Trading losses - Lessons learnt

May ended up a month of dismay (no pun intended) as my trading account fell from a net gain to a net loss. The losses came from 2 CFD positions that I made on just a single stock, Expedia.

Managing risks

Before we trade, we need to know what and how much we are risking. Acting on a spur of the moment without doing sufficient homework may make us take on more risks than we would like to. Most dangerous being in the form of leveraging or averaging down.

Quick money = quick disaster

Expedia case-in-point (where I have made really stupid novice mistakes):

1) I didn't stick to rule of position sizing and averaged down on my losing position.
Don't ever average down on losses!

2) I didn't set a fixed stop loss point. I eventually cut my losses albeit not timely enough. If I didn't do that, it would have snowballed to an even bigger loss.

3) I didn't analyze the chart and sentiments on the stock thoroughly. 
Was too late in the trend and entered just when it reversed. Imagine like someone cut losses at the bottom of the Mar market or purchased stocks in Jan / Feb at the peak.

I blame that on complacency (after a fantastic month of April) and my spur of the moment decision.

Always remember - it is better to get limited gains than unlimited losses for not sticking to the rules.

Always aim to minimize losses when we are proven wrong by the market.

There's no absolute in an irrational market, only probability

We cannot predict how the market will pan out no matter how many factors we try to put into analysis eg. Covid situation, FED's decisions, oil prices, economic outlook. We have no crystal ball. Period.

The only thing we can do is to position ourselves so that we can maximize outcome of winning probability while limiting controllable downside risks. Action only when probability is in our favour and be patient.

Expectation of return = Probability x Payoff ($)

The above equation is from Nassim Taleb.

When there is a "high probability of a modest gain and a low probability of losses in any period.", we want to position to maximize returns. That is when we have to "act fast, act big".

On the other hand, we want to avoid being vested when there's "high probability of a small gain, and a small probability of a very large loss". (Eg. naked options trade)

However, probability may be difficult to calculate per what is known as 'Knightian uncertainty'. The market is different from a game of Poker!

When Expedia reversed from its downtrend, there was a straight 7 days of jumping up (green candles) before a pullback (despite its RSI at crazy level). We cannot predict when the trend will reverse but we will know for sure if a trend has already reversed.

Consistency in strategy execution

Further to what was mentioned, we must stay consistent in executing our strategies.

Acknowledge that for every uptrend there will be pullbacks, for every trend (up or down) there will be a reversal down the road. If we get too fearful or greedy and fail to execute what we have planned, it would be efforts and money gone in vain.

Only when there's consistency in place can we fine-tune our strategy to ensure that it can withstand the wrath of the market.

Expected payoff of trading option:

Trading is dealing with your inner demons

That's me rationalizing after my losses last month. For those who do not know how to deal with risks, inner demons and all the psychology associated with winning & losing, trading would just be a speculation game.

If you refer to the chart at the start of my post, you can see that I am slowly recouping my mega Expedia-trade losses. When you sustained damage from a bomb, the recovery is slow and painful like piecing back the blown up pieces. It is better to take bullet shots and do damage control early than sustain a bomb damage, even though in trading / investing loss (damage) is inevitable. Where was my stop loss? I find myself asking a tad too late.

Yesterday I closed out my AMEX short position at a small loss and initiated a long position due to sudden shift in sentiment after FED's announcement on continued economic stimulus efforts.
The bull/bear tug-o-war is based on FED more than Covid!

Oh by the way, garbage stocks like Hertz has been blocked from shorting. If you think you are smart, the platform (market maker) is smarter! (Speak of what you can't control.)

"It's not a matter of how many times you are right or wrong, but how much money you make when you are right and how much money you lose when you are wrong."
- George Soros

You might be interested to also read 
Risk factors to trade loss.

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Disclaimer: Contents of this blog are personal opinions and NOT financial advice to buy or sell any mentioned securities, commodities or assets.


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The contents of this blog are author's personal opinions and do not constitute advice to hold, buy or sell any securities, commodities or assets mentioned. I do not guarantee the accuracy and reliability of any information provided, and shall not be liable for any losses incurred from reading my posts or using the materials herein. This blog may contain affiliate links to external sites.