Saturday, December 24, 2005
Bill Cara shares his Rules for Successful Trading. Read here. My favorite rule? Rule #9: Take risks, not chances.
My wife and I were talking about the difference between Donald Trump and Warren Buffett last night. And it was just funny that I then find this post by the Daily Dose of Optimism on Trump's Rise to Wealth. Read here.
Just what were my wife and I discussing in regard to Trump and Buffett? Well, we were just making the case that Trump has a tougher row to hoe in staying rich because his wealth depends upon his lavish lifestyle. He has to project an image of a rich billionaire in order to keep his billionaire status. Buffett known for his value-conscious investments and lifestyle has a wider margin in his billionaire status. In other words, he can be cheap and still retain his status.
Gotta go...time to make cookies for Santa and Rudolph.
Friday, December 23, 2005
"Things should be made as simple as possible, but not any simpler." -- Albert Einstein
Diversification is Balderdash? Here.
This time it's different? First the New Economy and now the Inverted Yield Curve?. Here.
Baby Sitters, Protectionism, Starbucks, Export Bans, and the Bubble? Now that's my kind of economist. Read here.
Two great articles posted recently by Dan over at the The Art of Streetplay. Read Model Building Thoughts here. And Indexing the Answer here. He mentions a quote that "Stock picking is a very complicated process." I agree with that quote but with an addition..."Stock picking is a very complicated process because it is so simple."
Reminds me of programming projects I've worked on. Wanna know what the hardest projects were? Not the ones that seemed so complicated to understand at first that there was no way it could be done. Those ended up being fairly easy to design and implement. The simple little buggers are the ones that ended up causing the most problems. Time clock-in/clock-out systems for instance are very simple...yet very complex. I have spent more hours on time systems than I've ever spent on designing and implementing the merge of a sysplex into a 24-hour window. Y2K...very simple...yet very complex. Payroll...cut a person a check...how hard is that? Simple...yet complex.
Are simple things turned into complex things because of people? Or are simple things complex because the multitude of variables effect on the simplest of things? And people just happen to be one of those variables? Too deep for me.
I just know the more I study the market the less I end up knowing. A very humbling experience. So, I find myself over the years sticking more and more to the simple stuff which takes me into very complex directions. The vicious cycle of simple to complex to simple...never ends.
Monday, December 19, 2005
"Listen to what the market is saying about others; not what others are saying about the market." -- Richard Wyckoff
Nice quote. Don't listen to all the yick yack from others. Listen to the market. If the world is falling apart...is gold rallying? If we're going to have a rough 2006...how are the tech stocks doing? If gold and techs are both on the rise; what's Mr. Market trying to tell us? Hmmm...
While you're chewing on that...check out the two articles below.
The CEO of Raytheon, William Swanson, shares his management lessons...here. My favorite rules? Rule 30: Short them to the ground.
Bloomberg asks "What is Your Total Return?"...here. I have to admit...I asked myself one of the same questions mentioned in the article just a month or so ago. "Are you doing what makes you feel most alive? Does what you do add or subtract from your overall goals and happiness?" Careful about asking yourself this...life changes can occur.
Saturday, December 17, 2005
"Seeds are a lot like dollars. You can eat the seeds or sow them. But when you would see what seeds turned into...ten-foot-high corn...you don't want to waste them. Consume them or plant them. I always get a kick out of watching things grow." -- quote from Millionaire Next Door
Every so often I pull a book down from my library and skim through the pages just seeing what catches my eye. This morning I pulled down The Millionaire Next Door by Thomas J. Stanley and William D. Danko. This book uncovers some interesting statistics regarding millionaires in America. Here's just a few...
Self-employed people make up less than 20% of the workers in America but account for two-thirds of the millionaires.
About half of the millionaire's wives do not work outside the home. The number-one occupation for those wives who do work is teacher.
About 80% of millionaires are first-generation affluent.
Have more than 6 1/2 times the level of wealth of their nonmillionaire neighbors, but, these nonmillionaire neighbors outnumber us better than 3 to 1.
How to determine if you're wealthy? Multiply your age times your gross annual income and divide that figure by 10. This figure is what your net worth should be. For example, if your gross annual income is $70,000 and age is 34...then you're net worth should be $238,000. If your well under that figure...you're an UAW (under accumulator of wealth). If well over that figure...a PAW (prodigious accumulator of wealth).
The reason why I enjoyed this book so much when I bought it 3 or 4 years ago is because of its contrarian tale. Millionaires aren't the figures you have conjured up in your mind that live lavishly, spend furiously, and never worry about money. They're the people you overlook in a crowded room. The tightwads...driving used non-descript cars, working in dull industries, and loving every minute of it.
In fact, one of the few I do know is a welder in the backwoods of East Texas. Had him weld a car part for me a few times. Owned a pet raccoon, several dogs, and cats. Lives in an 80 year-old home with no central air/heat. Wife is a stay-at-home mom. He's around 40 years of age. How do you imagine a welder in a very small town struck it rich? He has sucked every last drop of opportunity from his land and welding business. Created a parking lot for overnight truckers where he receives money for parking as well as working on their rigs. Sells ad space on his high-traffic (for East Texas) road signs. The list goes on. And let's face it...he lives extremely frugal. The words tightwad have been mentioned several times when his name is brought up.
Another millionaire I know started out as a commercial fisherman on the lake. Ran trot-lines for catfish. Did fairly well in a barely break-even business. Then began an auto-repair business. Something thousands of mechanics have done. But, this one through extremely frugal living has turned it into one heck of a profitable business. And unbeknownst to many, has turned the land behind his shop into a very lucrative Pecan farm. Again, sucking the blood out of every last drop in his assets and being frugal with the returns have turned this local genius into a millionaire.
I'll leave you with one of my favorite stories of all time in regard to millionaires. It's one I have told over and over to many of my friends and coworkers. And best of all...it's from the Millionaire Next Door Book...
The first time we interviewed a group of people worth at least $10 million (decamillionaires), the session turned out differently than we had planned. To make sure our decamillionaire respondents felt comfortable during the interview, we rented a posh penthouse on Manhattan's fashionable East Side. We also hired two gourmet food designers. They put together a menu of four pates and three kinds of caviar. To accompany this, the designers suggested a case of high-quality 1970 Bordeaux plus a case of a "wonderful" 1973 cabernet sauvignon.
Armed with what we thought would be the ideal menu, we enthusiastically awaited the arrival of our decamillionaire respondents. The first to arrive was someone we nick-named Mr. Bud. Sixty-nine and a first-generation millionaire, Mr. Bud owned several valuable pieces of commercial real estate in New York metropolitan area. He also owned two businesses. You would never have figured out from his appearance that he was worth well over $10 million. His dress was what you might call dull-normal...a well-worn suit and overcoat.
Nevertheless, we wanted to make Mr. Bud feel that we fully understood the food and drink expectations of America's decamillionaires. So after we introduced ourselves, one of us asked, "Mr. Bud, may I pour you a glass of 1970 Bordeaux?"
Mr. Bud looked at us with a puzzled expression on his face and then said: "I drink scotch and two kinds of beer -- free and BUDWEISER!"
We hid our shock as the true meaning of our decamillionaire's message dawned upon us. During the subsequent two-hour interview, the nine decamillionaire respondents shifted constantly in their chairs. Occasionally they glanced at the buffet. But not one touched the pate or drank our vintage wines. We knew they were hungry, but all they ate were gourmet crackers.
When we interview millionaires these days, we offer a spread that is more congruent with their way of life. We provide them with coffee, soft drinks, beer, scotch, and club sandwiches. Of course, we also pay them between $100 and $250 apiece.
What are the three words that profile the affluent? FRUGAL FRUGAL FRUGAL.
Check out the book and more importantly, check out yourself and chosen lifestyle. Are you frugal enough?
[Edit: Corrected the calculation of "how wealthy you are." I miscalculated ($70,000.00 * 34) / 10. Does not = $280,000.00 but $238,000.00. Sorry for the mistake. ]
Wednesday, December 14, 2005
"One myth that appears to be imploding along with the market is the notion that investors should “passively” buy the market via the S&P 500 Index ($INX) rather than buying individual stocks."
"This is not just a question of one company picking better stocks than the other. It’s a question of a flawed design that rewards sector momentum over common sense. Unlike most index publishers, such as the Nasdaq and Dow Jones, Standard & Poor’s adds and subtracts stocks from its three broad indexes -- the large-cap 500, the Midcap 400 ($MID.X) and the Smallcap 600 ($SML.X) frequently in accordance with a largely subjective list of criteria that includes market capitalization, liquidity and their representation of industrial sectors."
"It’s the latter criteria that got S&P into trouble in 2000 as it tried to keep pace with the explosive 1999 performance of the tech-heavy Nasdaq 100 ($NDX.X). Every month a number-cruncher at S&P adds up the total capitalization of all 9,000 or so stocks traded on U.S. exchanges, and determines the percentage representation of each broad industrial sector, such as technology, health care and capital goods. After technology stocks roared into favor in the late 1990s, S&P found that the market had given an 18% weighting to tech stocks while its index only had a 14% weighting. So the committee considered itself obligated to raise its weighting in tech stocks in short order."
"In 2002, S&P has continued its tradition of adding fast-rising stocks in the most popular industrial sectors to the S&P 500. In time, we will determine whether they were reflecting economic changes or simply the market momentum of regional banks, real-estate investment trusts, insurance and home improvement products. Top adds so far, in order of inclusion, are Plum Creek Timber (PCL), Ace Limited (ACE), Rational Software (RATL), Marshall and Ilsley (MI), First Tennessee National (FTN), American Standard (ASD), BJ Services (BJS), Apollo Group (APOL) and Simon Property Group (SPG)"
Markman posted this article in June 2002.Yes, 2002. Just 4 months before the bottom of the 2000 decline. Now, take a look at those stocks Markman mentioned being added to the index back in 2002.
Every single one of them are up and up pretty good I might add since their inclusion. Oh, sorry...Rational Software was bought by IBM and First Tennessee National by First Horizon...so they didn't go up as much as the others. But, a 100% hit rate isn't too shabby for a bad mutual fund as Markman calls it.
What does this say about Markman's theory on the S&P 500? His all-knowing implications of we'll just see how badly you fail by adding fast-rising stocks in the most popular industrial sectors? Hmmm...
I think Markman suffers from what most investors including myself suffer from...lack of consistency. That's why you have to admire a guy like Roger Nusbaum over at Random Roger's Big Picture. I've read his blog over a year now and he has stuck to the same investing approach month in and month out. Market does great or market does bad...he's the same. He might suffer from a lack of exciting material to write about at times...but better for that to suffer than his or his client's returns. There's a lot to learn from that approach.
Consistency. How do you become consistent like Roger? How do you get to the point of knowing your investment methodology will work long-term? And then trusting it despite what Mr. Market throws at you?
Maybe this quote will help...
"We should be careful to get out of an experience only the wisdom that is in it — and stop there; lest we be like the cat that sits down on a hot stove lid. She will never sit on a hot stove lid again — and that is well; but also she will never sit down on a cold one anymore." -- Mark Twain
Are we too focused on the hot lids of 1929-1932, 1969-1970, 2000-2002? Does that explain Markman's rant and his ever changing cycles shared with Neiderhoffer?
Have we forsaken consistency for market strategies that avoid those hot stove lids? Buy gold...market looks weak. Inflation rising. Warning, warning, warning Will Robinson. When the lid proves cold...what are we left with?
Or is our focus only on the cold stove lids? Buy the bull...everything looks great. The flowers are blooming and there's not a cloud in the sky. We're in stage 4 of the business cycle and firing on all pistons. Charge! When you burn your tail on the eventual hot lid with too much money on the line...what are you left with?
Maybe we narrow our focus and reduce the duration of our holdings hoping to side-step all lids regardless of hot or cold? Never sitting long enough in one spot even if that means we never sit down at all? Churn.
Perhaps Twain had it right...understand the market is filled with hot and cold lids (stocks). And that's it. Nothing more and nothing less. Focus on the goal at hand...finding a place to sit your money. If the plate is hot...get up and move to the next spot. Never sit long enough on a hot lid (cut your losses) nor put enough weight down on all lids (position sizing) to get burnt badly. Find a place to sit and do what cats do best...sleep (compound).
Monday, December 12, 2005
All who succeed in life get off to a bad start, and pass through many heart-breaking struggles before they "arrive." The turning point in the lives of those who succeed, usually comes at the moment of some crisis, through which they are introduced to their "other selves." -- Napoleon Hill
Friday, December 09, 2005
Crop tree management is very similar to thinning carrots in a garden. If you leave too many carrot seedlings, you end up with many scrawny carrots and few nice ones at the end of the season. It works the same way with trees.
Crop tree management is a technique developed to generate high-value sawlogs. This makes your woodlot more valuable and increases the financial return from your trees. This technique usually does not apply very well to pulpwood production. In crop tree management, as few as five to more than ten trees per acre can be selected as candidate “crop trees.” Crop trees are the best trees in the woodlot. These are the trees that will be kept in the forest to grow in size and value. This does NOT mean that a landowner cuts all of the other trees, but instead means that the crop trees get special treatment that is not given to the others. A crop tree is usually:
• A long-lived and desirable species
• Straight and tall
• Free of obvious disease
• Free of defects, especially large wounds
• In the uppermost canopy layer (in a dominant or co-dominant position)
When selecting crop trees, it is important to note that the tree does not need to be large, just in the upper canopy. Some of the biggest gains in value can come from trees that are 6–10 inches now, but will be 12–14 inches or more at the final sale.
After the candidate trees have been selected, the trees that are directly competing with them are removed. This usually means trying to release the crowns (the top) of the crop trees from competition on three or four sides. After the treatment, the crowns of the crop trees should be separated from adjacent trees by about 15 feet. This will allow the tree to grow with much less competition and to put on much greater volumes of high-value new wood. These few, really good quality trees usually hold most of the value in the stand when cut for sawtimber.
Now, what does that have to do with investing? Hmmm.... Let me convert the above text into what my mind saw:
Crop stock management is very similar to thinning carrots in a garden. If you leave too many carrot seedlings, you end up with many scrawny carrots and few nice ones at the end of the season. It works the same way with stocks.
Crop stock management is a technique developed to generate super stocks. This makes your investment portfolio more valuable and increases the financial return from your stocks. This technique usually does not apply very well to daytrading strategies. In crop stock management, as few as five to more than ten stocks per portfolio can be selected as candidate “crop stocks.” Crop stocks are the best stocks in the portfolio. These are the stocks that will be kept in the portfolio to grow in size and value. This does NOT mean that an investor sells all of the other stocks, but instead means that the crop stocks get special treatment that is not given to the others. A crop stock is usually:
• A long-lived and desirable stock
• Uptrend that is tight and strong
• Free of obvious disease - unprofitable, high debt, etc.
• Free of defects, especially large wounds - facing bankruptcy, lawsuits, etc.
• In the uppermost canopy layer (in a dominant or co-dominant position) - new highs dominate the chart
When selecting crop stocks, it is important to note that the stock does not need to be highly liquid, just in the upper canopy. Some of the biggest gains in value can come from stocks that are thinly followed now, but will be heavily followed by the final sale.
By applying Crop Stock Management to our investment portfolios...perhaps we can grow crop stocks into super stocks .
Wednesday, December 07, 2005
Corporate farms have enabled us to consume our milk, eggs, bacon, hamburgers, steaks, etc. all at a price that is easy to stomach since we never have to step foot onto a farm or ranch. Especially considering John F. Kennedy's quote, "The farmer is the only business man who buys at retail, sells at wholesale and pays the freight both ways."
But, this improvement on farming came at a cost...to the cottage farmer. Gene Logsdon brilliantly highlights these costs in his classic book, The Contrary Farmer.
So, what's my point? Not much...just trying to find a nice little segue into the following article I found over on DeepWealth. Read here. It's an extract from Charlie Munger's speech on what technology improvements can do to a company...person...a commodity. Favorite part?
And he knew that the huge productivity increases that would come from a better machine introduced into the production of a commodity product would all go to the benefit of the buyers of the textiles. Nothing was going to stick to our ribs as owners.
That's such an obvious concept - that there are all kinds of wonderful new inventions that give you nothing as owners except the opportunity to spend a lot more money in a business that's still going to be lousy.The money still won't come to you. All of the advantages from great improvements are going to flow through to the customers.
The great part about that statement is just how true it is. I have witnessed this effect time and time again in regard to technological improvements made in business. The crazy part...besides myself?
Most people never hit the conclusion that Buffett came to so quickly. Is it really worth doing if I have to invest all this capital only to keep up? Now, I'm not saying we should halt all progress...Close the mill...so to speak. Just trying to make the point that improving our lives...our businesses...the world, comes at a cost.
High-speed Internet? How's that family you never see?
Great investing tools...clean reliable stock data feeds...real-time scan streamers? How's the hunt for those market inefficiencies coming? And at what cost? Only to keep up?
Nice car? Yeah? How's that 45 minute commute?
Nice house? How's that mortgage?
My dad used to mention how it took him 25 to 30 hits to find oil back in the day...now it takes only 2 or 3. But, the cost is the same if not higher.
So, what to do...what to do? To me, I've always thought you should take into account all costs of the improvement (both real and lost) and figure out if there's a way to break off from the pack and create value in a different area and with that capital from the so-called "improvement".
How does this relate to trading? Hmmm...Let's see...if everyone is focusing on short-term returns and investing more and more capital into trading technologies to generate those returns...then how are you ever going to get ahead? Cause let's admit it...the margins are pretty crummy anyway. Technology is only going to reduce those margins further. So, maybe we need to do as Gene Logsdon suggests and break away from the pack....if everyone is going short-term...go long-term baby! Maybe Buffett said it best...
"Someone's sitting in the shade today because someone planted a tree a long time ago."
Just maybe we need to look into the tree business. That is after all one of the top search hits on this site. :)
Monday, December 05, 2005
"If the price of automobiles were going up 40% a year, you'd have a boom in auto stocks. But if you stop to think about it, of the companies that you could have bought in, say, 1911, to hold for a long time, one of the very best stocks would have been Rockefeller's Standard Oil Trust. It became almost all of today's integrated oil companies." -- Charlie Munger
Wow! Munger has given us all something to chew on for awhile. What will fuel the next 100 years?
Monday, November 28, 2005
How many of you get stuck in your trading? Can't seem to make progress? Well, sometimes the fish just aren't there to catch. You can work as hard as you want and still catch nada. The key is to cast that net until you find fish.
What happens when no more fish are caught? You must move on...because the fish already have.
Tuesday, November 22, 2005
Under the system, you purchase the index on Wednesday (day before Thanksgiving) and sell the Monday after Thanksgiving. How will it perform this year? Ah, should be interesting. Will I invest my hard-earned money? No, probably not. While it's a fun little system showcasing the holiday effect...just too few data points for me. But, with a quick and dirty test on the current Nasdaq 100 stocks...you earn a profit factor of 3.15. Of course, that's not counting commissions and slippage. Still, not too shabby for turkey lurkey day.
Well, gotta get...some more system work to do. Just what kind of stuff am I working on? Hmmm...let's see...it involves a bit of Bill Cara's Value Line Research, Victor Neiderhoffer's Triumph of the Optimist, Michael Covel's Trend Following post, and Ben Bernanke's MO.
I hope all is great with you and yours. Everyone have a wonderful Thanksgiving.
P.S. TraderMike needs to start working on those New Year's Resolutions for 2006! Time is a tickin! Ha ha!
Monday, November 21, 2005
Analysis of over twenty-five thousand men and women who have experienced failure disclosed the fact that lack of decision was near the head of the list of the thirty-one major causes of failure.I believe these quotes are from Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill. But, found them in the MasterMind Forums here.
Procrastination, the opposite of decision, is a common enemy which practically every man must conquer.
Analysis of several hundred people who had accumulated fortunes well beyond the million-dollar mark disclosed the fact that every one of them had the habit of reaching decisions promptly, and of changing these decisions slowly, if and when they were changed. People who fail to accumulate money, without exception, have the habit of reaching decisions very slowly, if at all, and of changing these decisions quickly and often.
These quotes are the type that should be read more than once. Allowed to soak in your brain. Stew over. Or as they say where I'm from, "Chew on for awhile."
And one last one from Hill for dessert:
"You must get involved to have an impact. No one is impressed with the won-lost record of the referee."
Monday, November 14, 2005
"Try a thing you haven't done three times.
Once, to get over the fear of doing it.
Twice, to learn how to do it.
And the third time, to figure out whether you like it or not."
-- Robert Evans (creator of Godfather)
Great words of wisdom. Especially for ADD'ers like myself. Easy to get frustrated with something and cross it off your list forever without ever taking the time to find out whether you truly like it or not.
The quote was from Robert Evans. Ever heard of him? I hadn't before I found this quote a few years back. Evans has lived quite an interesting life. Read this interview for some particulars, and don't miss out on how Evans discovers "The Smile"....aka Jack Nicholson.
Friday, November 11, 2005
Check out his post on The Reminiscences of an Infant Investor. I quite like his behavioral bent to investing/trading.
Favorite lesson from his post? "Lesson 2: You are not as smart as you think you are."
Ain't it the truth.
The site also has several great quotes sprinkled throughout. Such as this one from Pascal: "Heart has its reasons, that reasons don't understand." Nice!
Well, this might not give the old oil rig workers much serenity now...more like the bad memories, nightly sweats from before. :)
Seriously, this is what you had to climb in on if you wanted to do offshore work in the gulf.
My dad is the 2nd on the right. Picture taken in 1954.
Psychologists ran experiments to see how people absorb information. In one experiment they found people who work with racehorses, and asked them to name up to 50 pieces of information they would need [to determine if it was going to be a winner]. They ranked them by order of importance. They took the 10 most important ones out of 50 and looked at the prediction of accuracy to determine if a horse will win a race. Then they took the 20 most important pieces, then the 30. In the end, you had no gain in predictive power beyond the first 10 pieces of information, but a huge gain of overconfidence...
It's the market that creates the indicator, not the indicator that creates the market.
To become Bill Gates you need more luck than skill. But to become a prosperous person, you need more skill than luck.
I believe Warren Buffett has skills, but probably two-thirds of it comes from an environment that helped him.
I am unable to predict markets, but I know it.
The favorite quote being the Bill Gates more luck than skill. I've referenced that type of thinking back in this post on Relativity by Dr. Mike Ott here. I strongly believe that environment makes up at least 2/3 of a person's success. The other 1/3? Ah, that's your edge.
Thursday, November 10, 2005
Not much happening on the homefront. Busily evaluating a trading idea....while the list of new ones rapidly pile on my desk. Speaking of desk notes...I have to really thank one of the commentors on this blog for recommending EverNote. I was very reluctant at first especially since it involved organizing my thoughts from the scattered scraps of paper and journals to a forum that's neat, tidy, and structured. But, I've really grown to like this little product. I'm slowly but surely beginning to keep everything stored in EverNote and the pile of notes are becoming electronic in form. Kinda cool. At least my wife thinks so. :)
This weekend? Somehow got wrangled into installing ceramic tile in my dad's kitchen. Hows' that for a howdy-do? But, it should be fun and filled with adventure. I'm just afraid the rest of the family will see the results and want more of the same. They'll just have to wait because dad has bigger plans for this computer geek...hardwood flooring!
One last thing...check out the movie Dreamer with Kurt Russell, Dakota Fanning, and Kris Kristofferson. I was really surprised...my wife and I saw it on our date night and I thought it had chick flick written all over it. That might be...still a good heart-warming movie that showcases the struggle of safety and stability against risk and opportunity.
Enjoy your weekend!
Monday, November 07, 2005
Boy, Albert, I sure hope you're right. Cause I've been trying to figure out this market for a heck of a long time!
Question is...how long should you stay with the problem versus cutting your losses and moving on to something else? How many other Einstein's have stayed with the problem til' their dying day...never solving the problem?
To test this theory out...
Try picking stocks and setting a profit target of 50% and don't sell until they hit it. Only two possible outcomes to this test: Stock will hit the profit target Or it won't. Time is removed from the equation except for the length of your lifespan. If the profit target is hit...you'll have found an Einstein.
Same Test as above but exit the stock if 50% target is not reached within a year. Same possible outcomes as the prior test but Time is added to the equation.
Are you better for your Sticktoitiveness or for Cutting Losses Short?
P.S. Would be interesting to see how many stocks bought the day of their IPO acheive their profit target and go on to become Einstein's? Would we consider 50% gain worthy of Einstein status? 100%? 300%?
Friday, November 04, 2005
"The Heights by Great Men Reached and Kept were not Attained by Sudden Flight, but They, while their Companions Slept, were Toiling Upward in the Night." -- Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
Maybe I'll try to post a Quote of the Week every Monday.
Have a good weekend everybody! My plans? Well, I plan to put my daughter to work. She received a rocking chair from her Papa on her birthday. And she would like it finished the color purple. So, her and I will sand and prime the chair this weekend. Should be fun.
Wednesday, November 02, 2005
Also, check out Jon Tait's discussion on Profit Factor and his sneak peak of his backtesting project.
System Analyzer - FathersDay Edge
Funny, how it has taken many hours/weeks and brain-fried late nights in order to input, process, output into the simple little HTML table above. Reminds me of a story about the Y2K problem.
I was working around the clock for hours, weeks, and months on end in order to get our administrative systems ready for Y2K. For those few who don't remember...the Y2K issue centered around the fact that legacy systems used the 2 digit years instead of the 4 digits. And year calculations and comparisons drive a multitude of systems. So, if you compare the year 05 against 99...you get issues. Capisci?
Anyways, while I was burning the midnight oil getting everything in order...either converting everything to 4 digit years or windowing the problem...I got a call from a friend of mine.
Friend: "Hey, have you heard about this Y2K crap? Everybody is just making this Y2K stuff up, I tell ya. You watch...when January 1, 2000 gets here...nothing will happen."
Me: "You're right, nothing will happen because programmers like me have been working our butts off trying to make sure nothing will happen."
Me: "Listen, it works like the George Soros Reflexivity theory. If all the programmers know there's a Y2K problem then the Y2K problem grows less of a problem as more of the problem is understood and worked on by those programmers. So, you are correct, when January 1, 2000 gets here...nothing will happen."
Friend: "Huh? Are you telling me Y2K is or isn't a problem."
Me: "Ah, Forget it. I gotta get back to work."
Friend: "Whatcha working on?"
Me: "The Y2K problem...[hangup]"
Six months later my friend calls me up on January 1, 2000 after I had stayed up all night to ensure our batch systems ran correctly and was still in the process of verifying their results.
Friend: "Hey, Happy New Year! I don't mean to rub it in...but I knew it, I knew it, I knew it! That Y2K was just a bunch of mumbo jumbo! Like I told you before...here it is Jan 1, 2000 and nothing...NADA...happened!"
Me: "Happy New Year yourself. And yes, there was a Y2K problem and we fixed it so nothing happened like I told you before!"
Friend: "Huh? Now, Mike, how can it be a problem if nothing happened!"
Me: "Ah, forget it...go watch your football games...I gotta get back to work"
Friend: "Work? Work? On New Year's Day? What the heck? What they got you working on now?"
Thursday, October 27, 2005
Wednesday, October 26, 2005
Thought the graph above would better reflect which states receive the most hurricanes per coastline miles. As you can see this is quite different than the original graph showcasing states and their respective hurricanes hit. The prior graph showed Florida, Texas, and Louisiana being the top three. Those are now replaced by Mississippi, Alabama, and Rhode Island. Rhode Island? Say what? Okay, this chart is definitely more interesting than the last one.
Heck, according to this information...Louisiana is in the bottom 6. Also, interesting that Louisiana has more coastline than Texas.
Working with the R project's barplot function and decided to play around with some hurricane data. The chart above reflects the number of hurricanes (major) making landfall by state. Nothing too surprising in the numbers.
The mean of the #of hurricanes by state is 22 while the median is 12. Which makes sense due to Florida being hit 5 times more than average. And Texas and Louisiana being hit more than 2 times the average.
Monday, October 24, 2005
Not sure if this is true or not...but if so...might need to re-evaluate my broker choices. Hmm....
Sunday, October 23, 2005
The two sides are, on the one hand, the old scouts and, on the other, Billy Beane. The old scouts are like a Greek chorus, it is their job to underscore the eternal themes of baseball. The eternal themes are precisely what Billy Beane wants to exploit for profit - by ignoring them." -- Michael Lewis
"By analyzing baseball statistics you could see through a lot of baseball nonsense. For instance, when baseball managers talked about scoring runs, they tended to focus on team batting average, but if you ran the analysis you could see that the number of runs a team scored bore little relation to that team's batting average. It correlated much more exactly with a team's on-base and slugging percentages. A lot of the offensive tactics that made baseball managers famous - the bunt, the steal, the hit and run - could be proven to have been, in most situations, either pointless or self-defeating." -- Michael Lewis
"tinkering with the records of baseball games to see how the machinery of the baseball offense works. I do not start with the numbers any more than a mechanic starts with a monky wrench. I start with the game, with the things that I see there and the things that people say there. And I ask: Is it true? Can you validate it? Can you measure it? How does it fit with the rest of the machinery? And for those answers I go to the record books...What is remarkable to me is that I have so little company. Baseball keeps copious records, and people talk about them and argue about them and think about them a great deal. Why doesn't anybody use them? Why doesn't anybody say, in the face of this contention or that one, "Prove it"?" -- Bill James
These are some of my favorite quotes from the book, Moneyball by Michael Lewis. I especially like the Bill James quote basically asking why if we have the data and are asking the right questions...why oh why don't we use them in our strategies? Instead we focus on arguing our point with opinions. Enjoy reading books where the author makes the case to invest in stocks because Echo Boomers are an emerging powerful consumer and a host of other dynamics that can't be tested nor quantified on enough data points to matter.
This is why I like the recent Larry Connors book, How Markets Really Work. No opinions or pithy remarks. Connors instead focuses on Moneyballing the Market. Taking commonly held beliefs and turning them upside down and exposing them for what they truly are...eternal themes of the market sung by the Greek chorus of brokers, analysts, and media pundits.
Questions are asked and data is analyzed. And this analysis of data is what triggered this review. It changed the way I create, test, and design my systems. Before I would come up with an idea and immediately run a template system with my idea to expose the common statistics I look for...win%, avg gain, max drawdown, etc. From there I would begin filtering to improve and refine.
But, I really like the Connors method instead. He asks a question like is it true that new short-term highs are a sign of a healthy market? Then collects data on short-term highs and corresponding returns and short-term lows and corresponding returns into table form. Then he creates bar charts and equity curves of the comparison between the two to aid in visually analyzing the results of the study. I can see all kinds of possibilities with this method. It feels like more of your original edge is maintained instead of getting bogged down into filtering down the edge into the statistics you are trying to achieve. Plus, via the bar charts and equity curves you can really see whether the edge you think you have is true and robust against a benchmark and opposite view. One of the possibilities of this method is throwing in acrary's random trades from the Edge Test into the mix.
The downside of the book? I would enjoy more tests! More questions! It's just rare to find someone who asks and tests the questions you've been asking and answering yourself. Only other book like it that I've found is Altucher's Trade like a Hedge Fund book. I would have also enjoyed some discussion on how the questions asked relate to individual stocks within the general market.
Overall a book that can help in your pursuit of trading Jeet Kun Do. With that in mind, I'll leave you with this quote:
"True observation begins when one is devoid of set patterns." -- Bruce Lee
What's happening to my Astros? It's the 8th inning and Astros are down by 2. The Sox pitchers seem to have the Astros ticket. Especially last night when we had just a good lineup at bat and the big wide one took em' down...one by one. Ah! The pain of being a Houston Astros fan. :)
Sunday, October 16, 2005
The difficult part was being cut-off from the Internet for such as long time (1 week). Ha ha. And I'm paying for it with all the emails and blogs to read. The blogosphere has been busy!
I also got a chance to dive into the book, How Markets Really Work by Connors and Sen. A great book and one that triggered several system ideas that I'm anxious to work on. I plan to discuss more on this book later in the week...so stay tuned!
Also, thank you to everyone on the baby news congrats. I really appreciate it.
Well, gotta get back to my rat-killin...so check out these posts that caught my attention and I'll write more later.
Recent interview of Ryan Jones a.k.a Fixed Ratio Jones by TradingMarkets. Read here.By the way, a big thank you goes out to April for introducing me to Ginger Ale on our recent trip. Great stuff. Can you believe I've never had ginger ale before? I know, I know...I'm showing how backwoods I am. April was kind enough to send me home with two bottles. Also, they grilled some steak that was amazing and were kind enough to share their seasoning secrets...Dale's Seasoning. Amazing stuff. And another thank you to Mysti for taking us to the Fair and letting us borrow their MapQuest to get home. I really don't know how we would have gotten back without it. Thanks guys!
This article by Steven Gabriel shares some of the insights from the book, How Markets Really Work. Read here.
Nice blog by Dr. Wish that I recently stumbled across. Here's one of his posts detailing the Darvis Method of Trading. Read here. There's some great system ideas in this post to test.
Friday, October 07, 2005
Monday, October 03, 2005
Trading using the PREM. I've actually coded a crude version of PREM in my systems before...but never knew the true technical term until this article.By the way, do you keep a trading notebook for articles like these? To jot down notes, ideas, further research topics? I've got stacks of these things. I've briefly addressed this topic before on dealing with ADD and the need to write things down...but I think this would benefit all traders out there. For example, tonight I have my notes from the above interview along with action items to test in my nightly system studies.
Nice tidbits on quote services and nomenclature of the PREM series (DTN, Esignal, Comstock, and TradeStation). Check out their website for further detail on quote providers here.
Interesting insights into event trading such as "reverse manipulation" during options expiration, days of the week (option expiration Mondays, unemployment report Fridays, and Friday 13th), and William %R.
Actually, first thing I'm starting off with tonight is testing a volatility stop involving the close divided by a long-term moving average. Call this value R. Then smooth R with a shorter moving average duration. Apply a lower band of 3% to 5% from the smoothed R and if the original R drops below the smoothed R...scale out a portion of the whole position or get out entirely. This vol stop was discussed in the recent AIQ Opening Bell newsletter. You can find several issues of the Opening Bell here. Enjoy!
Another picture of the effects of the water release. This area was a nice little cove where shad would get driven into by the thousands. Great place to cast for bait. Now high and dry.
By the way, had a great idea over the weekend on a topic for this blog. I'll need a little time to research just how I'm going to handle it. But, once the research is complete...I'll share it with ya'll. Should be fun!
Have a great week!
Friday, September 30, 2005
Figured this picture was most appropriate for this week's Serenity Now since my daughter's birthday is this weekend.
This pic was taken while catching her first fish, a little largemouth bass. She actually caught two fish that day. The other one was a crappie. Okay, enough bragging. :)
Have a good weekend!
Wednesday, September 28, 2005
Back to Covel's post. This talk of the next landing likely to be average in regard to pilots garners the question...will your next trade likely be average? Is there some dependency out there to explore in your trading system's position sizing methods? By following the Martingale method, am I rewarding my perfect landings (increasing size of next position) and ridiculing my bad landings (decreasing size of next position)? Oh, ideas to test...
We were without power today and this hundred degree weather was a killer. I'm writing to you with a big smile on my face because just after FEMA came around my neighborhood bullhorning that they have no idea when power would be restored...the power was restored! Yeah! Having electricity never felt so good. Even if it's only for a short-time until the next rolling black-out.
Wanted to share a memory I have of my mom that might prove insightful. My mom lived through a lot...but I think the top two things that really put the fear in her were the hurricanes and gas crunch of the late 70's/early 80's. Know what I remember? She never allowed her car's gas tank to get below half a tank. Never. She would keep that sucker topped off every opportunity she got. Kinda like my grandpa after farming through the Great Depression...never kept money in the bank. I wonder, has a whole generation of people passed through these 25 years not understanding what a precious and valuable thing commodities can end up being? Only to experience it first hand over these past few months?
Know what my wife's worry is now? Someone stealing gas out of her car. Not stealing her car...but her gas! Remember when it used to be a big thing to have a lock on your gas cap? To be honest, I grew up never understanding why you'd need a lock on your gas cap. Now, I do. Another story for you...
While waiting in Houston evacuation traffic...everyone was running on gas fumes. The longer it took, the more gas it ate up. One woman was in her car staring off into space, frustrated with the hours she had spent in this traffic, only to witness someone beside her car syphoning off her gas. While she was driving it mind you. She immediately got out, yelled at the guy, and he ran away...cut short of his objective...but with a little more gas than he had before.
Have these past 20 something years been a perfect landing in commodities?
Are we headed for a Reversion to the Mean? Something I speculated back in March in my Canary in a Coal Mine post?
Finally, please keep all the people who still do not have electricity due to Hurricane Rita in your thoughts and prayers. We are having heat records blown out of the sky this week (100+ degree days), no breeze, nothing. And thoughts and prayers for all the men and women of the utility companies who are working around the clock to get power restored.
Update: Wanted to clarify a bit on the term Martingale. When I referred to Martingale in the above post, I was referring to a specific type of Martingale commonly known as Anti-Martingale. Where you increase bet-size based on winning and decrease bet-size based on losing. The conventional Martingale often referenced in the BlackJack world back in the day increases bet-size on losing.
A few links to explore on Martingale...
Position Sizing by Michael R. Bryant
The Truth About Betting Systems
Betting Systems and the House Edge
Exposing the Gambler's Fallacy
A few links to explore on the Law of Averages and Gambler's Fallacy...
Law of Large Numbers and Gambler's Fallacy
The Law of Large Numbers
Monday, September 26, 2005
Note, I checked on the lake levels tonight and it is true...the lake is dropping fast. So, be careful out there...especially if you live in the Liberty County area. When water is released from the dam...the Liberty area will not actually see the full impact until 5 days later. And speaking of Liberty...apparently all power is still down in that area as well as Dayton.
And to my regular readers...please be patient with my current posts. I promise I'll get back to writing about trading and systems very soon. Just feel an obligation to get the word out especially since most of the hurricane coverage is centered around the bigger cities such as Houston and Beaumont.
Sunday, September 25, 2005
Saturday, September 24, 2005
So, please, if you know anything or you're from the Livingston / Onalaska area...leave a comment on this post giving information on the status of this area. My power keeps coming up and down...so by leaving a comment it will be there for all to see who's desperately looking for information on their loved ones. Plus, it will email me and when I can check...I can email those people looking for answers to let them know the status of things.
Again, if you're in the area please let us know...what's the damage like?, where they're any tornadoes that hit?, what cities/towns/areas are being evacuated due to the release of the Trinity River waters from the Lake Livingston Dam. Where are they locating the evacuees from this area? Any numbers to call to get this kind of information? Any information will be greatly appreciated.
Please keep these people in your thoughts and prayers.
I want to thank everyone for keeping us in your thoughts and prayers. We really felt it because the winds were literally howling and miraculously the trees held up to them...actually providing a buffer between us and the winds. We drove around the neighborhood today and most homes are without power but nobody had any serious damage. So, thanks again for the prayers and wishes.
Speaking of fallen trees...really only one other home had tree damage similar to ours.
Now the concern has turned to the Lake Livingston Dam. Read coverage here and here. Apparently the high winds have caused stress on the dam and they need to release water out of the lake in order to assess the damage. We just found out about this a few hours ago and they have ordered a flood evacuation from all the areas surrounding the Trinity River which includes us. But, thankfully, we should be okay since we're north of the Dam. The people who will encounter the released waters will be south of the dam. In fact, everyone north of the dam should see their lake water levels reducing. Here's a pic of that process:
But, just to be safe I'm going to check on the progress of the dam release in my area every hour on the hour. So, please, keep the people south of Lake Livingston Dam in your thoughts and prayers...they're going to need them.
Interesting Tidbits from Hurricane Rita
JLP from AllThingsFinancial shares his evacuation story through the Corrigan/Livingston area that I reported problems on in a prior post. Take note...his story is very similar to several I have heard that had to evacuate through that area. I'm glad JLP and his family made it through.
I was interviewed by SkyNews UK about 5:00am Saturday morning. One of the producers found my blog and they wanted to hear my story on hunkering down in the storm. It just so happened that they called just as the storm was really coming through...winds were at least 70mph...a transformer blew about 20 feet from my house...and it was 5:00am in the morning! In fact, the power went out during this first phone call with them. Needless to say, I was a bit excited. My wife and I keep laughing over and over at one of the comments I made during the live TV interview. They asked me if I was well-stocked for the storm, able to make it through a few days to a few weeks without power. My answer was, "I hope it's not that long...but we're well stocked...I have a garage filled with buckets full of water in case we need to flush." I'm laughing right now as I type that. Where did that come from? Funny the things you say when under stress and being interviewed. Well, at least I gave the nice people over in the UK something to laugh about during this stressful time. One last thing, everyone I talked to at SkyNews was incredibly nice, understanding, and sincere. Good people.
In addition to the falling tree there was a fire just a block in front of my house. It started from the electrical lines getting hit by the trees and got big enough that I could start to smell it. I was frantically throwing on work boots in order to get over there and help but almost as soon as it started it sputtered out. Thank goodness for that.
Here's some links to pictures of the evacuations through Huntsville that are simply incredible. This is what I was witnessing in my Grapes of Wrath post.
A couple of news sites made note of my hurricane coverage.
Netscape News with CNN listed it as an Editors' Web Picks on What People are Saying.
The Guardian Unlimited quoted several of my comments on the evacuation and hunkering down for little Rita.
That's it for now. Time to check on those lake levels.
Friday, September 23, 2005
Also, there's hundreds of people stuck in Corrigan for hours (14+). The friend I was referring to in my previous post who's waiting on his family is still waiting. They left Port Arthur early yesterday and they've been stuck in the Corrigan area all day, all night, and now all of today. Nobody has any gas and they're really going through the ringer.
Another update. Apparently there are 20 to 25 tankers of gas heading from Fort Hood to the Huntsville/Riverside/Trinity area to deliver gas. That's the good news for all of us. But, that doesn't help those Corrigan people. Someone needs to get them gas and fast.
Well, I promised some pics and here are a couple of the lake taken approximately 1:00pm central standard time.
Another pic where you can view the water level in relation to the pier.
I'll post a follow-up to these pictures post Rita.
Wind right now just picked up pretty good. This could get interesting. I'll be disconnecting shortly after the market closes (3:00pm central standard time) and moving my PC to a safer location. Here's a view outside my home office.
As you can see...plenty of trees which should act as a buffer from the wind. Let's hope they can stand up to this wind.
Might be my last post for the day. I've got some more rat-killing to do in order to be ready for this hurricane. And family to take care of.
I've gotten a few emails on the area I live and blog about. So, I've included a picture of the lake and surrounding areas in relation to the Gulf Coast and little Rita.
As you can see, we should be okay. It's far enough away from the coast that we hopefully will be able to avoid much of the damage little Rita is sure to cause. The concerning factor is which side of the hurricane will we be? If to the west...the winds and possible tornadoes spinoffs should be somewhat limited. If on the dirty side (east of hurricane)...then we'll be in for some very strong winds (75mph+) and the worst part...tornadoes. When hurricane Carla came through years ago...the dirty side spunoff over 100 tornadoes. Pretty scary if you ask me.
Please keep the people evacuating Houston/Beaumont area in your thoughts and prayers. There are many families still stuck in their cars. Two friends of mine are still waiting on family to get to their houses. Those families started driving early yesterday morning. It's a real helpless feeling when you're only an hour away from your destination and you're out of gas, water, food, and your stuck in a traffic for hours on end. Worst part about it is it's very difficult to bring anything to them even if you could get your hands on some gas...which is almost impossible.
Finally, take a look over at Bill Cara's site. He has covered Rita and its economic impact very well. Take a look at all the oil rigs that are likely to be hit from Rita this time around. I cannot imagine the damage this will cause.
Source: Rigzone via Bill Cara
As I'm finishing up this post...you can hear and feel the winds are growing stronger. Take a look at the recent satellite image of Rita and you can see it's coming. I'll post some pics later.
The mass exodus from Houston and Beaumont areas are causing all kinds of problems. Gas raids in particular. In my area today there were only 2 gas stations with gas and those stations looked like a Super WalMart parking lot. And you gotta realize...I'm talking small small towns. The type of towns where you blink and you miss em'. These towns haven't ever seen these type of crowds in their entire history. You're talking about a standard deviation breakout on the town populations.
And you definitely get a Grapes of Wrath sense while driving the roads. Families carrying their house in their cars & trucks. Not just one car but a caravan of cars traversing the highways. Moms following Dads, Aunts, Uncles, etc. All their belongings crammed into their trucks, uhauls, horse trailers, and cars. Kinda scary. Keep these folks in your thoughts and prayers.
Experiencing all this takes me back to my childhood days when we lived some miles north of Galveston off I-45. I cannot remember the name of the hurricane that hit...just remember my dad was gone (offshore oil drilling) and my mom and I were left to face the storm alone. That was back in the day when you were told to open up all the doors and windows in your home to allow the winds to pass through your house. Mom threw me into the bathtub and took my mattress and covered us with it. Yes, empty bathtub, mattress, all the doors and windows open...hurricane hits. Sounded like a freight train when it came through. I wanted to look so bad but mom just about smothered me trying to keep me safe.
The only other memory I have of that event was what it felt like to be in the eye of the hurricane. I can still remember the smell of the air...clean...distinctive. Of course, the sky was clear. Got a sense of awe for sure. That's about all I remember. I do think my dad was finally able to get back home and had to swim from I-45 to our neck of the woods to get home. Yes, I did say swim. Not sure, but think he just left his car on the side of the road. Funny the things you remember.
Other interesting things...I live a block or two from a lake. This community consists of lake homes (wood siding, pier&beam). About half are residents and the other half weekenders. Today when I drove home I took a look at who was home...almost every weekend home had at least 10 to 15 cars/trucks at the house. I guess, some have escaped up here. But, the reports on the news say this area will still get up to 100 mph winds from little Rita. So, say a prayer for these folks as well...and that includes me & my family.
Yes, we're hunkering down and going to tough it out. I spent the afternoon battening down the hatches, backing up my computer equipment, securing the boat, and smoking some briscuit for the storm ahead. Yes, every good Texan knows you gotta do some grilling during hurricane time. And a Corona or two to keep your sanity or lack thereof.
I'll try to post some pics of pre-Rita and post-Rita for ya. And keep you updated on the progress in hurricane central. In the mean time, you can check out another blog covering the hurricane.
Last but not least check out the FundAlarm site. Take note of the experiment they're doing with a market-timing newsletter. I think it'll be interesting to see how this unfolds.