by phil - March 27th, 2011 1:43 pm
Thank God for Atheists!
If there is one place in society where philosophy and science are still debated with great verve it’s in the realm of Atheism blogs. However you feel about God, or the lack thereof, what we do need in this world are better rules for discourse and JT from Atheismresource.com is the originator of the chart that’s been making the rounds in the blogosphere that is both funny and extremely well done.
It is, unfortunately, a testimony to the very irrational prejudices and poor manners that still plague us all that most versions of the chart we see on-line have been altered to remove the original attribution because apparently – knowing that an Atheist may have drawn up the rules for having a rational discussion will somehow invalidate the concept.
Perhaps that’s true. Perhaps the very people who most need to read and follow these rules are the very same people who won’t read past the the title on the top left of the chart and the dreaded word "Atheism." If you are one of those people, please consider: Is it really possible that a concept is invalid just because you don’t like the source? I will say that, as soon as I can get our site hosted on IBM’s Watson, I will hardwire these rules into the system so we can kick out all those conversations that aren’t going anywhere. Well, a guy can dream, can’t he?
by phil - December 19th, 2010 7:04 am
“Markets can remain irrational longer than you can remain solvent” – John Maynard Keynes
At the beach, many people stake out spots near the water but, as the day goes on, the tide gets higher and the people move to higher ground. Some people go much higher and some people move just a little but there’s a certain point where the water crests up onto the beach and sends everyone scurrying for higher ground in a mad dash.
Then it goes the other way!
Just when it seems that the water is going to go higher than it ever went before (and, thanks to global warming it does!) and just when you start to think the next wave will wash over the top and soak everyone, it suddenly stops and an hour later you can’t believe you ever thought the water would get that high as it seems so impossible as you watch it pull away from the beach, exposing sand that hadn’t been seen since the morning .
“The markets are like that. Frothy highs and "impossible" lows and lots of investors scurrying back an forth trying to guess where the next wave will stop (day traders) while others stake out medium-term positions (deck chair people) and still others make substantial long-term plays (beach house owners) and are willing to ride out even the harshest storms. While I have fun playing in the waves I guess I have to think of myself as a shell collector, looking for the opportunities that are uncovered once all the excitement dies down. Let the other people get soaked trying to guess the waves – we can do very well renting deck chairs in any market!
Rolling Options to Ride the Waves
by phil - July 25th, 2010 11:15 am
As I said in our last 5% Rule Update, way back on May 5th, I’m not a big fan of TA. We have our 5% rule and it serves us well enough but that’s a statistical analysis, not a technical one. The only TA I put a lot of stock in is Fibonacci Retracements but that, also, is really statistical science and has nothing to do with trying to predict the movement of squiggly lines on a chart.
The 5% Rule does NOT tell you which way the market is going. It does tell you where the resistance points will be. Of course, knowing that and knowing what kind of bounces to expect and knowing where a proper breakdown or break-out occurs is kind of useful and, when it coincides with the tea leaves that are read by the "real" TA guys – you can really have something good to go by!
Unfortunately, the 5% Rule is not really a RULE because it requires a cynical background in statistics, especially regarding aberrant values or "outliers" and a general understanding of market history as well as current market events because all need to be taken into account in order to give you accurate "consolidation levels" from which we base out chart movement.
The great Harry Houdini used to enjoy amazing audiences with demonstrations of the supernatural, especially when he would pull back the curtain and reveal the frauds that others were passing off as reality. That’s how I feel about TA - we can use these very simple scientific "tricks" to project the movement of the market and others can paint their charts and dress them up in whatever language they wish to make it unique but, to me, it still all boils down to the fundamentals with the underlying movement governed by normal regression patterns influenced by capital flows and sentiment.
Whatever you want to call it, here’s our chart from May 5th, where I said: "So what lies ahead? Most likely a retrace back to 1,100 (25% of our run) but if that holds and we consolidate a bit, I will be downright bullish. I will also be impressed if we hold 1,145, which was our last breakout line but, for now, we have a 3.75% drop from 1,218 but a poor bounce yesterday indicates we are likely to get down to a 5% pullback from 1,218 to 1,157 and…
by phil - June 14th, 2010 5:28 pm
I mentioned my Microwave Oven Theory this morning and I didn't realize it was hard to find so here it is again:
Last Thursday, I mentioned that Jim Rogers said:
I am as confused as anybody else (about the level of bearishness on the Euro). Usually that indicates a rally… Once a technical rally starts, who knows where it can go from that.
Don't you wish other people would be that honest with us? It's very hard for people who give opinions for a living to stand in front of an audience and say: "I don't know." Somehow they seem to feel that they HAVE to know and, what's worse, once they force themselves to make a decision, they somehow feel obligated to defend it, even if new evidence comes out to the contrary.
This is exactly what's wrong with financial reporters and analysts, especially the clowns on TV (as well as pretty much anyone who makes a living giving you their opinion). My Members are familiar with something I'm going to share with you now. It is a Nobel Prize-worthy theory that I feel helps make me a better trader and I thought this would be a good time to share it with you:
People love to make random decisions and stick to them like they were directly given it as a commandment!
How does this relate to microwaves? Well, aside from the fact that our brains are constantly being fried by the things every day (ever drive on the highway and see one of those dishes aimed right at you? Do you know birds die if they fly too close to them?), this is what I observe:
You put something in the microwave, say pizza, and you put in a time, say 3:33 (or maybe you are a whole number person and do 3 or 4 minutes). Now, unless you are a chain store pizza buyer your pizza slice is probably not always the same size or maybe it has different toppings etc., but you probably put in the same number every time.
Theory number 1: People tend to repeat behavior, especially if it was successful in the past.
by phil - March 27th, 2010 8:28 am
Option Sage Submits:
Just a couple of decades ago it would have been almost unfathomable for the retail investor to consider generating consistent returns above 20% per year. Indeed, those who competed in arguably the most competitive financial market place, the stock market, were considered gurus when they beat the S&P 500 year in and year out.
Others, such as Jerome Kohlberg, Henry Kravis and George Roberts made a name for themselves in private equity as did Peter Peterson and Stephen Schwarzman with the Blackstone Group. Gains in the stock market for Joe Public were subjected to a limiting factor – the inability to leverage substantially. Joe Public was also limited in participating in private equity investments; they were the domain of the rich – the insiders. These days, private equity still remains the domain of the rich, but leveraging is possible through the purchase of equity derivatives. And the sale of those same equity derivatives can be highly profitable too.
Whereas it would have been unthinkable years ago to consider making big profits year in and year out on a stock that doesn’t move much – because the only source of income, dividends, tended to be in the low single digits in percentage terms - these days options afford us the opportunity to sit tight and profit while holding stock positions. This can easily be achieved through the sale of short call options against stock holdings, otherwise known as the Covered Call strategy. While the Covered Call strategy may appear straightforward when first encountered, many applications may be employed. In this article, we will consider the application that Stock and Option Trades labels: 7 Steps to 40% per year!
Step 1: Wait for a selloff
Ok, so you want to skip this step and move on to Step 2. Wait!
One of the great quotes in investing comes from Jesse Livermore and pertains to this concept of patience. In Reminiscences of a Stock Operator, it is stated:
"It never was my thinking that made the big money for me. It always was my sitting. Got that? My sitting tight! It is no trick at all to be right on the market. You always find lots of early bulls in bull markets and early bears in bear markets. I’ve known many men who were right at exactly the right time, and began buying or selling stocks when prices were
by phil - February 20th, 2010 8:27 am
What a wild last 30 day’s we’ve had!
I’m going to do a little bit of charting today so we don’t miss out on the next potential Meatball Market (where bad news "just doesn’t matter") as we get past earnings season without any serious dings. Of course, like Icarus, they higher we go, the further we have to fall, especially when we’re getting there on wax wings but part of our fundamental outlook is looking at market sentiment along with the motives, means and opportunity of the manipulators.
The Fed threw a little monkey-wrench into the works Thursday with a surprise rate move but the market was amazingly unphased and, as you’ll notice on the chart below, we are neatly repeating the same move we saw in early November, when we waited 400 points for the correction that never came – until January 20th of course! This week, we took a few pokes at short plays and got burned and we went into the weekend a little bearish but mostly neutral. Our Buy List is off to the races, of course and only 2 of our 42 trade ideas there (AGNC and DF) are off course – I had meant to do an update this week but there’s no point!
We don’t pay much attention to the Buy List in our daily posts or even in chat because those trades do their job with very little fuss. Ideally, the bulk of your virtual portfolio should be made up of boring, low-touch trades that make nice, consistent returns and THAT allows us to have fun with our more aggressive short-term plays that do demand our regular attention. Someone asked me about allocation the other day and I said that, generally, I feel 75% should be in long-term, well-hedged positions like the ones on our Buy List while the other 25% should be used for more opportunistic trading and, generally, we rarely stray from keeping 1/2 of that in cash to remain flexible.
Of our aggressive virtual portfolio, we try to keep our allocations to no more than 10% of our cash on new positions (which means the more trades you make, the less you put into the next trade) and limit our losses to 20% of a full position or 2% of that virtual portfolio MAX. 2% of 25% is 0.5% of the total virtual portfolio. If our Buy/Write Virtual…
by phil - February 12th, 2010 3:21 am
A lot of people ask us how our Alerts work.
There’s not much to it actually. Alerts are free to Premium Members but they are just Emails that come from our normal daily Member Chat from myself, Optrade or the Oxen Group. Opt and Oxen usually send out trade alerts but I tend to concentrate on things I consider important enough to send out in case someone is away from their computers or (Heaven forbid!) on some other site. One Alert I send out almost every morning are our daily level watches and then, if something big changes, I’ll send out another one but I don’t do it often as I don’t like to bother people with Emails. We have special feeds for members who want to have every comment sent to them anyway.
Usually I send out my first alert just after the bell so we can see what the market looks like at the open. Sometimes we see a good play, sometimes we don’t. Today looked uncertain so posted two possible DIA plays at 9:33 in Chat that were sent out on our Alert system (it’s just an Email!):
So that’s it. This comment from Member Chat gets converted into an Email and ends up in your in-box a few minutes later. On top are my normal level selections for the day with comments about what to look for. As I had mentioned in the morning post, I didn’t even feel it was possible to make it to our 10,300 levels so I didn’t even bother cluttering this post with them this morning. We looked a little weak so I was more concerned about the downside but we held our downsides like a champ and bounced back nicely.
In chat, we took quick profits on the $99 puts and my follow-up comments were:
9:37: "Boy, we can almost count on these morning sell-offs lately. EU funds I think so I still want that upside play."
9:56: ".95 was plenty for the puts. For me, that’s a .15 buffer to enter the longs, now .75 but I don’t want them unless they either get back to .70, (where I’ll risk 1x with 1x at .60 and 2x at .50) or back over 10,020 with a stop right there."
by phil - December 12th, 2009 1:26 pm
At the beginning proceed with caution – or – FOR GOD”S SAKE DON”T DO WHAT I DID!
If you’re reading this article, understand that I’ve walked in your shoes. Like you I was a new member to Phil’s Stock World, arriving on the site looking for companionship and education on my options journey. Probably like you, I had read a few books on options, dabbled in some trades, made and lost some money, but I was still looking for a system, as well as a teacher.
Having read Phil’s daily posts on Seeking Alpha, I was both amused and intrigued, here was someone who spoke plain English, obviously had some education, a passion for the markets, and an opinion on most everything! He also wrote on the importance of “being the house” – of being the on the side of the odds, and being consistent in an approach to investing. All these things appealed and made sense to me, and after reading the article Phil wrote on “How to Buy Stock for a 15-20% Discount” I decided to jump in with both feet. Being a quick study, I took the plunge in late 2008, just in time to have a single, very successful month in December.
Wow – 10-15% gains in my first month! It was a great Christmas Season! I was going to retire early! Obama took office with great promise, and I was keenly optimistic for 2009. I invested heavily, in a variety of sectors, across the board. I sold lots of premium, and things were looking good.
Well, you know what happened next, things went bad, then worse, and then downright scary! I had a number of sleepless nights, and the more I read, both on Phil’s favorites as well as the main street media, the worse things looked. I did my best, but on a number of issues, I pulled the plug and panicked. Not understanding how to roll down, I just sold, generally exactly when I should have been buying. In my first three months of trading, I probably lost 30% of my holdings.
by phil - August 28th, 2009 5:52 pm
The following is a collection of podcasts and videos from the Options Clearing Corporation and selected others.
The cover a lot of ground and new ones are occasionally added to their site. They are not as good as the coursework from MarketTamer, who are Option Sage’s excellent group but these are free (as opposed to $99 a month with Sage’s PSW special) so take a peek at the subjects that interest you:
First up is a very good introduction to options basics from Adam Lass, a very good overview. His next episode is the basics of call options – hopefully he’ll do more. Then we have the podcasts from OCC: