Wednesday, 24 May 2017

Fear Index and Trading Staples

In between all the comments on the Cops and Bloggers post received while I was away, there were a few other comments on other topics and emails which are always appreciated.

Wayward Lad commented on my Weirdly Calm post on the VIX pointing out that:

Yes, Donald Trump is capable of making "volatile" decisions, but does that necessarily translate into a volatile market? So far, the US President appears to have been confined to making personality statements rather than economic statements (such as sacking the director of the FBI), therefore perhaps the market is being left to it's own devices and managing itself.
Fortunately for the world, there are checks and balances in place that prevent some of 45's most extreme policies from ever seeing the light of day - his ill-considered Muslim Travel Ban Executive Orders for example - and it does seem that the financial markets generally ignore the turmoil in Washington with each day seeming to bring with it a new revelation of incompetence at best, high crimes and misdemeanours at worst.

Having said that, Marty today commented on my original VIX post about the "50 Cent" trader, pointing out that the VIX had its most volatile day in more than eight months last Wednesday, and the trader, rumoured to be from UK based Ruffer Investment Co would have a paper profit of roughly $27 million. 

The Bloomberg article is reproduced below, but if you want the pretty pictures click on the link. It fails to mention what the cause of the spike was on Wednesday, or indeed how much 50 Cent's strategy was now up or down in total, although admittedly somewhat irrelevant given that it is likely one-side of a hedge and we don't know the other side. 
He’s been patiently waiting for the VIX to explode, and now that it has, his calls will get rolled on.
The mysterious volatility buyer or buyers dubbed “50 Cent” because of their propensity for buying large blocks of VIX call options priced at roughly a half-dollar each, had their best day of 2017 on Wednesday. The CBOE Volatility Index, commonly known as the VIX or fear index, surged by nearly five points on Wednesday to 15.59, its biggest jump since Sept. 9.
Pravit Chintawongvanich, head derivatives strategist at Macro Risk Advisors, estimates that Fiddy’s profit and loss statement showed a gain of roughly $27 million for the session. The options serve as a hedge against a stock selloff.

The Financial Times has reported that the persistent buyer or buyers of relatively inexpensive VIX call options is U.K.-based investment firm Ruffer Investment Co.
However, it’s relatively unlikely that this investor or investors, whoever they may be, will book these gains.

“Depending on how 50 Cent has structured the hedge, may never actually monetize the position, simply continuing to roll the VIX calls and enjoying the mark-to-market gains during times of turbulence,” Chintawongvanich wrote in a note to clients Thursday. “However, if they do intend to monetize at some point, we think they require a much larger move in VIX futures than we have seen so far (we would think at least until June future trade 20+).”
Most of the position is in June VIX futures and isn’t in the money yet, the strategist noted.

That said, if 50 Cent was able monetize yesterday’s impressive performance, it’s pretty clear that someone’s going to be partying like it’s their birthday.
The article's use of the expression "biggest jump since Sept 9" needs some clarification. It's true that this was the biggest daily increase in that time frame, but to clarify, the VIX has been higher than 15.59 as recently as April 13th when it hit 15.96.

One comment I briefly mentioned yesterday was from Tony, who asked:
Do you trade at all? If not why not please?
I had this question via email from Thomas also, and to him my reply was:
I don't trade much these days due to either court-siders being present or more expert traders. It's hard to find value against those people, and rather than spend hours waiting for a possible value trade, it's better for me to bet and forget these days.
I should have mentioned that many markets have no liquidity too, but even so, that answer wasn't actually a very honest one, since I answered it assuming the question was "do you trade sports in-play?"

If there are any sports markets with liquidity, no court / pitch / field / table / green / track etc. siders scooping up the value before the rest of us, let me know. 

I do trade the financial markets, employing a strategy of specialising in a handful (literally) of stocks which have a high market capitalisation, pay good dividends, and are consumer staples companies. At my age, I don't need volatility, but I've noticed that buying on sharp dips (often oversold) is usually rewarded with a quick profit, and if I need to hold the shares for a while, that's fine. This is money I won't need for years so I can hold during which time the healthy dividend helps out.

I'm not day-trading - I understand that I have no edge over those who trade full-time for a living - but am typically holding a position for a few days, which reduces the importance of my entry point being at, or close to, the low.

Tuesday, 23 May 2017

Badgers, Blaggers, Books and Bond, James Bond

Geekgate Continued. 

In my last post, I took an opening look at some of the sixteen comments on my Cops and Bloggers post, and here are some more of those comments. 

So who was to blame for the Twitter eruption almost two weeks ago?

Paul Spry of Geeks Toy puts the blame fairly and squarely on the shoulders of Betfair Pro Trader James, suggesting that:
Why it started was because a rank hypocrite, & name calling child who seems to make a career out of slating others to sell product made the mistake of calling my integrity into question.
Stones & glass houses spring to mind. Ditto my opinions on dodgy characters.!
As for the rest, no alcohol involved, sales are just fine, & I apologise profoundly for not having a 100% command of the English language which seems to be the second most heinous crime round these parts.
The Blagger link refers to a disagreement dating back to September 2011, with the Blagger apparently Tony Hargraves, or Hargrief as Paul refers to him. Tony Hargraves was the subject of a post here in March, where I pointed out the illogicality of his claim to avoid Betfair's Premium Charge by placing his losing bets on that platform, and his winners elsewhere. If only it were that simple. 

Without wishing to immerse myself in a disagreement from six years ago, the gist of it appears to be summed up here in Paul's opening post of that above-referenced thread:
In the 3 years I have known Tony, all we have seen is "after the fact" cherry picked videos & screen shots of him winning, followed by a desperation to flog courses, eBooks & tipping services. Not once has anyone seen any genuine proof that he makes the kind of money he claims to on Betfair, even though he advertises himself as a "Professional Sports Trader" on Twitter today and has also claimed publicly in a Bloomberg news article last year that he makes "400 USD an hour" trading sports.
Those expressed concerns appear to me to be very similar to those which many people have about Caan Berry today.

James later commented:
Reading the vendor [Geeks Toy] statement above makes no mention of the fact that I referenced articles published on this blog (Green All Over).
And yet, the vendor in question is cordial to the author of this blog (Green All Over) and makes no complaint about said articles on this blog (Green All Over).
This I find most curious.
Have other comments from said vendor been blocked or are we to take it that the vendor is merely going after a soft target i.e. the parents of someone brave enough to publish in his real name?
If anyone has a problem with anything I have written on this blog, they should comment here, or email me, and correct any mistakes or offer what the Trump administration call "alternative facts". 

I am told that I am not perfect, though supporting evidence is, in my opinion, lacking, (my only fault is perhaps that I am too modest**), so the possibility of an error exists, but I am always happy to correct any that are pointed out. 

I am happy to confirm that no comments from Geeks Toy have ever been bocked. The only comments that are not published are those that are spamming some great betting site or product, or which are rude, offensive or from known trolls.

Moving on, and there were a couple of comments from Tony, later deleted by him, I think because they showed up in a confusing sequence. One offered agreement to the statement that "Sports trading gets harder every year, never easier" - hard to argue with that - while the other asked if I was still trading, and if not, why not. Perhaps a post for another day, although my thoughts on the topic have already been published. 

Back to the main thrust of the comments and Geeks Toy bounced back with:
Has nothing to to with being a soft target James, it has to do with the the fact you are a complete hypocrite. Whether you lived with mummy & daddy at the age of 52 is irrelevant. The electoral roll said you did, and seeing as you've been extrapolating & jumping all over Caan and Peter with incorrect assumptions and degradation, based upon what you yourself described as "Excellent investigative journalism" I felt it was high time you got a little dose of your own medicine.
What no one was expecting was the toys coming out of the pram quite so dramatically, and the admission of the fact that you yourself were the very thing you were accusing the chuckle brothers of being. You couldn't make it up!

Everyone is entitled to their opinions, however if you live in a glass house and keep throwing stones, it should be no surprise if somebody throws a dirty great rock back at you. { 2 other sellers in this industry made this mistake a few years ago, and the rocks I threw back at them still get referenced to this day, as I'm sure this one will for some time to come.}
Marketing is everywhere, but yet I don't see you going after Colonel Sanders managing to convince generations that unhealthy, greasy shite is finger licking good. :D. But yet constantly you are digging out Caan and Peter for some reason, and after your latest outburst, it's very clear why. Notice you haven't rebranded your site Betfair failed trader, and are still selling the books though. See you conveniently forgot to mention in all your snideness that you were actually making more money from the books than you were from trading for a considerable time now. { BTW Peter & Caan are rank amateur marketers compared the the genius of Paul Reblo and Adam Todd. }
Marketing is even here, where for some reason Cassini refers to you as a best selling author. Best selling at what exactly? Can't see JK Rowling being to worried about being knocked off the top spot by somebody who now admits their time would have been better spent working in McDs.
The fact that even after our private communications you still felt the need to publicly question why pick on poor James shows a distinct lack of intelligence and character on your part. { Ditto when I pointed out one of the many incorrect claims made on your blog that still remains. }
I have no beef with Cassini, although I do agree wholeheartedly with what Aaron said above. {
But between you you do remind me of Statler & Waldorf. :D } However I and quite a few others { as you have seen } do have a beef with the 2 distinct commercial agendas that constantly keep fuelling, this rather targeted witch hunt.
Yours is transparent as hell, so doesn't need any further explanation, and if Cassini isn't wise to the other one yet, he's more than welcome to join me for a beer or a coffee any time he and I are in the same part of the world.
PS Apologies in advance if there are any spelling or grammar errors, as I'm just a lad from a council estate that opted out of formal education at an early age, writing this on a mobile device.
I haven't too much to say on this, other than my reference to "best selling" are usually in quotes, as the description is, I hoped obviously, a little tongue in cheek**. 

As for the offer of a beer or coffee in Corby, I'm afraid I have no plans to visit that area any time soon. I spent a weekend in Kettering around 1980, and I still haven't fully recovered from the experience, although I do still look for the Poppies' results, sadly in the much lower reaches of the football pyramid than was formerly the case.   

James' response was:
Who cares which UK address I use for certain matters? I'm not going to buy a house in the UK just to use it as a letter drop. A house I would spend little time in as I am out of the country most of the time. Some might find it admirable that I still associate with my parents. I am sorry if that is not the same in your case. Not everyone is lucky in that regard.
I have a way to go to my 52nd birthday. Are you sure you have the right address? You appear to be backtracking on Twitter by saying, "some random address".
A hypocrite in what regard? We have two separate marketing models.

Me: Book 1, save money writing your own software instead of subscribing to software like yours. Book 2, a review of various trading methods, warning people away from the well worn tracks. On my website I do not make any boasts about success or lifestyle. I even said in one article that I am not a PC payer. My website exists to tell people that sports trading is extremely hard to make a profit from. That the vast majority will lose money. My website is an attempt to help people to lose the minimum amount of money possible. If I put people off trading then I regard it as a success, just as much as if they had made a profit. "Betfair Pro Trader?", a common search term. Far better that people find my website before many others.
You: Software you have to subscribe to. A lost subscription is a loss to your income stream so you (your colleague and the likes of Webb and The Badger) have to churn out articles daily to keep people interested in trading and subscribing.
I have sold only about 2000 books, you will be glad to hear. Not much of a threat to your subscriptions. At least I hope so, though if you go after small fry like me then maybe you are just a small player in the trading software market.
I have always thought that selling subscriptions for software that in over 90% of cases will lose the subscriber even more money is like being a used car dealer who flogs cars where over 90% of the vehicles have no engines.
My website has guided a lot of people into making decisions that will save them money. Something that you can never say because you don't care whether people win or lose so long as they do it through you.
Now, do run along because I have said all I will ever say about sports trading. Wasting your valuable keyboard time on me is just that, a waste of your time.
Two people with different perspectives. As mentioned before, I have no problem with someone selling software, and both Bet Angel and Geeks Toy appear to do the job just fine. The problem comes in selling the line that it is possible to make £100,000 a year from it. OK, so it may be "possible" but it is highly unlikely. 

Jamie, not James, joined in to contribute this comment:
I am confused to why Geek Boy is such and angry cat, or indeed any software vendor should be. Provide your software and let the traders get on with it. There will always be someone who doesn't like the software. Let them subscribe elsewhere and get on with it. I have flitted between different vendors over the years. They are much of a muchness. Some have a few features that may suit a certain traders style but that's it.
As regards to the 'expert' traders selling their 'knowledge' I want to start by saying I don't really have a problem with any of them. Anyone like myself who knows his way around trading can see that for the money being charged you ain't going to learn anything new if you have been trading for a while and are still around to tell the tale. I am still around after about 8 years. Why ? Well not because I've made loads of money its because I've managed to stay in the game by managing the risk side of things. The edges I have had have come and gone and the search goes on for more. But it was managing he downside is why I am still in the game. That is never covered by the experts selling their ebooks or training courses. Trading is a very difficult & sometimes dangerous game and they put it across that anyone can do it and learn it all in one days training. I think that what was James and Cassini have been trying to say (that has been my take on it). But unfortunately things have gotten out of hand on what could have been a very constructive and informative debate between both sides of the argument which is a shame.
Again I have no problem with the peeps who are selling their courses. But I can see where the suspicions about them lie.
I've no personal problem with Mr Berry but when I see most of his posts retweeting Geeks Toy or starring in Betfair promotional videos or even posting photos of himself at the races as a guest of Betdaq, then you must expect people to start asking questions.
Same with Mr Webb, again no problem with him whatsoever but again heavily involved with BetAngel. Posting videos of himself at Betfair HQ has a peculiar whiff about it. Same with the Badger involved with racing traders, he has given over time, several different reasons to how he avoids the Betfair PC none of which make any sense.
So Mr Geek when someone like me sees these things, without any other outside influence or opinion, my alarm bells ring and I am strongly inclined to give them a swerve. I guess it will with others also. James & Cassini are merely bringing this to the public attention and is more of a help than a hindrance to the newbies who don't know any better. Letting them know it not as easy as some would make you believe.
Well that is my side of the debate from an outsider Mr Geek. But I strongly feel that it is not in your interests to agree. But I posted it all the same.
Look forward to any comments, disagreements, name calling or even threats (especially them) about the comments above.
Y'all take care now.
Rather surprisingly, I agree with every word Jamie wrote, the downside of which is that I have nothing to add other than it's good to see there are others out there who see things in the same way.

The final comment I'll include - the others got a bit silly - is this one from Geeks Toy:
James sells an educational product, so do the people he has been extremely critical of. Yet for some reason James thinks he & his product is in some way superior. They are not.
James is very quick to highlight what he considers the dubious market practices of others when he isn't whiter than white himself. James was quite happy to reference, extrapolate and publish incorrect assumptions as fact based on the perceived business & personal information of others, but yet doesn't like it one bit when he is on the receiving end of the same.
James made the mistake of throwing one of those incorrect assumptions in my direction, hence my involvement. The debate itself I will stay out of as being a seller of a sports trading related product, like James I am somewhat biased.
I'm not sure it's fair to compare James' educational product with that of Caan's.

James is from a scientific background, a graduate of artificial intelligence and his books are about methods, as he admits "an edge shared is an edge halved.". His books are published on Amazon, with money back guarantees, and promise nothing in the way of fortune making

Contrast with Caan's "educational products" which are produced by someone with no education, no relevant background or experience, are not guaranteed, and comprise pdfs and trading videos.

I don't think anyone remotely neutral in this debate would argue that comparing those two is hardly an apples to apples comparison.

** Speaking of too modest, and tongues in cheeks, I came across this quote from Sir Roger Moore who wrote in his autobiography:
"This is, after all, a book about me: a suave, modest, sophisticated, talented, modest, debonair, modest and charming individual - of whom there is much to write."
Someone else who doesn't take himself too seriously. RIP Sir Roger Moore, and I leave you with this great anecdote:

Sunday, 21 May 2017

Fury, Fame, Frauds and Witch Hunts

I'm back, refreshed and recharged and although the hoped for 103,000 hits on my last post didn’t quite materialise, falling about 102,000 hits short, the post did generate a few comments and the target of 1,000 hits a day number for this month is still looking good. With so many comments, I'll probably address them over a few posts rather than just one, to keep topics fairly discrete.

First up was Aaron who wrote:
Hi Robert, a little one sided. It seems James doesn't like hyperbolic statements however the twitter storm erupted by his refusal to answer any comments as to why his book was removed by Betfair. Also — I don't see any "proof" on his site (or yours) on trading successfulness (and I note you shouldn't need to you have been round long enough). But why then is it demanded of Caan or whoever else is the subject of the current fury.
I think its also classic that between you, you think that PeeWee is some kind of fraud. Anyway, enjoy reading your blog (most of the time) I just feel recently your blog has gone a little biased and one sided and in support of James.
My nom-de-plume is actually Cassini, and on the subject of James’ book being removed by Betfair, I’ll jump ahead to his response on that topic which was this:
I only became aware that Programming for Betfair is no longer advertised by Betfair at one of the two locations when it was pointed out to me by someone on Twitter.
I have not asked Betfair why they stopped advertising the book at this location as I am not interested as to the reason why. I stopped being an API beta tester and being in regular contact with Betfair of my own volition over a year ago when Betfair decided to punish users of the API with a one-off £200 registration fee for live data. Still, it's cheaper than perennial subscription but off-putting for newcomers.
I am surprised I sold so many books. It rather took me by surprise and shows there is a large group of people looking at alternative trading methods.
I guess the "fame" has been hard to shoulder but my pending retirement will be as welcome to me as it will be to others. No doubt it will be seen by some as a victory for manual traders.
They would be foolish to think so. Sports trading gets harder every year, never easier.
As for the “I don’t see any “proof” on his site (or yours) on trading successfulness (and I note you shouldn’t need to you have been round long enough). But why then is it demanded of Caan or whoever else is the subject of the current fury” - I would say that there’s no “proof” on this blog for several reasons, the main one being that I have nothing to sell, so it’s unnecessary. 

At my age, I don’t feel the need to brag about wins or bleat about losses. This isn’t my life, it’s just a hobby. If someone wants to believe that I have spent nine years blogging on a topic that hasn’t been profitable, that’s fine with me. 

Logically, it wouldn’t seem to make too much sense, but if someone wants to believe it’s all made up, then I’m fine with it. I have no sales that would be hurt, and my feelings can take it at my advanced age. There’s also the question of what “proof” would be acceptable since screenshots can be faked easily enough.

I can’t speak for James, although I would say that he makes no claims of enormous wealth from his trading, preaching instead the message that profitable trading is very difficult. His books aren’t promoted with the message “buy this book, and make £100,000 a year”. 

The first book "Programming for Betfair" appeared to be very technical with a niche target audience, the second (the one that I have) - "Betfair Trading Techniques" - is more of a trading manual with ideas rather than any get rich quick strategies, which couldn’t possibly work anyway. 

It’s also worth mentioning that the outlet for James’ books is the reputable Amazon site, and if you are dissatisfied with your purchase, you can get a refund with no problem.

So why is “proof” demanded of Caan and others?

It’s not, at least not by me. No one is demanding proof. All this blog has ever suggested is that anyone considering buying manuals or video packs should, in the absence of any proof, carefully consider a few things before spending their money.

If you’re reading his blog for entertainment, who cares if he’s making the £2,000 a week he claims or not?

The problem comes when someone uses this claim as the basis for selling a product, especially one sold in the absence of a money back guarantee. Some buyers are more discerning than others of course, but trouble-free refunds are something I look for when buying anything online. 

With no guarantee available, one might look at other areas as part of the due diligence process - independent reviews of the product, for example. The problem here is determining whether or not a review is genuine. Then there’s the “gut feel” of the sales pitch, in this case the blog.

Caan Berry or others may well be making £100,000 a year as claimed trading horses from their living rooms. They may all be steeped in the horse racing industry, live in Newmarket and descended from a long line of trainers, jockeys, breeders, owners perhaps, or maybe they are quantitative analysts with degrees in Advanced Quantiness. Who knows, but if such traders exist, would they be selling their secrets for a few quid?

In this specific case though, the products are from an ex-Army, ex-BT cable installer, ex-salesman of solar panels, who left education at the age of 16.

Not the most impressive of qualifications for someone selling the dream of a £100,000 a year income perhaps, so the claims should assume even more importance. 

Are they realistic, or do they seem a little improbable? 

Are the claims backed up by any evidence at all?

Is the narrative consistent and specific? 

If evidence comes to light that a full-time professional trader was actually selling solar panels for several months, is it a little odd that this change in full-time trading status wouldn’t be mentioned in the blog at all? 

We are probably all guilty to some extent of putting ourselves into someone else’s shoes and asking what we would do with a few hundred thousand pounds, but many people would invest in a home. No mortgage required with that amount of winnings in the bank. Heck, buy more properties and rent them out. Being a landlord can be a pain, but property has always been a solid investment – as ‘safe as houses’ you might say. Caan may well have his reasons for not living in his own home but he has often mentioned the benefits in his blog.
A comment from G, possibly not his real name:
To me it is clearly obvious, if you're selling/pushing a product with claims of making a 6 figure sum per year, then you should be able to back it up with solid proof.
No witch hunt etc- a reasonable ask imo
I've seen that term 'witch hunt' somewhere else this week!
Enough about Caan. Ultimately it's for each of us to make up our minds on the veracity of his claims, especially of you are thinking of giving him money. 

My opinion is that the evidence available doesn't support the claim, but then I am by nature skeptical. 

To Aaaron's final point - "I think its also classic that between you, you think that PeeWee is some kind of fraud" - I've certainly never used language suggesting that to be the case. 

PeeWee's software has many users, which is convincing evidence that it is a decent product, although I am not qualified to comment on how good it is relative to others in the market. 

The main problem I have with PeeWee is that his blog posts are misleadingly one-sided, with verifiably false statements, not to mention poorly written, and the courses he runs are not going to give you anything of value, since doing so would hurt PeeWee's long-term trading profits in exchange for a short-term £400.

Of course I understand that the blog is a vendor-blog with the sole purpose of attracting business, and telling the truth isn't going to do that, but lost in the message is the distinct possibility that the vendor's gain comes at a potentially large cost to the customer, many of whom can ill afford either the £400 or the likely additional losses chasing an improbable dream. 

As James says in a later comment on my last post:
I have always thought that selling subscriptions for software that in over 90% of cases will lose the subscriber even more money is like being a used car dealer who flogs cars where over 90% of the vehicles have no engines.
That's probably enough for now. Still a few more comments to address, which I will get to in time once I get back into my normal routine.  

Thursday, 11 May 2017

Cops and Bloggers

As popular as this blog is, incidentally well on track for 1,000 hits a day this month, it's not often that I receive special requests for a post, but the above Tweet from @GeeksToy last night, read by his 103,000 followers, which is more than I have, couldn't be ignored. I'm expecting a bumper day.

The request came in the midst of something of a Twitter storm, with Geeks Toy surprisingly at the forefront. 

Whether Paul Spry himself was at the helm or not, it was surprising to see what I'd always thought was a reputable product, with a sense of humour,...
...get involved in some rather questionable behaviour, the details of which aren't important and won't be repeated here, although I don't see that any crime was committed. That it was late in the evening suggests alcohol may have played a part!

The trigger appears to have been this post from Betfair Pro Trader, which was in turn prompted by a comment from Boris which opened with:
James you have never been keen on showing the poolside life of trading, I understand why.
James wrote a post mostly about the future being algo-trading rather than manual, before concluding with:
I have no problem with people taking holidays. What I have a problem with is people using exotic holiday imagery as a marketing exercise to sell an unattainable lifestyle to the many.
Now if anyone was to have a problem with this perfectly reasonable observation, you'd expect it to be someone using exotic holiday imagery as a marketing exercise to sell an unattainable lifestyle to the many, but it was Geeks Toy who seemed upset about it, although others joined in later. Why would a software vendor care?

One can only assume that the comments of James are seen as a risk to their sales. He may well have commented on the merits of Geeks Toy, Bet Angel and whatever other trading tools are out there, but I don't recall him taking any strong sides, and it's not a topic I know anything about myself. Software is not one of my many strengths - far too nerdy for a normal person like myself!

So why should James' post, which at its core merely encourages readers to look carefully at claims and how realistic they are, before getting involved, trigger a reaction from Geeks Toy?

Understood that James is a "best-selling" author whose publications are available on Amazon, and James may have something to gain from encouraging people to move in an algo-trading direction versus manual, but that shouldn't hurt Geeks Toy's sales significantly unless I'm mistaken. Maybe their software is for manual traders only? 

Boris's 'poolside' reference was presumably to Caan Berry, who hints at a "£100,000 a Year" income, with a "No Boss. Better Living" lifestyle but as this blog as pointed out, the actual lifestyle doesn't quite match up with the claimed lifestyle. 

Caan's address, a distinctly average rental property, wasn't mentioned, in part because details of any company's address, including Talented Mavericks Ltd, are readily available for anyone who is interested, i.e. anyone performing due diligence before buying any products, but also because it seemed unnecessarily invasive. Who cares if someone lives at number 4, Acacia Gardens, Craptown?  

A quick look at the Geeks Toy (shouldn't Geeks have an apostrophe?) web page shows that all recent blog posts are written by Mr Berry. 

Are Geeks Toy sales that dependent on one trader? 

One other topic that came up in response to a Tweet from a none-too-impressed Geeks Toy customer, was that of selling.
The reply needs a little clarification:
James does sell books through Amazon which guarantees your money back in the unlikely event that you may be dissatisfied. 

As for 'one did', that would be me, although my service has long since permanently closed since a promotion at work meant that I no longer had the time (several hours a week) for it, but again, it was run with a money-back guarantee:
The refund clause was never triggered, which was fortunate given that inputting data each week, calculating new ratings, reviewing 49 matches each week, and compiling the emails, took up so much time that the service was a bargain anyway and halving my already miserable hourly rate would have hurt. 

Back to topic, and one curious Tweet was this one:
Although I have yet to see a Star Wars film, again - far too nerdy, I believe C3PO is a robot - but was it formed of a single large block of stone which is what monolithic means? Perhaps the intended word was monotonic - "speaking or uttered with an unchanging pitch or tone".

In summary, I have nothing bad or good to say about the Geeks Toy software, or Bet Angel's for that matter, since I am not qualified to offer an opinion. 

What this blog does do is offer unbiased, impartial opinions on many subjects, but is always open to a reasoned debate. 

If you think you can beat court-siders, explain why logically this might be so. 

If you think a course is going to really teach you anything of value, i.e. to the detriment of the course provider, explain why. 

If you believe someone has made several hundred thousand pounds trading horse racing from home, explain why their edge hasn't been identified, replicated, and eliminated long ago.

If you have experience of courses, video packs or trading guides, share them, good or bad. 

I'm away for a few days shortly, but keep the hits and comments coming, and I'll address them on my return.     

Wednesday, 10 May 2017

Trends, Tears and Takeaways

My Future Savvy post of last week was triggered by a comment from Tony Stephens, and Tony returned to say:

Thanks for the detailed response on this. I think your answer explains what I suspected was meant when discussing trend trading, so I’m glad I asked.
There will be some, maybe many that will see the words trend trading and interpret this as trying to identify a trend on a market by market basis. Some might state they are not a scalper of certain markets, but more of a trend trader where they are waiting to see the fav in a particular market getting backed in and trying to follow the trend in.
Just to clarify my “sad” opening. I do feel a small amount of sadness that someone who probably enjoyed the game at one point has taken the decision to not continue at all. I completely understand that the right decision was made for them so I’m happy about that!.
Maybe I’m lucky that can I go to the races and not bet a penny as I just enjoy predicting the potential winner safe in the knowledge that I’m not very good at spotting value but enjoy trying anyway. I probably spend more time thinking about trading/betting than actually being involved in it. So, it may seem like a massive waste of time but if the wife is watching x factor or ant and decs sat night takeaway I don’t feel like I’m missing out on anything :-)
To the first part of Tony's comment, my use of the term trend is used as a long-term concept, something identified over a period of time that far exceeds that of one sports betting market. 

As for the second part, it's not clear whether 'enjoying the game' refers to the sport itself or to betting / trading.

If the 'game' is betting, there's nothing sad about leaving it behind.  

If it's literally the 'game', there's no reason why Statsbet can't continue to enjoy the sport while not having money on it. Most sports are enjoyable enough on their own merit without requiring a financial interest to make them so, or they wouldn't exist. When I go to watch Crystal Palace or Bath Rugby, it's for sporting or social reasons and I don't (usually) have money on the outcome. Some would say that this season that's a good thing! 

The one exception to sports and betting is Tony's example which exists purely because of betting. 

For me, watching horses running around a field is not entertainment, more like a torture. Having a financial interest on the outcome is mandatory if I am to watch it, except I understand that as an outsider, I am never going to be getting value, and as I don't like losing money, I don't do it. 

Finally, for anyone who has a wife who likes to watch garbage on television, my advice, as an experienced married man, is to leave her to it and go out for a pint and a curry with the lads and talk about politics. Ant and Dec! Have some self respect man!      

Tuesday, 9 May 2017

Weirdly Calm

My last post (of about three hours ago) got me wondering why the VIX is actually so low right now. It hardly seems like the global economy should be at its most stable in thirteen years, but one possible explanation appeared in my Twitter timeline linking to an article in the New York Times :

The Stock Market Is Weirdly Calm. Here’s a Theory of Why by Neil Irwin
When Donald J. Trump won the presidency in November, one bet seemed like a sure thing: We were in for a volatile few years. And in Washington, that forecast has come true. This unconventional presidency is creating an avalanche of uncertainty in areas including global trade, taxes and health care.
But on Wall Street, these are the quietest of times. Prices for stocks and many other assets are less volatile than at any time since before the global financial crisis a decade ago, and volatility is, by some measures, near record lows.
Consider this: In 2015, the Standard & Poor’s 500 index moved by more than 1 percent on 29 percent of trading days. Last year that fell to 19 percent. So far in 2017, there has been a 1 percent or greater swing in the market in only three trading sessions, or 3.5 percent.
And the Volatility Index, or Vix, which captures expectations for future stock market volatility based on prices in the options market, finished Monday at the lowest level in its 27-year history other than three days in December 1993.
This sense of calm would be notable in any event, but the contrast with the sheer variance in the policy world makes it particularly unusual. In a single week, the Trump administration might flirt with exiting the North American Free Trade Agreement, roll out an outline for a multi-trillion dollar tax cut and push legislation that would overhaul the health care sector, one-sixth of the United States economy.
There are some technical explanations for what is going on. The advent of products that let people easily bet on the Vix and other volatility indexes may be distorting their prices, and there have been changes in how major investors are hedging their portfolios against losses that may be making the index artificially low.
But while they do a good job of indicating why indexes like the Vix are so low, these technical explanations are less effective at explaining why the actual fluctuations in markets have been so subdued — realized volatility, to use the traders’ term, as opposed to expected volatility.
Something is causing the shares of the most widely owned companies to jump around less than they almost always have in the past. And they also don’t do a great job of explaining why many other markets have also become less volatile than in the recent past, including international stocks, currencies and bonds.
Dating to the 2008 financial crisis, markets have swung on every hint of news out of world capitals — Washington, especially, but also Berlin and Tokyo and Beijing — because the very future of the global economy seemed to hang in the balance. From the financial crisis to the eurozone crisis to the efforts by Japan to reflate its economy to the effort by China to de-leverage its economy, the policies set by central banks and national governments were the prime mover of investor sentiment and the global outlook.
Rarely have stock prices been as stable as they have been in 2017, according to a commonly used measure of expected stock market volatility.
Those days are over, at least for the moment. In normal times, markets are driven much less by what governments do and much more by, well, the economic fundamentals. How many people are working, with what level of productivity and savings levels, and what are the resulting economic growth rates, levels of corporate profitability, and interest rates?
Even though it is a historical aberration, doesn’t the very low stock market volatility of 2017 make more sense than the kind of wild swings we saw until recently? Why should the collective value of major companies swing by more than 1 percent three days out of 10?
After all, the assets of those major companies — Exxon Mobil’s oil rigs and Google’s search algorithm and all the rest — don’t really change from day to day. All that changes is investor perception about what kind of cash those assets will generate in the future. Isn’t it actually fairly rare that a piece of news should change the fundamental outlook by that much?
What makes this moment unusual is that there really are policy choices in play that could have hugely distortive effects on those fundamentals: what happens to trade policy, taxes and health care in the United States; what terms Britain achieves in its exit from the European Union; even whether the E.U. as we know it survives.
But if the last few years have taught investors anything, it is that those with a hair-trigger reaction to political news stand to lose, while those who bet on a continued steady and unexceptional expansion will win.
You see a bit of that in how subsequent conflicts over United States fiscal policy during the Obama years generated less market volatility. The debt ceiling standoff of 2011 generated huge market swings as traders bet on the risk of a default; the standoffs over the “fiscal cliff” at the end of 2012 and a government shutdown in October 2013 caused mere murmurs.
Investors learned a lesson that it’s easy to overreact to political developments, and the same seems to have happened globally in the last several months.
The risk, of course, is that this generates complacency.
Low volatility could make banks, hedge funds and other institutions more comfortable taking on extra leverage, paradoxically making the financial system less stable and more subject to large swings over time.
And perhaps most worrisome, sometimes big financial market moves are the mechanism by which policy makers receive the signal that they’re doing the wrong thing. We saw that again and again in the global financial crisis and the eurozone crisis, when it was big market swings that got governments’ attention.
So the biggest risk of this period of ultra-low volatility is that by looking past the latest headlines out of world capitals, investors won’t send the signals that might prevent political leaders from making a mistake in the first place.
Political leaders make mistakes? Who knew? 

Pretty Soon

It's a good time to update a couple of recent and rather unusual trading moves highlighted in this blog, as both are in the news today.

First, 50 Cent's strategy detailed last month doesn't appear to be too successful with CNBC today reporting that:

On Tuesday, the CBOE Volatility Index (VIX), widely considered the best gauge of fear in the market, traded below 10, near levels not seen since December 2006.

Trader Steve Burns reported the close yesterday as the fourth lowest ever, with only December of 1993 seeing lower:
The second was the crazy Apple (AAPL) guy from January who supposedly claimed to be making an all-in attempt to recover some losses by shorting the stock ahead of first quarter results:
He's certainly convinced himself that Apple will disappoint the market, and needs the current price of $121.63 to dip below$120 to start making some money.
At the time of writing, Apple is at 154.24 now up 33% on the year:
That $120 is looking a long way off, although the put options have likely long expired by now.

Meanwhile Apple is now valued at $800 billion, closing in on being the world's first trillion dollar company:
Apple's stock is currently trading above the $153 mark for the first time ever, after factoring in a 7-for-1 split in 2014, giving the company a record-high market cap of roughly $800 billion. That means Apple is within $200 billion of becoming the world's first trillion dollar company.
Apple analyst Brian White of Wall Street investment firm Drexel Hamilton continues to believe Apple "remains among the most under-appreciated stocks in the world," with "attractive upside" for investors. White raised his 12-month price target for Apple's stock to $202 today, up from an already bullish $185.
That twelve month price target would value Apple at $1.05 trillion. 

There's a quote attributed to US politician Everett Dirksen:
"a billion here, a billion there, pretty soon you're talking real money"
which sounds good. The only problem with it is that he never actually said the "pretty soon" part of the quote.

When asked about it, Dirksen said:

"Oh, I never said that. A newspaper fella misquoted me once, and I thought it sounded so good that I never bothered to deny it."

Monday, 8 May 2017

Choice or Necessity

I’m not sure Laurence Stanley (@LaurenceStanley - author of "Make Money Betting on Sports") is trying to suggest that Warren Buffett, the third richest man in the world, according to Forbes, with a net worth of $60.8 billion, and someone renting a house in Essex have much in common, but he comments on my Mistakes Were Made post:

"Those are facts. Circumstantial evidence leads a rational person to question why such a high earning individual would live so shabbily relative to their claimed income, and question whether his living arrangements mesh with the claim that he's in the market for a new car."
From Warren Buffet's Wiki:
"In 1957, Buffett operated three partnerships. He purchased a five-bedroom stucco house in Omaha, where he still lives, for $31,500.
I would suggest that there’s a world of difference between living a certain lifestyle by choice or out of necessity.

Many extremely wealthy people live far beneath their means. As Warren Buffett put it in the Becoming Warren Buffett documentary I recommended a few weeks back, money is just a way of keeping score. 
"In a sense, the game that I'm in gets more interesting all the time. It's a competitive game, it's a big game, and I enjoy the game a lot"
While Warren Buffett is famous for living in the same home he bought back in 1957, he does actually have another house, although he is currently in the process of selling it for a mere $11 million.
Berkshire Hathaway CEO Warren Buffet has put his six-bedroom house in Laguna Beach’s Emerald Bay on the market for $11 million.
“For the first time in nearly 50 years the legendary ‘Oracle of Omaha’s’ home (at) 27 Emerald Bay is now available!” says the listing by Bill Dolby of Villa Real Estate.
Buffett, 86, has owned the ocean-view home since 1971, when he paid $150,000 for it. He’s used the house for family vacations for the past 46 years, Dolby said.
Built in 1936, the 3,588 square foot home in the guard-gated community has been renovated over the years. Most rooms have views of the surf and rocks, and five bedrooms have en suite bathrooms.
Admittedly this second home isn't mentioned too often, presumably so as not to spoil the narrative of living in the same house exclusively for 60 years, but Warren Buffet did also sell another vacation home he owned in Laguna Beach, California in 2005 for close to $6 million.

As for Warren Buffett’s lifestyle, this Investopedia article explains it:
Buffett is also happy with what he has in terms of his modest standard of living. He isn't interested in a bigger house, a newer car or owning his own island. He simply doesn't care about the Joneses and what they have.
Why not a mansion? - he was asked.
“How would I improve my life by having 10 houses around the globe? If I wanted to become a superintendent of housing … I could have as a profession, but I don’t want to manage 10 houses and I don’t want somebody else doing it for me and I don’t know why the hell I’d be happier.“
This house does just fine, he says. “I’m warm in the winter, I’m cool in the summer, it’s convenient for me,” he said in the interview. “I couldn’t imagine having a better house.”

In February, Buffett shared further non-materialistic sentiments with Charlie Rose. “I have every possession I want. I have a lot of friends who have a lot more possessions. But in some cases, I feel the possessions possess them, rather than the other way around.”
Another example is the founder of Walmart (Sam Walton) was famous for driving around Bentonville in Northwest Arkansas in an old pick-up truck and living his life just like everyone else in town. 

At the time of his death in 1992, he had a net worth of $8.6 billion. This Washington Post article from a few years before his death details his lifestyle and his attitude to being the wealthiest man in America.

Warren Buffett is an extreme example of the philosophy of living within your means, and no rational person knowing anything about him would question his net worth based on the fact that he hasn’t moved from his roots, and lives in a home that is perfectly suited for him.

Other billionaires are a little flashier with their lifestyles, Oracle’s Larry Ellison likes his planes and his racing yachts for example, but the book “The Millionaire Next Door” is essentially about how a person’s wealth is often not revealed by outward appearances.

Most millionaires do not live ‘millionaire lifestyles’. They live within (often well within) their means, frugally but not miserly, and don’t care about buying a flashy new car every year or living in the most expensive house they can afford.

I would however imagine that for most people, on attaining a certain level of wealth, a priority would be to invest in a home. It’s one of the best investments most people can make, and you have to live somewhere!

"The Millionaire Next Door" talks about UAWs (Under Accumulators of Wealth) and those who are PAWs (Prodigious Accumulator of Wealth).

On car shopping habits, the book concludes that:
…a common UAW drives a current model car, purchased new, and may have financed it on credit. PAWs rarely purchase new model cars and are less likely to own foreign or luxury vehicles. An example from the book details a UAW that spent roughly 60 hours researching, negotiating and purchasing a new car. In the end, while the car was purchased "near dealer cost," in the long run the UAW's time and money could have been more efficiently spent creating wealth rather than collecting possessions notorious for depreciating in value. The authors contrast the story with a PAW who decided that the pride of owning a brand new car wasn't worth the $20,000 price difference.
The book also talks about ‘million dollar choices’:
Some of the financial choices that UAWs make are considered to be “million dollar choices” because if the choice hadn’t been made, the UAW would have in excess of a million dollars. One example of a million dollar choice is to smoke. Smokers and drinkers tend to be UAWs because instead of building net worth, they spend their income to purchase alcohol or cigarettes.
I can’t say I’m averse to the occasional pint or two as a social activity, but smoking is a ridiculous activity on many levels.

I’m not talking specifically about any specific individual here, but for many people coming from backgrounds where they are not used to having money, the arrival of sudden relative riches can be hard to handle. There’s a reason why many lottery or pools winners or sports stars end up broke.

Life, if you’re lucky, is a long journey, and those wins or relatively few years of high income while you are at the top of your sporting career, have to last a long time. Invest, and let compounding be your friend. Spending on luxuries at the expense of your future is very short-sighted.

When I had my recent meeting to discuss preparedness for retirement, the advisor made it clear that there are two sides to the equation – your savings and future income are one side, but are meaningless without knowing your expenses on the other side.

Back to the topic of Laurence’s comment, and the question a discerning mind should be asking is does someone rent a house from choice or out of necessity? Does Warren Buffet continue to live in his home of 40 years from choice or out of necessity? I don't think any reasonable person would draw the conclusion that Warren Buffett lives there for any reason other than that is where he wants to live.

It’s also worth pointing out that the net worth of Warren Buffet is well established, although it probably fluctuates by the odd billion or two as the market moves. The accounts of his holdings are audited and can be relied upon.

This is not always the case, which is why we often have to rely on circumstantial evidence. Blog posts are the claim, not the evidence, and all I’m suggesting is that before giving anyone your money, perform your due diligence. Does the available evidence support the claim?

When it comes to selling religion / mediums / fortune telling or making easy money schemes, people tend to believe what they want to believe.

This blog simply encourages its readers to think critically before acting.

On religion, Carl Sagan said that "Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence". 

The standard of evidence required to back claims of trading success may not be at quite the standard required to prove a deity, but some ordinary evidence would be good.