CMU: Lesson 6: Sometimes the best trade is to not trade

By Jani Ziedins | Free CMU

Mar 05

Cracked.Market University

Now that we are nearly two full weeks into the Coronavirus crash, collecting profits is going to become a lot more challenging. The first few swings of any crash are the easiest to profit from because the market moves sharply lower, obliterating all rational support levels along the way. But just when all hope is lost, supply dries up and we get a nearly instantaneous rebound that recovers a huge portion of the crash. Unfortunately, this relief rally is short-lived because the market likes symmetry and a crash that goes too far is immediately followed by a rebound that goes just as overboard. That first overbought rebound is followed by an echo crash, followed by another echo rebound.

After a few days of clearly defined crashes and rebounds, the market starts to settle into a wide trading range. While the intensity of these swings starts to moderate, so does the predictability of the moves. Swings that went too far before reversing are now prone to switching directions in the middle of the range. Gone are the clear indications of too far and prices now jump and crash dramatically at seemingly random levels on less than obvious headlines.

While these moves are still profitable for the most nimble of traders, the speed with which these gyrations come and go makes it challenging to consistently stay on the right side of the market. Rather than try to force trades, sometimes the best trade is to simply sit back and not trade. If a person did well and collected nice profits over the last week and a half, it might be time to protect that windfall.

Spend any time in trading circles and you will quickly learn making money in the market isn’t hard. Even the most clueless of traders stumble into great trades. Winning isn’t the problem, it’s losing all of those great profits in the next bad trade. Sometimes we get a little too full of ourselves after a big win. Maybe we are dreaming of cashing in for something big and we need just a little bit more money. Whatever it is that convinces us to push things too far, that next ill-advised trade is what wipes out most of what we just earned.

Trade when you have an edge. But if you don’t have an edge, there is nothing wrong with taking a step back and waiting for a better opportunity. This market is on the verge of getting really choppy and a lot of people who traded the initial crash well are on the verge of giving all of those profits back. Don’t be that guy.

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Tags: S&P 500 Nasdaq $SPY $SPX $QQQ $IWM


About the Author

Jani Ziedins (pronounced Ya-nee) is a full-time investor and financial analyst that has successfully traded stocks and options for nearly three decades. He has an undergraduate engineering degree from the Colorado School of Mines and two graduate business degrees from the University of Colorado Denver. His prior professional experience includes engineering at Fortune 500 companies, small business consulting, and managing investment real estate. He is now fortunate enough to trade full-time from home, affording him the luxury of spending extra time with his wife and two children.