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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.
I was going through old emails today and came across this one I sent out to family on January 4, 2018. It was a reflection on the 2017 crypto bull market and where I saw it heading, as well as some general advice on crypto, investment, and being safe about how you handle yourself in cryptoland. I feel that we are on the cusp of a new bull market right now, so I thought that I would put this out for at least a few people to see *before* the next bull run, not after. While the details have changed, I don't see a thing in this email that I fundamentally wouldn't say again, although I'd also probably insist that people get a Yubikey and use that for all 2FA where it is supported. Happy reading, and sorry for some of the formatting weirdness -- I cleaned it up pretty well from the original email formatting, but I love lists and indents and Reddit has limitations... :-/ Also, don't laught at my token picks from January 2018! It was a long time ago and (luckliy) I took my own advice about moving a bunch into USD shortly after I sent this. I didn't hit the top, and I came back in too early in the summer of 2018, but I got lucky in many respects. ----------------------------------------------------------------------- Jan-4, 2018 Hey all! I woke up this morning to ETH at a solid $1000 and decided to put some thoughts together on what I think crypto has done and what I think it will do. *******, if you could share this to your kids I’d appreciate it -- I don’t have e-mail addresses, and it’s a bit unwieldy for FB Messenger… Hopefully they’ll at least find it thought-provoking. If not, they can use it as further evidence that I’m a nutjob. 😉 Some history before I head into the future. I first mined some BTC in 2011 or 2012 (Can’t remember exactly, but it was around the Christmas holidays when I started because I had time off from work to get it set up and running.) I kept it up through the start of summer in 2012, but stopped because it made my PC run hot and as it was no longer winter, ********** didn’t appreciate the sound of the fans blowing that hot air into the room any more. I’ve always said that the first BTC I mined was at $1, but looking back at it now, that’s not true – It was around $2. Here’s a link to BTC price history. In the summer of 2013 I got a new PC and moved my programs and files over before scrapping the old one. I hadn’t touched my BTC mining folder for a year then, and I didn’t even think about salvaging those wallet files. They are now gone forever, including the 9-10BTC that were in them. While I can intellectually justify the loss, it was sloppy and underlines a key thing about cryptocurrency that I believe will limit its widespread adoption by the general public until it is addressed and solved: In cryptoland, you are your own bank, and if you lose your password or account number, there is no person or organization that can help you reset it so that you can get access back. Your money is gone forever. On April 12, 2014 I bought my first BTC through Coinbase. BTC had spiked to $1000 and been in the news, at least in Japan. This made me remember my old wallet and freak out for a couple of months trying to find it and reclaim the coins. I then FOMO’d (Fear Of Missing Out”) and bought $100 worth of BTC. I was actually very lucky in my timing and bought at around $430. Even so, except for a brief 50% swing up almost immediately afterwards that made me check prices 5 times a day, BTC fell below my purchase price by the end of September and I didn’t get back to even until the end of 2015. In May 2015 I bought my first ETH at around $1. I sent some guy on bitcointalk ~$100 worth of BTC and he sent me 100 ETH – all on trust because the amounts were small and this was a small group of people. BTC was down in the $250 range at that point, so I had lost 30-40% of my initial investment. This was of the $100 invested, so not that much in real terms, but huge in percentages. It also meant that I had to buy another $100 of BTC on Coinbase to send to this guy. A few months after I purchased my ETH, BTC had doubled and ETH had gone down to $0.50, halving the value of my ETH holdings. I was even on the first BTC purchase finally, but was now down 50% on the ETH I had bought. The good news was that this made me start to look at things more seriously. Where I had skimmed white papers and gotten a superficial understanding of the technology before FOMO’ing, I started to act as an investor, not a speculator. Let me define how I see those two different types of activity:
Investors buy because the price is less than the value they see in the investment. Speculators buy because they think that someone will pay more in the future than they are paying now.
Investors trade on information (The white paper was really well-written, had a clear technical advantage over other alternatives, and addresses a need that I can understand and value.) Speculators trade on sentiment. (Buy the rumor! Sell the news!)
Investors usually look at the investment and themselves and can describe why they purchase in those terms (ABC-Coin provides (service) that isn’t addressed yet and matches (requirements) for an investment.) Speculators usually describe why they bought something in terms of how other people think (I think that other people think that the price will rise, so I want to get ahead of that.)
Investors don’t necessarily check the price every day. The can, and very often I do, but it isn’t required because fundamentals don’t often change on a dime. Speculators need to be glued to a price feed, because sentiment very often changes on a dime.
Investors like ideas, people, business plans, and market opportunities. Good ones are like Spock. Speculators like trends. They are tribal.
Investors have a longer time horizon than speculators. In cryptoland, the notion of a “longer” time horizon is still laughably small (months) compared to traditional markets, but it certainly isn’t weeks or days or hours, which is whre speculators often live.
So what has been my experience as an investor? After sitting out the rest of 2015 because I needed to understand the market better, I bought into ETH quite heavily, with my initial big purchases being in March-April of 2016. Those purchases were in the $11-$14 range. ETH, of course, dropped immediately to under $10, then came back and bounced around my purchase range for a while until December of 2016, when I purchased a lot more at around $8. I also purchased my first ICO in August of 2016, HEAT. I bought 25ETH worth. Those tokens are now worth about half of their ICO price, so about 12.5ETH or $12500 instead of the $25000 they would be worth if I had just kept ETH. There are some other things with HEAT that mean I’ve done quite a bit better than those numbers would suggest, but the fact is that the single best thing I could have done is to hold ETH and not spend the effort/time/cost of working with HEAT. That holds true for about every top-25 token on the market when compared to ETH. It certainly holds true for the many, many tokens I tried to trade in Q1-Q2 of 2017. In almost every single case I would have done better and slept better had I just held ETH instead of trying to be smarter than Mr. Market. But, I made money on all of them except one because the crypto market went up more in USD terms than any individual coin went down in ETH or BTC terms. This underlines something that I read somewhere and that I take to heart: A rising market makes everyone seem like a genius. A monkey throwing darts at a list of the top 100 cryptocurrencies last year would have doubled his money. Here’s a chart from September that shows 2017 year-to-date returns for the top 10 cryptocurrencies, and all of them went up a *lot* more between then and December. A monkey throwing darts at this list there would have quintupled his money. When evaluating performance, then, you have to beat the monkey, and preferably you should try to beat a Wall Street monkey. I couldn’t, so I stopped trying around July 2017. My benchmark was the BLX, a DAA (Digital Asset Array – think fund like a Fidelity fund) created by ICONOMI. I wasn’t even close to beating the BLX returns, so I did several things.
I went from holding about 25 different tokens to holding 10 now. More on that in a bit.
I used those funds to buy ETH and BLX. ETH has done crazy-good since then and BLX has beaten BTC handily, although it hasn’t done as well as ETH.
I used some of those funds to set up an arbitrage operation.
The arbitrage operation is why I kept the 11 tokens that I have now. All but a couple are used in an ETH/token pair for arbitrage, and each one of them except for one special case is part of BLX. Why did I do that? I did that because ICONOMI did a better job of picking long-term holds than I did, and in arbitrage the only speculative thing you must do is pick the pairs to trade. My pairs are (No particular order):
I also hold PLU, PLBT, and ART. These two are multi-year holds for me. I have not purchased BTC once since my initial $200, except for a few cases where BTC was the only way to go to/from an altcoin that didn’t trade against ETH yet. Right now I hold about the same 0.3BTC that I held after my first $100 purchase, so I don’t really count it. Looking forward to this year, I am positioning myself as follows:
ETH will still be my core holding. It is the “deepest in the stack” crypto investment that I have. “Deep in the stack” is a programming term that gets at the idea that most software is built on other software. If you just think about your notebook, you have your OS, and programs run on that. But even inside the OS there is a stack. The bottom of your stack is the kernel, and on top of that are the drivers, protocols, and other layers that allow the programs to talk to the OS, the hard drive, the screen, the mouse, your printer, etc. You can change your mouse or printer easily. Changing things deeper in the stack becomes harder and harder. ETH is deep in the crypto stack, so is very hard to dislodge – Around 60 of the top 100 cryptocurrencies by market cap run on top of Ethereum, so getting rid of Ethereum is something that would take a long time to do.
DNT, QTUM, ZRX, and OMG are all, to varying degrees, “deep in the stack” tokens that, once established, will be very hard to dislodge.
That said, I am peeling away some of my holdings into USD right now, because big changes are afoot and they are going to cause market disruptions. I’m going to come right out and admit that this is speculative, but I’m also going to back it up with some non-speculative facts.
The SEC has been sending out hundreds of subpoenas to cryptocurrency organizations over the past 3-4 months. These subpoenas are simply asking for information and nobody has been charged with any crimes or misdoings, but it is clear that the SEC is getting together information so that they can begin to regulate cryptoland. When that happens, other countries will follow, and that means:
Some tokens will be deemed outright scams and people will be prosecuted.
Some tokens will be deemed securities and will be regulated.
Some tokens will not be deemed scams or securities and will continue as they have.
Looking at this, it is clear to me that the tokens that escape prosecution and regulation should do better, but the short-term impact will be brutal and ugly. It would not surprise me at all to see a 50% drop in overall market cap within Q1-Q2, with Q1 being more likely.
Cryptoland has always been a bit nuts, but it is more nuts now than I have ever seen it. Back in 2011-2014 it was a freaks-n-geeks show where people were all about the technology and I would sit around for a 3-day weekend installing a *nix VM on my Windows machine so that I could compile the most recent source and run a CUDA SHA-256 routine rather than thrash my CPU. If that doesn’t make sense to you, you wouldn’t have even thought about being involved.
Now, people see Bitcoin advertisements in their Facebook feed and think “I gotta get on the BTC train!” before going to Coinbase and buying some with a credit card. They don’t know anything about crypto, and they are getting eaten alive – It is no coincidence that BTC peaked after the Thanksgiving holidays when people sat around the table and Janice got Uncle Mike and Cousin Bob all excited as she talked about going to Cancun for Christmas because of her crypto winnings. Huge amounts of fiat got transferred from newbies to BTC whales during this period, and once the whales were done, BTC had dropped from $20,000 to $12,000. It’s now back at $15,000, but for people who bought at a higher level, this sucks. As a result many have moved from BTC to ETH, with the single biggest money flow in crypto in December being the BTC à ETH flow. As a result, it’s no coincidence that ETH is at all-time highs now. The thing is, though, that even most people that moved from BTC to ETH really have no idea what they are doing. They are acting on buzzwords and emotion. They are speculators and are going to get crushed.
The stock market is quite high right now, but people are starting to worry that it is too high and that we are going to enter into a period of inflation again. This has caused gold to go up a lot the last quarter and is likely also responsible a bit for the rise in cryptos. If this view is correct, then cryptos stay stronger than if that pressure wasn’t there. If wrong, then cryptos will swing down as money exits cryptoland for more traditional markets.
I am spending most of my time and money on the arbitrage effort. The nice thing about arbitrage is that it works as the markets go up, and it works as the markets go down. When markets are too volatile, however, arbitrage can get very messy and dangerous, with each trade generating a loss instead of a profit, so I am working right now to tune the algorithms to take into account rate-of-change and add in some circuit breaker triggers. Once this is done I will expand those operations.
I am getting much more serious about systems security.
I have a Nano Ledger and recommend that anyone with >$1000 of crypto have one. The Trezor is also supposed to be good, but I haven’t used it.
I will set up a dedicated *nix notebook that is used for nothing except my crypto work. All it takes is one keylogger to get on your PC/Mac and your crypto is gone. What is on your Nano Ledger will be OK, but they will sweep out your exchange account or Coinbase account faster than you can type. A standard Linux installation with Chrome and nothing else is as about as secure as you can get in the civilian world.
If you don’t use LastPass or a similar password manager yet, you need to do that. Your password to LastPass should be at least 16 characters long and should not have a recognizable English word in it. If you think that “Iluvu4evah” is a secure password, you’re wrong.
Hackers know that “4”=”for” and “u”=”you”. Writing a script to substitute those in is trivial if they want to write the script, but it’s much easier for them to download one of the many, many programs out there that already do this.
If your password contains any string of numbers from anything that can be associated with you at any time in your life, it is insecure. Take those numbers out of the character count because they are an insignificant barrier to cracking your account.
The good news is that you probably won’t be targeted, but if you ever mention online that you are doing anything significant in crypto, that chance increased enormously.
*Never* talk with *anyone* about how much you have in crypto. You’ll notice that I haven’t here. There is no reason to tell even a family member how much you have unless you are sharing a tax form. Sure, you may trust them, but all it takes if for someone to overhead someone else mention at a party that a relative got into crypto a long time ago and made a bunch of money. That person can also then be subjected to the $10 hack and force you to send all your crypto to them.
Your password to LastPass (Or equivalent.) should look something like this -> 6k0jQMoziX&D#4W8
Yes, it’s a headache. Imagine your headache, though, were you to open your account one day and find all of your money gone.
Looking at my notes, I have two other things that I wanted to work into this email that I didn’t get to, so here they are:
Just like with free apps and other software, if you are getting something of value and you didn’t pay anything for it, you need to ask why this is. With apps, the phrase is “If you didn’t pay for the product, you are the product”, and this works for things such as pump groups, tips, and even technical analysis. Here’s how I see it.
Technical analysis (TA) is something that has been argued about for longer than I’ve been alive, but I think that it falls into the same boat. In short, TA argues that there are patterns in trading that can be read and acted upon to signal when one must buy or sell. It has been used forever in the stock and foreign exchange markets, and people use it in crypto as well. Let’s break down these assumptions a bit.
i. First, if crypto were like the stock or forex markets we’d all be happy with 5-7% gains per year rather than easily seeing that in a day. For TA to work the same way in crypto as it does in stocks and foreign exchange, the signals would have to be *much* stronger and faster-reacting than they work in the traditional market, but people use them in exactly the same way. ii. Another area where crypto is very different than the stock and forex markets centers around market efficiency theory. This theory says that markets are efficient and that the price reflects all the available information at any given time. This is why gold in New York is similar in price to gold in London or Shanghai, and why arbitrage margins are easily <0.1% in those markets compared to cryptoland where I can easily get 10x that. Crypto simply has too much speculation and not enough professional traders in it yet to operate as an efficient market. That fundamentally changes the way that the market behaves and should make any TA patterns from traditional markets irrelevant in crypto. iii. There are services, both free and paid that claim to put out signals based on TA for when one should buy and sell. If you think for even a second that they are not front-running (Placing orders ahead of yours to profit.) you and the other people using the service, you’re naïve. iv. Likewise, if you don’t think that there are people that have but together computerized systems to get ahead of people doing manual TA, you’re naïve. The guys that I have programming my arbitrage bots have offered to build me a TA bot and set up a service to sell signals once our position is taken. I said no, but I am sure that they will do it themselves or sell that to someone else. Basically they look at TA as a tip machine where when a certain pattern is seen, people act on that “tip”. They use software to see that “tip” faster and take a position on it so that when slower participants come in they either have to sell lower or buy higher than the TA bot did. Remember, if you are getting a tip for free, you’re the product. In TA I see a system when people are all acting on free preset “tips” and getting played by the more sophisticated market participants. Again, you have to beat that Wall Street monkey.
If you still don’t agree that TA is bogus, think about it this way: If TA was real, Wall Street would have figured it out decades ago and we would have TA funds that would be beating the market. We don’t.
If you still don’t agree that TA is bogus and that its real and well, proven, then you must think that all smart traders use them. Now follow that logic forward and think about what would happen if every smart trader pushing big money followed TA. The signals would only last for a split second and would then be overwhelmed by people acting on them, making them impossible to leverage. This is essentially what the efficient market theory postulates for all information, including TA.
OK, the one last item. Read this weekly newsletter – You can sign up at the bottom. It is free, so they’re selling something, right? 😉 From what I can tell, though, Evan is a straight-up guy who posts links and almost zero editorial comments. Happy 2018.
This will be a wall of text, but with pictures! I'm going to attempt to analyse USD/JPY, EUJPY, GBP/JPY, AUD/JPY, NZD/JPY, CAD/JPY, CHF/JPY, and ZAJPY. I'm really interested in your feedback, especially from the guys who are good with the supply/demand levels :) A thought occurred to me while I was regretting eating McDonalds for dinner last night. When there are strong directional moves by one pair, associated pairs and crosses will move in the same way - especially if that move is the result of only one of those currencies strengthening or weakening. Often however, its the associated pairs that will offer a cleaner technical setup. The purpose of this post is to identify a Yen pair that has the greatest upside potential in the event of the Yen weakening again. It might take a long time to get back up to the highs, so I want a currency with a really good outlook. If you think there is a strong case for a continued move to the downside, I really want to hear it as well. Likewise on the last big leg up in USD/JPY, when we cracked 100 and then some, I actually lost out a little bit by spreading my trades across EUJPY, USD/JPY and GBP/JPY - the rationale being that if the Yen weakened rapidly, the risk trades would do the best against them rather than the dollar (which normally has quite muted moves whenever the Yen weakens rapidly). Except in that case it was the dollar strengthening, and the Yen fought back against the Euro and Pound. So I got thinking: one of these pairs must have the cleanest technicals, the simplest fundamentals, and offer the best risk:reward potential for a trade to the upside - especially since it's the BoJ in 2 days. I'm going to go through the suspects one by one, and just do some basic technical and fundamental analysis. I will only be using trendlines, fibonacci levels and the 50 & 100D SMAs. For the purpose of simplicity I have ignored price data pre mid-2012, as most of those levels are gone now. Except the one we're at now - in almost all pairs the current level has been a significant pivot, dating back a few years. Starting with /forex's most hated pair: USD/JPY http://i.imgur.com/W8DRrkU.png Technicals 100 is once again a significant obstacle, and I expect sideways action between here and 96, if the selloff doesn't continue. The Yen might weaken again very sharply, but so also might the dollar. We have a fairly clear and convincing trendline break, and I'm regretting getting in long. We might have a low in place, but we also might not. We are currently supported at a critical level by the 100DMA and the 0.23 fib, as well as a known demand level. A break lower here targets 95 and then 93.50. Fundamentals We will need a dollar rally as well as a Yen rout to climb quickly, and I'm unwilling to play only one and not the other. Without signs that the US will slow easing and Japan will at least keep it up, we do not have the fundamental driver to push very much higher. Trades I'm not sure the best trade is to be found here, in either direction. Long seems to be the way forward, but we need some convincing. Otherwise it's sell rallies into 100. EUJPY http://i.imgur.com/ETkvc23.png Technicals If we're looking for the best technical setup for a long, we might have it here. We've spiked through this pair's most significant demand level, bounced off the 100DMA, and closed above the trend line. It's a fairly simple picture. Fundamentals I am slightly concerned by the Euro's lacklustre performance against everything besides the dollar. EUGBP is down, EUAUD didn't add 200 pips in the last session, etc. That said, I think that the Eurozone is going to start impressing people soon, as long as they can avoid another sovereign debt crisis. Which they won't. It will happen and when it does it will suck this pair down the suck hole faster than USD/JPY ever could. Trades The problem here is that the bottom of Friday's hammer is 280 fucking pips away. I don't know about you guys but I don't like setting stops 280 pips away, especially with limited upside potential right now. I would look for a higher low to form first before getting in long - maybe around 128.50. A new Eurozone crisis, continued Yen strength and a break of Friday's low could send this pair screeching to a spike low of 115 in a matter of minutes, in my opinion. GBP/JPY http://i.imgur.com/gv5WVy5.png Technicals Another good long tech setup. A Head and Shoulders pattern was broken and completed on Thursday, with a close above the trend line. Fundamentals The UK economy is looking better than it has all year, and its recovery is looking set to overtake the Eurozone's. However, Mark Carney comes in next month and we might be staring down the barrel of more dovish MP. This could destroy Cable's fragile recovery, which is showing signs of weakness at a previous pivot level and significant fib. Trades Going long here seems like the obvious choice. A stop would need to be quite wide, but below Thursday's low would probably be sufficient, as we could probably see Friday's low as a bizarre volatility spike that had very little to do with the Pound or the Yen. Mind you that is still 160 pips away, so either wait for a dip or keep your position size very small. AUD/JPY http://i.imgur.com/EDZigYP.png Technicals This is not a chart that screams, "go long", and it makes me worry about the other Yen pairs' upside potential. It could well be that the next significant move lower starts here, as the Aussie continues its collapse. Currently holding at the 50% fib and 200DMA, but any trendlines are long gone and we can expect price consolidation as long as we do not go lower. Fundamentals China released a lot of bad data this weekend, some neutral data, and no good data. The Aussie and Kiwi underperformed against the USD this week, despite being given a massive head start. There is huge scope for further easing, and this currency is strictly in "sell rallies" mode. A gold and commodities recovery is the only thing that will save the Australian dollar. Trades I don't like it either way. As has been said on this sub before: what a c*nt of a pair. NZD/JPY http://i.imgur.com/5pEnfhq.png Technicals An even uglier picture than AUD/JPY, but we have spiked off the 0.38 fib and closed above the 200DMA, if that means anything. A break of Friday's low could get extremely bad very quickly, but this pair isn't known to really motor. Fundamentals The Kiwi actually performed worse than the Aussie this week, closing at the lows and through significant support, while the Aussie staged a late rally. It's hard to be bullish either of these currencies. This is purely due to the commodities slump. Despite tightening MP, the Kiwi looks particularly vulnerable as the entire bloc collapses. Trades I'm not sure the best trade is here, but if Yen strength continues then selling a rally into 77.50 looks like a good play. CAD/JPY http://i.imgur.com/AdcnwkO.png Technicals 97.50 is the bull/bear line here and we're well through it, so we would need a close above here to be really bullish. Price bounced off the 0.23 fib and 100DMA, and 97.50 once again offers the most serious upside resistance. A break lower here targets 91.50 Fundamentals The Canadian dollar staged a late rally on Friday on the back of ridiculously good employment data. USD/CAD is now at descending channel support and the 50% fib of the recent rally, so I would be careful either way. Otherwise I don't know much about the Canadian fundamental picture, but I believe they're happy to see Carney go. Trades Not really sure what to do here. If anyone is more familiar with this pair, let's hear it. Otherwise I'm gonna stay out of this one. CHF/JPY http://i.imgur.com/4vvoI2o.png Technicals CHF/JPY was actually the biggest gainer in % terms when Japan first announced its QE program. Since then it hasn't done much. Trendline is gone but we've bounced off the 100DMA, which has provided support before. We need above 105 to get really bullish here. There is a very long broken wedge which technically targets 93. Fundamentals I expect the Swiss Franc to weaken if the stock market recovers from here. If it doesn't, and we see a continued decline in stocks, the Yen will strengthen more than the Franc, so we'll probably head down some more. Overall it doesn't look good for this pair. If USD/JPY recovers sharply, USD/CHF probably will as well, so gains here will be muted. If on the other hand gains are driven by fundamental Yen weakening in response to more QE, would could see a large move to the upside. Trades Buy on a break and hold of 105 only. ZAJPY http://i.imgur.com/SYiZZpd.png I just put this up for the lolz. Something has gone horribly wrong for South Africa, so if you think the Aussie's had it bad... Technicals A break of the 50% fib gives us real cause for concern here. If the Rand continues to weaken as a result of gold weakening, we could see the rally fully retraced. Expect consolidation. Fundamentals The Rand performed worst of all the commodity currencies, as gold continues to slide (it recently broke out of its consolidation to the upside, only to crash on Friday to confirm a break lower again, targeting $1350). When USD/JPY collapsed on Thursday, USD/ZAR barely blinked. I've been trading it to the upside on dips, but 10.00 seems to be capping moves for now. If gold does not recover sharply, the South African economy is going to suffer very badly. Trades F that noise. Buy USD/ZAR on a break of 10.25, or sell it on a break out of consolidation.
James Stanley's "Fingertrap" Scalping Strategy (also good for longer term trading)
I posted this elsewhere a while back, but I thought I'd put it in /forex and not on the blog, because it's my absolute favourite tool in all of Forexland. James Stanley is a (very good) trader and educator at DailyFX (Twitter: @JStanleyFX). He's also very friendly and helpful on Twitter if you have serious questions. Here's the link to the original article but what I'm going to do is explain it in a little more detail, show you how James uses it, and then explain how I use it for finding entries on longer term trades and breakouts. There's also this helpful video you can watch: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RrxOiAhIlaQ Right, so before I explain what it is, here's a checklist for WHEN the Fingertrap strategy is effective:
Is the market trending TODAY? (short term trend, not choppy action)
Is it nowhere near a place it could? stop (important fib, trendline, the basic stuff)
Is it the morning of the NY session? (it works best during this time)
Is it a fairly active pair with a tight spread? (if you're going to be scalping)
If the answer to all those questions is yes, you're ready to go: 1: switch to an hourly or 2hr chart, so you can see what movement on the day is like. You should be able to spot a strong directional bias if there is one, and you may have already done analysis to find important support and resistance. 2: Add two indicators: an 8 period EMA (Exponential Moving Average) and a 34 period EMA. I don't know why those numbers, and different combinations might work better on different pairs (EUJPY tends to throw a lot of false signals with this, as does gold, so it's worth experimenting). We use EMAs and not SMAs because they respond more quickly. Here I'm looking at EUJPY on 2hr chart, on 26 April 2013): http://i.imgur.com/9wqd36U.png 3: Is price clearly above or below BOTH moving averages (eg. it's a downtrend and price is below both, or an uptrend and it's above) AND has the 8 EMA crossed over the 34 EMA (crossed to the downside if you're looking at a downtrend). These two factors are a strong confirmation of a trend, if you need one. 4: Once you have confirmed that a trend is in place, switch to your preferred scalping timeframe. I usually use 5m or 1m charts. You'll now see that the 8EMA (which is the only one we're looking at from now on) hugs the price quite closely. 5: If we're in a downtrend, what we are looking for is for price to ideally break through some kind of support, and then to rebound to the 8EMA. It can push through it, even close a whole candle above it, but should eventually move back down below it. This is your signal to enter short. As you can see from the chart below (same time, 5m chart), it's essential that you determine that there is a trend first and not just some jumping around. http://i.imgur.com/pvjgeKg.png 6: The idea is to use relatively small trade sizes, and scale in and out of the trade rapidly. When price extends quite a bit away from the 8EMA, that's the time to take partial profits, wait for a rebound to the 8EMA, and then enter again. 7: The game ends when the 8EMA crosses the 34EMA again, and price is on the other side of both of them The idea is that, even with strong moves, there are quick pullbacks. This strategy helps to give you an edge in determining where those pullbacks are likely to stop. It's not perfect, but no strategy is. The point is that it gives you a higher probability of entering at a good time (buying relatively low, or selling relatively high), and it also means you can have a lower risk entry (being closer to the last swing high). Now, I don't get to do a lot of scalping because I have a day job, but I do use this for breakouts, and just any regular old entry as a matter of habit (unless I'm doing a fairly long term trade and 10 pips either way doesn't matter that much to me). What I will do is wait for a breakout or a strong move in the direction I want. Then I put my Fingertrap template on, and wait for price to "reload" to the moving average before getting in, placing my stop above a nearby swing high. My stop will always be placed while thinking about how long I plan to hold the trade. If I'm looking for a move in GBP/USD from 1.56 down to 1.50, I'm not going to place my stop above the nearby swing high on the 5m chart - I'm going to place it around 1.5650. So you have to use your discretion obviously. For example, I will be watching EUUSD very closely for a break of 1.3000 or 1.2950, and then employ it from there. For scalping, the nearby swing high is definitely a good place to put it - if the trade goes that badly away from you, you definitely want to be out. Give it a try, and let me know if you find it to be helpful! Let me know if you have any questions.
The Asian trading session is one of the best time of day to trade forex, as explained in the DailyFX Traits of Successful Traders series. ... (2010-2012) 3) Clear entry and exit levels. Levels of ... Best Forex Pairs To Scalp. Just like a trader selects a particular trading style and strategy to best suit his objective and personality, the choice of the best Forex pairs to scalp is down to the same exact reason. We have analysed the most popular Forex pairs scalpers prefer to trade and why you may want to pick a certain currency pair over ... Which Forex Pair Trends the Most. November 17, 2017 (Last updated on March 9, 2020) by Andriy Moraru. Update February 2020: This post is a bit outdated now. We have since posted an updated study of Forex currency pairs that trend the most. A successful currency trader needs a proven trading strategy. Many traders prefer strategies based on trends. Such strategies work best with currency pairs ... GBP/USD tends to trade in ranges, but it isn’t at its best. It fell off the list. For reference, here is the previous list for Q3 2012. Get the 5 most predictable currency pairs. Previous Article EUR/USD Forecast October 3-7. Next Article Another Frustrating Year For EUR Bears: What’s Next? – About Author. Yohay Elam. Website; Yohay Elam – Founder, Writer and Editor I have been into ... Vote for August 2012’s Best Forex Trading System! By Robopip. August 27, 2012 2:00 AM UTC in Trading Systems. Partner Center Find a Broker. Beep boop beep beep! The end is near, Earthlings! I’m not talking about the inevitable alien invasion, but the August best forex trading contest! In a couple of days we’ll finally know which system deserves to be part of the history as August’s ... When it comes to forex trading, the US dollar is the world's most traded currency. Its volume is incomprehensibly high, as it serves as the de facto global reserve currency. In addition, its home economy is the strongest in the world, and currencies from any other large economy are heavily traded against the USD. However, … Best Exotic Forex Pairs to Trade Read More » What Forex Currency Pairs Are Best To Trade and What Are The Best Times To Trade Them? (Part 1) - This two-part article will first address the question "which currency pairs are best to trade?", and next week we will address the question "what are the best times to trade?" 11-08-2012, 06:59 PM #1. Samtastico. Senior Member Join Date Mar 2012 Posts 182. Best Forex Pairs For Harmonic Pattern Trading What are your favourite currency pairs for harmonic patterns? These are what I use... EUR/USD, USD/CHF, AUD/USD, USD/JPY, EUR/JPY, GBP/USD and USD/CAD. Are there any good pairs I'm missing that you would suggest trading? Share. Share this post on; Digg; Del.icio.us ... To me, there is no definite 'best' pair to trade, but it boils down to what is your trading style and approach towards the market. For example, if you are a trend trader, you want to pick pairs that are trending nicely. And suppose the market only trend 20-30% of the time, you will need to have a rather wide portfolio in your watch list to have ... The end result is that the pair is range bound as well. Do you trade ranges? What pairs do you trade? Further reading: 5 Most Predictable Currency Pairs – Q3 2012. Get the 5 most predictable currency pairs. Previous Article EUR/USD July 23 Euro Falls over Greece, Spain Bailout. Next Article Forex Daily Outlook July 24 2012. About Author. Yohay Elam. Website; Yohay Elam – Founder, Writer ...
How To Find Which FOREX Currency Pair To Trade - YouTube
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