Advice To Traders from 1923 Bubble

By | July 19, 2014

Your biggest enemy, when trading, is within yourself. Success will only come when you learn to control your emotions. Edwin Lefevre’s Reminiscences of a Stock Operator (1923) offers advice that still applies today.

  • Caution Excitement (and fear of missing an opportunity) often persuade us to enter the market before it is safe to do so. After a down-trend a number of rallies may fail before one eventually carries through. Likewise, the emotional high of a profitable trade may blind us to signs that the trend is reversing.
  • Patience Wait for the right market conditions before trading. There are times when it is wise to stay out of the market and observe from the sidelines.
  • Conviction Have the courage of your convictions: Take steps to protect your profits when you see that a trend is weakening, but sit tight and don’t let fear of losing part of your profit cloud your judgment. There is a good chance that the trend will resume its upward climb.
  • Detachment Concentrate on the technical aspects rather than on the money. If your trades are technically correct, the profits will follow.Stay emotionally detached from the market. Avoid getting caught up in the short-term excitement. Screen-watching is a tell-tale sign: if you continually check prices or stare at charts for hours it is a sign that you are unsure of your strategy and are likely to suffer losses.
  • Focus Focus on the longer time frames and do not try to catch every short-term fluctuation. The most profitable trades are in catching the large trends.
  • Expect the unexpected Trading involves dealing with probabilities — not certainties. No one can predict the market correctly every time. Avoid gamblers’ logic.
    Average up – not down If you increase your position when price goes against you, you are liable to compound your losses. When price starts to move it is likely to continue in that direction. Rather increase your exposure when the market proves you right and moves in your favor.
    Limit your lossesUse stop-losses to protect your funds. When the stop loss is triggered, act immediately — don’t hesitate.The biggest mistake you can make is to hold on to falling stocks, hoping for a recovery. Falling stocks have a habit of declining way below what you expected them to. Eventually you are forced to sell, decimating your capital.

Human nature being what it is, most traders and investors ignore these rules when they first start out. It can be an expensive lesson.

Control your emotions and avoid being swept along with the crowd. Make consistent decisions based on sound technical analysis.

Everyone knows that chasing price is usually not beneficial, we either end up catching the move too late, or we get poor trade location, which makes it more difficult to manage the trade.

However, there are other forms of chasing that are just as common, maybe more common, and just as counter-productive.

Traders who are not profitable are often too quick to chase after new set-ups and indicators, or a different chat room, if that’s your thing.  Obviously, we need to have a trading edge, whether it is from the statistical perspective of a positive expectancy, or simply the confidence in a particular discretionary strategy such as tape reading, following order flow, market profile, etc.

Chasing a trade is the fear of missing out. The fear of missing out is associated with various emotions, including regret. In my work with traders and in my own trading, I’ve seen the incredible power of regret. There’s a lot of talk about fear and greed in trading, but the power of regret is often overlooked. Some of my own worst trades, and those of my clients, often have a ‘regret from missing a prior opportunity’ component. When I finally finish my book on the psychology of financial risk taking, I will include much about this overlooked but very powerful emotion.Somewhat related to chasing a trade, is impulse trading.  They both have in common the underlying feeling of the fear of missing out.  It’s tempting for me to talk about impulse trading here, but it really deserves its own piece.

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