So here it is, three more days and October begins, which marks one year of trading for me. I figured I would contribute to the forum and share some of my experience, a little about me, and what I've learned so far. Whoever wants to listen, that's great. This might get long so buckle up..
Three years ago, I was visiting Toronto. I don't get out much, but my roommate at the time travels there occasionally. He asked everyone at our place if we wanted to come along for a weekend. My roommate has an uncle that lives there and we didn't have to worry about a hotel because his uncle owns a small house that's unlived in which we could stay at. I was the only one to go with. Anyways, we walk around the city, seeing the sights and whatnot.
My friend says to me "where next?"
"I don't know, you're the tour guide"
"We can go check out Bay Street"
"what's 'Bay Street?'"
"It's like the Canadian Wall street! If you haven't seen it you gotta see it!"
Walking along Bay, I admire all the nice buildings and architecture, everything seems larger than life to me. I love things like that. The huge granite facades with intricate designs and towering pillars to make you think, How the fuck did they make that?
My attention pivots to a man walking on the sidewalk opposite us. His gait stood out among everyone, he walked with such a purpose.. He laughed into the cell phone to his ear. In the elbow-shoving city environment, he moved with a stride that exuded a power which not only commanded respect, but assumed it. I bet HE can get a text back, hell he's probably got girls waiting on him.
This dude was dressed to kill, a navy suit that you could just tell from across the street was way out of my budget, it was a nice fucking suit. I want that.
His life, across the street, seemed a world a way from my own. I've worn a suit maybe twice
in my life. For my first communion, it was too big for me, I was eleven or whatever so who gives a shit, right? I'm positive I looked ridiculous. The other time?
I can't remember. I want that. I want the suit.
I want the wealth
, the independence. I want the respect and power, and I don't give a shit what anyone thinks about it.
Cue self doubt. Well, He's probably some rich banker's son. That's a world you're born into. I don't know shit about it. \
sigh* keep walking..*
A year later, I'm visiting my parents at their house, they live an hour away from my place. My dad is back from Tennessee, his engineering job was laying people off and he got canned... Or he saw the end was near and just left... I don't know, hard to pay attention to the guy honestly because he kind of just drones on and on. ("Wait, so your mom lives in Michigan, but your dad moved to Tennessee... for a job?"
Yea man, I don't fucking know, not going to touch on that one.)
The whole project was a shit show that was doomed to never get done, the way he tells it. And he's obviously jaded from multiple similar experiences at other life-sucking engineer jobs. My mom is a retired nurse practitioner who no longer works because of her illness. I ask him what he's doing for work now and he tells me he trades stocks from home. I didn't even know you could do that. I didn't know "trading" was a thing. I thought you just invest and hope for the best.
"Oh that's cool, how much money do you need to do that?"
"Ehh, most say you need at least $25,000 as a minimum"
"Oh... guess I can't do that..."
Six months later, I get a call and it's my dad. We talk a little about whatever. Off topic, he starts asking if I'm happy doing what I'm doing (I was a painter, commercial and residential) I tell him yes but it's kind of a pain in the ass and I don't see it as a long term thing. Then he gets around to asking if I'd like to come work with him. He basically pitches it to me. I'm not one to be sold on something, I'm always skeptical. So I ask all the questions that any rational person would ask and he just swats them away with reassuring phrases. He was real confident about it. But basically he says for this to work, I have to quit my job and move back home so he can teach me how to trade and be by my side so I don't do anything stupid. "
My Name , you can make so much money."
I say that I can't raise the $25,000 because I'm not far above just living paycheck to paycheck. "I can help you out with that." Wow, okay, well... let me think about it.
My "maybe" very soon turned into a "definitely." So over the next six months, I continue to work my day job painting, and I try to save up what I could for the transition (it wasn't a whole lot, I sucked at saving. I was great at spending though!). My dad gives me a book on day trading (which I will mention later) and I teach myself what I can about the stock market using Investopedia. Also in the meantime, my dad sends me encouraging emails. He tells me to think of an annual income I would like to make as a trader, and used "more than $100,000 but less than a million" as a guideline. He tells me about stocks that he traded that day or just ones that moved and describes the basic price action and the prices to buy and sell at. Basically saying "if you bought X amount of shares here and sold it at X price here, you could make a quick 500 bucks!" I then use a trading sim to trade those symbols and try to emulate what he says. Piece of cake. ;) Wow, that's way more than what I make in a day.
He tells me not to tell anyone about my trading because most people just think it's gambling. "Don't tell your Mom either."
He says most people who try this fail because they don't know how to stop out and take a loss. He talks about how every day he was in a popular chatroom, some noob would say something like, "Hey guys, I bought at X price (high of day or thereabout), my account is down 80% .. uhh I'm waiting for it to come back to my entry price.. what do I do??" Well shit, I'm not that fucking dumb. If that's all it takes to make it is to buy low, sell high, and always respect a stop then I'll be fantastic.
By the end of September, I was very determined. I had been looking forward everyday to quitting my painting job because while it used to be something I loved, it was just sucking the life out of me at this point. Especially working commercial, you just get worked like a dog. I wasn't living up to my potential with that job and I felt awful for it every minute of every day. I knew that I needed a job where I could use my brain instead of slaving my body to fulfill someone else's dream. "Someone's gotta put gas in the boss's boat"
That's a line my buddy once said that he probably doesn't know sticks with me to this day. It ain't me.
So now it was October 2018, and I'm back living with Mom n' Pops. I was so determined that on my last day of work I gave away all of my painting tools to my buddy like, "here, I don't need this shit." Moving out of my rental was easy because I don't own much, 'can't take it with ya.' Excited for the future I now spend my days bundled up in winter wear in the cold air of our hoarder-like basement with a space heater at my feet. My laptop connected to a TV monitor, I'm looking at stocks next to my dad and his screens in his cluttered corner. Our Trading Dungeon.
I don't trade any money, (I wasn't aware of any real-time sim programs) I just watch and learn from my dad. Now you've got to keep in mind, and look at a chart of the S&P, this is right at the beginning of Oct '18, I came in right at the market top. Right at the start of the shit-show. For the next three or four weeks, I watch my dad pretty much scratch on every trade, taking small loss after small loss, and cursing under his breath at the screen.
"dammit." Click. "shit." Click. Click. "you fuck."
This gets really fucking annoying as time goes on, for weeks, and I get this attitude like ugh, just let me do it. I'll make us some fucking money.
So I convince him to let me start trading live. I didn't know anything about brokers so I set up an account using his broker, which was Fidelity. It was a pain and I had to jump through a lot of hoops to be able to day trade with this broker. I actually had to make a joint account with my dad as I couldn't get approved for margin because my credit score is shit (never owned a credit card) and my net worth, not much. Anyways, they straight up discourage day trading and I get all kinds of warning messages with big red letters that made me shit myself like oooaaahhh what the fuck did I do now. Did I forget to close a position?? Did I fat finger an order? Am I now in debt for thousands of dollars to Fidelity?? They're going to come after me like they came after Madoff.
Even after you are approved for PDT you still get these warning messages in your account. Some would say if I didn't comply with "whatever rule" they'd even suspend my account for 60 days. It was ridiculous, hard to describe because it doesn't make sense, and it took the support guy on the phone a good 20 minutes to explain it to me. Basically I got the answer "yea it's all good, you did nothing wrong. As long as you have the cash in your account to cover whatever the trade balance was" So I just kept getting these warnings that I had to ignore everyday. I hate Fidelity.
My fist day trading, I made a few so-so trades and then I got impatient. I saw YECO breaking out and I chased, soon realized I chased, so I got out. -$500. Shit, I have to make that back, I don't want my dad to see this.
Got back in. Shit.
-$400. So my first day trading, I lost $900. My dumbass was using market orders so that sure didn't help. I reeled the risk back and traded more proper position size for a while, but the commissions for a round trip are $10, so taking six trades per day, I'm losing $60 at a minimum on top of my losing trades. Quickly I realized I didn't know what the hell I was doing. What about my dad? Does HE know?
One day, in the trading dungeon, I was frustrated with the experience I'd been having and just feeling lost overall. I asked him.
"So, are you consistently profitable?"
"mmm... I do alright."
"Yea but like, are you consistently profitable over time?"
"I do alright." Silence.
"Do you know
any consistently profitable traders?"
"Well the one who wrote that book I gave you, Tina Turner.. umm and there's Ross Cameron"
"So you don't know any consistently profitable traders, personally.. People who are not trying to sell you something?"
................... Holy fucking shit, what did this idiot get me into. He can't even say it to my face and admit it.
This entire life decision, quitting my job, leaving my rental, moving from my city to back home, giving shit away, it all relied on that. I was supposed to be an apprentice to a consistently profitable day trader who trades for a living.
It was so assumed, that I never even thought to ask! Why would you tell your son to quit his job for something that you yourself cannot do? Is this all a scam? Did my dad get sold a DREAM? Did I buy into some kind of ponzi scheme? How many of those winning trades he showed me did he actually take? Are there ANY consistently profitable DAY TRADERS who TRADE FOR A LIVING? Why do 90% fail? Is it because the other 10% are scamming the rest in some way?
Completely lost, I just had no clue what was what. If I was going to succeed at this, if it was even possible
to succeed at this, it was entirely up to me. I had to figure it out. I still remember the feeling like an overwhelming, crushing weight on me as it all sunk in. This is going to be a big deal..
I'm not the type to give up though. In that moment, I said to myself, I'm going to fucking win at this. I don't know if this is possible, but I'm going to find out. I cannot say with certainty that I will succeed, but no matter what, I will not give up. I'm going to give all of myself to this. I will find the truth.
It was a deep moment for me. I don't like getting on my soapbox, but when I said those things, I meant it. I really, really meant it. I still do, and I still will.
Now it might seem like I'm being hard on my dad. He has done a lot for me and I am very grateful for that. We're sarcastic as hell to each other, I love the bastard. Hell, I wouldn't have the opportunity to trade at all if not for him. But maybe you can also understand how overwhelmed I felt at that time. Not on purpose, of course he means well. But I am not a trusting person at all and I was willing to put trust into him after all the convincing and was very disappointed when I witnessed the reality of the situation. I would have structured this transition to trading differently, you don't just quit your job and start trading.
Nobody was there to tell me that! I was told quite the opposite. I'm glad it happened anyway, so fuck it. I heard Kevin O'Leary once say, "If I knew in the beginning how difficult starting a business was, I don't know that I ever would've started."
This applies very much to my experience.
So what did I do? Well like everyone I read and read and Googled and Youtube'd my ass off. I sure as hell didn't pay for a course because I didn't have the money and I'm like 99% sure I would be disappointed by whatever they were teaching as pretty much everything can be found online or in books for cheap or free. Also I discovered Thinkorswim and I used that to sim trade in real-time for three months. This is way the hell different than going on a sim at 5x speed and just clicking a few buy and sell buttons. Lol, useless. When you sim trade in real-time you're forced to have a routine, and you're forced to experience missing trades with no chance to rewind or skip the boring parts. That's a step up because you're "in it". I also traded real money too, made some, lost more than I made. went back to sim. Traded live again, made some but lost more, fell back to PDT. Dad fronted me more cash. This has happened a few times. He's dug me out of some holes because he believes in me. I'm fortunate.
Oh yeah, about that book my dad gave me. It's called A Beginner's Guide to Day Trading Online by Toni Turner. This book... is shit. This was supposed to be my framework for how to trade and I swear it's like literally nothing in this book fucking works lol. I could tell this pretty early on, intuitively, just by looking at charts. It's basically a buy-the-breakout type strategy, if you want to call it a strategy. No real methodology to anything just vague crap and showing you cherry-picked charts with entries that are way too late. With experience in the markets you will eventually come to find that MOST BREAKOUTS FAIL. It talks about support/resistance lines and describes them as, "picture throwing a ball down at the floor, it bounces up and then it bounces down off the ceiling, then back up." So many asinine assumptions. These ideas are a text book way of how to trade like dumb money. Don't get me wrong, these trades can work but you need to be able to identify the setups which are more probable and identify reasons not to take others. So I basically had to un-learn all that shit.
Present day, I have a routine in place. I'm out of the dungeon and trade by myself in my room. I trade with a discount broker that is catered to day traders and doesn't rape me on commissions. My mornings have a framework for analyzing the news and economic events of the particular day, I journal so that I can recognize what I'm doing right and where I need to improve. I record my screens for later review to improve my tape reading skills. I am actually tracking my trades now and doing backtesting in equities as well as forex. I'm not a fast reader but I do read a lot, as much as I can. So far I have read about 17-18 books on trading and psychology. I've definitely got a lot more skilled at trading.
As of yet I am not net profitable. Writing that sounds like selling myself short though, honestly. Because a lot of my trades are very good and are executed well. I have talent. However, lesser quality trades and trades which are inappropriately sized/ attempted too many times bring down that P/L. I'm not the type of trader to ignore a stop, I'm more the trader that just widdles their account down with small losses. I trade live because at this point, sim has lost its value, live trading is the ultimate teacher. So I do trade live but I just don't go big like I did before, I keep it small.
I could show you trades that I did great on and make people think I'm killing it but I really just don't need the validation. I don't care, I'm real about it. I just want to get better. I don't need people to think I'm a genius, I'm just trying to make some money.
Psychologically, to be honest with you, I currently feel beaten down and exhausted. I put a lot of energy into this, and sometimes I work myself physically sick, it's happened multiple times. About once a week, usually Saturday, I get a headache that lasts all day. My body's stress rebound mechanism you might call it. Getting over one of those sick periods now, which is why I barely even traded this week. I know I missed a lot of volatility this week and some A+ setups but I really just don't give a shit lol. I just currently don't have the mental capital, I think anyone who's been day trading every day for a year or more can understand what I mean by that. I'm still being productive though. Again, I'm not here to present an image of some badass trader, just keeping it real. To give something 100% day after day while receiving so much resistance, it takes a toll on you. So a break is necessary to avoid making bad trading decisions. That being said, I'm progressing more and more and eliminating those lesser quality trades and identifying my bad habits. I take steps to control those habits and strengthen my good habits such as having a solid routine, doing review and market research, taking profits at the right times, etc.
So maybe I can give some advice to some that are new to day trading, those who are feeling lost, or just in general thinking "...What the fuck..."
I thought that every night for the first 6 months lol.
First of all, manage expectations.
If you read my story of how I came to be a trader, you can see I had a false impression of trading in many aspects. Give yourself a realistic time horizon to how progress should be made. Do not set a monetary goal for yourself, or any time-based goal that is measured in your P/L. If you tell yourself, "I want to make X per day, X per week, or X per year"
you're setting yourself up to feel like shit every single day when it's clear as the blue sky that you won't reach that goal anytime soon. As a matter of fact, it will appear you are moving further AWAY from that goal if you just focus on your P/L, which brings me to my next point. You will lose money.
In the beginning, most likely, you will lose money. I did it, you'll do it, the greatest Paul Tudor Jones did it. Trading is a skill that needs to be developed, and it is a process. Just look at it as paying your tuition to the market. Sim is fine but don't assume you have acquired this skill until you are adept at trading real money. So when you do make that leap, just trade small. Just survive.
Trade small. get the experience. Protect your capital. To reach break even on your bottom line is a huge accomplishment. In many ways, experience and screen time are the secret sauce. Have a routine.
This is very important. I actually will probably make a more in-depth post in the future about this if people want it. When I first started, I was overwhelmed with the feeling "What the fuck am I supposed to DO?"
I felt lost. There's no boss to tell you how to be productive or how to find the right stocks, which is mostly a blessing, but a curse for new traders. All that shit you see, don't believe all that bullshit.
You know what I'm talking about. The bragposting, the clickbait Youtube videos, the ads preying on you. "I made X amount of money in a day and I'm fucking 19 lolz look at my Lamborghini" It's all a gimmick to sell you the dream. It's designed to poke right at your insecurities, that's marketing at it's finest. As for the bragposting on forums honestly, who cares. And I'm not pointing fingers on this forum, just any trading forum in general. They are never adding anything of value to the community in their posts. They never say this is how I did it.
No, they just want you to think they're a genius. I can show you my $900 day trading the shit out of TSLA, but that doesn't tell the whole story. Gamblers never show you when they lose, you might never hear from those guys again because behind the scenes, they over-leveraged themselves and blew up. Some may actually be consistently profitable and the trades are 100% legit.
That's fantastic. But again, I don't care, and you shouldn't either. You shouldn't compare yourself to others. "Everyone's a genius in a bull market"
Here's the thing.. Markets change. Edges disappear. Trading strategies were made by traders who traded during times when everything they did worked. Buy all the breakouts? Sure! It's the fucking tech bubble! Everything works!
I'm sure all those typical setups used to work fantastically at some point in time. But the more people realize them, the less effective they are. SOMEONE has to be losing money on the opposite side of a winning trade
, and who's willing to do that when the trade is so obvious? That being said, some things are obvious AND still work. Technical analysis works... sometimes. The caveat to that is, filters. You need to, in some way, filter out certain setups from others. For example, you could say, "I won't take a wedge pattern setup on an intraday chart unless it is in a higher time frame uptrend, without nearby resistance, and trading above average volume with news on that day." Have a plan.
If you can't describe your plan, you don't have one. Think in probabilities. You should think entirely in "if, then" scenarios. If X has happens, then Y will probably happen. "If BABA breaks this premarket support level on the open I will look for a pop up to short into." Backtest.
Most traders lose mainly because they think they have an edge but they don't. You read these books and all this stuff online telling you "this is a high probability setup" but do you know that for a fact? There's different ways to backtest, but I think the best way for a beginner is manual backtesting with a chart and an excel sheet. This builds up that screen time and pattern recognition faster. This video
shows how to do that. Once I saw
someone do it, it didn't seem so boring and awful as I thought it was. Intelligence is not enough.
You're smarter than most people, that's great, but that alone is not enough to make you money in trading necessarily. Brilliant people try and fail at this all the time, lawyers, doctors, surgeons, engineers.. Why do they fail if they're so smart?
It's all a fucking scam.
No, a number of reasons, but the biggest is discipline
and emotional intelligence. Journal every day.
K no thanks, bro. That's fucking gay.
That's how I felt when I heard this advice but really that is pride and laziness talking. This is the process you need to do to learn what works for you and what doesn't. Review the trades you took, what your plan was, what actually happened, how you executed. Identify what you did well and what you can work on. This is how you develop discipline
and emotional intelligence,
by monitoring yourself. How you feel physically and mentally, and how these states affect your decision-making. Always be learning.
Read as much as you can. Good quality books. Here's the best I've read so far;
Market Wizards -Jack Schwager
One Good Trade -Mike Bellafiore
The Daily Trading Coach -Bret Steenbarger
Psycho-cybernetics -Maxwell Maltz
Why You Win or Lose -Fred Kelly
The Art and Science of Technical Analysis -Adam Grimes
Dark Pools -Scott Patterson Be nimble.
Everyday I do my research on the symbols I'm trading and the fundamental news that's driving them. I might be trading a large cap that's gapping up with a beat on EPS and revenue and positive guidance. But if I see that stock pop up and fail miserably on the open amidst huge selling pressure, and I look and see the broader market tanking, guess what, I'm getting short, and that's just day trading. The movement of the market, on an intraday timeframe, doesn't have to make logical sense. Adapt.
In March I used to be able to buy a breakout on a symbol and swing it for the majority of the day. In the summer I was basically scalping on the open and being done for the day. Volatility changes, and so do my profit targets. Be accountable. Be humble. Be honest.
I take 100% responsibility for every dime I've lost or made in the market. It's not the market makers fault, it wasn't the HFTs, I pressed the button.
I know my bad habits and I know my good habits.. my strengths/ my weaknesses. Protect yourself from toxicity.
Stay away from traders and people on forums who just have that negative mindset. That "can't be done" mentality.
Day trading is a scam!!
It can certainly be done.
Prove it, you bastard.
I'm posting to this particular forum because I don't see much of that here and apparently the mods to a good job of not tolerating it. As the mod wrote in the rules, they're most likely raging from a loss. Also, the Stocktwits mentality of "AAPL is going to TANK on the open! $180, here we come. $$$" , or the grandiose stories, "I just knew
AMZN was going to go up on earnings. I could feel it.
I went ALL IN. Options money, baby! ka-ching!$" Lol, that is so toxic to a new trader. Get away from that. How will you be able to remain nimble when this is your thought process? Be good to yourself.
Stop beating yourself up. You're an entrepreneur. You're boldly going where no man has gone before.
You've got balls.
Acknowledge your mistakes, don't identify with them. You are not your mistakes and you are not your bad habits
. These are only things that you do
, and you can take action necessary to do them less.
It doesn't matter what people think. Maybe they think you're a fool, a gambler. You don't need their approval. You don't need to talk to your co-workers and friends about it to satisfy some subconscious plea for guidance; is this a good idea? You don't need anyone's permission to become the person you want to be.
They don't believe in you? Fuck 'em. I believe in you.
I was going through old emails today and came across this one I sent out to family on January 4, 2018. It was a reflection on the 2017 crypto bull market and where I saw it heading, as well as some general advice on crypto, investment, and being safe about how you handle yourself in cryptoland.
I feel that we are on the cusp of a new bull market right now, so I thought that I would put this out for at least a few people to see *before* the next bull run, not after. While the details have changed, I don't see a thing in this email that I fundamentally wouldn't say again, although I'd also probably insist that people get a Yubikey and use that for all 2FA where it is supported.
Happy reading, and sorry for some of the formatting weirdness -- I cleaned it up pretty well from the original email formatting, but I love lists and indents and Reddit has limitations... :-/
Also, don't laught at my token picks from January 2018! It was a long time ago and (luckliy) I took my own advice about moving a bunch into USD shortly after I sent this. I didn't hit the top, and I came back in too early in the summer of 2018, but I got lucky in many respects.
----------------------------------------------------------------------- Jan-4, 2018
I woke up this morning to ETH at a solid $1000 and decided to put some thoughts together on what I think crypto has done and what I think it will do. *******, if you could share this to your kids I’d appreciate it -- I don’t have e-mail addresses, and it’s a bit unwieldy for FB Messenger… Hopefully they’ll at least find it thought-provoking. If not, they can use it as further evidence that I’m a nutjob. 😉
Some history before I head into the future.
I first mined some BTC in 2011 or 2012 (Can’t remember exactly, but it was around the Christmas holidays when I started because I had time off from work to get it set up and running.) I kept it up through the start of summer in 2012, but stopped because it made my PC run hot and as it was no longer winter, ********** didn’t appreciate the sound of the fans blowing that hot air into the room any more. I’ve always said that the first BTC I mined was at $1, but looking back at it now, that’s not true – It was around $2. Here’s a link
to BTC price history.
In the summer of 2013 I got a new PC and moved my programs and files over before scrapping the old one. I hadn’t touched my BTC mining folder for a year then, and I didn’t even think about salvaging those wallet files. They are now gone forever, including the 9-10BTC that were in them. While I can intellectually justify the loss, it was sloppy and underlines a key thing about cryptocurrency that I believe will limit its widespread adoption by the general public until it is addressed and solved: In cryptoland, you are your own bank, and if you lose your password or account number, there is no person or organization that can help you reset it so that you can get access back. Your money is gone forever.
On April 12, 2014 I bought my first BTC through Coinbase. BTC had spiked to $1000 and been in the news, at least in Japan. This made me remember my old wallet and freak out for a couple of months trying to find it and reclaim the coins. I then FOMO’d (Fear Of Missing Out”) and bought $100 worth of BTC. I was actually very lucky in my timing and bought at around $430. Even so, except for a brief 50% swing up almost immediately afterwards that made me check prices 5 times a day, BTC fell below my purchase price by the end of September and I didn’t get back to even until the end of 2015
In May 2015 I bought my first ETH at around $1. I sent some guy on bitcointalk ~$100 worth of BTC and he sent me 100 ETH – all on trust because the amounts were small and this was a small group of people. BTC was down in the $250 range at that point, so I had lost 30-40% of my initial investment. This was of the $100 invested, so not that much in real terms, but huge in percentages. It also meant that I had to buy another $100 of BTC on Coinbase to send to this guy. A few months after I purchased my ETH, BTC had doubled and ETH had gone down to $0.50, halving the value of my ETH holdings. I was even on the first BTC purchase finally, but was now down 50% on the ETH I had bought.
The good news was that this made me start to look at things more seriously. Where I had skimmed white papers and gotten a superficial understanding of the technology before FOMO’ing, I started to act as an investor, not a speculator. Let me define how I see those two different types of activity:
- Investors buy because the price is less than the value they see in the investment. Speculators buy because they think that someone will pay more in the future than they are paying now.
- Investors trade on information (The white paper was really well-written, had a clear technical advantage over other alternatives, and addresses a need that I can understand and value.) Speculators trade on sentiment. (Buy the rumor! Sell the news!)
- Investors usually look at the investment and themselves and can describe why they purchase in those terms (ABC-Coin provides (service) that isn’t addressed yet and matches (requirements) for an investment.) Speculators usually describe why they bought something in terms of how other people think (I think that other people think that the price will rise, so I want to get ahead of that.)
- Investors don’t necessarily check the price every day. The can, and very often I do, but it isn’t required because fundamentals don’t often change on a dime. Speculators need to be glued to a price feed, because sentiment very often changes on a dime.
- Investors like ideas, people, business plans, and market opportunities. Good ones are like Spock. Speculators like trends. They are tribal.
- Investors have a longer time horizon than speculators. In cryptoland, the notion of a “longer” time horizon is still laughably small (months) compared to traditional markets, but it certainly isn’t weeks or days or hours, which is whre speculators often live.
So what has been my experience as an investor? After sitting out the rest of 2015 because I needed to understand the market better, I bought into ETH quite heavily, with my initial big purchases being in March-April of 2016. Those purchases were in the $11-$14 range. ETH, of course, dropped immediately to under $10, then came back and bounced around my purchase range for a while until December of 2016, when I purchased a lot more at around $8.
I also purchased my first ICO in August of 2016, HEAT. I bought 25ETH worth. Those tokens are now worth about half of their ICO price, so about 12.5ETH or $12500 instead of the $25000 they would be worth if I had just kept ETH. There are some other things with HEAT that mean I’ve done quite a bit better than those numbers would suggest, but the fact is that the single best thing I could have done is to hold ETH and not spend the effort/time/cost of working with HEAT. That holds true for about every top-25 token on the market when compared to ETH. It certainly holds true for the many, many tokens I tried to trade in Q1-Q2 of 2017. In almost every single case I would have done better and slept better had I just held ETH instead of trying to be smarter than Mr. Market.
But, I made money on all of them except one because the crypto market went up more in USD terms than any individual coin went down in ETH or BTC terms. This underlines something that I read somewhere and that I take to heart: A rising market makes everyone seem like a genius.
A monkey throwing darts at a list of the top 100 cryptocurrencies last year would have doubled his money. Here’s a chart from September
that shows 2017 year-to-date returns for the top 10 cryptocurrencies, and all of them went up a *lot
* more between then and December. A monkey throwing darts at this list there would have quintupled his money.
When evaluating performance, then, you have to beat the monkey, and preferably you should try to beat a Wall Street monkey. I couldn’t, so I stopped trying around July 2017. My benchmark was the BLX
, a DAA (Digital Asset Array – think fund like a Fidelity fund) created by ICONOMI. I wasn’t even close to beating the BLX returns, so I did several things.
- I went from holding about 25 different tokens to holding 10 now. More on that in a bit.
- I used those funds to buy ETH and BLX. ETH has done crazy-good since then and BLX has beaten BTC handily, although it hasn’t done as well as ETH.
- I used some of those funds to set up an arbitrage operation.
The arbitrage operation is why I kept the 11 tokens that I have now. All but a couple are used in an ETH/token pair for arbitrage, and each one of them except for one special case is part of BLX. Why did I do that? I did that because ICONOMI did a better job of picking long-term holds than I did, and in arbitrage the only speculative thing you must do is pick the pairs to trade. My pairs are (No particular order):
I also hold PLU, PLBT, and ART. These two are multi-year holds for me. I have not purchased BTC once since my initial $200, except for a few cases where BTC was the only way to go to/from an altcoin that didn’t trade against ETH yet. Right now I hold about the same 0.3BTC that I held after my first $100 purchase, so I don’t really count it.
Looking forward to this year, I am positioning myself as follows:
- ETH will still be my core holding. It is the “deepest in the stack” crypto investment that I have. “Deep in the stack” is a programming term that gets at the idea that most software is built on other software. If you just think about your notebook, you have your OS, and programs run on that. But even inside the OS there is a stack. The bottom of your stack is the kernel, and on top of that are the drivers, protocols, and other layers that allow the programs to talk to the OS, the hard drive, the screen, the mouse, your printer, etc. You can change your mouse or printer easily. Changing things deeper in the stack becomes harder and harder. ETH is deep in the crypto stack, so is very hard to dislodge – Around 60 of the top 100 cryptocurrencies by market cap run on top of Ethereum, so getting rid of Ethereum is something that would take a long time to do.
- DNT, QTUM, ZRX, and OMG are all, to varying degrees, “deep in the stack” tokens that, once established, will be very hard to dislodge.
- That said, I am peeling away some of my holdings into USD right now, because big changes are afoot and they are going to cause market disruptions. I’m going to come right out and admit that this is speculative, but I’m also going to back it up with some non-speculative facts.
- The SEC has been sending out hundreds of subpoenas to cryptocurrency organizations over the past 3-4 months. These subpoenas are simply asking for information and nobody has been charged with any crimes or misdoings, but it is clear that the SEC is getting together information so that they can begin to regulate cryptoland. When that happens, other countries will follow, and that means:
- Some tokens will be deemed outright scams and people will be prosecuted.
- Some tokens will be deemed securities and will be regulated.
- Some tokens will not be deemed scams or securities and will continue as they have.
- Looking at this, it is clear to me that the tokens that escape prosecution and regulation should do better, but the short-term impact will be brutal and ugly. It would not surprise me at all to see a 50% drop in overall market cap within Q1-Q2, with Q1 being more likely.
- Cryptoland has always been a bit nuts, but it is more nuts now than I have ever seen it. Back in 2011-2014 it was a freaks-n-geeks show where people were all about the technology and I would sit around for a 3-day weekend installing a *nix VM on my Windows machine so that I could compile the most recent source and run a CUDA SHA-256 routine rather than thrash my CPU. If that doesn’t make sense to you, you wouldn’t have even thought about being involved.
- Now, people see Bitcoin advertisements in their Facebook feed and think “I gotta get on the BTC train!” before going to Coinbase and buying some with a credit card. They don’t know anything about crypto, and they are getting eaten alive – It is no coincidence that BTC peaked after the Thanksgiving holidays when people sat around the table and Janice got Uncle Mike and Cousin Bob all excited as she talked about going to Cancun for Christmas because of her crypto winnings. Huge amounts of fiat got transferred from newbies to BTC whales during this period, and once the whales were done, BTC had dropped from $20,000 to $12,000. It’s now back at $15,000, but for people who bought at a higher level, this sucks. As a result many have moved from BTC to ETH, with the single biggest money flow in crypto in December being the BTC à ETH flow. As a result, it’s no coincidence that ETH is at all-time highs now. The thing is, though, that even most people that moved from BTC to ETH really have no idea what they are doing. They are acting on buzzwords and emotion. They are speculators and are going to get crushed.
- The stock market is quite high right now, but people are starting to worry that it is too high and that we are going to enter into a period of inflation again. This has caused gold to go up a lot the last quarter and is likely also responsible a bit for the rise in cryptos. If this view is correct, then cryptos stay stronger than if that pressure wasn’t there. If wrong, then cryptos will swing down as money exits cryptoland for more traditional markets.
- I am spending most of my time and money on the arbitrage effort. The nice thing about arbitrage is that it works as the markets go up, and it works as the markets go down. When markets are too volatile, however, arbitrage can get very messy and dangerous, with each trade generating a loss instead of a profit, so I am working right now to tune the algorithms to take into account rate-of-change and add in some circuit breaker triggers. Once this is done I will expand those operations.
- I am getting much more serious about systems security.
- I have a Nano Ledger and recommend that anyone with >$1000 of crypto have one. The Trezor is also supposed to be good, but I haven’t used it.
- I will set up a dedicated *nix notebook that is used for nothing except my crypto work. All it takes is one keylogger to get on your PC/Mac and your crypto is gone. What is on your Nano Ledger will be OK, but they will sweep out your exchange account or Coinbase account faster than you can type. A standard Linux installation with Chrome and nothing else is as about as secure as you can get in the civilian world.
- If you don’t use LastPass or a similar password manager yet, you need to do that. Your password to LastPass should be at least 16 characters long and should not have a recognizable English word in it. If you think that “Iluvu4evah” is a secure password, you’re wrong.
- Hackers know that “4”=”for” and “u”=”you”. Writing a script to substitute those in is trivial if they want to write the script, but it’s much easier for them to download one of the many, many programs out there that already do this.
- If your password contains any string of numbers from anything that can be associated with you at any time in your life, it is insecure. Take those numbers out of the character count because they are an insignificant barrier to cracking your account.
- The good news is that you probably won’t be targeted, but if you ever mention online that you are doing anything significant in crypto, that chance increased enormously.
- *Never* talk with *anyone* about how much you have in crypto. You’ll notice that I haven’t here. There is no reason to tell even a family member how much you have unless you are sharing a tax form. Sure, you may trust them, but all it takes if for someone to overhead someone else mention at a party that a relative got into crypto a long time ago and made a bunch of money. That person can also then be subjected to the $10 hack and force you to send all your crypto to them.
- Your password to LastPass (Or equivalent.) should look something like this -> 6k0jQMoziX&D#4W8
- Yes, it’s a headache. Imagine your headache, though, were you to open your account one day and find all of your money gone.
Looking at my notes, I have two other things that I wanted to work into this email that I didn’t get to, so here they are:
- Just like with free apps and other software, if you are getting something of value and you didn’t pay anything for it, you need to ask why this is. With apps, the phrase is “If you didn’t pay for the product, you are the product”, and this works for things such as pump groups, tips, and even technical analysis. Here’s how I see it.
- Technical analysis (TA) is something that has been argued about for longer than I’ve been alive, but I think that it falls into the same boat. In short, TA argues that there are patterns in trading that can be read and acted upon to signal when one must buy or sell. It has been used forever in the stock and foreign exchange markets, and people use it in crypto as well. Let’s break down these assumptions a bit.
i. First, if crypto were like the stock or forex markets we’d all be happy with 5-7% gains per year rather than easily seeing that in a day. For TA to work the same way in crypto as it does in stocks and foreign exchange, the signals would have to be *much
* stronger and faster-reacting than they work in the traditional market, but people use them in exactly the same way.
ii. Another area where crypto is very different than the stock and forex markets centers around market efficiency theory. This theory says that markets are efficient and that the price reflects all the available information at any given time. This is why gold in New York is similar in price to gold in London or Shanghai, and why arbitrage margins are easily <0.1% in those markets compared to cryptoland where I can easily get 10x that. Crypto simply has too much speculation and not enough professional traders in it yet to operate as an efficient market. That fundamentally changes the way that the market behaves and should make any TA patterns from traditional markets irrelevant in crypto.
iii. There are services, both free and paid that claim to put out signals based on TA for when one should buy and sell. If you think for even a second that they are not front-running (Placing orders ahead of yours to profit.) you and the other people using the service, you’re naïve.
iv. Likewise, if you don’t think that there are people that have but together computerized systems to get ahead of people doing manual TA, you’re naïve. The guys that I have programming my arbitrage bots have offered to build me a TA bot and set up a service to sell signals once our position is taken. I said no, but I am sure that they will do it themselves or sell that to someone else. Basically they look at TA as a tip machine where when a certain pattern is seen, people act on that “tip”. They use software to see that “tip” faster and take a position on it so that when slower participants come in they either have to sell lower or buy higher than the TA bot did. Remember, if you are getting a tip for free, you’re the product. In TA I see a system when people are all acting on free preset “tips” and getting played by the more sophisticated market participants. Again, you have to beat that Wall Street monkey.
- If you still don’t agree that TA is bogus, think about it this way: If TA was real, Wall Street would have figured it out decades ago and we would have TA funds that would be beating the market. We don’t.
- If you still don’t agree that TA is bogus and that its real and well, proven, then you must think that all smart traders use them. Now follow that logic forward and think about what would happen if every smart trader pushing big money followed TA. The signals would only last for a split second and would then be overwhelmed by people acting on them, making them impossible to leverage. This is essentially what the efficient market theory postulates for all information, including TA.
OK, the one last item. Read this weekly newsletter
– You can sign up at the bottom. It is free, so they’re selling something, right? 😉 From what I can tell, though, Evan is a straight-up guy who posts links and almost zero editorial comments.
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