200&format=png&auto=webp&s=91af88da00dd3a09e202880d8029b0ddf04fb802 If you are putting on a trend-following trade you expect to hold for weeks then you need to have a stop loss that can withstand the daily noise. Look at the downtrend on the chart. There were plenty of days in which the price rallied 60 pips or more during the wider downtrend. So having a really tight stop of, say, 25 pips that gets chopped up in noisy short-term moves is not going to work for this kind of trade. You need to use a wider stop and take a smaller position size, determined by the stop level. There are several tools you can use to help you estimate what is a safe distance and we’ll look at those in the next section. There are of course exceptions. For example, if you are doing range-break style trading you might have a really tight stop, set just below the previous range high. https://preview.redd.it/ygy0tko7f5h51.png?width=1200&format=png&auto=webp&s=34af49da61c911befdc0db26af66f6c313556c81 Clearly then where you set stops will depend on your trading style as well as your holding horizons and the volatility of each instrument. Here are some guidelines that can help:
Use technical analysis to pick important levels (support, resistance, previous high/lows, moving averages etc.) as these provide clear exit and entry points on a trade.
Ensure that the stop gives your trade enough room to breathe and reflects your timeframe and typical volatility of each pair. See next section.
Always pick your stop level first. Then use a calculator to determine the appropriate lot size for the position, based on the % of your account balance you wish to risk on the trade.
So far we have talked about price-based stops. There is another sort which is more of a fundamental stop, used alongside - not instead of - price stops. If either breaks you’re out. For example if you stop understanding why a product is going up or down and your fundamental thesis has been confirmed wrong, get out. For example, if you are long because you think the central bank is turning hawkish and AUDUSD is going to play catch up with rates … then you hear dovish noises from the central bank and the bond yields retrace lower and back in line with the currency - close your AUDUSD position. You already know your thesis was wrong. No need to give away more money to the market.
Coming up in part II
EDIT: part II here Letting stops breathe When to change a stop Entering and exiting winning positions Risk:reward ratios Risk-adjusted returns
Coming up in part III
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.
[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.
Another rant about forex expectations and work ethic.
This will be another rant following my previous post about the expectations some people have when going into forex. I started trading just over a year ago. I did not go into forex thinking I was going to get rich quick. I knew it would be a massive learning curve and it may take me upwards of 5 years to make any sort of money. Because I accepted these facts before I started, I did not get frustrated at any point during my learning journey. I did not feel helpless when yet another one of my techniques failed. I didn’t quit. I knew I just had to keep going and eventually, I would see success. I also knew that as long as I remained consistent I would get there NO MATTER WHAT. You also have to want it bad. For the past year, I have woken up at 5am every single day before my rubbish warehouse job, and studied. Same in the evening. Why? Because it gives me more time to learn, and the more time = learn quicker. On my days off I literally sit all day and study/trade. A lot of people come into forex thinking they will be able to quit their job within a few months, but their effort doesn’t reflect that. If your only putting in 2 hours a week to learn it will take a lot longer than someone who puts in 20 hours a week. And enough of the ‘oh but I don’t have time for that!’ - everyone can find time, as I mentioned with myself I work 50 hour weeks but I get up earlier. Simple as that. If you truly want something you will do whatever you can to get it. To all new traders who are just starting out - accept that this may take years. Don’t get upset at other people who are seemingly millionaires after a year. They aren’t. Rant over.
The FCA bans on Bitcoin and other crypto assets are too harsh and hypocritical.
I as a British citizen and Im concerned about the recent Bitcoin ban. Reasons why:
You can be scammed out on Forex trading due to high leverage, online con artists and platforms shutting down forex trading altogether.
Plus 500 stopped trading the USA/CNH trading pair after the trade war was declared by trump.
Gambling has no regulations, I can spend as much money as possible on any game or sport and no questions are asked.
A uni student committed suicide last year after being groomed by gambling companies to spend over 20k in one week. No action was taken.
Platforms such as plus 500 offer options that have high spreads, hidden leverage, doesn't track the asset price and can be shut down and can be manupliated by the platform at will.
Plus 500 regulary increase the spread of options such as gold, oil, stocks during trading days and also shut down trading on a daily basis. Plus 500 shut down Natural gas options for 12hrs due to a 6% slump.
The UK is one of the biggest money laundering and predatory finance trading countries in the world.
The requirements to be a pro trader are insane: ( you need 2/3)
you need experience working in finance.
500k trading captail
Or make 12+ large trades in the past year.
Ironically using Binance and Coinbase for trading has been safer for me compared to uk stock/forex trading apps. In summary the reasons above HAPPEN ALL THE TIME AND NOTHING IS BEING DONE TO STOP THESE THINGS FROM HAPPENING. But Bitcoin and cryptocurrencey as a whole are seen as evil even though they have been profitable for the majority of their existence.
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.
TIFU by risking it all and ending up homeless with my girlfriend.
Technically my fuck up happened a few months ago but it's still affecting me so here goes. My girlfriend and I had shit paying jobs but we were able to pay bills. Its important to note that none of us have parents who are alive and that's one of the things we connected over. I had a friend who is into trading the forex markets and I was never really interested because I thought it all looked scammy. This was until he showed me all the profit he made from having this guy he knows manage his trading account. The friend wasn't even working but making money so I slowly started imagining the possibilities of having financial freedom and not having to work. I had a talk with my girlfriend about all that and she reluctantly agreed because she trusted my judgement. I took our savings, put them in an account and gave the guy our account to manage including paying him the service fee. The guy could trade the account but I'm the only one who could withdraw so I did not have to worry about him running away with the money and I also had access to it to observe. In the next coming days the profit made was small and grew slowly so I stopped checking on and just continued living my life. Two weeks later I was just chilling with my partner and decided to check the progress. We could not believe our eyes when the initial investment had grown by 500% and was still going up. I was thrilled! I mean clearly we were going to be rich soon. Going to work the next day was both exciting and a drag I mean I had better things to do.That night I convinced my girlfriend to quit our jobs because why not? Our investment was growing and might end up being the equivalent of winning the lottery. She was being bullied by an employee who was bffs with the manager so she did not need a lot of convincing. We did not even give notices because we would start our own business and would not need references.The next few days were so relaxing. We spent hours browsing potential houses and furniture as the place we were currently renting had come fully furnished so we did not own anything. One fateful Saturday I get a text from the guy managing the account. I thought maybe he wants me to withdraw but alas, he told me the account had blown. I don't know how many times I re read that text while my girlfriend checked the account. It was a very solid 0 balance. We freaked out,cried,paced up and down until we calmed down. I could not blame the guy because he didn't steal the money. We scrambled to look for jobs as rent was coming up but we didn't have enough time. We had no more funds and got paid next to nothing because we didn't give notice at work. What followed was being kicked out with just our clothes, sleeping in public toilets or standing all night in garages. We begged for food and looked for jobs during the day. I was scared but mostly for my girlfriend because I would never forgive myself if anything happened to her. After a month of being homeless I found a job then the world turned to shit. Still don't have a stable place but realized that home is where my partner is. She stuck with me throughout and we will get our own home one day. TL:DR If it looks too good to be true,it probably is. Also risk only what you can afford to lose.
I'm not new to forex. I've had two demo accounts for 3 years now, and I've learned a lot. My first account started with 100 dollars, and after some bad trades, it hitted 0. My second and current account had a great run, starting from 100 (I train on 100 dollars becausethis is the amountof money I expect to be able to put into a forex account), I reached to 300 ~350. But I always end up taking one or two reckless trades that push me down to the starting point or even below till 25 dollars(yes I took a trade in USD/GBP that made me lose 250 dollars at once), and I always somehow manage to climb up. I'm a University student, I picked up forex hoping that I'd be able to make some extra cash out of it. (not pock it up as a full time job) I usually study the 4 hours/day charts, and take trades that I keep open for 2 to 3 days. I use stop loss most of the time but sometimes I when I do my trade hit it then rebounds to the direction I predicted, causing me to open new trades with no stop loss and hence sometimes losing a lot. I also sometimes get stricken down by news which cause crazy Market movements, and no matter what I try I just can't spot important news or predict their effect on market. I tried reading books and websites, implementing different strategies but I don't always seem to get it just right. I'm currently trying to use adx and moving Average to predict smaller market movements. I want to open a real account but I still don't have enough confidence to do it. So the point of all this rambling is to showcase the way I trade so that I can ask for advice. So that someone can tell me what I'm doing right and what I'm doing wrong, and what I should start doing. Thanks in advance!
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.
From the first half of the news trading note we learned some ways to estimate what is priced in by the market. We learned that we are trading any gap in market expectations rather than the result itself. A good result when the market expected a fantastic result is disappointing! We also looked at second order thinking. After all that, I hope the reaction of prices to events is starting to make more sense to you. Before you understand the core concepts of pricing in and second order thinking, price reactions to events can seem mystifying at times We'll add one thought-provoking quote. Keynes (that rare economist who also managed institutional money) offered this analogy. He compared selecting investments to a beauty contest in which newspaper readers would write in with their votes and win a prize if their votes most closely matched the six most popularly selected women across all readers: It is not a case of choosing those (faces) which, to the best of one’s judgment, are really the prettiest, nor even those which average opinions genuinely thinks the prettiest. We have reached the third degree where we devote our intelligences to anticipating what average opinion expects the average opinion to be. Trading is no different. You are trying to anticipate how other traders will react to news and how that will move prices. Perhaps you disagree with their reaction. Still, if you can anticipate what it will be you would be sensible to act upon it. Don't forget: meanwhile they are also trying to anticipate what you and everyone else will do. 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
Preparing for quantitative and qualitative releases
The majority of releases are quantitative. All that means is there’s some number. Like unemployment figures or GDP. Historic results provide interesting context. We are looking below the Australian unemployment rate which is released monthly. If you plot it out a few years back you can spot a clear trend, which got massively reversed. Knowing this trend gives you additional information when the figure is released. In the same way prices can trend so do economic data. A great resource that's totally free to use This makes sense: if for example things are getting steadily better in the economy you’d expect to see unemployment steadily going down. Knowing the trend and how much noise there is in the data gives you an informational edge over lazy traders. For example, when we see the spike above 6% on the above you’d instantly know it was crazy and a huge trading opportunity since a) the fluctuations month on month are normally tiny and b) it is a huge reversal of the long-term trend. Would all the other AUDUSD traders know and react proportionately? If not and yet they still trade, their laziness may be an opportunity for more informed traders to make some money. Tradingeconomics.com offers really high quality analysis. You can see all the major indicators for each country. Clicking them brings up their history as well as an explanation of what they show. For example, here’s German Consumer Confidence. Helpful context There are also qualitative events. Normally these are speeches by Central Bankers. There are whole blogs dedicated to closely reading such texts and looking for subtle changes in direction or opinion on the economy. Stuff like how often does the phrase "in a good place" come up when the Chair of the Fed speaks. It is pretty dry stuff. Yet these are leading indicators of how each member may vote to set interest rates. Ed Yardeni is the go-to guy on central banks.
Data surprise index
The other thing you might look at is something investment banks produce for their customers. A data surprise index. I am not sure if these are available in retail land - there's no reason they shouldn't be but the economic calendars online are very basic. You’ll remember we talked about data not being good or bad of itself but good or bad relative to what was expected. These indices measure this difference. If results are consistently better than analysts expect then you’ll see a positive number. If they are consistently worse than analysts expect a negative number. You can see they tend to swing from positive to negative. Mean reversion at its best! Data surprise indices measure how much better or worse data came in vs forecast There are many theories for this but in general people consider that analysts herd around the consensus. They are scared to be outliers and look ‘wrong’ or ‘stupid’ so they instead place estimates close to the pack of their peers. When economic conditions change they may therefore be slow to update. When they are wrong consistently - say too bearish - they eventually flip the other way and become too bullish. These charts can be interesting to give you an idea of how the recent data releases have been versus market expectations. You may try to spot the turning points in macroeconomic data that drive long term currency prices and trends.
Using recent events to predict future reactions
The market reaction function is the most important thing on an economic calendar in many ways. It means: what will happen to the price if the data is better or worse than the market expects? That seems easy to answer but it is not. Consider the example of consumer confidence we had earlier.
Many times the market will shrug and ignore it.
But when the economic recovery is predicated on a strong consumer it may move markets a lot.
Or consider the S&P index of US stocks (Wall Street).
If you get good economic data that beats analyst estimates surely it should go up? Well, sometimes that is certainly the case.
But good economic data might result in the US Central Bank raising interest rates. Raising interest rates will generally make the stock market go down!
So better than expected data could make the S&P go up (“the economy is great”) or down (“the Fed is more likely to raise rates”). It depends. The market can interpret the same data totally differently at different times. One clue is to look at what happened to the price of risk assets at the last event. For example, let’s say we looked at unemployment and it came in a lot worse than forecast last month. What happened to the S&P back then? 2% drop last time on a 'worse than expected' number ... so it it is 'better than expected' best guess is we rally 2% higher So this tells us that - at least for our most recent event - the S&P moved 2% lower on a far worse than expected number. This gives us some guidance as to what it might do next time and the direction. Bad number = lower S&P. For a huge surprise 2% is the size of move we’d expect. Again - this is a real limitation of online calendars. They should show next to the historic results (expected/actual) the reaction of various instruments.
Buy the rumour, sell the fact
A final example of an unpredictable reaction relates to the old rule of ‘Buy the rumour, sell the fact.’ This captures the tendency for markets to anticipate events and then reverse when they occur. Buy the rumour, sell the fact In short: people take profit and close their positions when what they expected to happen is confirmed. So we have to decide which driver is most important to the market at any point in time. You obviously cannot ask every participant. The best way to do it is to look at what happened recently. Look at the price action during recent releases and you will get a feel for how much the market moves and in which direction.
Trimming or taking off positions
One thing to note is that events sometimes give smart participants information about positioning. This is because many traders take off or reduce positions ahead of big news events for risk management purposes. Imagine we see GBPUSD rises in the hour before GDP release. That probably indicates the market is short and has taken off / flattened its positions. The price action before an event can tell you about speculative positioning If GDP is merely in line with expectations those same people are likely to add back their positions. They avoided a potential banana skin. This is why sometimes the market moves on an event that seemingly was bang on consensus. But you have learned something. The speculative market is short and may prove vulnerable to a squeeze.
Two kinds of reversals
Fairly often you’ll see the market move in one direction on a release then turn around and go the other way. These are known as reversals. Traders will often ‘fade’ a move, meaning bet against it and expect it to reverse.
Sometimes this happens when the data looks good at first glance but the details don’t support it. For example, say the headline is very bullish on German manufacturing numbers but then a minute later it becomes clear the company who releases the data has changed methodology or believes the number is driven by a one-off event. Or maybe the headline number is positive but buried in the detail there is a very negative revision to previous numbers. Fading the initial spike is one way to trade news. Try looking at what the price action is one minute after the event and thirty minutes afterwards on historic releases.
Some reversals don't make sense Sometimes a reversal happens for seemingly no fundamental reason. Say you get clearly positive news that is better than anyone expects. There are no caveats to the positive number. Yet the price briefly spikes up and then falls hard. What on earth? This is a pure supply and demand thing. Even on bullish news the market cannot sustain a rally. The market is telling you it wants to sell this asset. Try not to get in its way.
Some key releases
As we have already discussed, different releases are important at different times. However, we’ll look at some consistently important ones in this final section.
Interest rates decisions
These can sometimes be unscheduled. However, normally the decisions are announced monthly. The exact process varies for each central bank. Typically there’s a headline decision e.g. maintain 0.75% rate. You may also see “minutes” of the meeting in which the decision was reached and a vote tally e.g. 7 for maintain, 2 for lower rates. These are always top-tier data releases and have capacity to move the currency a lot. A hawkish central bank (higher rates) will tend to move a currency higher whilst a dovish central bank (lower rates) will tend to move a currency lower. A central banker speaking is always a big event
Non farm payrolls
These are released once per month. This is another top-tier release that will move all USD pairs as well as equities. There are three numbers:
The headline number of jobs created (bigger is better)
The unemployment rate (smaller is better)
Average hourly earnings (depends)
Bear in mind these headline numbers are often off by around 75,000. If a report comes in +/- 25,000 of the forecast, that is probably a non event. In general a positive response should move the USD higher but check recent price action. Other countries each have their own unemployment data releases but this is the single most important release.
There are various types of surveys: consumer confidence; house price expectations; purchasing managers index etc. Each one basically asks a group of people if they expect to make more purchases or activity in their area of expertise to rise. There are so many we won’t go into each one here. A really useful tool is the tradingeconomics.com economic indicators for each country. You can see all the major indicators and an explanation of each plus the historic results.
Gross Domestic Product is another big release. It is a measure of how much a country’s economy is growing. In general the market focuses more on ‘advance’ GDP forecasts more than ‘final’ numbers, which are often released at the same time. This is because the final figures are accurate but by the time they come around the market has already seen all the inputs. The advance figure tends to be less accurate but incorporates new information that the market may not have known before the release. In general a strong GDP number is good for the domestic currency.
Countries tend to release measures of inflation (increase in prices) each month. These releases are important mainly because they may influence the future decisions of the central bank, when setting the interest rate. See the FX fundamentals section for more details.
Things like factory orders or or inventory levels. These can provide a leading indicator of the strength of the economy. These numbers can be extremely volatile. This is because a one-off large order can drive the numbers well outside usual levels. Pay careful attention to previous releases so you have a sense of how noisy each release is and what kind of moves might be expected.
Often there is really good stuff in the comments/replies. Check out 'squitstoomuch' for some excellent observations on why some news sources are noisy but early (think: Twitter, ZeroHedge). The Softbank story is a good recent example: was in ZeroHedge a day before the FT but the market moved on the FT. Also an interesting comment on mistakes, which definitely happen on breaking news, and can cause massive reversals.
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