CMU: How to trade a market that doesn’t make any sense

By Jani Ziedins | Free CMU

May 05

Cracked.Market University: 

There are not enough superlatives to describe this economic environment and the subsequent stock market. Unprecedented. Unexpected. Unicorn. Most un-words apply because they all fit when talking about something we’ve never seen before.

So how do we trade something without precedent? Unfortunately, a lot of people kept approaching this market the same way they always have. It doesn’t matter if you use fundamental analysis or technical analysis, this market has broken all of the rules. So why are people still stubbornly applying the old rules?

Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying to throw out all of the old rules because everything has changed forever. That is absolutely not the case. Soon enough things will return to normal. Maybe it will happen later this summer. Maybe this fall or even next year. But this too shall pass.

The challenge is what to do in the meantime. If your holding timeframe extends beyond this current environment, ignore the noise and stick with has always worked. Find the best companies. Wait for them to sell at a discount. Buy as much as you can. And allow the profits to come to you in 5+ years. That works great for slow-money investors like Warren Buffett and it will work this time toon.

But what about the rest of us traders with a shorter time frame? Well, quite simply, if something isn’t working, STOP DOING IT!!! If your understanding of the market cannot deal with this unprecedented rebound from the March lows, there is nothing wrong with the market. The problem is your system. The same goes for your technical analysis. If it cannot deal with something moving this far, this fast, you need to find a different way of looking at the market.

At best, our rules only apply about half the time. The challenge is knowing which half of the time. That is the art of trading. The other half of the time, we need to be smart enough to change our approach. Unfortunately, there is a an almost imperceptible difference between being patient and being stubborn, but the outcomes couldn’t be more contrasting.

As far as I’m concerned, conventional rules don’t apply to this market. Rather than figure out where this market is going using rules that don’t work, simply follow its lead. The greatest asset we have as independent investors is the nimbleness of our size. We don’t need to commit to positions days or weeks ahead of time. Instead, wait to grab on after the trade is already moving. And if we get in on the wrong side, no big deal, bailout, and flip directions.

Up to this point, many of my more conventional assumptions about this market have been flat-out wrong. But by having a flexible trading plan that can accommodate this unprecedented market, my trades have been on the right side of this market most of the time.

Eventually, our more conventional rules will become useful again. In the meantime, be fully prepared to follow a market that “doesn’t make any sense”. The market isn’t broken, your approach is wrong.

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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.