What separates the 10% that make money from the 90% that don’t?
In his recent book Outliers: The Story of Success, Malcolm Gladwell describes the 10,000-Hour Rule, claiming that the key to success in any cognitively complex field is, to a large extent, a matter of practicing a specific task for a total of around 10,000 hours. 10,000 hours equates to around 4hrs a day for 10 years. For some reason most people that ‘try their hand’ at trading view it as a get rich quick scheme. That in a very short space of time, they will be able to turn $500 into $1 million! It is precisely this mindset that has resulted in the current economic mess, a bunch of 20-somethings being handed the red phone for financial weapons of mass destruction. The greatest traders understand that trading much like being a doctor, engineer or any other focused and technical endeavor requires time to develop and hone the skill set. Now you wouldn’t see a doctor performing open heart surgery after 3 months on a surgery simulator. Why would trading as a technical undertaking require less time?
Trading success, comes from screen time and experience, you have to put the hours in!
Education, education, education.
The old cliché touted by politicians when they can’t think of anything clever to say to their audience. The importance of education to success in trading cannot be placed on a high enough pedestal. You have to learn to earn, the best traders work obsessively to…
These days, the idea of retirement seems like either a bad joke or a utopian fantasy. I’ve already covered some main reasons the US economy is screwed, but here are 8 reasons why the US has become a nation of indentured servants:
1) Stagnant wages
Are you partying like it’s 1999? That’s because you’re earning money like it’s 1999. Over the past 11 years, the median household income has been flat as a corpse’s pulse.
If everything gets more expensive over time but no one gets a raise, workers will afford less goods and services. This means people will either work the same amount for less stuff, or work harder for the same stuff. Either way, it’s a shitty deal.
2) Dual-income Nation
We’re a country of family values, right? Wrong. We’ve built an economy that requires two incomes to attain middle class status. It has even become a luxury for one spouse to stay home to raise children! (But that’s more of an existential issue …)
The graph above illustrates one of the most basic tenets of economics: if there is twice as much cash floating around the economy, the cost of things simply rises in direct proportion. In this case, adding an extra worker per household has increased household income. As a result, sellers of houses, child care, health insurance, cars, etc. have upped their prices to take more of our dollars.
3) Energy and Food Inflation
Remember $4 gas? Well, we’re back to $3 (double last year’s low). Every time a car ride costs more, that’s less money left over for things other than getting from point A to point B. As oil prices continue to rise with global demand (and diminishing supply), we will spend more hours working just to get to and fro.
Food is the ultimate necessity. So, when prices rise, there’s not much to do if you don’t care for the taste of cat food. It’s harder to notice 20-30% food inflation when a $2 item jumps to $2.40. But
Nowadays a newspaper cannot be opened — or a TV turned on — without one being subjected to anti-teacher misinformation. The anti-teacher hysteria looks diverse on the surface, but underneath, this public controversy seeks to dislodge teachers unions: the right-wing trashes teachers’ unions outright, while the “liberal” media takes a more subtle, sophisticated approach, blaming the state of public education on “bad teachers” who must be fired and replaced. Both styles are the same in essence.
The bi-partisan goal is to undermine and dismember public education, so that public funds may be instead channeled into paying debts racked up by multiple wars and corporate bailouts. Also, as public education is gutted, rich investors parasitically benefit from it by opening for-profit “charter schools,” curriculum corporations, or the bevy of new companies that "certify" teachers for a fraction of the cost or time of universities, ready to serve at the new corporate McEducation institutes.
Obama’s Race to the Top campaign enshrines these odious goals into governmental policy, picking up where Bush’s anti-teacher union policies left off, and racing frantically in the same direction, to the bottom.
The schools that Bush’s No Child Left Behind labeled as “failures” are to be shut down under Obama’s Race to the Top. These schools are almost entirely in poor neighborhoods, where the social disease of poverty is an easy predictor of a child’s poor test scores.
But Obama ignores this obvious fact and blames poor grades and test scores on the teachers, exclusively.
Thus, Obama cheered when every teacher at a Rhode Island “failing” high school was fired. He praised the past closures of dozens of public schools in both Chicago and New Orleans as examples for others to follow. Indeed, Detroit and Kansas City each have plans to close dozens of schools, while California is set to fire thousands of teachers. Under Obama’s plan, federal money is awarded to states that fire the most "bad" teachers and close the most “failing” public schools.
Students at the University of California’s flagship Berkeley campus took to the streets on Friday night, vandalizing university buildings, burning trash cans and clashing with police in the latest expression of frustration over cuts to the educational budget in California.
In November, the University of California Board of Regents voted to raise tuition by 32 percent. At the same time, professors were asked to take pay cuts or be furloughed, classes were eliminated and class size increased. Protests erupted across the University of California system, particularly at UC Davis and UCLA.
Every year, tens of thousands of college students and graduates stop making payments on their student loans.
For more than a decade, that loan-default rate was in decline because the federal government toughened penalties for schools with high shares of defaults. Now, the rate is increasing again and not just because of the economy.
The problem is particularly acute in Arizona, which has the nation’s highest overall default rate on federal student loans: 9.8 percent in fiscal year 2007, the latest figures available.
But more than default rates, it is the high levels of debt that are provoking alarm among consumer advocates. That has heightened scrutiny of for-profit schools.
Tuition at for-profit schools can easily top $10,000 a year. The average loans for a student who earned a bachelor’s degree totaled $32,650 in the 2007-08 school year, compared with $17,700 at public universities. At community colleges, the average for two-year degrees was $7,125.
In Arizona, for-profit schools are booming. They have more than doubled the number of students they serve in the past five years, and more students are at for-profit schools than all three of the state’s public universities combined.
Last school year, for-profit schools enrolled nearly 468,000 students, according to the Arizona State Board for Private Postsecondary Education, a state agency that licenses and regulates most for-profit schools. About 55 percent were from Arizona, and the rest lived elsewhere and attended school online.
In December, the University of Phoenix settled a whistleblower lawsuit in federal court for $78.5 million
The results of a new study examining the use of options in a collar strategy (both active and passive implementations) on the PowerShares QQQ™ exchange-traded fund (ETF) show it provides superior returns to the traditional buy and hold strategy while reducing risk by almost 65%.
The Options Industry Council (OIC) is pleased to note the study reaffirms the risk management potential of equity options, finding that during the entire 10-year study period, including the sub-periods around the tech bubble and credit crisis, collars significantly outperformed the QQQ, providing much needed capital protection.
“Loosening Your Collar: Alternative Implementations of QQQ Collars,” by Edward Szado and Thomas Schneeweis, looked at data from March 1999 to May 2009. It concluded that over the entire 122 month period the passive collar returned almost 150%, while the QQQ lost one-third of its value. The active collar outperformed both strategies and returned more than 200%.
Additionally, the study simulated a collar on a small-cap mutual fund. The return of the active mutual fund collar was four times the return of the fund, while the standard deviation was about one-third lower. The study was conducted by the Isenberg School of Management’s Center for International Securities and Derivatives Markets (CISDM) at the University of Massachusetts.
Typically, you want to employ a collar to protect a dividend-paying stock from losing value. We employed this strategy successfully in our last $100K Virtual Portfolio with KMP, who pay a healthy 7.6% dividend but had fallen 35% in 6 months in March. As we were re-entering the position back at $40 (with a 10% dividend), we were happy to be in it just for the premiums.
The study makes for a very interesting read. We do not employ full collars very often but they are a very useful strategy to know as you can "lock down" your positions when the markets get rough and it’s also a great way to vacation-proof your virtual portfolio without having to alter your existing positions. Also, as noted in the study, an active management approach – like the one we employ in our buy/writes (rolling the short positions along) leads to the greatest benefits over time. As the OIC says about the strategy:
This strategy offers the stock protection of a put. However, in return for accepting a limited upside profit potential on his underlying shares (to the call’s strike price), the investor…
The mainstream media is gleefully hyping "the recession is over, the recovery is underway." Nice, except for everything that’s missing in action.
"The recession is over, the recovery is underway." Exactly what will be driving this fabulous "recovery"? Let’s check in on the usual forces which have powered previous recoveries:
1. Autos/vehicles: missing in action (MIA). Annual sales have plummeted from 17 million vehicles a year to about 9 million a year, and the U.S. probably contains about 30 million surplus/lightly used vehicles ( a number snagged from economist David Rosenberg’s latest report). Modern vehicles can easily last 15-20 year, so the "need" to replace vehicles is rather low. Actual "necessary" replacement might require as few as 5 million vehicles a year.
With unemployment at 16%, assets down by $10 trillion and the FIRE economy (finance, real estate and insurance) in disarray, where does anyone think the consumer borrowing firepower will come from to finance an extra 8 million vehicles a year?
2. Housing/real estate: missing in action (MIA). Let’s see: new home sales down from 1.4 million a year to 350,000 a year and the headlines are screaming "recovery in housing" even as house prices are down 50% from the bubble peak and still declining. The Case-Shiller index just came in at a year-over-year decline of 17% and the market is cheering because it’s a few tenths of a percent "better than expected."
The U.S. has 18.7 million vacant homes and even if you bulldoze a couple million in shrinking rust-belt cities we still have 16.7 million vacant dwellings, plus thousands more foolishly being constructed every year.
Furniture sales and auctions of old furniture are in the ditch; ditto draperies, carpeting, hardwood flooring, etc. etc., much of which is still manufactured in the U.S. No wonder the manufacturing sector is still contracting as well.
The bubble in commercial real estate has yet to pop but the needle is currently being inserted into the balloon. Too many malls, too many strip malls, too many office towers, too many CRE buildings everywhere.
3. FIRE economy: missing in action (MIA). Finance, real estate and insurance were the boomtown industries in the housing bubble. They’re diminished and will never come back; the consumer must save now to avoid a retirement in…
Finding investing education advice for stock options trading can be a frustrating endeavor at times. New traders often share with me that it feels like the options trading community is a very tight-lipped community with a high price of admission. I’ve been through that process so I’d like to offer you some advice.
Learning to invest your own money is a journey, not a destination. It takes time, patience, and education. It’s a proactive journey for those who no longer desire to be a victim of the so called experts.
Over the years I’ve made enough mistakes and have had enough successes to know that the ability to master your money is not something that just happens. It takes a bit of work on your part.
Increasing your investment IQ is a key part, especially when you’re dealing with stock options. You have to find a qualified and trustworthy source for investing education. There’s quite a bit of hype out there so you have to filter out all the "noise".
You may have already searched online for information on stock options, or read a few books. Most people are drawn to options trading by the potential to create large sums of money in a short period of time. Here is my forewarning; having a great deal of head knowledge about stock options doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll be a great trader. It’s going to take some real world practice.
Most of what I’ve learned about investing did not come from a classroom or a book; it came from real world experiences. I found people who were willing to give me unbiased investing education and I applied the knowledge through practice and a bit of trial and error.
Investing Education is your Financial Road Map
Investing education has a purpose in our lives like a map has a purpose to a traveler. A map can take you from point "A" to point "B" when you’re traveling. Investing education can take you from school loans, credit card debt, and no budget to debt-free with money to burn. It’s your financial map so to speak.
You could try to figure out options trading on your own, but if you’re smart and value your time you’ll find a map that can get you to your destination quicker. It’s extremely rare for me to meet someone who doesn’t want…
In it we discussed several strategies for hedging existing positions, moving them into neutral positions ahead of a time when you would be going away and not able to keep your eye on the markets. As we cashed out last week, it hasn’t been much of an issue coming into this long weekend but some of you still have long postiions that need protecting and Sage has been kind enough to provide us with access to a free on-line seminar on the subject through his educational platform at www.MarketTamer.com.
I don’t recommend many services but Sage was an original member who went on to write many of our educational posts over the years and went on to develop an on-line trading education system that is very, very good for learning stock and options trading. PSW members get a special offer of $99/month, which is 1/3 the going rate AND he will give you that $99 back if you are not satisfied after the first month! So check out the link above, there are 3 free lessons there and read through the article. If you plan on going away with positions open this summer in this crazy market – I think it will be time well spent…
Those of you who know Sage have probably already linked over but for those of you who didn’t get a chance to meet him when he was on-line with us all the time, here’s a copy of Market Tamer’s recent press release, which tells you a bit about Gareth and the company he’s been building:
Taming The Market
A shockingly simple yet amazingly powerful concept has been ignored by major hedge funds, mutual funds, and retail traders alike. On their quest to outperform the market, Wall Street’s best often get sucked into a single style of investing or trading: long only, long/short, distressed, diversified and the list goes on. They use a single approach to exploit a changing market. And often a single approach works – for a while. Bill Miller of Legg Mason was regarded as one of the stars on Wall Street until his virtual portfolio suffered substantial losses during the crisis of 2008. Victor Niederhoffer was once acclaimed as the number one hedge fund investor in the world until his fund blew…
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Several popular U.S. stock index's are at or near all time highs. Of late the Russell 2000 just broke above a 15-year resistance line. Now we will soon see if the Dow, NDX, NYSE and Wilshire 5000 follow suit.
"In the future, no matter how the situation is resolved in Crimea, we need a much stronger Ukraine," warned Pavlo Rizanenko, a member of the Ukrainian parliament, adding that "If you have nuclear weapons people don't invade you." It would seem tough for the West (and their START Treaty) to get behind a nation that, as USA Today reports, believes it may have to arm itself with nuclear weapons to enforce a security pact to reverse the Moscow-based takeover of Crimea. "We gave up nuclear weapons," (inherited from the Soviet Union) because of the 1991 agreem...
Imagine that you are speeding down one of those long and lonesome stretches of highway that seems to fall off the edge of the horizon. As the painted white lines become a blur, you notice a sign that says "Warning." You look ahead for what seems to be miles of endless highway, but see nothing. You assume the sign must be old therefore you disregard it, slipping back into complacency.
A few miles down the road you see another sign that reads "Warning: Danger Ahead." Yet, you see nothing in distance. Again, a few miles later you see another sign that reads "No, Really, There IS Danger Ahead." Still, it is clear for miles ahead as the road disappears over the next hill.
Today was the beginning of “spring break” for the market. At least it seemed that way with a very low trading volume of only 600M shares on the NYSE. Either the college crowd does more trading than we imagined or parents are taking the week off as well.
The market barely woke up for the session with the S&P 500 down 0.05% and the NASDAQ down 0.03%. However, the DJI must have gotten extra sleep this weekend as it was up 0.21%. Small caps took a bigger hit with the Russell 2000 dropping nearly 0.50% percent. There was nothing major in the news other than a disappointing trading figure from China. Indeed, the whole week will only include a meager four major economic reports with Wholesale Inventories tomorrow, Retail Sales and Jobless Claims on Thursday, and Producer Price In...
The dramatic moves in fuel cell related stocks continues this week, with shares in Plug Power (Ticker: PLUG), FuelCell Energy (Ticker: FCEL) and Ballard Power Systems (Ticker: BLDP) beginning the trading week with explosive gains ahead of FuelCell Energy’s first-quarter earnings report after the closing bell, and following on the heels of a large order from Walmart for Plug Power, which the company confirmed in a press release on February 26th.
Shares in PLUG rose as much as 38% to touch $11.41 this afternoon, marking a near 150% move to the upside in the price of the underlying since Monday morning of last week when the stock opened at $4.60....
Reminder: OpTrader is available to chat with Members, comments are found below each post.
This post is for all our live virtual trade ideas and daily comments. Please click on "comments" below to follow our live discussion. All of our current trades are listed in the spreadsheet below, with entry price (1/2 in and All in), and exit prices (1/3 out, 2/3 out, and All out).
We also indicate our stop, which is most of the time the "5 day moving average". All trades, unless indicated, are front-month ATM options.
Please feel free to participate in the discussion and ask any questions you might have about this virtual portfolio, by clicking on the "comments" link right below.
To learn more about the swing trading virtual portfolio (strategy, performance, FAQ, etc.), please click here...
Reminder: Pharmboy is available to chat with Members, comments are found below each post.
Ladies and Gentlemen, hobos and tramps,
Cross-eyed mosquitoes, and Bow-legged ants,
I come before you, To stand behind you,
To tell you something, I know nothing about.
And so the circus begins in Union Square, San Francisco for this weeks JP Morgan Healthcare Conference. Will the momentum from 2013, which carried the S&P Spider Biotech ETF to all time highs, carry on in 2014? The Biotech ETF beat the S&P by better than 3 points.
As I noted in my previous post, Biotechs Galore - IPOs and More, biotechs were rushing to IPOs so that venture capitalists could unwind their holdings (funds are usually 5-7 years), as well as take advantage of the opportune moment...
Welcome to the fouth update of the IRA Virtual Portfolio. First I am going to summarize the current state of the Portfolio then I will get into all the activity we had during September expiration.
Profit and Loss – Net of closed positions the portfolio is up a total of $769
Market Commentary – Last expiration I said, "I would like to put a total of $20,000 to work by the end of SEP expiration. If the VIX pops up to around 20 I plan to put about $50,000 total to work." The market didn't quite reach the goal but I did manage to deploy $15,000 of buying power. I still feel the market is too high and expect a correction during October. If the vix pops up to around 20 I still plan to put about $50,000 to work. If a correction doesn't happen I still plan to have a total of $25,000 in buying power put to work by October expiration. Now on to the act...
Note: The material presented in this commentary is provided for
informational purposes only and is based upon information that is
considered to be reliable. However, neither MaddJack Enterprises, LLC
d/b/a PhilStockWorld (PSW) nor its affiliates
warrant its completeness, accuracy or adequacy and it should not be relied upon as such. Neither PSW nor its affiliates are responsible for any errors or omissions or for results obtained from the use of this information. Past performance, including the tracking of virtual trades and portfolios for educational purposes, is not necessarily indicative of future results. Neither Phil, Optrader, or anyone related to PSW is a registered financial adviser and they may hold positions in the stocks mentioned, which may change at any time without notice. Do not buy or sell based on anything that is written here, the risk of loss in trading is great.
This material is not intended as an offer or solicitation for the purchase or sale of any security or other financial instrument. Securities or other financial instruments mentioned in this material are not suitable for all investors. Any opinions expressed herein are given in good faith, are subject to change without notice, and are only intended at the moment of their issue as conditions quickly change. The information contained herein does not constitute advice on the tax consequences of making any particular investment decision. This material does not take into account your particular investment objectives, financial situations or needs and is not intended as a recommendation to you of any particular securities, financial instruments or strategies. Before investing, you should consider whether it is suitable for your particular circumstances and, as necessary, seek professional advice.