Observations on our news reporting system as well as investment bank forecasting.

On the quality news reporting

Good news reporting should seeks to inform rather than sensationalize with attention grabbing headlines. Its easy to appear data driven but still be misleading if you do not use the proper frame for understanding the numbers

An example of bad news reporting
An example of bad news reporting
An example of quality news reporting

On investment bank predictions

When on the receiving end of predictions made by external parties it is important to understand the underlying agenda they are trying to achieve. When examined thoroughly, predictions made by investment banks are so bad and contradictory, they should just stop making public declarations.

However if taking into account their objective is not to inform but to incite a trading decision by their clients so as to make a commission or offload losing positions on their trading books, it makes perfect sense.

Related references

Chat with Johnson and Dad on CoronaVirus and crisis investing

  • A company is only likely to go bankrupt if its creditors recalls debts and it is not able to pay back.
  • In the event of a major wide spread disaster and there is no one around to take advantage of it, it is unlikely the creditors recall debts
  • creditors of airlines would more likely want to have all their clients continue generating revenue with the planes to pay off debt than to foreclose of them and take back planes which are at that point worthless inventory for them
  • Labor unions will not want to have all their union members laid off, they will likely go into negotiations to deal with salary issues.
  • Ships of cruises are likely to deteriorate fast and require Capex to upkeep
  • Credit lines and payment schedule can always be renegotiated if impact is industry wide
  • If creditors are not willing to recall debts, then what would be the cause of bankruptcy? Beware of fake news that preach doom and gloom with no underlying basis
  • If you bought too early into the dip and you are more than half way into the dip might as well hold on for the recovery. Trying to exit too late into the dip will only cause more losses to be unnecessarily incurred.
  • Oil specialists are either producers or consumers, it is hard to determine the demand unless you are an insider
  • Wait till all the bad news are out and sentiment has turned before entering into position. Its ok to only go into position after the company share price has advanced 100% from its lowest levels.

Federal reserve rate cuts

3rd March 2020

  • reduce interest rates from 1.5-1.75% to 1-1.25%
  • purchase of government bonds
  • purchase of agency back mortgage securities

15th March 2020

  • reduce interest rates from 1-1.25% to 0-0.25%
  • effects are in very early stage within the US
  • First signs affected industries
    • Tourism
    • Hotel
    • Travel industry
    • otherwise not showing up in data but sentiment forecasts

Key take aways

  • mandate
    • maximum employment
    • price stability
  • Context
    • Economy propped up by US consumers
    • US unemployment is low
  • Dealing with corona issue
    • Actual impact of US economy is uncertain
    • Ultimate solution will come from health professionals
    • Broader spread of the virus is what changed hence potential risk to the economy
    • Uncertain how long the economy will take to recover
    • Health care, Fiscal and Monetary policies

Thoughts on Fake News

A stroll through the peaceful streets of Rome. In contrast, it felt like the end of the world is here if you read news about Italy recently.

The human brain is a remarkable pattern recognition engine. When given incomplete information it will conjure up the “missing” pieces to generate a coherent whole that could be comprehended. More often than not what gets generated is the worst case imaginable scenario. In a normal time and age this is a wonderful function to have running automatically in the background to keep this primate alive.

However, this automatic function becomes problematic as three trends converge.

Trend 1 – big tech like Google and Facebook consolidated advertising revenue putting news entity under increasingly pressure to sustain themselves as their advertising revenue dwindled

Trend 2 – the proliferation of publication medium means anyone can now claim to be a news entity.

Trend 3 – Proliferation of Growth hacking techniques perfected by tech companies like Facebook that hijacks the human brain’s automatic fight or flight to generate user action that gets converted to revenue.

News entity generate revenue with hyper inflated news that drives readership and vitality by tapping into fear and anger. This drives wide spread panic. Corona  is perfect catalyst.

Conversations with Garis

  • When trading Forex the most important skill is to master the reversal.
  • Unlike shares of individual companies, due to heavy daily trading volume price movements goes both ways
  • It makes better sense to execute on the reversal instead of opting to totally exit the market

Thoughts on Crude Oil

General overview

Event types

Trading approach

  • Establish presence of bullish/bearish trend by observing MACD line in 5D/1M/3M view
  • Buy OILU when  90 day MACD trend turns bullish or bullishness gains momentum
  • Sell when OILU when 90 day MACD bullish trend losses momentum
  • Buy OILD when 90 day MACD trend turns bearish or bearishness gains momentum
  • Sell OILD when 90 day MACD bearish trend reverse losses momentum
  • Exit OILD when WTI price drops below USD45
  • Exit OILU when WTI price rises above USD60
  • Enter OILU when
    • WTI USD40-45/barrel – when no deliberate flooding by OPEC+
    • WTI USD26/barrel – when deliberate flooding by OPEC+

Observations on employing trading approach

  • Deliberate market making activities by operator to balance funds on OILD and OILU is disadvantageous for trading.
  • Correlations of ETF prices to actual WTI prices is delayed
  • The bulk of the price action occurs pre-market and post-market during time slots where placement of position is not possible
  • Delays are observed between placing and filling of orders

Related References

Book summary: What it takes, Stephen Schwarzman

Profile

  • Partner at BlackStone

Personal effectiveness

  • the bigger the goals the more significant the consequences
  • since you can only do one important thing at a time, always pick the most important one to start with
  • most important lessons are learned at inflection points between when failure turns into success
  • the best executives are made not born, they absorb info, study their own experiences, learn from mistakes and evolve
  • The goal of education (questioning and thinking) as a discipline is to learn how to think, it only ends when you die
  • there are as many realities as individuals, study more individuals
  • find a great mentor
  • Cultivate inner fortitude: Helps preserve morality and ethics in the face of fear and greed
  • The harder the problem the more limited the competition
  • The first job is foundational. Always look for one with a steep learning curve and strong training.
  • when caught in a tight spot, don’t become fixated on your own problem but on someone else’s
  • when seeing a huge transformative opportunity don’t worry that no one else is pursuing it.
  • never get complacent
  • make decisions when you are ready not under pressure
  • objectively assess the risks of every opportunity.

On finance and trading

  • master uncertainty: finance is a dynamic world where you will need to adjust to situations, people and new information quickly
  • build a model to explain a certain phenomena and then test it
  • do not mistake interest in making money versus interest in psychological comfort
  • market tops
    • loose credit conditions and a rising tide
    • buyers generally overconfident
    • number of people you know who become “accidentally” become rich
    • number of IPOs increase at the top, so does the valuations and size
  • market bottoms
    • very hard to bring companies to IPO
    • difficult to detect
    • markets are declining and economy weakens
    • most buy too early or under-estimate the severity of recessions
    • usually takes a year or two for market to get out of recession. even then asset value takes time to recover
    • risk is the least after a crash
    • best time to enter is after position has experienced 5-10% recovery from a crash
  • practice discipline and sound risk assessment
    • wait till the cycle fully plays out
  • Cycles are powered by supply and demand characteristics
    • understand and quantify them
    • e.g. real estate top is when building is valued significantly above replacement cost
  • Sometimes a trend especially negative ones will exhibit symptoms spread across various territories (escalating land prices Spain, India and US prior to 2008)

On building a company

  • fund raising from an LP for a new fund you are starting yourself will be harder than the prior company whom the LP already has a relationship with.
  • make sure there is not sole decision maker for important decisions to avoid getting blind sided
  • Accessing an idea
    • big enough for you to devote your life
    • unique enough as an offering that people will want it
    • timing must be right
  • transition from gut to system during the middle of the life cycle to continue further scaling
  • a business is an integrated system. Understand how one part works by itself as well as in relationship with other parts. Information is the most important asset in business

On management

  • being a strong and accurate accessor of talent is the most critical skills of entrepreneurship.
  • look for cultural fit.
  • Get the candidate into conversation mode
  • its as hard to start and run a small business versus a big one. Choose one with potential to be huge. Why waste time asking for 5-10 million USD when you can ask for 50-100 million USD?
  • find people who sense problems, design solutions and takes the business in new directions
  • be proactive in addressing personal differences over day to day operations

On deal making

  • ultimately comes down to a few key critical points
  • clear away the clutter and focus on these points to be effective
  • learn to slow things down
  • practice intense listening

Related readings

  • Outliers, Malcom Gladwell

Book summary: George Soros the unauthorized biography

Profile

  • Founder of quantum fund

Key take aways

  • There is a gap between perception and reality
    • Its the distortion that shapes events
    • Market participants operate with biases and these biases influence the course of events
    • Market prices are always going to be wrong because its offers a biased view of the future
    • biases works both ways
    • biases are self reinforcing, overreaction happens
    • boom and bust are attributed to the flux and uncertainty due to this gap
    • since the market is always wrong if you follow everyone else, you will perform poorly
  • On risk taking
    • Its alright to take risk
    • When taking risk don’t bet the ranch
    • Once you know what the market is thinking, bet on the unexpected
    • look for a sudden change in the market not yet identified by anyone else
    • develop a thesis and test it on the market
    • take a position where you have time on your side
    • learn how to survive
    • Attain superior long term returns through preservation of capital and home runs
    • Its not whether you are right or wrong but how much you make when you are right and how much you lose when you are wrong
  • On positions
    • be willing to endure the pain of following your logic when everyone else is going the other way
    • pick the best and worst performers in an industry
    • if your investment is going well, follow your instincts and go with all you’ve got
  • To avoid
    • lopsided trend following is necessary to produce a violent market crash
    • investors trying to influence prices by acquiring a large position in a currency will face disastrous results when position is sold
  • At times gut feelings will need to override logical analysis
  • gain access to world leaders for better insights

Related readings

The alchemy of finance by Georgo Soros

  • A gap exists between perception and reality
  • The theory of reflexivity
    • herd mentality dictates that the market driven by momentum will eventually over extend itself.
    • the herd will eventually realize its over extension and revert to mean
    • however momentum will once again do its work and result in over extension in the opposite direction
  • at times you will need to be somewhat schizophrenic by keeping in mind two equally plausible but conflicting mental models and predictions while doing your trade.
  • What matters most is your gain when you are right and your losses when you are wrong
    • When you know you are right, go for the jugular
    • it is the correct but non-obvious trades that generate the most outsized returns
  • A country with poor fundamentals, high level debts and limited foreign reserves will have limited ability in propping up its foreigns reserves much as it attempts to do so
  • maintaining a wide network spread across multiple territories will help in forming a better informed mental picture on the state of things