Two years ago, when we first profiled Japan’s mysterious “Mister Watanabe” daytrader – aka CIS – we thought it may just all be a hoax. But, as his claims this week that he made $34 million trading the panic on Monday – “I do my best work when other people are panicking,” Bloomberg reports, CIS – who claims JPY20bn AUM, has become a cult figure among Japan’s tight-knit community of day traders. Notorious for lines like “Not even Goldman Sachs can beat me in a trade,” CIS drops some knowledge this week on how he has become so successful… “Buy stocks that are being bought, and sell stocks that are being sold.” Just don’t tell Cramer.
While a lot of investors were hitting the panic button Monday, Bloomberg reports a Japanese day trader who’d made a big bet against the market timed the bottom almost perfectly and narrated a play-by-play of the trade to his 40,000 Twitter followers. He claims to have walked away with $34 million.
As financial markets got crazy this week, many people turned cautious. Some were paralyzed. Not the 36-year-old day trader known by the Internet handle CIS.
“I do my best work when other people are panicking,” he said in an interview Tuesday, about an hour after winding up the biggest trade of a long career betting on stocks. He asked that his real name not be used because he’s worried about robbery or extortion. To support his claims, he shared online brokerage statements showing his trades second by second.
CIS had been shorting futures on the Nikkei 225 Stock Average since mid-August, wagering it would fall. By the market close on Monday, a paper profit of $13 million was staring him in the face. He kept building the position. When he cashed out late that night, a collapse in New York had caused his profit to double.
Instead of celebrating, he kept trading. He started betting the market had bottomed. When he finally took his winnings off the table on Tuesday, he tweeted, “That’s the end of my epic rebound trade.” His profit, he said, had almost tripled.
“It was a perfect trade,” said Naoki Murakami, who follows CIS on Twitter and whose markets blog has made him a minor celebrity in his own right.
CIS became a cult figure among Japan’s tight-knit community of day traders by trash talking on Internet message boards early in his career. He’s notorious for lines like “Not even Goldman Sachs can beat me in a trade.” Last year he opened a Twitter account, on which he talks about video games and, regularly, his trading.
There was still more money to be made from the panic though. Some investors that night were willing to pay a hefty premium for options that protected against the Nikkei crashing below 10,500. That would be a collapse of almost 40 percent. In CIS’s view, these investors were looking to buy insurance against a near impossibility…
He was happy to take the other side of that trade. The contracts were worth another $250,000 to him. He made the first deal within 10 seconds of what would prove to be the market’s bottom at 10:34 p.m.
“Too delicious,” he tweeted.
“Of course I’m happy about today, but you win some and you lose a lot, too,” he said, explaining the Greek financial crisis had cost him about $6 million.
CIS said he has no idea whether or not China is going to drag down the global economy. He doesn’t even care. When he trades, he tracks volumes and price moves to follow the momentum.
For him the basic rule is: “Buy stocks that are being bought, and sell stocks that are being sold.”
“When a trade goes right I feel like bragging a little, but I don’t get on Twitter to talk about it if I lose,” he said with a laugh.
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In a nutshell, CIS, a momentum day trader and living proof of survivorship bias in finance (because for every CIS who has, allegedly, made it, some 999,999 have failed) has amassed a fortune… at least in Twitter followers anyway.