February 8, 2019

What It Means to Be Principled and Why You Need to Do It

Having clearly written down principles = being crystal clear about what you stand for and how you will behave in various circumstances = having integrity = building trust = knowing your direction = being effective. It’s all about eliminating duality and having consistency of what you say you will do and what you actually do, regardless of who you are with and regardless of whether or not people are looking, and accomplishing what you set out to do. Being radically truthful and radically transparent is invaluable for doing that because it demonstrates that you are doing this and it holds you accountable for doing it. 

While I wrote my principles down, I urge you to have and write down your own principles, feeling free to take anyone’s you like. To help you do that, I’m planning to share one of mine or one of someone else’s every day over the next year or so. I’d like you to ask me questions about them here and then take them or leave them as you see fit. I will also be taking the best posts of people who are participating in this exercise and will share them with people more broadly. It should be fun and productive.

February 6, 2019

Principle Of The Day (4.5A & 4.5B)

1 + 1 = 3

Two people who collaborate well will be about three times as effective as each of them operating independently, because each will see what the other might miss—plus they can leverage each other’s strengths while holding each other accountable to higher standards.

3 to 5 is more than 20.

Three to five smart, conceptual people seeking the right answers in an open-minded way will generally lead to the best answers. It may be tempting to convene a larger group, but having too many people collaborate is counterproductive even if the members of the larger group are smart and talented.

Principle Of The Day (4.6)

When you have alignment, cherish it. 

While there is nobody in the world who will share your point of view on everything, there are people who will share your most important values and the ways in which you choose to live them out. Make sure you end up with those people.

Principle Of The Day (4.7)

If you find you can't reconcile major differences - especially in values - consider wether the relationship is worth preserving. 

There are all kinds of different people in the world, many of whom value different kinds of things. If you find you can’t get in sync with some-one on shared values, you should consider whether that person is worth keeping in your life.

January 24, 2019

Steenbarger: Two Self-Destructive Behaviors

Dr. Brett Steenbarger highlights two self-destructive behaviors that many traders tend to engage in:

(1) Trading addiction
(2) Impulsivity (aka Overtrading)

"Two self-destructive behaviors come to mind immediately the first I would call trading addiction people can be addicted to trading just like they can be addicted to gambling and for much of the same reason not everyone trades to make money some people are trading for thrills and excitement and those people do get in their own way."

"The other self-destructive behavior I would call impulsivity. When people make impulsive decisions because of frustration. They lose some money, the markets are not moving very much and they become frustrated and out of that frustration they feel a need to trade. In fact, traders call it overtrading. They make those impulsive decisions where they don't really have an edge in the trade and they end up 01:38 losing money as a result."

You can find Dr. Steenbarger's books on Amazon.com:

Trading Psychology 2.0: From Best Practices to Best Processes (2015)
The Daily Trading Coach: 101 Lessons for Becoming Your Own Trading Psychologist (2009) 
The Psychology of Trading: Tools and Techniques for Minding the Markets (2002) 

January 22, 2019

Charlie Munger: The Merits Of Long-Term Investing

Short Bio: Charlie Munger is a 95 years old investor and the Vice Chairman of Berkshire Hathaway.

Video duration: 23m51s

Charlie Munger on the merits of long-term investing:

"If you invest the way people gamble in casinos you're not gonna do very well. So ,it's the long-term investment that works best. But if you like the action of investing and sometimes winning, sometimes losing, just like people like the action when they gamble in a casino, those people are not my people. I like the long-term investors who figure out something that's going to work over the long term and buy that."

Charlie Munger highlights a paradox in Chinese behavior when it comes to investing in the markets and the desire to gamble:

"The Chinese do have a long attention span and that is a hugely desirable quality because you you're more likely to get the right answer if you think deeply and hard about a subject for a long time and it's odd there's a group of people who are so good at having a long attention span like to gamble so much which is quite counterproductive."

Interestingly, Munger considers the short-term market players as "gamblers":

"We have a view as to what the intrinsic value is of what is being traded and we only buy it when we think it's worth more than we're paying so we're trying to make a long-term investment by waiting for something to be under priced and then buying it and we don't give a damn about all these gamblers in the market."

January 18, 2019

Jim Simmons: The Mathematician Who Cracked The Markets

Jim Simmons is a mathematician and a hedge fund manager (founded Renaissance Technologies in 1982). He is considered by many to have the best investment track record in the whole industry. 

In this interview Jim explained how he got started in trading in his late thirties when he got tired of mathematics (who can blame him?):

"When I started doing trading, I had gotten a little tired of mathematics. I was in my late 30s I had a little money I started trading and it went very well I made quite a lot of money how it with pure luck I mean I think it was pure luck. simply wasn't mathematical modeling."

And how starting that venture ended up in forming one of the world's biggest hedge funds:

"But in looking at the data after a while I realized hey this looks like there's some structure here and I hired a few mathematicians and we started trying to make some models just the kind of thing we did back at eye-dea you design an algorithm you test it out on a computer does it work doesn't it work and so on. "

Simmons also stated how commodities and currencies used to show trending characteristics back in the day but that is. not the case any longer:

"(in) the old days commodities or currencies had a tendency to trend."

"The trend-following would have been great in the 60s and it was sort of okay in the 70s by the 80s it wasn't such." 

Jim stressed the importance of staying ahead of the competition by looking for shorter term approaches to trading and hiring very smart individuals:

"We stayed ahead of the pack by finding by finding other other approaches and shorter term approaches to some extent. But the the real thing was to gather a tremendous amount of data and and we had to get it by hand in the early days. We went down to the Federal Reserve and copied interest rate histories and stuff like that because it didn't exist on computers. We got a lot of data, very smart people and that was the that was the key."

"In a certain sense what we did was machine learning you you you look at a lot of data and you try to simulate different predictive schemes until you get better and better at it it doesn't doesn't necessarily feed back on itself the way we did things but it worked."

Mark D. Cook: Having A Business Plan For Trading

Mark D. Cook was one of the few day traders interviewed by Jack Schwager on his Market Wizards books (Stock Market Wizards, Mark D. Cook: Harvesting S&P Profits). In this presentation Mark stresses out the importance of treating trading as a business.

"In my own experience as I started with the business training plan in 1991 and I have been doing it every year since. It added to my bottom line because I had scenarios covered of what to do, when to do it and how to go about it before as I said before the emotions came on to it."

A few of the best quotes from his interview on the Stock market Wizards book are:

"The best trades work the quickest."

"If you decide to trade for a living, you have to treat it just like any other business endeavor and go into it with a plan."

"You need to have a solid business plan. The trouble is that most people start trading without any definitive plan."

Jack Schwager: Have The Markets Changed Over The Years?

Jack Schwager has written four excellent book on his Market Wizards series (Market Wizards, The New Market Wizards, Stock Market Wizards and Hedge Fund Market Wizards). When asked on how these new traders differ from the ones interviewed in the first book he answered:

"Every person is a different personality, different story, different lessons and different way of trading. Even within this book (Hedge Fund Market Wizards) everybody I interviewed is completely different on how they make money in the markets. (That's) amazing, I mean, I couldn't even make up as many various ways of trading markets as these people are using."

On the price action itself, Jack stresses that markets have changed a lot over the years but the main trading principles do not really change over time:

"Markets are always changing and but certain principles but the main principles don't change." 

While trend following worked very well in the eighties and nineties, in the modern markets they do not work well. One of the reasons for that is the proliferation of computerized trading systems and models:

"I think one big change is the the big trend following profits that were easy to take in those earlier years no longer are then you can still get big trends but markets sent a much more false breakouts you tend to have lots of choppier conditions it's more difficult to make money doing that type of approach you can still do it but has to be a bit more sophisticated."

January 16, 2019

The Story Of Jesse Livermore

Jesse Livermore is considered by many has the best speculator that has ever lived. His book, Reminiscences of a Stock Operator was the most recommended book among the market wizards interviewed by Jack Schwager in his books. 

Inside Reminiscences of a Stock Operator you will find some of the most brilliant quotes about the stock market, trading and investing. Here's a few:

"Blunders by incompetent speculators cover a wide scale. I have warned against averaging losses. That is a most common practice." 

“I have long since learned, as all should learn, not to make excuses when wrong. Just admit it and try to profit by it. We all know when we are wrong. The market will tell the speculator when he is wrong, because he is losing money.” 

“Let me warn you that the fruits of your success will be in direct ratio to the honesty and sincerity of your own effort in keeping your own records, doing your own thinking, and reaching your own conclusions.” 

“The real money made in speculating has been in commitments showing in profit right from the start.” 

"Rome was not built in a day," and no real movement of importance ends in one day or in one week. It takes time for it to run its logical course. 

"Remember that stocks are never too high for you to begin buying or too low to begin selling. But after the initial transaction, don’t make a second unless the first shows you a profit." 

"A speculator should make it a rule each time he closes out a successful deal to take one-half of his profits and lock this sum up in a safe deposit box." 

"Definitely is not safe to try to keep account of too many stocks at one time. You will become entangled and confused." 

“A speculator without cash is like a store owner with no inventory. Cash is your inventory, your lifeline, your best friend. Without cash you’re out of business.” 

“The market will tell the speculator when he is wrong, because he is losing money.”