CMU: Trading plan for markets in turmoil

By Jani Ziedins | Free CMU

Mar 09

Cracked.Market University

The S&P had one of the worst days since the 2008 Financial Crisis, plunging a staggering 7% from Friday’s close and violating recent lows in the process. While the Coronavirus remains front and center, frayed nerves were shattered when Saudi Ariba launched an aggressive oil price war against Russia, going full nuclear and triggering the biggest one-day oil price crash in nearly 30 years. Global markets were already teetering on edge and this news gave us the biggest kick in the pants imaginable.

How do we trade this? That’s a question everyone wants to know, so let’s get to it.

First, we need to bifurcate our approach into two major strategies because our primary objectives have a huge impact on how we approach this volatility. It all comes down to time-frame. Either we are steady long-term investors or we are nimble swing-traders. There is zero room in between these extremes. Pick one or the other and make a ton of money. Find yourself in the middle and other people will be getting rich at your expense.

Now, there is a smart way to straddle these two extremes, but it most definitely doesn’t come from blending timeframes. Instead, we allocate a portion of our market exposure to each approach. Have some dedicated long-term investments and another portion is exclusively for swing-trading. As long as each piece falls firmly within one of these clearly defined strategies, you will be fine. Anyone mixing the two quickly become a wealth doner (If you know anyone like this, please thank them for allowing us to have such a great month!)

Trading Plan

Let’s start with the long-term approach. This is the classic buy-it-and-forget-it. These people shouldn’t be following the market’s daily movements and if they do, it is only so they know when prices dip and they can add more. Anyone selling long-term investments during this crash is making a huge, huge mistake. Don’t be that guy. Buy-high and sell-low never works.

If your trade started as a long-term investment, keep it that way. Stop following the headlines and watching the market’s daily gyrations. If you really want to do something, pick your favorite investments and add more. Scale up your 401k contributions, don’t decrease them. In nine months when pundits are reflecting back on 2020, the Coronavirus will simply be a footnote and life will be back to normal. If you bought the dip, great. If you sold it, well, someone needed to donate their money so the rest of us can have a great year.

While a lot happened over the last few weeks, the short-term trading plan I’ve been sharing with subscribers hasn’t changed in three weeks. When something is working this well, why mess with it?

First, we are small investors and that means we can get in and out of the market with the greatest of ease. This is far-and-away our largest advantage over the big boys and if we don’t exploit this strength, we should convert everything over to long-term investments and forget about trading this chop.

Second, this is often a counter-trend trading technique, meaning we need to be extremely nimble, buy early, and exit losing trades fast. The only way to survive this stuff is by being earlier and faster than everyone else.

Third, start small and only add to winning trades.

Fourth, buy bounces early and short breakdowns just as quickly. Moving decisively allows us to place a nearby stop under the lows on a bounce or just above support on a short. The closer our stops, the less money we have at risk.

Fifth, be prepared for a lot of head fakes and false alarms. There will be inevitable rebounds that fizzle and violations that rebound. No big deal. As long as we start small, get in early, and have a nearby stop, the losses will be minor and inconsequential compared to the towering profits when we catch the next big move.

And Sixth, trade in such a size that when we are wrong, it stings, but it isn’t crippling. Being long into this morning’s open would have sucked, but if we bought near Friday’s lows and only held a small position over the weekend, it actually wasn’t that big of a deal.

Take all of those strategies together and our trading plan is to buy any and all bounces early, start small, keep a nearby stop, and close/short the violation of support. It doesn’t get any simpler than that. I’ve been buying every bounce for two weeks and I keep making money shorting the market. And I will continue buying every bounce until the market stops giving away money. If I make money buying the dip, great. If I make money shorting the violation, great. It makes no difference to me as long as I’m making money.

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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.