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Friday August 24, 2007 - 11:37:43 GMT
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Feel the pain and set yourself free!

Key News

  • Bank of China Ltd. had its biggest drop since going public last year after the nation's second- biggest bank said it holds almost $9.7 billion of securities backed by U.S. subprime loans, the most of any Asian company. (Bloomberg)
  • Growth in Europe's manufacturing and service industries slowed in August after the expansion in the euro-region economy cooled in the second quarter. (Bloomberg)

Key Reports Due (WSJ): 
8:30a.m. July Durable Goods Orders. Expected: +0.9%. Previous: +1.3%.
10:00a.m. July New Home Sales. Expected: -1.7%. Previous: -6.6%.


“Anything can happen…Every moment in the market is unique.”   

    Mark Douglas

FX Trading –  Feel the pain and set yourself free!

I have a friend.  And for lack of a better term, let’s call him Mike.  Now Mike is a smart guy—no doubt.  He knows all the stats.  He stays up on the news.  He’s articulate.  And he’s a lot of fun to have a drink, or two or three, with.  I know that from experience. 

What’s interesting though is that as much as my friend and I might agree on, let’s call it “stuff” going on in the global financial markets, we always seem to see it all a bit differently. 

He always seems to see things slightly from inside the box and I always do my best to stay outside the box.  It has nothing to do with who’s smarter—I know he would tell you he is, for lack of self esteem he doesn’t possess, which makes him a lot of fun at times. I think it goes to the difference of believing whether or not there is some preordained order to all this stuff, or whether one thinks it’s all more of an accident waiting to happen.  I tend to view the global financial system as kind of held together by pieces of tape and glue and rubber bands here and there, kind of like the things you built as a kid—the way I still build things unfortunately.

The more I think about our divergent views, which to the average observer wouldn’t look much different if my friend Mike and I were hanging out, talking about the market, and enjoying a pint. 

Maybe it boils down to this:  I have lost a whole lot of my own money over the years based on events that, before the gift of hindsight, appeared to have a relatively small chance of happening in a normally functioning financial system that has a consistent order.  Having your own wealth whacked seems to have a much greater impact than having other people’s money get whacked I’ve noticed.  Those that manage mostly other people’s money seem to have a different perspective even though they’ve seen similar market events.

I guess what got me thinking about this was a re-reading of Mark Douglas’ excellent book, Trading in the Zone; my favorite on the topic of trading psychology.  Mr. Douglas writes:

“At the subconscious level, the pain-avoidance process is much more subtle and mysterious.  At this level, our minds may block our ability to see other alternatives, even though in other circumstances we would be able to perceive them.  Now, because they are in conflict with what we want or expect, our pain-avoidance mechanisms can make them disappear (as if they didn’t exist).

“…To avoid pain, we narrow our focus of attention and concentrate on information that keeps us out of pain, regardless of how insignificant or minute.  In the meantime, the information that clearly indicates the presence of a trend and the opportunity to trade in the direction of that trend becomes invisible.”

When you read that for the first time you likely think to yourself—dah!  But the more you read it AND the more you are honest with yourself that as a trader you’ve committed this sin too many times to count, and still do, the more you realize the inherent wisdom in Mr. Douglas’ words. 

So maybe that sums it up—being open to pain.  I’ve opened myself up to more pain by betting my friend Mike that the Chinese stock market would be down by at least 50% sometime within the next six months.  He of course laughed.  He can’t even conceive of it happening—but then again he has some vested interest.  I not only can conceive it, but believe it can happen.  Maybe it’s a very small chance, but being open to that chance and letting information flow in along the way over the next six months may be the cheapest lunch I’ve ever had to buy for my friend Mike.  And I’ve happily bought many for him over the years. 

P.S. $-yen at 100 is another thing we are remaining open to these days. 

Have a great weekend.

Jack Crooks


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