From the first half of the news trading note we learned some ways to estimate what is priced in by the market. We learned that we are trading any gap in market expectations rather than the result itself. A good result when the market expected a fantastic result is disappointing! We also looked at second order thinking. After all that, I hope the reaction of prices to events is starting to make more sense to you. Before you understand the core concepts of pricing in and second order thinking, price reactions to events can seem mystifying at times We'll add one thought-provoking quote. Keynes (that rare economist who also managed institutional money) offered this analogy. He compared selecting investments to a beauty contest in which newspaper readers would write in with their votes and win a prize if their votes most closely matched the six most popularly selected women across all readers: It is not a case of choosing those (faces) which, to the best of one’s judgment, are really the prettiest, nor even those which average opinions genuinely thinks the prettiest. We have reached the third degree where we devote our intelligences to anticipating what average opinion expects the average opinion to be. Trading is no different. You are trying to anticipate how other traders will react to news and how that will move prices. Perhaps you disagree with their reaction. Still, if you can anticipate what it will be you would be sensible to act upon it. Don't forget: meanwhile they are also trying to anticipate what you and everyone else will do. Part II
Preparing for quantitative and qualitative releases
Data surprise index
Using recent events to predict future reactions
Buy the rumour, sell the fact
The trimming position effect
Some key FX releases
Preparing for quantitative and qualitative releases
The majority of releases are quantitative. All that means is there’s some number. Like unemployment figures or GDP. Historic results provide interesting context. We are looking below the Australian unemployment rate which is released monthly. If you plot it out a few years back you can spot a clear trend, which got massively reversed. Knowing this trend gives you additional information when the figure is released. In the same way prices can trend so do economic data. A great resource that's totally free to use This makes sense: if for example things are getting steadily better in the economy you’d expect to see unemployment steadily going down. Knowing the trend and how much noise there is in the data gives you an informational edge over lazy traders. For example, when we see the spike above 6% on the above you’d instantly know it was crazy and a huge trading opportunity since a) the fluctuations month on month are normally tiny and b) it is a huge reversal of the long-term trend. Would all the other AUDUSD traders know and react proportionately? If not and yet they still trade, their laziness may be an opportunity for more informed traders to make some money. Tradingeconomics.com offers really high quality analysis. You can see all the major indicators for each country. Clicking them brings up their history as well as an explanation of what they show. For example, here’s German Consumer Confidence. Helpful context There are also qualitative events. Normally these are speeches by Central Bankers. There are whole blogs dedicated to closely reading such texts and looking for subtle changes in direction or opinion on the economy. Stuff like how often does the phrase "in a good place" come up when the Chair of the Fed speaks. It is pretty dry stuff. Yet these are leading indicators of how each member may vote to set interest rates. Ed Yardeni is the go-to guy on central banks.
Data surprise index
The other thing you might look at is something investment banks produce for their customers. A data surprise index. I am not sure if these are available in retail land - there's no reason they shouldn't be but the economic calendars online are very basic. You’ll remember we talked about data not being good or bad of itself but good or bad relative to what was expected. These indices measure this difference. If results are consistently better than analysts expect then you’ll see a positive number. If they are consistently worse than analysts expect a negative number. You can see they tend to swing from positive to negative. Mean reversion at its best! Data surprise indices measure how much better or worse data came in vs forecast There are many theories for this but in general people consider that analysts herd around the consensus. They are scared to be outliers and look ‘wrong’ or ‘stupid’ so they instead place estimates close to the pack of their peers. When economic conditions change they may therefore be slow to update. When they are wrong consistently - say too bearish - they eventually flip the other way and become too bullish. These charts can be interesting to give you an idea of how the recent data releases have been versus market expectations. You may try to spot the turning points in macroeconomic data that drive long term currency prices and trends.
Using recent events to predict future reactions
The market reaction function is the most important thing on an economic calendar in many ways. It means: what will happen to the price if the data is better or worse than the market expects? That seems easy to answer but it is not. Consider the example of consumer confidence we had earlier.
Many times the market will shrug and ignore it.
But when the economic recovery is predicated on a strong consumer it may move markets a lot.
Or consider the S&P index of US stocks (Wall Street).
If you get good economic data that beats analyst estimates surely it should go up? Well, sometimes that is certainly the case.
But good economic data might result in the US Central Bank raising interest rates. Raising interest rates will generally make the stock market go down!
So better than expected data could make the S&P go up (“the economy is great”) or down (“the Fed is more likely to raise rates”). It depends. The market can interpret the same data totally differently at different times. One clue is to look at what happened to the price of risk assets at the last event. For example, let’s say we looked at unemployment and it came in a lot worse than forecast last month. What happened to the S&P back then? 2% drop last time on a 'worse than expected' number ... so it it is 'better than expected' best guess is we rally 2% higher So this tells us that - at least for our most recent event - the S&P moved 2% lower on a far worse than expected number. This gives us some guidance as to what it might do next time and the direction. Bad number = lower S&P. For a huge surprise 2% is the size of move we’d expect. Again - this is a real limitation of online calendars. They should show next to the historic results (expected/actual) the reaction of various instruments.
Buy the rumour, sell the fact
A final example of an unpredictable reaction relates to the old rule of ‘Buy the rumour, sell the fact.’ This captures the tendency for markets to anticipate events and then reverse when they occur. Buy the rumour, sell the fact In short: people take profit and close their positions when what they expected to happen is confirmed. So we have to decide which driver is most important to the market at any point in time. You obviously cannot ask every participant. The best way to do it is to look at what happened recently. Look at the price action during recent releases and you will get a feel for how much the market moves and in which direction.
Trimming or taking off positions
One thing to note is that events sometimes give smart participants information about positioning. This is because many traders take off or reduce positions ahead of big news events for risk management purposes. Imagine we see GBPUSD rises in the hour before GDP release. That probably indicates the market is short and has taken off / flattened its positions. The price action before an event can tell you about speculative positioning If GDP is merely in line with expectations those same people are likely to add back their positions. They avoided a potential banana skin. This is why sometimes the market moves on an event that seemingly was bang on consensus. But you have learned something. The speculative market is short and may prove vulnerable to a squeeze.
Two kinds of reversals
Fairly often you’ll see the market move in one direction on a release then turn around and go the other way. These are known as reversals. Traders will often ‘fade’ a move, meaning bet against it and expect it to reverse.
Sometimes this happens when the data looks good at first glance but the details don’t support it. For example, say the headline is very bullish on German manufacturing numbers but then a minute later it becomes clear the company who releases the data has changed methodology or believes the number is driven by a one-off event. Or maybe the headline number is positive but buried in the detail there is a very negative revision to previous numbers. Fading the initial spike is one way to trade news. Try looking at what the price action is one minute after the event and thirty minutes afterwards on historic releases.
Some reversals don't make sense Sometimes a reversal happens for seemingly no fundamental reason. Say you get clearly positive news that is better than anyone expects. There are no caveats to the positive number. Yet the price briefly spikes up and then falls hard. What on earth? This is a pure supply and demand thing. Even on bullish news the market cannot sustain a rally. The market is telling you it wants to sell this asset. Try not to get in its way.
Some key releases
As we have already discussed, different releases are important at different times. However, we’ll look at some consistently important ones in this final section.
Interest rates decisions
These can sometimes be unscheduled. However, normally the decisions are announced monthly. The exact process varies for each central bank. Typically there’s a headline decision e.g. maintain 0.75% rate. You may also see “minutes” of the meeting in which the decision was reached and a vote tally e.g. 7 for maintain, 2 for lower rates. These are always top-tier data releases and have capacity to move the currency a lot. A hawkish central bank (higher rates) will tend to move a currency higher whilst a dovish central bank (lower rates) will tend to move a currency lower. A central banker speaking is always a big event
Non farm payrolls
These are released once per month. This is another top-tier release that will move all USD pairs as well as equities. There are three numbers:
The headline number of jobs created (bigger is better)
The unemployment rate (smaller is better)
Average hourly earnings (depends)
Bear in mind these headline numbers are often off by around 75,000. If a report comes in +/- 25,000 of the forecast, that is probably a non event. In general a positive response should move the USD higher but check recent price action. Other countries each have their own unemployment data releases but this is the single most important release.
There are various types of surveys: consumer confidence; house price expectations; purchasing managers index etc. Each one basically asks a group of people if they expect to make more purchases or activity in their area of expertise to rise. There are so many we won’t go into each one here. A really useful tool is the tradingeconomics.com economic indicators for each country. You can see all the major indicators and an explanation of each plus the historic results.
Gross Domestic Product is another big release. It is a measure of how much a country’s economy is growing. In general the market focuses more on ‘advance’ GDP forecasts more than ‘final’ numbers, which are often released at the same time. This is because the final figures are accurate but by the time they come around the market has already seen all the inputs. The advance figure tends to be less accurate but incorporates new information that the market may not have known before the release. In general a strong GDP number is good for the domestic currency.
Countries tend to release measures of inflation (increase in prices) each month. These releases are important mainly because they may influence the future decisions of the central bank, when setting the interest rate. See the FX fundamentals section for more details.
Things like factory orders or or inventory levels. These can provide a leading indicator of the strength of the economy. These numbers can be extremely volatile. This is because a one-off large order can drive the numbers well outside usual levels. Pay careful attention to previous releases so you have a sense of how noisy each release is and what kind of moves might be expected.
Often there is really good stuff in the comments/replies. Check out 'squitstoomuch' for some excellent observations on why some news sources are noisy but early (think: Twitter, ZeroHedge). The Softbank story is a good recent example: was in ZeroHedge a day before the FT but the market moved on the FT. Also an interesting comment on mistakes, which definitely happen on breaking news, and can cause massive reversals.
ATO Australian tax treatment for options trades 🇦🇺
I am posting this as I hope it will help other Australian options traders trading in US options with their tax treatment for ATO (Australian Tax Office) purposes. The ATO provides very little guidance on tax treatment for options trading and I had to do a lot of digging to get to this point. I welcome any feedback on this post.
The Deloitte Report from 2011
My initial research led me to this comprehensive Deloitte report from 2011 which is hosted on the ASX website. I've been through this document about 20 times and although it's a great report to understand how different scenarios apply, it's still really hard to find out what's changed since 2011. I am mainly relating myself to the scenario of being an individual and non-sole trader (no business set up) for my trading. I think this will apply to many others here too. According to that document, there isn't much guidance on what happens when you're an options premium seller and close positions before they expire. Note that the ATO sometimes uses the term "ETO" (Exchange Traded Option) to discuss what we're talking about here with options trading. Also note: The ATO discusses the separate Capital Gains Tax ("CGT") events that occur in each scenario in some of their documents. A CGT event will then determine what tax treatment gets applied if you don't know much about capital gains in Australia.
ATO Request for Advice
Since the Deloitte report didn't answer my questions, I eventually ended up contacting the ATO with a request for advice and tried to explain my scenario: I'm an Australian resident for tax purposes,I'm trading with tastyworks in $USD, I'm primarily a premium seller and I don't have it set up with any business/company/trust etc. In effect, I have a rough idea that I'm looking at capital gains tax but I wanted to fully understand how it worked. Initially the ATO respondent didn't understand what I was talking about when I said that I was selling a position first and buying it to close. According to the laws, there is no example of this given anywhere because it is always assumed in ATO examples that you buy a position and sell it. Why? I have no idea. I sent a follow up request with even more detail to the ATO. I think (hope) they understood what I meant now after explaining what an options premium seller is!
First, I have to consider translating my $USD to Australian dollars. How do we treat that? FX Translation If the premium from selling the options contract is received in $USD, do I convert it to $AUD on that day it is received? ATO response:
Subsection 960-50(6), Item 5 of the Income Tax Assessment Act 1997 (ITAA 1997) states the amount should be translated at the time of the transaction or event for the purposes of the Capital Gains Tax provisions. For the purpose of granting an option to an entity, the time of the event is when you grant the option (subsection 104-20(2) ITAA 1997).
This is a very detailed response which even refers to the level of which section in the law it is coming from. I now know that I need to translate my trades from $USD to $AUD according to the RBA's translation rates for every single trade. But what about gains or losses on translation? There is one major rule that overrides FX gains and losses after digging deeper. The ATO has a "$250k balance election". This will probably apply to a lot of people trading in balances below $250k a lot of the FX rules don't apply. It states:
However, the $250,000 balance election broadly enables you to disregard certain foreign currency gains and losses on certain foreign currency denominated bank accounts and credit card accounts (called qualifying forex accounts) with balances below a specified limit.
Therefore, I'm all good disregarding FX gains and losses! I just need to ensure I translate my trades on the day they occurred. It's a bit of extra admin to do unfortunately, but it is what it is.
This is the scenario where we SELL a position first, collect premium, and close the position by making an opposite BUY order. Selling a naked PUT, for example. What happens when you open the position? ATO Response:
The option is grantedCGT event D2 happens when a taxpayer grants an option. The time of the event is when the option is granted. The capital gain or loss arising is the difference between the capital proceeds and the expenditure incurred to grant the option.
This seems straight forward. We collect premium and record a capital gain. What happens when you close the position? ATO Response:
Closing out an optionThe establishment of an ETO contract is referred to as opening a position (ASX Explanatory Booklet 'Understanding Options Trading'). A person who writes (sells) a call or put option may close out their position by taking (buying) an identical call or put option in the same series. This is referred to as the close-out of an option or the closing-out of an opening position. CGT event C2 happens when a taxpayer's ownership of an intangible CGT asset ends. Paragraph 104-25(1)(a) of the ITAA 1997 provides that ownership of an intangible CGT asset ends by cancellation, surrender, or release or similar means. CGT event C2 therefore happens to a taxpayer when their position under an ETO is closed out where the close-out results in the cancellation, release or discharge of the ETO. Under subsection 104-25(3) of the ITAA 1997 you make a capital gain from CGT event C2 if the capital proceeds from the ending are more than the assets cost base. You make a capital loss if those capital proceeds are less than the assets reduced cost base. Both CGT events (being D2 upon granting the option and C2 upon adopting the close out position) must be accounted for if applicable to a situation.
My take on this is that the BUY position that cancels out your SELL position will most often simply realise a capital loss (the entire portion of your BUY position). In effect, it 'cancels out' your original premium sold, but it's not recorded that way, it's recorded as two separate CGT events - your capital gain from CGT event D2 (SELL position), then, your capital loss from CGT event C2 (BUY position) is also recorded.In effect, they net each other out, but you don't record them as a 'netted out' number-you record them separately. From what I understand, if you were trading as a sole tradecompany then you would record them as a netted out capital gain or loss, because the trades would be classified as trading stock but not in our case here as an individual person trading options. The example I've written below should hopefully make that clearer. EXAMPLE: Trade on 1 July 2020: Open position
SELL -1 SPY 85 PUT, exp 30 August 2020
Collect Premium USD$1 per unit, and brokerage USD$5
= USD$100 premium collected, minus USD$5
= Net amount of USD$95 collected
FX Translation rate on the date of the trade: AUD $1.00 = $USD 0.70
Net Premium Collected in $AUD
= USD$95 x (1/.7)
CGT Event D2 triggered and a capital gain of $135.71 is recorded
Trade on 15 July 2020: Close position
BUY 1 SPY 85 PUT, exp 30 August 2020
Pay Premium $0.50 per unit, and brokerage $5
= $50 premium paid, plus $5
= Net amount of USD$55 paid
FX Translation rate on the date of the trade: AUD $1.00 = $USD 0.60
Net Premium Collected in $AUD
= USD$55 x (1/.6)
CGT Event C2 triggered and a capital loss of $91.66 is recorded
We can see from this simple example that even though you made a gain on those trades, you still have to record the transactions separately, as first a gain, then as a loss. Note that it is not just a matter of netting off the value of the net profit collected and converting the profit to $AUD because the exchange rate will be different on the date of the opening trade and on the date of the closing trade we have to record them separately. What if you don't close the position and the options are exercised? ATO Response:
The option is granted and then the option is exercisedUnder subsection 104-40(5) of the Income Tax Assessment Act 1997 (ITAA 1997) the capital gain or loss from the CGT event D2 is disregarded if the option is exercised. Subsection 134-1(1), item 1, of the ITAA 1997 refers to the consequences for the grantor of the exercise of the option. Where the option binds the grantor to dispose of a CGT asset section 116-65 of the ITAA 1997 applies to the transaction. Subsection 116-65(2) of the ITAA 1997 provides that the capital proceeds from the grant or disposal of the shares (CGT asset) include any payment received for granting the option. The disposal of the shares is a CGT event A1 which occurs under subsection 104-10(3) of the ITAA 1997 when the contract for disposal is entered into. You would still make a capital gain at the happening of the CGT event D2 in the year the event occurs (the time the option is granted). That capital gain is disregarded when the option is exercised. Where the option is exercised in the subsequent tax year, the CGT event D2 gain is disregarded at that point. An amendment may be necessary to remove the gain previously included in taxable income for the year in which the CGT event D2 occurred.
This scenario is pretty unlikely - for me personally I never hold positions to expiration, but it is nice to know what happens with the tax treatment if it ultimately does come to that.
What about the scenario when you want to BUY some options first, then SELL that position and close it later? Buying a CALL, for example. This case is what the ATO originally thought my request was about before I clarified with them. They stated:
When you buy an ETO, you acquire an asset (the ETO) for the amount paid for it (that is, the premium) plus any additional costs such as brokerage fees and the Australian Clearing House (ACH) fee. These costs together form the cost base of the ETO (section 109-5 of the ITAA 1997). On the close out of the position, you make a capital gain or loss equal to the difference between the cost base of the ETO and the amount received on its expiry or termination (subsection 104-25(3) of the ITAA 1997). The capital gain or loss is calculated on each parcel of options.
So it seems it is far easier to record debit trades for tax purposes. It is easier for the tax office to see that you open a position by buying it, and close it by selling it. And in that case you net off the total after selling it. This is very similar to a trading shares and the CGT treatment is in effect very similar (the main difference is that it is not coming under CGT event A1 because there is no asset to dispose of, like in a shares or property trade).
Other ATO Info (FYI)
The ATO also referred me to the following documents. They relate to some 'decisions' that they made from super funds but the same principles apply to individuals they said.
The ATO’s Interpretative Decision in relation to the tax treatment of premiums payable and receivable for exchange traded options can be found on the links below. Please note that the interpretative decisions below are in relation to self-managed superannuation funds but the same principles would apply in your situation [as an individual taxpayer, not as a super fund].
Key quote from this decision: CGT Event D2will apply on the writing of an ETO by the Fund. The Fund as grantor of the option will make a capital gain (or loss) of the difference between the capital proceeds (that is, the premium receivable) and the cost of granting the option (for example, brokerage fees) at the time the option is granted
My take on this is that you will realise a capital gain on issuing of the selling position. I don't see how you could realise a capital loss in that scenario? Or maybe if you sell a position and the brokerage is so high that it outweighs the premium received (a dumb trade) then that would be a capital loss (a rare scenario).
Key quote from decision: When the Fund opens a position by buying an ETO, no immediate taxation consequences arise.CGT Event C2will happen to the Fund when its position under an ETO is closed out where the close-out results in the cancellation, release or discharge of the ETO
Don't forget to declare your trades on your tax return and keep a nice spreadsheet
Keep track of the exchange rates for each day you make a trade. You could do as you go and check the RBA exchange rates website for the daily number, or just do it all at once at the end of the financial year
Finally - I recommend ensuring that you save a portion of your income to pay the capital gains tax at the end of the year so you don't have to withdraw it from your portfolio and pay exchange rate fees to convert it back to Australian dollars. It will depend on your marginal tax rate what that percentage will work out to be in the end.
Former investment bank FX trader: Risk management part 3/3
Welcome to the third and final part of this chapter. Thank you all for the 100s of comments and upvotes - maybe this post will take us above 1,000 for this topic! Keep any feedback or questions coming in the replies below. Before you read this note, please start with Part I and then Part II so it hangs together and makes sense. Part III
Squeezes and other risks
Crap trades, timeouts and monthly limits
Squeezes and other risks
We are going to cover three common risks that traders face: events; squeezes, asymmetric bets.
Economic releases can cause large short-term volatility. The most famous is Non Farm Payrolls, which is the most widely watched measure of US employment levels and affects the price of many instruments.On an NFP announcement currencies like EURUSD might jump (or drop) 100 pips no problem. This is fine and there are trading strategies that one may employ around this but the key thing is to be aware of these releases.You can find economic calendars all over the internet - including on this site - and you need only check if there are any major releases each day or week. For example, if you are trading off some intraday chart and scalping a few pips here and there it would be highly sensible to go into a known data release flat as it is pure coin-toss and not the reason for your trading. It only takes five minutes each day to plan for the day ahead so do not get caught out by this. Many retail traders get stopped out on such events when price volatility is at its peak.
Short squeezes bring a lot of danger and perhaps some opportunity. The story of VW and Porsche is the best short squeeze ever. Throughout these articles we've used FX examples wherever possible but in this one instance the concept (which is also highly relevant in FX) is best illustrated with an historical lesson from a different asset class. A short squeeze is when a participant ends up in a short position they are forced to cover. Especially when the rest of the market knows that this participant can be bullied into stopping out at terrible levels, provided the market can briefly drive the price into their pain zone. There's a reason for the car, don't worry Hedge funds had been shorting VW stock. However the amount of VW stock available to buy in the open market was actually quite limited. The local government owned a chunk and Porsche itself had bought and locked away around 30%. Neither of these would sell to the hedge-funds so a good amount of the stock was un-buyable at any price. If you sell or short a stock you must be prepared to buy it back to go flat at some point. To cut a long story short, Porsche bought a lot of call options on VW stock. These options gave them the right to purchase VW stock from banks at slightly above market price. Eventually the banks who had sold these options realised there was no VW stock to go out and buy since the German government wouldn’t sell its allocation and Porsche wouldn’t either. If Porsche called in the options the banks were in trouble. Porsche called in the options which forced the shorts to buy stock - at whatever price they could get it. The price squeezed higher as those that were short got massively squeezed and stopped out. For one brief moment in 2008, VW was the world’s most valuable company. Shorts were burned hard. Incredible event Porsche apparently made $11.5 billion on the trade. The BBC described Porsche as “a hedge fund with a carmaker attached.” If this all seems exotic then know that the same thing happens in FX all the time. If everyone in the market is talking about a key level in EURUSD being 1.2050 then you can bet the market will try to push through 1.2050 just to take out any short stops at that level. Whether it then rallies higher or fails and trades back lower is a different matter entirely. This brings us on to the matter of crowded trades. We will look at positioning in more detail in the next section. Crowded trades are dangerous for PNL. If everyone believes EURUSD is going down and has already sold EURUSD then you run the risk of a short squeeze. For additional selling to take place you need a very good reason for people to add to their position whereas a move in the other direction could force mass buying to cover their shorts. A trading mentor when I worked at the investment bank once advised me: Always think about which move would cause the maximum people the maximum pain. That move is precisely what you should be watching out for at all times.
Also known as picking up pennies in front of a steamroller. This risk has caught out many a retail trader. Sometimes it is referred to as a "negative skew" strategy. Ideally what you are looking for is asymmetric risk trade set-ups: that is where the downside is clearly defined and smaller than the upside. What you want to avoid is the opposite. A famous example of this going wrong was the Swiss National Bank de-peg in 2012. The Swiss National Bank had said they would defend the price of EURCHF so that it did not go below 1.2. Many people believed it could never go below 1.2 due to this. Many retail traders therefore opted for a strategy that some describe as ‘picking up pennies in front of a steam-roller’. They would would buy EURCHF above the peg level and hope for a tiny rally of several pips before selling them back and keep doing this repeatedly. Often they were highly leveraged at 100:1 so that they could amplify the profit of the tiny 5-10 pip rally. Then this happened. Something that changed FX markets forever The SNB suddenly did the unthinkable. They stopped defending the price. CHF jumped and so EURCHF (the number of CHF per 1 EUR) dropped to new lows very fast. Clearly, this trade had horrific risk : reward asymmetry: you risked 30% to make 0.05%. Other strategies like naively selling options have the same result. You win a small amount of money each day and then spectacularly blow up at some point down the line.
We have talked about short squeezes. But how do you know what the market position is? And should you care? Let’s start with the first. You should definitely care. Let’s imagine the entire market is exceptionally long EURUSD and positioning reaches extreme levels. This makes EURUSD very vulnerable. To keep the price going higher EURUSD needs to attract fresh buy orders. If everyone is already long and has no room to add, what can incentivise people to keep buying? The news flow might be good. They may believe EURUSD goes higher. But they have already bought and have their maximum position on. On the flip side, if there’s an unexpected event and EURUSD gaps lower you will have the entire market trying to exit the position at the same time. Like a herd of cows running through a single doorway. Messy. We are going to look at this in more detail in a later chapter, where we discuss ‘carry’ trades. For now this TRYJPY chart might provide some idea of what a rush to the exits of a crowded position looks like. A carry trade position clear-out in action Knowing if the market is currently at extreme levels of long or short can therefore be helpful. The CFTC makes available a weekly report, which details the overall positions of speculative traders “Non Commercial Traders” in some of the major futures products. This includes futures tied to deliverable FX pairs such as EURUSD as well as products such as gold. The report is called “CFTC Commitments of Traders” ("COT"). This is a great benchmark. It is far more representative of the overall market than the proprietary ones offered by retail brokers as it covers a far larger cross-section of the institutional market. Generally market participants will not pay a lot of attention to commercial hedgers, which are also detailed in the report. This data is worth tracking but these folks are simply hedging real-world transactions rather than speculating so their activity is far less revealing and far more noisy. You can find the data online for free and download it directly here. Raw format is kinda hard to work with However, many websites will chart this for you free of charge and you may find it more convenient to look at it that way. Just google “CFTC positioning charts”. But you can easily get visualisations You can visually spot extreme positioning. It is extremely powerful. Bear in mind the reports come out Friday afternoon US time and the report is a snapshot up to the prior Tuesday. That means it is a lagged report - by the time it is released it is a few days out of date. For longer term trades where you hold positions for weeks this is of course still pretty helpful information. As well as the absolute level (is the speculative market net long or short) you can also use this to pick up on changes in positioning. For example if bad news comes out how much does the net short increase? If good news comes out, the market may remain net short but how much did they buy back? A lot of traders ask themselves “Does the market have this trade on?” The positioning data is a good method for answering this. It provides a good finger on the pulse of the wider market sentiment and activity. For example you might say: “There was lots of noise about the good employment numbers in the US. However, there wasn’t actually a lot of position change on the back of it. Maybe everyone who wants to buy already has. What would happen now if bad news came out?” In general traders will be wary of entering a crowded position because it will be hard to attract additional buyers or sellers and there could be an aggressive exit. If you want to enter a trade that is showing extreme levels of positioning you must think carefully about this dynamic.
Retail traders often drastically underestimate how correlated their bets are. Through bitter experience, I have learned that a mistake in position correlation is the root of some of the most serious problems in trading. If you have eight highly correlated positions, then you are really trading one position that is eight times as large. Bruce Kovner of hedge fund, Caxton Associates For example, if you are trading a bunch of pairs against the USD you will end up with a simply huge USD exposure. A single USD-trigger can ruin all your bets. Your ideal scenario — and it isn’t always possible — would be to have a highly diversified portfolio of bets that do not move in tandem. Look at this chart. Inverted USD index (DXY) is green. AUDUSD is orange. EURUSD is blue. Chart from TradingView So the whole thing is just one big USD trade! If you are long AUDUSD, long EURUSD, and short DXY you have three anti USD bets that are all likely to work or fail together. The more diversified your portfolio of bets are, the more risk you can take on each. There’s a really good video, explaining the benefits of diversification from Ray Dalio. A systematic fund with access to an investable universe of 10,000 instruments has more opportunity to make a better risk-adjusted return than a trader who only focuses on three symbols. Diversification really is the closest thing to a free lunch in finance. But let’s be pragmatic and realistic. Human retail traders don’t have capacity to run even one hundred bets at a time. More realistic would be an average of 2-3 trades on simultaneously. So what can be done? For example:
You might diversify across time horizons by having a mix of short-term and long-term trades.
You might diversify across asset classes - trading some FX but also crypto and equities.
You might diversify your trade generation approach so you are not relying on the same indicators or drivers on each trade.
You might diversify your exposure to the market regime by having some trades that assume a trend will continue (momentum) and some that assume we will be range-bound (carry).
And so on. Basically you want to scan your portfolio of trades and make sure you are not putting all your eggs in one basket. If some trades underperform others will perform - assuming the bets are not correlated - and that way you can ensure your overall portfolio takes less risk per unit of return. The key thing is to start thinking about a portfolio of bets and what each new trade offers to your existing portfolio of risk. Will it diversify or amplify a current exposure?
Crap trades, timeouts and monthly limits
One common mistake is to get bored and restless and put on crap trades. This just means trades in which you have low conviction. It is perfectly fine not to trade. If you feel like you do not understand the market at a particular point, simply choose not to trade. Flat is a position. Do not waste your bullets on rubbish trades. Only enter a trade when you have carefully considered it from all angles and feel good about the risk. This will make it far easier to hold onto the trade if it moves against you at any point. You actually believe in it. Equally, you need to set monthly limits. A standard limit might be a 10% account balance stop per month. At that point you close all your positions immediately and stop trading till next month. Be strict with yourself and walk away Let’s assume you started the year with $100k and made 5% in January so enter Feb with $105k balance. Your stop is therefore 10% of $105k or $10.5k . If your account balance dips to $94.5k ($105k-$10.5k) then you stop yourself out and don’t resume trading till March the first. Having monthly calendar breaks is nice for another reason. Say you made a load of money in January. You don’t want to start February feeling you are up 5% or it is too tempting to avoid trading all month and protect the existing win. Each month and each year should feel like a clean slate and an independent period. Everyone has trading slumps. It is perfectly normal. It will definitely happen to you at some stage. The trick is to take a break and refocus. Conserve your capital by not trading a lot whilst you are on a losing streak. This period will be much harder for you emotionally and you’ll end up making suboptimal decisions. An enforced break will help you see the bigger picture. Put in place a process before you start trading and then it’ll be easy to follow and will feel much less emotional. Remember: the market doesn’t care if you win or lose, it is nothing personal. When your head has cooled and you feel calm you return the next month and begin the task of building back your account balance.
That's a wrap on risk management
Thanks for taking time to read this three-part chapter on risk management. I hope you enjoyed it. Do comment in the replies if you have any questions or feedback. Remember: the most important part of trading is not making money. It is not losing money. Always start with that principle. I hope these three notes have provided some food for thought on how you might approach risk management and are of practical use to you when trading. Avoiding mistakes is not a sexy tagline but it is an effective and reliable way to improve results. Next up I will be writing about an exciting topic I think many traders should look at rather differently: news trading. Please follow on here to receive notifications and the broad outline is below. News Trading Part I
Why use the economic calendar
Reading the economic calendar
Knowing what's priced in
First order thinking vs second order thinking
News Trading Part II
Preparing for quantitative and qualitative releases
Data surprise index
Using recent events to predict future reactions
Buy the rumour, sell the fact
The mysterious 'position trim' effect
Some key FX releases
*** Disclaimer:This content is not investment advice and you should not place any reliance on it. The views expressed are the author's own and should not be attributed to any other person, including their employer.
Factset: How You can Invest in Hedge Funds’ Biggest Investment Tl;dr FactSet is the most undervalued widespread SaaS/IT solution stock that exists If any of you have relevant experience or are friends with people in Investment Banking/other high finance, you know that Factset is the lifeblood of their financial analysis toolkit if and when it’s not Bloomberg, which isn’t even publicly traded. Factset has been around since 1978 and it’s considered a staple like Bloomberg in many wealth management firms, and it offers some of the easiest to access and understandable financial data so many newer firms focused less on trading are switching to Factset because it has a lot of the same data Bloomberg offers for half the cost. When it comes to modern financial data, Factset outcompetes Reuters and arguably Bloomberg as well due to their API services which makes Factset much more preferable for quantitative divisions of banks/hedge funds as API integration with Python/R is the most important factor for vast data lakes of financial data, this suggests Factset will be much more prepared for programming making its way into traditional finance fields. According to Factset, their mission for data delivery is to: “Integrate the data you need with your applications, web portals, and statistical packages. Whether you need market, company, or alternative data, FactSet flexible data delivery services give you normalized data through APIs and a direct delivery of local copies of standard data feeds. Our unique symbology links and aggregates a variety of content sources to ensure consistency, transparency, and data integrity across your business. Build financial models and power customized applications with FactSet APIs in our developer portal”. Their technical focus for their data delivery system alone should make it stand out compared to Bloomberg, whose UI is far more outdated and complex on top of not being as technically developed as Factset’s. Factset is the key provider of buy-side portfolio analysis for IBs, Hedge funds, and Private Equity firms, and it’s making its way into non-quantitative hedge funds as well because quantitative portfolio management makes automation of risk management and the application of portfolio theory so much easier, and to top it off, Factset’s scenario analysis and simulation is unique in its class. Factset also is able to automate trades based on individual manager risk tolerance and ML optimization for Forex trading as well. Not only does Factset provide solutions for financial companies, they are branching out to all corporations now and providing quantitative analytics for them in the areas of “corporate development, M&A, strategy, treasury, financial planning and analysis, and investor relations workflows”. Factset will eventually in my opinion reach out to Insurance Risk Management a lot more in the future as that’s a huge industry which has yet to see much automation of risk management yet, and with the field wide open, Factset will be the first to take advantage without a shadow of a doubt. So let’s dig into the company’s financials now: Their latest 8k filing reported the following: Revenue increased 2.6%, or $9.6 million, to $374.1 million compared with $364.5 million for the same period in fiscal 2019. The increase is primarily due to higher sales of analytics, content and technology solutions (CTS) and wealth management solutions. Annual Subscription Value (ASV) plus professional services was $1.52 billion at May 31, 2020, compared with $1.45 billion at May 31, 2019. The organic growth rate, which excludes the effects of acquisitions, dispositions, and foreign currency movements, was 5.0%. The primary contributors to this growth rate were higher sales in FactSet's wealth and research workflow solutions and a price increase in the Company's international region Adjusted operating margin improved to 35.5% compared with 34.0% in the prior year period primarily as a result of reduced employee-related operating expenses due to the coronavirus pandemic. Diluted earnings per share (EPS) increased 11.0% to $2.63 compared with $2.37 for the same period in fiscal 2019. Adjusted diluted EPS rose 9.2% to $2.86 compared with $2.62 in the prior year period primarily driven by an improvement in operating results. The Company’s effective tax rate for the third quarter decreased to 15.0% compared with 18.6% a year ago, primarily due to an income tax expense in the prior year related to finalizing the Company's tax returns with no similar event for the three months ended May 31, 2020. FactSet increased its quarterly dividend by $0.05 per share or 7% to $0.77 marking the fifteenth consecutive year the Company has increased dividends, highlighting its continued commitment to returning value to shareholders. As you can see, there’s not much of a negative sign in sight here. It makes sense considering how FactSet’s FCF has never slowed down: https://preview.redd.it/frmtdk8e9hk51.png?width=276&format=png&auto=webp&s=1c0ff12539e0b2f9dbfda13d0565c5ce2b6f8f1a https://preview.redd.it/6axdb6lh9hk51.png?width=593&format=png&auto=webp&s=9af1673272a5a2d8df28f60f4707e948a00e5ff1 FactSet’s annual subscriptions and professional services have made its way to foreign and developing markets, and many of them are opting for FactSet’s cheaper services to reduce costs and still get copious amounts of data and models to work with. Here’s what FactSet had to say regarding its competitive position within the market of providing financial data in its last 10k: “Despite competing products and services, we enjoy high barriers to entry and believe it would be difficult for another vendor to quickly replicate the extensive databases we currently offer. Through our in-depth analytics and client service, we believe we can offer clients a more comprehensive solution with one of the broadest sets of functionalities, through a desktop or mobile user interface or through a standardized or bespoke data feed.” And FactSet is confident that their ML services cannot be replaced by anybody else in the industry either: “In addition, our applications, including our client support and service offerings, are entrenched in the workflow of many financial professionals given the downloading functions and portfolio analysis/screening capabilities offered. We are entrusted with significant amounts of our clients' own proprietary data, including portfolio holdings. As a result, our products have become central to our clients’ investment analysis and decision-making.” (https://last10k.com/sec-filings/fds#link_fullReport), if you read the full report and compare it to the most recent 8K, you’ll find that the real expenses this quarter were far lower than expected by the last 10k as there was a lower than expected tax rate and a 3% increase in expected operating margin from the expected figure as well. The company also reports a 90% customer retention rate over 15 years, so you know that they’re not lying when they say the clients need them for all sorts of financial data whether it’s for M&A or wealth management and Equity analysis: https://www.investopedia.com/terms/f/factset.asp https://preview.redd.it/yo71y6qj9hk51.png?width=355&format=png&auto=webp&s=a9414bdaa03c06114ca052304a26fae2773c3e45 FactSet also has remarkably good cash conversion considering it’s a subscription based company, a company structure which usually takes on too much leverage. Speaking of leverage, FDS had taken on a lot of leverage in 2015: https://preview.redd.it/oxaa1wel9hk51.png?width=443&format=png&auto=webp&s=13d60d2518980360c403364f7150392ab83d07d7 So what’s that about? Why were FactSet’s long term debts at 0 and all of a sudden why’d the spike up? Well usually for a company that’s non-cyclical and has a well-established product (like FactSet) leverage can actually be good at amplifying returns, so FDS used this to their advantage and this was able to help the share’s price during 2015. Also, as you can see debt/ebitda is beginning a rapid decline anyway. This only adds to my theory that FactSet is trying to expand into new playing fields. FactSet obviously didn’t need the leverage to cover their normal costs, because they have always had consistently growing margins and revenue so the debt financing was only for the sake of financing growth. And this debt can be considered covered and paid off, considering the net income growth of 32% between 2018 and 2019 alone and the EPS growth of 33% https://preview.redd.it/e4trju3p9hk51.png?width=387&format=png&auto=webp&s=6f6bee15f836c47e73121054ec60459f147d353e EBITDA has virtually been exponential for FactSet for a while because of the bang-for-buck for their well-known product, but now as FactSet ventures into algorithmic trading and corporate development the scope for growth is broadly expanded. https://preview.redd.it/yl7f58tr9hk51.png?width=489&format=png&auto=webp&s=68906b9ecbcf6d886393c4ff40f81bdecab9e9fd P/E has declined in the past 2 years, making it a great time to buy. https://preview.redd.it/4mqw3t4t9hk51.png?width=445&format=png&auto=webp&s=e8d719f4913883b044c4150f11b8732e14797b6d Increasing ROE despite lowering of leverage post 2016 https://preview.redd.it/lt34avzu9hk51.png?width=441&format=png&auto=webp&s=f3742ed87cd1c2ccb7a3d3ee71ae8c7007313b2b Mountains of cash have been piling up in the coffers increasing chances of increased dividends for shareholders (imo dividend is too low right now, but increasing it will tempt more investors into it), and on top of that in the last 10k a large buyback expansion program was implemented for $210m worth of shares, which shows how confident they are in the company itself. https://preview.redd.it/fliirmpx9hk51.png?width=370&format=png&auto=webp&s=1216eddeadb4f84c8f4f48692a2f962ba2f1e848 SGA expense/Gross profit has been declining despite expansion of offices I’m a bit concerned about the skin in the game leadership has in this company, since very few executives/board members have significant holdings in the company, but the CEO himself is a FactSet veteran, and knows his way around the company. On top of that, Bloomberg remains king for trading and the fixed income security market, and Reuters beats out FactSet here as well. If FactSet really wants to increase cash flow sources, the expansion into insurance and corp dev has to be successful. Summary: FactSet has a lot of growth still left in its industry which is already fast-growing in and of itself, and it only has more potential at its current valuation. Earnings September 24th should be a massive beat due to investment banking demand and growth plus Hedge fund requirements for data and portfolio management hasn’t gone anywhere and has likely increased due to more market opportunities to buy-in. Calls have shitty greeks, but if you're ballsy October 450s LOL, I'm holding shares I’d say it’s a great long term investment, and it should at least be on your watchlist.
There are a lot of opportunities online for anyone that wants to make a little extra money. From a part-time hustle to an all-out digital career, there are loads of ways that you can make money with an electronic device, and a connection to the internet.
Paid Surveys - Did you know that thousands of South Africans earn extra income by simply participating in online surveys to help local companies improve their products? Finally, now you have an opportunity to do this as well! You can find a list of the top survey sites for South Africa HERE
Selling Your Photos Online - Selling photos is a wonderful way to make money online if you have an aptitude for photography. Two popular platforms that you can try are Shutterlock and Unsplash. Every platform will have different requirements, but they will all pay you in hard cash. Though the photography market is quite hectic, it’s still a good method of gaining a passive income if you’re persistent and professional. Plus, the opportunity for additional sales is higher when your photos become popular. Many companies need photos of landscapes, and we all know that South Africa has some of the most amazing scenery in the world. In some cases, a smartphone is enough to get started, depending on the stock photo site you choose.
Be a Freelance Content Writer - Freelance writing is a serious online business. The internet enters most areas of our life, and the need for blog articles and various types of content is exploding. There are many kinds of online writing work, and many people need things like product descriptions or simple reviews. Before going further in this direction, you first need to set up a blog or website. This will be an amazing portfolio where you can demonstrate to potential clients or businesses that you can deliver great work. A LinkedIn profile can be created to function as an online portfolio as well. Don’t forget that many writing clients will want to see specialized work, so be sure to consider what area you would like to specialize in. The pay for online writing varies, but with some practice, you should be able to make a decent part-time income.
Sell Unwanted Goods - You can sell your unwanted stuff to people who want it and make your side business a real money maker. There’s plenty of options to use for sales such as Gumtree or Amazon. Don’t forget to do some research and see what assets have recently been sold so you have a target price. If you a business, you can sell other people’s goods as well. Many people don’t have the time or patience to sell goods online, and you can do it for them. If you charge a reasonable percentage of the sales, you can make a solid business out of selling used goods online.
Build a Personal blog/website - Not only can you write for companies to gain income but you’re also able to run your own blog to raise money as well. Set your expectations at a reasonable level because this job requires consistent practice and lots of patience. Bloggers make a profit, often through press coverage, advertising products, and writing sponsored guest posts. You will need to run the blog for a while before you can expect to see any profits, but it is very simple to get started. Check out some of the other ideas on this list for ways to leverage a blog for greater income, like selling drop shipped items.
Legitimate Remote Jobs can Pay Real Money - Many companies are heading to a work-from-home style of business since this type of model helps save money, and eliminates the risk of illnesses. People are completely flexible while working for a company and selecting where they decide to spend their time.CrowdSource, for example, hires remote writers, editors, and other jobs that can be done easily from anywhere. Companies like Fast Chart offer work-from-home options for medical transcriptionists. You can also try seeking opportunities at LiveOps, a call center staff. You might be surprised at how much time and money you save when you work at home. There is no transit, and you can cook for yourself. Think about it!
Become a Dropshipper - Dropshipping is not a strange term, especially when eCommerce is booming. Anyone can be a drop shipper since the work requires low investment at the beginning and also guarantees minimal risk. The system operates by purchasing the stock (goods) from a third party supplier or manufacturer, who then fulfills the customer’s request. You don’t have to shop or handle goods in advance because the product comes directly from the vendors whenever an order is placed by a customer. There are many dropshipping platforms out there, and some are basically free to use. You will need to figure out how to market the goods, which is where a blog or website comes in very handy.
Affiliate Marketing - Affiliate marketing is a popular method of making money online in South Africa and across the world. You can sell into a variety of markets with this business model, and make money almost anywhere. You can generate revenue from product sales. In other words, affiliate marketers will refer readers to a lot of products and get a small cut from them. Once a customereader buys products, you will earn a commission. A widely known approach is to start creating your own blog in a specific niche and to establish a trustworthy community that can purchase your promotions. Unlike dropshipping, you simply get a commission and have no other responsibilities. So easy! Check out SA’s leading affiliate network – https://www.affiliate.co.za/
Online Business with Etsy - Try selling DIY designs and crafts on Etsy if you’re a skilled maker. An Etsy shop is basically free to operate, and you can make real money with the platform. Once your registration is complete, you can start posting photos of your works, and people can purchase your products. There is really no limit to what can be sold on Etsy, but make sure that you are able to send your goods to other countries, as many buyers are likely to be in the EU or North America. A PayPal account is important to have and also a popular payment choice so that customers can pay you quickly. Take nice pictures of the items to help draw purchasers into a sale. Make sure that you have good customer service as well, or you won’t be selling on the platform for very long!
Forex Trading - You might have heard about trading FOREX or Contract For Difference (CFD) trading. The basics of this online money-making are simple. You will choose a currency pair, and bet on the direction of one currency vs. the other. For example, you could speculate that the EURO will appreciate vs. the RAND (or just about any currency). If you are correct, and then sell the contract, you will make profits. While this might sound easy, most people who do this lose money. In addition to currency, most retail FOREX brokers will allow you to trade in other markets, such as commodities, or shares. If you are looking for a reliable income, this probably isn’t right for you. On the other hand, if you don’t mind taking on risks, trading FOREX can be extremely profitable.
Dollar is set back by euphoria. Forecast as of 09.11.2020
Investors continue trading the idea of Joe Biden becoming the president. That is why the S&P 500 features the best weekly rise since April and pushes the EURUSD up. How long will it continue? Let us discuss the Forex outlook and make up a EURUSD trading plan.
Weekly US dollar fundamental analysis
Euphoria rules the market. Investors forgot about both COVID-19, the US fiscal stimulus's unsettled issue, and Donald Trump rejecting the voting results. Traders are satisfied with the less uncertainty around Joe Biden’s policy, hoping for lower volatility. Analysts suggest that the divided Congress won’t allow Biden to carry out radical reforms in tightening taxation and regulation of technology companies. As a result, the S&P 500 grew by 7.3% in the first week of November, and the USD dropped to the lowest level since early September. How long will the euphoria last? History proves that starting from 2000, if the S&P 500 was growing on election day, it continued growing in November and December. The first years of presidential terms were also favorable for the US stock indexes. The S&P 500 grew by 18.6% on average. However, the stock indexes’ trends during the time of the divided Congress, which prevented the White House from carrying out radical reforms, were controversial. During 45 years, starting from 1928, when one party controlled the US government, the stock market rose at an average rate of 7.46% annually, up from 7.26% in 46 years when the power was divided.
Reaction of S&P 500 to the political situation in USA
Source: Wall Street Journal In my opinion, the markets are going too fast. Investors want to join the stock market’s uptrend, forgetting about the negative. However, are some negative factors that should have their effect. First, political uncertainty continues. Donald Trump is challenging the election results. Because of the second round of voting in Georgia, we will know the partisan makeup of the U.S. Senate only on January 5. It creates obstacles to the agreement on the new fiscal stimulus. Until a fresh stimulus is provided, the US economy will be slowing down, which presses down both the global GDP and the risk appetite. Second, the coronavirus vaccines haven’t yet been developed, and the COVID-19 pandemic continues in the USA and in the euro area. The numbers of new coronavirus cases, hospitalizations, and deaths are hitting all-time highs, so investors’ optimism is surprising. The epidemiological situation in Europe is deteriorating. France, Germany, and other countries are locked down. This fact suggests that the divergence in the economic growth and monetary policy is in favor of the EURUSD bears. Finally, the U.S. dollar may not be falling amid the growth of the S&P 500. The negative correlation between stocks and the USD is the strongest at the time of uncertainty, also because of the US presidential election. Once uncertainty eases, the negative correlation should stop working.
Everything You Always Wanted To Know About Swaps* (*But Were Afraid To Ask)
Hello, dummies It's your old pal, Fuzzy. As I'm sure you've all noticed, a lot of the stuff that gets posted here is - to put it delicately - fucking ridiculous. More backwards-ass shit gets posted to wallstreetbets than you'd see on a Westboro Baptist community message board. I mean, I had a look at the daily thread yesterday and..... yeesh. I know, I know. We all make like the divine Laura Dern circa 1992 on the daily and stick our hands deep into this steaming heap of shit to find the nuggets of valuable and/or hilarious information within (thanks for reading, BTW). I agree. I love it just the way it is too. That's what makes WSB great. What I'm getting at is that a lot of the stuff that gets posted here - notwithstanding it being funny or interesting - is just... wrong. Like, fucking your cousin wrong. And to be clear, I mean the fucking your *first* cousin kinda wrong, before my Southerners in the back get all het up (simmer down, Billy Ray - I know Mabel's twice removed on your grand-sister's side). Truly, I try to let it slide. Idomybit to try and put you on the right path. Most of the time, I sleep easy no matter how badly I've seen someone explain what a bank liquidity crisis is. But out of all of those tens of thousands of misguided, autistic attempts at understanding the world of high finance, one thing gets so consistently - so *emphatically* - fucked up and misunderstood by you retards that last night I felt obligated at the end of a long work day to pull together this edition of Finance with Fuzzy just for you. It's so serious I'm not even going to make a u/pokimane gag. Have you guessed what it is yet? Here's a clue. It's in the title of the post. That's right, friends. Today in the neighborhood we're going to talk all about hedging in financial markets - spots, swaps, collars, forwards, CDS, synthetic CDOs, all that fun shit. Don't worry; I'm going to explain what all the scary words mean and how they impact your OTM RH positions along the way. We're going to break it down like this. (1) "What's a hedge, Fuzzy?" (2) Common Hedging Strategies and (3) All About ISDAs and Credit Default Swaps. Before we begin. For the nerds and JV traders in the back (and anyone else who needs to hear this up front) - I am simplifying these descriptions for the purposes of this post. I am also obviously not going to try and cover every exotic form of hedge under the sun or give a detailed summation of what caused the financial crisis. If you are interested in something specific ask a question, but don't try and impress me with your Investopedia skills or technical points I didn't cover; I will just be forced to flex my years of IRL experience on you in the comments and you'll look like a big dummy. TL;DR? Fuck you. There is no TL;DR. You've come this far already. What's a few more paragraphs? Put down the Cheetos and try to concentrate for the next 5-7 minutes. You'll learn something, and I promise I'll be gentle. Ready? Let's get started. 1.The Tao of Risk: Hedging as a Way of Life The simplest way to characterize what a hedge 'is' is to imagine every action having a binary outcome. One is bad, one is good. Red lines, green lines; uppie, downie. With me so far? Good. A 'hedge' is simply the employment of a strategy to mitigate the effect of your action having the wrong binary outcome. You wanted X, but you got Z! Frowny face. A hedge strategy introduces a third outcome. If you hedged against the possibility of Z happening, then you can wind up with Y instead. Not as good as X, but not as bad as Z. The technical definition I like to give my idiot juniors is as follows: Utilization of a defensive strategy to mitigate risk, at a fraction of the cost to capital of the risk itself. Congratulations. You just finished Hedging 101. "But Fuzzy, that's easy! I just sold a naked call against my 95% OTM put! I'm adequately hedged!". Spoiler alert: you're not (although good work on executing a collar, which I describe below). What I'm talking about here is what would be referred to as a 'perfect hedge'; a binary outcome where downside is totally mitigated by a risk management strategy. That's not how it works IRL. Pay attention; this is the tricky part. You can't take a single position and conclude that you're adequately hedged because risks are fluid, not static. So you need to constantly adjust your position in order to maximize the value of the hedge and insure your position. You also need to consider exposure to more than one category of risk. There are micro (specific exposure) risks, and macro (trend exposure) risks, and both need to factor into the hedge calculus. That's why, in the real world, the value of hedging depends entirely on the design of the hedging strategy itself. Here, when we say "value" of the hedge, we're not talking about cash money - we're talking about the intrinsic value of the hedge relative to the the risk profile of your underlying exposure. To achieve this, people hedge dynamically. In wallstreetbets terms, this means that as the value of your position changes, you need to change your hedges too. The idea is to efficiently and continuously distribute and rebalance risk across different states and periods, taking value from states in which the marginal cost of the hedge is low and putting it back into states where marginal cost of the hedge is high, until the shadow value of your underlying exposure is equalized across your positions. The punchline, I guess, is that one static position is a hedge in the same way that the finger paintings you make for your wife's boyfriend are art - it's technically correct, but you're only playing yourself by believing it. Anyway. Obviously doing this as a small potatoes trader is hard but it's worth taking into account. Enough basic shit. So how does this work in markets? 2. A Hedging Taxonomy The best place to start here is a practical question. What does a business need to hedge against? Think about the specific risk that an individual business faces. These are legion, so I'm just going to list a few of the key ones that apply to most corporates. (1) You have commodity risk for the shit you buy or the shit you use. (2) You have currency risk for the money you borrow. (3) You have rate risk on the debt you carry. (4) You have offtake risk for the shit you sell. Complicated, right? To help address the many and varied ways that shit can go wrong in a sophisticated market, smart operators like yours truly have devised a whole bundle of different instruments which can help you manage the risk. I might write about some of the more complicated ones in a later post if people are interested (CDO/CLOs, strip/stack hedges and bond swaps with option toggles come to mind) but let's stick to the basics for now. (i) Swaps A swap is one of the most common forms of hedge instrument, and they're used by pretty much everyone that can afford them. The language is complicated but the concept isn't, so pay attention and you'll be fine. This is the most important part of this section so it'll be the longest one. Swaps are derivative contracts with two counterparties (before you ask, you can't trade 'em on an exchange - they're OTC instruments only). They're used to exchange one cash flow for another cash flow of equal expected value; doing this allows you to take speculative positions on certain financial prices or to alter the cash flows of existing assets or liabilities within a business. "Wait, Fuzz; slow down! What do you mean sets of cash flows?". Fear not, little autist. Ol' Fuzz has you covered. The cash flows I'm talking about are referred to in swap-land as 'legs'. One leg is fixed - a set payment that's the same every time it gets paid - and the other is variable - it fluctuates (typically indexed off the price of the underlying risk that you are speculating on / protecting against). You set it up at the start so that they're notionally equal and the two legs net off; so at open, the swap is a zero NPV instrument. Here's where the fun starts. If the price that you based the variable leg of the swap on changes, the value of the swap will shift; the party on the wrong side of the move ponies up via the variable payment. It's a zero sum game. I'll give you an example using the most vanilla swap around; an interest rate trade. Here's how it works. You borrow money from a bank, and they charge you a rate of interest. You lock the rate up front, because you're smart like that. But then - quelle surprise! - the rate gets better after you borrow. Now you're bagholding to the tune of, I don't know, 5 bps. Doesn't sound like much but on a billion dollar loan that's a lot of money (a classic example of the kind of 'small, deep hole' that's terrible for profits). Now, if you had a swap contract on the rate before you entered the trade, you're set; if the rate goes down, you get a payment under the swap. If it goes up, whatever payment you're making to the bank is netted off by the fact that you're borrowing at a sub-market rate. Win-win! Or, at least, Lose Less / Lose Less. That's the name of the game in hedging. There are many different kinds of swaps, some of which are pretty exotic; but they're all different variations on the same theme. If your business has exposure to something which fluctuates in price, you trade swaps to hedge against the fluctuation. The valuation of swaps is also super interesting but I guarantee you that 99% of you won't understand it so I'm not going to try and explain it here although I encourage you to google it if you're interested. Because they're OTC, none of them are filed publicly. Someeeeeetimes you see an ISDA (dsicussed below) but the confirms themselves (the individual swaps) are not filed. You can usually read about the hedging strategy in a 10-K, though. For what it's worth, most modern credit agreements ban speculative hedging. Top tip: This is occasionally something worth checking in credit agreements when you invest in businesses that are debt issuers - being able to do this increases the risk profile significantly and is particularly important in times of economic volatility (ctrl+f "non-speculative" in the credit agreement to be sure). (ii) Forwards A forward is a contract made today for the future delivery of an asset at a pre-agreed price. That's it. "But Fuzzy! That sounds just like a futures contract!". I know. Confusing, right? Just like a futures trade, forwards are generally used in commodity or forex land to protect against price fluctuations. The differences between forwards and futures are small but significant. I'm not going to go into super boring detail because I don't think many of you are commodities traders but it is still an important thing to understand even if you're just an RH jockey, so stick with me. Just like swaps, forwards are OTC contracts - they're not publicly traded. This is distinct from futures, which are traded on exchanges (see The Ballad Of Big Dick Vick for some more color on this). In a forward, no money changes hands until the maturity date of the contract when delivery and receipt are carried out; price and quantity are locked in from day 1. As you now know having read about BDV, futures are marked to market daily, and normally people close them out with synthetic settlement using an inverse position. They're also liquid, and that makes them easier to unwind or close out in case shit goes sideways. People use forwards when they absolutely have to get rid of the thing they made (or take delivery of the thing they need). If you're a miner, or a farmer, you use this shit to make sure that at the end of the production cycle, you can get rid of the shit you made (and you won't get fucked by someone taking cash settlement over delivery). If you're a buyer, you use them to guarantee that you'll get whatever the shit is that you'll need at a price agreed in advance. Because they're OTC, you can also exactly tailor them to the requirements of your particular circumstances. These contracts are incredibly byzantine (and there are even crazier synthetic forwards you can see in money markets for the true degenerate fund managers). In my experience, only Texan oilfield magnates, commodities traders, and the weirdo forex crowd fuck with them. I (i) do not own a 10 gallon hat or a novelty size belt buckle (ii) do not wake up in the middle of the night freaking out about the price of pork fat and (iii) love greenbacks too much to care about other countries' monopoly money, so I don't fuck with them. (iii) Collars No, not the kind your wife is encouraging you to wear try out to 'spice things up' in the bedroom during quarantine. Collars are actually the hedging strategy most applicable to WSB. Collars deal with options! Hooray! To execute a basic collar (also called a wrapper by tea-drinking Brits and people from the Antipodes), you buy an out of the money put while simultaneously writing a covered call on the same equity. The put protects your position against price drops and writing the call produces income that offsets the put premium. Doing this limits your tendies (you can only profit up to the strike price of the call) but also writes down your risk. If you screen large volume trades with a VOL/OI of more than 3 or 4x (and they're not bullshit biotech stocks), you can sometimes see these being constructed in real time as hedge funds protect themselves on their shorts. (3) All About ISDAs, CDS and Synthetic CDOs You may have heard about the mythical ISDA. Much like an indenture (discussed in my post on $F), it's a magic legal machine that lets you build swaps via trade confirms with a willing counterparty. They are very complicated legal documents and you need to be a true expert to fuck with them. Fortunately, I am, so I do. They're made of two parts; a Master (which is a form agreement that's always the same) and a Schedule (which amends the Master to include your specific terms). They are also the engine behind just about every major credit crunch of the last 10+ years. First - a brief explainer. An ISDA is a not in and of itself a hedge - it's an umbrella contract that governs the terms of your swaps, which you use to construct your hedge position. You can trade commodities, forex, rates, whatever, all under the same ISDA. Let me explain. Remember when we talked about swaps? Right. So. You can trade swaps on just about anything. In the late 90s and early 2000s, people had the smart idea of using other people's debt and or credit ratings as the variable leg of swap documentation. These are called credit default swaps. I was actually starting out at a bank during this time and, I gotta tell you, the only thing I can compare people's enthusiasm for this shit to was that moment in your early teens when you discover jerking off. Except, unlike your bathroom bound shame sessions to Mom's Sears catalogue, every single person you know felt that way too; and they're all doing it at once. It was a fiscal circlejerk of epic proportions, and the financial crisis was the inevitable bukkake finish. WSB autism is absolutely no comparison for the enthusiasm people had during this time for lighting each other's money on fire. Here's how it works. You pick a company. Any company. Maybe even your own! And then you write a swap. In the swap, you define "Credit Event" with respect to that company's debt as the variable leg . And you write in... whatever you want. A ratings downgrade, default under the docs, failure to meet a leverage ratio or FCCR for a certain testing period... whatever. Now, this started out as a hedge position, just like we discussed above. The purest of intentions, of course. But then people realized - if bad shit happens, you make money. And banks... don't like calling in loans or forcing bankruptcies. Can you smell what the moral hazard is cooking? Enter synthetic CDOs. CDOs are basically pools of asset backed securities that invest in debt (loans or bonds). They've been around for a minute but they got famous in the 2000s because a shitload of them containing subprime mortgage debt went belly up in 2008. This got a lot of publicity because a lot of sad looking rednecks got foreclosed on and were interviewed on CNBC. "OH!", the people cried. "Look at those big bad bankers buying up subprime loans! They caused this!". Wrong answer, America. The debt wasn't the problem. What a lot of people don't realize is that the real meat of the problem was not in regular way CDOs investing in bundles of shit mortgage debts in synthetic CDOs investing in CDS predicated on that debt. They're synthetic because they don't have a stake in the actual underlying debt; just the instruments riding on the coattails. The reason these are so popular (and remain so) is that smart structured attorneys and bankers like your faithful correspondent realized that an even more profitable and efficient way of building high yield products with limited downside was investing in instruments that profit from failure of debt and in instruments that rely on that debt and then hedging that exposure with other CDS instruments in paired trades, and on and on up the chain. The problem with doing this was that everyone wound up exposed to everybody else's books as a result, and when one went tits up, everybody did. Hence, recession, Basel III, etc. Thanks, Obama. Heavy investment in CDS can also have a warping effect on the price of debt (something else that happened during the pre-financial crisis years and is starting to happen again now). This happens in three different ways. (1) Investors who previously were long on the debt hedge their position by selling CDS protection on the underlying, putting downward pressure on the debt price. (2) Investors who previously shorted the debt switch to buying CDS protection because the relatively illiquid debt (partic. when its a bond) trades at a discount below par compared to the CDS. The resulting reduction in short selling puts upward pressure on the bond price. (3) The delta in price and actual value of the debt tempts some investors to become NBTs (neg basis traders) who long the debt and purchase CDS protection. If traders can't take leverage, nothing happens to the price of the debt. If basis traders can take leverage (which is nearly always the case because they're holding a hedged position), they can push up or depress the debt price, goosing swap premiums etc. Anyway. Enough technical details. I could keep going. This is a fascinating topic that is very poorly understood and explained, mainly because the people that caused it all still work on the street and use the same tactics today (it's also terribly taught at business schools because none of the teachers were actually around to see how this played out live). But it relates to the topic of today's lesson, so I thought I'd include it here. Work depending, I'll be back next week with a covenant breakdown. Most upvoted ticker gets the post. *EDIT 1\* In a total blowout, $PLAY won. So it's D&B time next week. Post will drop Monday at market open.
The foreign currency market is the largest of all of the trading markets with an almost unbelievable 5 trillion dollars changing hands each day. Until recently Forex trading was consigned to heavy weight traders and brokers who could afford the high minimum trading amounts required. However, the recent appeal of trading online has prompted a further development in the foreign exchange boom. Increased leverages are now not just available for the big scale traders but also for the starter and lower volume speculators. Whereas minimum deposits were at one time in the thousands of dollars range now they are in the hundreds. Nowadays, a trader can enter the foreign exchange with little more than a credit card, a Forex trading account and a laptop or PC. The boom has led to a number of brokers entering the market to meet the demand in online trading, but getting a suitable broker out of so many options can be difficult. Deciding on a Forex broker Take a look at this list of fundamentals to think about when making your selection of a suitable Forex broker: Foreign currencies All Forex brokers provide the "majors" as pairs to trade upon. These principal moneys include the US dollar (USD), the Japanese Yen (JPY) and the British pound (GBP). Further brokerages host platforms that have the alternative to exchange lesser known moneys. The more sluggish Forex currencies or"exotics" encounter even more volatility as opposed to the "majors" which can provide intriguing trading options. If you are planning on trading on one of the weaker, "exotic" currencies make sure that it on the list of currencies to invest with on your broker of choice's platform. In short make sure that you work with currencies that you have an interest in. Trades A lot of currency brokerages have reduced their minimum deposits to as low as $100. Higher leverage sums which were formerly only made accessible for expert traders are currently on hand for the lower end traders. The good thing about this is that with a 50:1 leverage, on a trading account of $1,000 the user can now sustain a place of $50,000. Be careful to remember, however, that leverage is a sort of financial loan, whilst the strength of your account is markedly increased the potential sum to be lost is also boosted. Regulation Each one of the leading Forex firms will have made sure that they are listed by one or more of the main regulatory authorities. For a user to observe that a company is fully regulated shows that the brokerage service is a serious operation devoted to fair market procedures. Signing up for membership with an unregulated broker is not advised, even more so with such a wide choice of regulated brokers out there.. Minimum amounts for deposit Every broker will designate a minimum deposit amount prior to the start of trading. Smaller deposit amounts can be put down using beginner or low volume trading accounts whereas the high roller accounts require higher minimums to begin. As there are such larger numbers of brokers operating the initial deposit amounts can play a significant role as each company pushes for your custom by trying to out compete rival companies with more tempting welcome offers. You will notice that it can be to your gain if you browse a little. Commissions and Spreads Forex brokerages profit though commissions and spreads. The broker's commission can either be set on a per transaction basis or over a set of transactions. The spread refers to the amount between the actual and the bidding prices of a currency or currency pair. Usually the spread is comes in at around 3-5 pips. Margins It is not unconventional for a broker to require that you fund your account with an advanced amount of capital to counter balance any potential losses that may be experienced. This advanced amount is known as a margin or margin requirement. Be sure that the conditions of the margin requirement are suited to your degree of trading. Trading Platforms The most widespread platform in the online Forex market is the Meta trading platform. It is very reliable and can be accessed both on your computer and your mobile device. Some brokers use their own proprietary trading platform as well so it is advisable to take the time to find out how trusted it is and whether there are any interruptions between messaging between their platform and the actual foreign exchange. Support See if you can get as much information as possible about the level of support available with a broker. Good indicators of a broker's level of service can include the trading education materials they have and if there is a live chat option. Together with this, many top companies display documentation, tutorials and eBooks to educate you on how to improve your chances of achieving profitable returns and cutting down minimising the risks. Forex trading involves risks. You can minimise the risks by researching your broker and testing out your trading strategy thoroughly.
Hello! I am new to the general spectrum of e-commerce and passive income. This will be a relatively long post, so you can understand my situation. I am 18 years old and live in a dorm at Georgia State University in downtown Atlanta. I'm interested in passive income, because a life goal of mine is to be financially sustainable without that dreadful and desperate struggle to stay afloat. I've worked in a restaurant/bar and Chick-Fil-A. I like to take opportunities to grow and I'm an extremely hard worker who's tackled many personal challenges, but these experiences always ended up d r e a d f u l for my mental health. I wish I could adapt to the physical job norm, but my personality strengths don't align with that particular field. I am currently studying business at Georgia State and have a good head start. I also have a good amount of savings in my bank account, setting me up for my journey. I am hoping to have some form of reliable income by the end of the school year in May. I have a passion to devoting myself to this work ONLY if it pays. This situation could be even more perfect for me considering my girlfriends dad owns his own small marketing company and has some decently large clients. My girlfriend's parents are also great friends with a man who literally went from dirt poor to being able to support a large family and more through marketing and he owns his own company and offers marketing internships from his company to GSU students. To reiterate, I have nothing but time, savings, and extreme hard work to make passive income pay off and there is nothing I want more than that financial freedom from terrible jobs for people my age. I will devote my time, but only if it is worth it. Here is where I need help. I don't want to end up spending all my money instead of using it for larger gain. I'm all for using money to grow, but I don't know where to go from there. Where should my research and time be allocated in this case? I've researched hours and hours of different sources such as Forex day trading (even my friend is making decent profits with Forex from some like $200 dollar course?!?!), and drop shipping, but seem to hit a brick wall with how much I know on the subject. Do I sacrifice more hours learning youtube and various different forms or income, or do I sacrifice more hours in one particular course or subject? I am VERY on the fence when it comes to these kinds of decisions, only because I want to make the right one. I'm fine with slowly losing a little money to gain experience, but a payment like that sure seems like a leap of faith(right?). I don't necessarily understand how to explain this business model either. I feel scared to talk about it because I understand how the profits occur, but it is the difficult talents you must possess that I do not have. I want to be able to talk about my business pursuit with my parents and have full knowledge and confidence in that what I'm doing is right. The businesses you can start through passive income are possible to be profitable, but how often does that happen and is it REALISTIC that my time I invest into this is worth it? I would hate to throw away a fantastic economic opportunity. I just need to know what direction I should be going towards considering my connections and situation. I lack the confidence to jump in, as I understand I must gain more knowledge. Another issue I face is I need to know where my knowledge and studying should be allocated. I need to know what works and how I can get there. I believe I am capable of anything as I am an extremely high achiever and have always worked hard on the things I'm passionate about. Thinking about my loved ones I'm doing this for only motivates me more and I want to prove to others that I can persevere. If you read this entire thread.. thank you so much for your time. I promise you you've found the correct and capable person, but where do I go from here? I don't mean to sound cocky in any way shape or form, as I am just very ready to take initiative of my extra time so I don't wait around until I get a potentially crap job with low pay. I appreciate this community and I'm looking forward to hopefully getting to build connections and grow. Lastly- I would love links, video advice, emails, and anything else to help out my education on this! Again, thank you so much and have a wonderful day.
Binary Options Recovery: Scammed Traders, Fake Brokers, and Funds Recovery
Following the “permanent temporary” measures against binary options and CFDs (contract for difference), the body in charge implements its own set of limitations that simply forbids regulated houses to offer such product in the UK, hence increasing the risk of pushing retails traders towards illegal brokers and outright scams. Fortunately, a new solution is now available to UK traders via a new United Kingdom Financial regulatory ruling. More scrutiny from UK banks about financial transactions, even to binary optionsIn short, banks will have to take more responsibility about the financial transactions they facilitate. This new ruling should lead to the creation of a new code of conduct that will help defrauded people to have their funds recovered by their bank, unless it is proven they acted recklessly. As a popular Financial blog puts, it, “It is likely that should a bank or credit card company be either impersonated by a fraudster in order to gain money, or trick a client into depositing, and the bank allows the transfer, a client will be able to take recourse. The broad protection should kick for many online scheme and scams, whether it is fake investment companies, fraudulent binary options brokers or those scammers who promise to help you recover your stolen funds…only to steal from you once again. On the other hands, it means the banks will be more likely to forbid transactions to legit businesses, such as reputable cryptocurrency exchanges or honest smart options platforms. The regulating bodies and financial institutions are taking a number of measures to prevent financial fraud. Binary options trading, in particular, is being controlled with a greater degree of robustness to protect the unwary general public being drawn into a situation where they suffer financial losses. Many hundreds of people around the world are targeted each day. ![img](prwn4ha2ecf51 " ") Frequently they are novice investors who are unfamiliar with the markets and do not recognize that the so-called trading platform and its way of working are actually bogus. The individual only realizes the extent of the fraud when eventually when the fraudsters finally decide that there is no more money to be had and shut down the account and promptly vanish without trace. Spotting Fraudulent Binary Options Broker Some lawyers in the financial fraud division are very familiar with the pattern of behaviour demonstrated by the fraudulent brokers and the distress caused by their dealings with inexperienced investors. There is a track of record of recovery in relation to financial fraud and has a number of strategies and tactics to compel the fraudulent broker or associated financial service providers to restore funds to those who have been deceived. Needless to say, the fraudsters are accomplished at hiding their tracks and frequently there are myriad inter-connected limited liability companies, often some are registered in different countries, with some dormant and some active. It is hardly surprising if the complexity of the situation results in a failure to discover a single person who can be challenged and held accountable. However, there are various channels financial fraud lawyers use when attempting to retrieve money for clients and each avenue is investigated. Whilst an individual may be alarmed and confused at the prospect of navigating through the complex structures that have been deliberately set up to confuse, Financial fraud lawyers are usually quite familiar with strategies fraudsters use, and frequently can steer a course to the recovery of some or all of the lost money. https://preview.redd.it/daa505b3ecf51.jpg?width=600&format=pjpg&auto=webp&s=b27aa7697b0bf1afbd238964166ce40c693db2e3 The step of last resort, legal action, is understandably daunting for a person who often has lost significant amounts of money to the fraudulent brokers. It is fully understandable that such a situation will leave the victim decidedly risk-averse. There have been experiences with class actions against the fraudulent brokers and has developed links with litigation funding organizations in order to offset the risk in respect of class actions. The lessons that can be drawn from the experiences of those individuals who have had the misfortune of losing their investments to fraudsters are to be extremely cautious. Always consider every offer or investment for at least 48 hours before making a decision, a genuine broker will understand the caution that a new investor will view a proposition. All investments carry a risk and anything that promises a return on your initial investment seems to be significantly higher than normal it is almost certainly not to be trusted. Do not allow yourself to be hurried into a decision, it is highly unlikely that an authentic broker would try to rush you into an investment, especially if you demonstrated reluctance; their reputation would suffer by such behaviour. You can now recover all money lost to bitcoin, binary options, cryptocurrency, investment, scam by hiring any one of these Verified Wealth Recovery Experts. To recover money lost to binary options, forex, bitcoins, cryptocurrency, and investment, get all the information you need here; https://bitcoinbinaryoptionsreview.com/binary-options-uk-scammed-traders-fake-brokers-and-funds-recovery/
No, the British did not steal $45 trillion from India
This is an updated copy of the version on BadHistory. I plan to update it in accordance with the feedback I got. I'd like to thank two people who will remain anonymous for helping me greatly with this post (you know who you are) Three years ago a festschrift for Binay Bhushan Chaudhuri was published by Shubhra Chakrabarti, a history teacher at the University of Delhi and Utsa Patnaik, a Marxist economist who taught at JNU until 2010. One of the essays in the festschirt by Utsa Patnaik was an attempt to quantify the "drain" undergone by India during British Rule. Her conclusion? Britain robbed India of $45 trillion (or £9.2 trillion) during their 200 or so years of rule. This figure was immensely popular, and got republished in several major news outlets (here, here, here, here (they get the number wrong) and more recently here), got a mention from the Minister of External Affairs & returns 29,100 results on Google. There's also plenty of references to it here on Reddit. Patnaik is not the first to calculate such a figure. Angus Maddison thought it was £100 million, Simon Digby said £1 billion, Javier Estaban said £40 million see Roy (2019). The huge range of figures should set off some alarm bells. So how did Patnaik calculate this (shockingly large) figure? Well, even though I don't have access to the festschrift, she conveniently has written an article detailing her methodology here. Let's have a look.
How exactly did the British manage to diddle us and drain our wealth’ ? was the question that Basudev Chatterjee (later editor of a volume in the Towards Freedom project) had posed to me 50 years ago when we were fellow-students abroad.
This is begging the question.
After decades of research I find that using India’s commodity export surplus as the measure and applying an interest rate of 5%, the total drain from 1765 to 1938, compounded up to 2016, comes to £9.2 trillion; since $4.86 exchanged for £1 those days, this sum equals about $45 trillion.
This is completely meaningless. To understand why it's meaningless consider India's annual coconut exports. These are almost certainly a surplus but the surplus in trade is countered by the other country buying the product (indeed, by definition, trade surpluses contribute to the GDP of a nation which hardly plays into intuitive conceptualisations of drain). Furthermore, Dewey (2019) critiques the 5% interest rate.
She [Patnaik] consistently adopts statistical assumptions (such as compound interest at a rate of 5% per annum over centuries) that exaggerate the magnitude of the drain
The exact mechanism of drain, or transfers from India to Britain was quite simple.
Drain theory possessed the political merit of being easily grasped by a nation of peasants. [...] No other idea could arouse people than the thought that they were being taxed so that others in far off lands might live in comfort. [...] It was, therefore, inevitable that the drain theory became the main staple of nationalist political agitation during the Gandhian era.
The key factor was Britain’s control over our taxation revenues combined with control over India’s financial gold and forex earnings from its booming commodity export surplus with the world. Simply put, Britain used locally raised rupee tax revenues to pay for its net import of goods, a highly abnormal use of budgetary funds not seen in any sovereign country.
The issue with figures like these is they all make certain methodological assumptions that are impossible to prove. From Roy in Frankema et al. (2019):
the "drain theory" of Indian poverty cannot be tested with evidence, for several reasons. First, it rests on the counterfactual that any money saved on account of factor payments abroad would translate into domestic investment, which can never be proved. Second, it rests on "the primitive notion that all payments to foreigners are "drain"", that is, on the assumption that these payments did not contribute to domestic national income to the equivalent extent (Kumar 1985, 384; see also Chaudhuri 1968). Again, this cannot be tested. [...] Fourth, while British officers serving India did receive salaries that were many times that of the average income in India, a paper using cross-country data shows that colonies with better paid officers were governed better (Jones 2013).
Indeed, drain theory rests on some very weak foundations. This, in of itself, should be enough to dismiss any of the other figures that get thrown out. Nonetheless, I felt it would be a useful exercise to continue exploring Patnaik's take on drain theory.
The East India Company from 1765 onwards allocated every year up to one-third of Indian budgetary revenues net of collection costs, to buy a large volume of goods for direct import into Britain, far in excess of that country’s own needs.
So what's going on here? Well Roy (2019) explains it better:
Colonial India ran an export surplus, which, together with foreign investment, was used to pay for services purchased from Britain. These payments included interest on public debt, salaries, and pensions paid to government offcers who had come from Britain, salaries of managers and engineers, guaranteed profts paid to railway companies, and repatriated business profts. How do we know that any of these payments involved paying too much? The answer is we do not.
So what was really happening is the government was paying its workers for services (as well as guaranteeing profits - to promote investment - something the GoI does today Dalal (2019), and promoting business in India), and those workers were remitting some of that money to Britain. This is hardly a drain (unless, of course, Indian diaspora around the world today are "draining" it). In some cases, the remittances would take the form of goods (as described) see Chaudhuri (1983):
It is obvious that these debit items were financed through the export surplus on merchandise account, and later, when railway construction started on a large scale in India, through capital import. Until 1833 the East India Company followed a cumbersome method in remitting the annual home charges. This was to purchase export commodities in India out of revenue, which were then shipped to London and the proceeds from their sale handed over to the home treasury.
While Roy's earlier point argues better paid officers governed better, it is honestly impossible to say what part of the repatriated export surplus was a drain, and what was not. However calling all of it a drain is definitely misguided. It's worth noting that Patnaik seems to make no attempt to quantify the benefits of the Raj either, Dewey (2019)'s 2nd criticism:
she [Patnaik] consistently ignores research that would tend to cut the economic impact of the drain down to size, such as the work on the sources of investment during the industrial revolution (which shows that industrialisation was financed by the ploughed-back profits of industrialists) or the costs of empire school (which stresses the high price of imperial defence)
Since tropical goods were highly prized in other cold temperate countries which could never produce them, in effect these free goods represented international purchasing power for Britain which kept a part for its own use and re-exported the balance to other countries in Europe and North America against import of food grains, iron and other goods in which it was deficient.
Re-exports necessarily adds value to goods when the goods are processed and when the goods are transported. The country with the largest navy at the time would presumably be in very good stead to do the latter.
The British historians Phyllis Deane and WA Cole presented an incorrect estimate of Britain’s 18th-19th century trade volume, by leaving out re-exports completely. I found that by 1800 Britain’s total trade was 62% higher than their estimate, on applying the correct definition of trade including re-exports, that is used by the United Nations and by all other international organisations.
While interesting, and certainly expected for such an old book, re-exporting necessarily adds value to goods.
When the Crown took over from the Company, from 1861 a clever system was developed under which all of India’s financial gold and forex earnings from its fast-rising commodity export surplus with the world, was intercepted and appropriated by Britain. As before up to a third of India’s rising budgetary revenues was not spent domestically but was set aside as ‘expenditure abroad’.
So, what does this mean? Britain appropriated all of India's earnings, and then spent a third of it aboard? Not exactly. She is describing home charges see Roy (2019) again:
Some of the expenditures on defense and administration were made in sterling and went out of the country. This payment by the government was known as the Home Charges. For example, interest payment on loans raised to finance construction of railways and irrigation works, pensions paid to retired officers, and purchase of stores, were payments in sterling. [...] almost all money that the government paid abroad corresponded to the purchase of a service from abroad. [...] The balance of payments system that emerged after 1800 was based on standard business principles.India bought something and paid for it.State revenues were used to pay for wages of people hired abroad, pay for interest on loans raised abroad, and repatriation of profits on foreign investments coming into India. These were legitimate market transactions.
Indeed, if paying for what you buy is drain, then several billions of us are drained every day.
The Secretary of State for India in Council, based in London, invited foreign importers to deposit with him the payment (in gold, sterling and their own currencies) for their net imports from India, and these gold and forex payments disappeared into the yawning maw of the SoS’s account in the Bank of England.
It should be noted that India having two heads was beneficial, and encouraged investment per Roy (2019):
The fact that the India Office in London managed a part of the monetary system made India creditworthy, stabilized its currency, and encouraged foreign savers to put money into railways and private enterprise in India. Current research on the history of public debt shows that stable and large colonies found it easier to borrow abroad than independent economies because the investors trusted the guarantee of the colonist powers.
Against India’s net foreign earnings he issued bills, termed Council bills (CBs), to an equivalent rupee value. The rate (between gold-linked sterling and silver rupee) at which the bills were issued, was carefully adjusted to the last farthing, so that foreigners would never find it more profitable to ship financial gold as payment directly to Indians, compared to using the CB route. Foreign importers then sent the CBs by post or by telegraph to the export houses in India, that via the exchange banks were paid out of the budgeted provision of sums under ‘expenditure abroad’, and the exporters in turn paid the producers (peasants and artisans) from whom they sourced the goods.
Sunderland (2013) argues CBs had two main roles (and neither were part of a grand plot to keep gold out of India):
Council bills had two roles. They firstly promoted trade by handing the IO some control of the rate of exchange and allowing the exchange banks to remit funds to India and to hedge currency transaction risks. They also enabled the Indian government to transfer cash to England for the payment of its UK commitments.
The United Nations (1962) historical data for 1900 to 1960, show that for three decades up to 1928 (and very likely earlier too) India posted the second highest merchandise export surplus in the world, with USA in the first position. Not only were Indians deprived of every bit of the enormous international purchasing power they had earned over 175 years, even its rupee equivalent was not issued to them since not even the colonial government was credited with any part of India’s net gold and forex earnings against which it could issue rupees. The sleight-of-hand employed, namely ‘paying’ producers out of their own taxes, made India’s export surplus unrequited and constituted a tax-financed drain to the metropolis, as had been correctly pointed out by those highly insightful classical writers, Dadabhai Naoroji and RCDutt.
It doesn't appear that others appreciate their insight Roy (2019):
K. N. Chaudhuri rightly calls such practice ‘confused’ economics ‘coloured by political feelings’.
Surplus budgets to effect such heavy tax-financed transfers had a severe employment–reducing and income-deflating effect: mass consumption was squeezed in order to release export goods. Per capita annual foodgrains absorption in British India declined from 210 kg. during the period 1904-09, to 157 kg. during 1937-41, and to only 137 kg by 1946.
If even a part of its enormous foreign earnings had been credited to it and not entirely siphoned off, India could have imported modern technology to build up an industrial structure as Japan was doing.
This is, unfortunately, impossible to prove. Had the British not arrived in India, there is no clear indication that India would've united (this is arguably more plausible than the given counterfactual1). Had the British not arrived in India, there is no clear indication India would not have been nuked in WW2, much like Japan. Had the British not arrived in India, there is no clear indication India would not have been invaded by lizard people, much like Japan. The list continues eternally. Nevertheless, I will charitably examine the given counterfactual anyway. Did pre-colonial India have industrial potential? The answer is a resounding no. From Gupta (1980):
This article starts from the premise that while economic categories - the extent of commodity production, wage labour, monetarisation of the economy, etc - should be the basis for any analysis of the production relations of pre-British India, it is the nature of class struggles arising out of particular class alignments that finally gives the decisive twist to social change. Arguing on this premise, and analysing the available evidence, this article concludes that there was little potential for industrial revolution before the British arrived in India because, whatever might have been the character of economic categories of that period,the class relations had not sufficiently matured to develop productive forces and the required class struggle for a 'revolution' to take place.
Yet all of this did not amount to an economic situation comparable to that of western Europe on the eve of the industrial revolution. Her technology - in agriculture as well as manufacturers - had by and large been stagnant for centuries. [...] The weakness of the Indian economy in the mid-eighteenth century, as compared to pre-industrial Europe was not simply a matter of technology and commercial and industrial organization. No scientific or geographical revolution formed part of the eighteenth-century Indian's historical experience. [...] Spontaneous movement towards industrialisation is unlikely in such a situation.
So now we've established India did not have industrial potential, was India similar to Japan just before the Meiji era? The answer, yet again, unsurprisingly, is no. Japan's economic situation was not comparable to India's, which allowed for Japan to finance its revolution. From Yasuba (1986):
All in all, the Japanese standard of living may not have been much below the English standard of living before industrialization, and both of them may have been considerably higher than the Indian standard of living. We can no longer say that Japan started from a pathetically low economic level and achieved a rapid or even "miraculous" economic growth. Japan's per capita income was almost as high as in Western Europe before industrialization, and it was possible for Japan to produce surplus in the Meiji Period to finance private and public capital formation.
The circumstances that led to Meiji Japan were extremely unique. See Tomlinson (1985):
Most modern comparisons between India and Japan, written by either Indianists or Japanese specialists, stress instead that industrial growth in Meiji Japan was the product of unique features that were not reproducible elsewhere. [...] it is undoubtably true that Japan's progress to industrialization has been unique and unrepeatable
So there you have it. Unsubstantiated statistical assumptions, calling any number you can a drain & assuming a counterfactual for no good reason gets you this $45 trillion number. Hopefully that's enough to bury it in the ground. 1. Several authors have affirmed that Indian identity is a colonial artefact. For example seeRajan 1969:
Perhaps the single greatest and most enduring impact of British rule over India is that it created an Indian nation, in the modern political sense. After centuries of rule by different dynasties overparts of the Indian sub-continent, and after about 100 years of British rule, Indians ceased to be merely Bengalis, Maharashtrians,or Tamils, linguistically and culturally.
But then, it would be anachronistic to condemn eighteenth-century Indians, who served the British, as collaborators, when the notion of 'democratic' nationalism or of an Indian 'nation' did not then exist.[...]Indians who fought for them, differed from the Europeans in having a primary attachment to a non-belligerent religion, family and local chief, which was stronger than any identity they might have with a more remote prince or 'nation'.
Chakrabarti, Shubra & Patnaik, Utsa (2018). Agrarian and other histories: Essays for Binay Bhushan Chaudhuri. Colombia University Press Hickel, Jason (2018). How the British stole $45 trillion from India. The Guardian Bhuyan, Aroonim & Sharma, Krishan (2019). The Great Loot: How the British stole $45 trillion from India. Indiapost Monbiot, George (2020). English Landowners have stolen our rights. It is time to reclaim them. The Guardian Tsjeng, Zing (2020). How Britain Stole $45 trillion from India with trains | Empires of Dirt. Vice Chaudhury, Dipanjan (2019). British looted $45 trillion from India in today’s value: Jaishankar. The Economic Times Roy, Tirthankar (2019). How British rule changed India's economy: The Paradox of the Raj. Palgrave Macmillan Patnaik, Utsa (2018). How the British impoverished India. Hindustan Times Tuovila, Alicia (2019). Expenditure method. Investopedia Dewey, Clive (2019). Changing the guard: The dissolution of the nationalist–Marxist orthodoxy in the agrarian and agricultural history of India. The Indian Economic & Social History Review Chandra, Bipan et al. (1989). India's Struggle for Independence, 1857-1947. Penguin Books Frankema, Ewout & Booth, Anne (2019). Fiscal Capacity and the Colonial State in Asia and Africa, c. 1850-1960. Cambridge University Press Dalal, Sucheta (2019). IL&FS Controversy: Centre is Paying Up on Sovereign Guarantees to ADB, KfW for Group's Loan. TheWire Chaudhuri, K.N. (1983). X - Foreign Trade and Balance of Payments (1757–1947). Cambridge University Press Sunderland, David (2013). Financing the Raj: The City of London and Colonial India, 1858-1940. Boydell Press Dewey, Clive (1978). Patwari and Chaukidar: Subordinate officials and the reliability of India’s agricultural statistics. Athlone Press Smith, Lisa (2015). The great Indian calorie debate: Explaining rising undernourishment during India’s rapid economic growth. Food Policy Duh, Josephine & Spears, Dean (2016). Health and Hunger: Disease, Energy Needs, and the Indian Calorie Consumption Puzzle. The Economic Journal Vankatesh, P. et al. (2016). Relationship between Food Production and Consumption Diversity in India – Empirical Evidences from Cross Section Analysis. Agricultural Economics Research Review Gupta, Shaibal (1980). Potential of Industrial Revolution in Pre-British India. Economic and Political Weekly Raychaudhuri, Tapan (1983). I - The mid-eighteenth-century background. Cambridge University Press Yasuba, Yasukichi (1986). Standard of Living in Japan Before Industrialization: From what Level did Japan Begin? A Comment. The Journal of Economic History Tomblinson, B.R. (1985). Writing History Sideways: Lessons for Indian Economic Historians from Meiji Japan. Cambridge University Press Rajan, M.S. (1969). The Impact of British Rule in India. Journal of Contemporary History Bryant, G.J. (2000). Indigenous Mercenaries in the Service of European Imperialists: The Case of the Sepoys in the Early British Indian Army, 1750-1800. War in History
Extons || Let's get familiar with its tools and features
crypto is well known for its volatility and unpredictable nature. Many projects show good improvement when they first launched but at the end of the campaign, they failed to deliver a promising product to its community. This is a crypto and it gave us a lot of good and useful projects. Binance doesn't become binance in one day. It takes time to build up a quality exchnage. Though crypto is a very unpredictable sector of finance still there are some qualities that we can judge to know about the project merits. Today I am going to talk about an upcoming exchange that offers so much good tools and service. The name of that exchange is Extons. For those who are already with me for quite a few days, you all must have known about my previous article about Extons. Today I am going to talk about its service, tools, and potential in the market. Then let's jump into it. https://preview.redd.it/4lcgkmj17co51.jpg?width=3319&format=pjpg&auto=webp&s=d5fe887e3de8a277f1559217ae2ad76fe3e9cfd8 Quick introduction: Before we jump into details about that exchange I want to give you guys a quick introduction about the exchange. Extons is a centralized cryptocurrency exchange that is a part of the thisoption ecosystem. Extons offers multiple payment gateways and a wide variety of crypto trading pairs for its users. They also have some amazing programs for users that can give them an opportunity to make some passive income. Let's talk about different tab of Extons exchange and their use. Markets: The very first tab a user will see in that exchange when they log in is the market tab. By clicking this tab users will see an interface where they will see various market pair and their annual return based on their investment products. This is a very basic and common tab that every other exchange has. Trade: In this tab, the user will see the 3 subcategory tab. They are accordingly Basic, Classic, Advanced. Basic one offers the simplest way of trading. The user just needs to select the coin he wants to convert and the coin he wants to receive in return. The conversion rate will be in the current market price and current market price details will be shown right below. In classic trading, users will get old charts and tools but in advanced trade, users will get the most advanced tools and charts for trading. Finance: In this tab, there are two options available for the user. One is saving and another is staking. Both of them give users a chance to make some passive income by putting their assets into saving program or staking program. The saving program is pretty unique in the Extons platform. Ecosystem: In this tab, there are 5 components. At first, came white paper. In this project whitepaper, users will be able to know about project details, roadmap, and other project related information. By clicking the Binary option tab it will redirect users to another website called thisoption where users can take a part in options trading. It is also a product of the Thisoption company. By clicking the Forex trading tab user will be able to see the Thisoption company's forex trading website. Forex is also a form of trading where cryptocurrency and fiat currency can be traded with each other. https://preview.redd.it/p43fb2797co51.jpg?width=960&format=pjpg&auto=webp&s=eebc0c39fd27e0001d6a55f34ae975df4f48f4f0 The payment gateway tab will take the user to a page where they will be able to use different payment options offered by the Extons platform. There are traditional and crypto payments system. The communication portal will help traders to keep in touch with other traders in the extons community. They can talk and share with each other will news, trading experience, and opinion. More: This tab contains News and support. Users can contact support for any help or know about project developments. Fund: In the fund's tab users will be able to know about their overall portfolio and they can deposit or withdraw their funds from this tab. Also, users will be able to check their deposit and withdraw history from here. Orders: In the orders, tab users can check their current order status and old order history. They will be able to cancel their current order or modify them as they can. My savings: In this tab users can see the currently active saving packages they are in. They can join different saving packages based on their portfolio. Also, they can check their income form their savings packages. I.B Program: In this tab users will be able to check their invitation record and their commission from their referrals. Also, they can find their referral link here that they can share with others to get more referrals commissions. Profile tab: In this tab, users will get to know about their profile information, security settings, and Address management. They can change their profile information, profile security, and also be able to change their withdrawal address for a different cryptocurrency. Also, they can log out from the platform by clicking log out from this tab. Wrap up: Extons doing a massive bounty program for their community. They are super active in social media and keep updating their community about new listing and partnership. I am very impressed with the project and its dedication.
【U.S. Election 2020】Trump or Biden: Who's tougher on China?
Photo:Internet As the pandemic has spread around the world this year, new rhetoric about being "tough" on China has unfurled throughout the political conversation in the United States. Trump VS. Biden: Attitudes to China Biden and his campaign have spoken in broad strokes without offering details about exactly how far he would be willing to confront China on trade, human rights, cyber-espionage, or its growing presence in the South China Sea. Biden also says that he would shore up U.S. alliances, which he says Trump has badly damaged, to present a united front against Beijing and that he would invest in high-tech research and education to make the U.S. economy more competitive. Biden only mentioned China once in his speech on Aug. 20th. In comparison, Trump mentioned China many times in his speech on Aug. 27th. During his speech, President Donald Trump claimed that he has "very good information" that China wants Biden to win because Biden cheers for China. In fact, Trump enjoyed good relations with China leader Xi Jinping early in his administration while the two leaders engaged in major trade talks, and later, after the coronavirus began to spread, Trump praised Xi for his handling of the crisis. Once the relationship soured, and Trump began blaming China for U.S. public health and economic woes. "Joe Biden's agenda is made in China. My agenda is made in the USA," Trump said. Photo: Reuters Trump or Biden? China expects no favours either way Decoupling This word gets used a lot these days. President Trump and his administration talk about it in tweets and in press statements in relation to China. Decoupling basically means undoing more than three decades' worth of U.S. business relations with China. Everything is on the cards: from getting American factories to pull their supply chains out of the mainland, to forcing Chinese-owned companies that operate in the U.S. - like TikTok and Tencent - to swap their Chinese owners for American ones. Make no mistake, under a Trump administration "decoupling will be accelerated", according to Solomon Yue, vice chairman and chief executive of the Republicans Overseas lobby group. While the U.S. has had some success in forcing American companies to stop doing business with Chinese tech giants like Huawei, it is pushing Chinese firms to develop self-sufficiency in some key industries, like chip-making and artificial intelligence. Delisting As part of its focus on China, the Trump administration has come up with a set of recommendations for Chinese firms listed in the U.S., setting a January 2022 deadline to comply with new rules on auditing. While a Biden administration may not necessarily push through with the exact same ban, analysts say the scrutiny and tone of these recommendations is likely to stay. While fears of being delisted aren't high on the list of concerns for Chinese companies that are already listed in the U.S., it's enough to sway the decisions of companies that are looking to float in the future. Take Ant Group, for example, the mammoth Chinese digital financial services group that this week filed for an IPO. Affiliated to the Alibaba Group, which is listed in the U.S. and Hong Kong, it chose Hong Kong and Shanghai in which to sell its shares instead of the U.S. Increasingly other Chinese companies are likely to follow suit, as tensions between the U.S. and China get worse. Deglobalisation China has been one of the biggest beneficiaries of globalisation over the last 30 years. It has helped hundreds of millions of Chinese afford a better quality and standard of life, the bedrock upon which President Xi Jinping's Chinese Dream is based. But that's precisely what President Trump says needs to change: his administration argues that China has become richer while the U.S. has become poorer. During Mr. Trump's term, deglobalisation - where borders are less open, and trade is less free - has become a trend. And it's something that Beijing knows won't change even after the election. Regardless of whether Biden or Trump is elected president, US-China relations Relations have a great impact on financial markets. The global market is anxiously awaiting the end of this election. https://preview.redd.it/n1bgv6csd1n51.png?width=686&format=png&auto=webp&s=5d90f790a9631a69d1e2c121d33bf5eb20fe33c2 https://preview.redd.it/tgns8zhtd1n51.png?width=686&format=png&auto=webp&s=9b3a66ae41cf1e94d6610e97d96a5dc61eb472c0 For more information please download “TOP 1 Markets” at APP store or google play. https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.top1.trading.forex.commodity.cryptocurrency.indices top1markets： https://itunes.apple.com/my/app/id1461741702 top one： https://itunes.apple.com/tw/app/id1506200136
Being forced to be a MLM down-line by my own parents...
Some background - first of all, I'm a midterm college student currently staying at home for obvious reasons. In recent months my parents have pressured me to start making money, saying "You need to start working on financial independence" or something like that. First off I opened an online shop selling my parents' merchandise clothing (they have actual stores for this one tho, no LLR stuff or whatever). Decided to pull out as academic stuff takes over my life. As time and the pandemic rolls on, my parents have started hinting on how lazy I am by refusing to earn money on my own, asking "What do you wanna do in your life then to start earning money ?". When I told them I can't restart the online shop just yet because of my college, they then said "okay, we understand your situation" ... Oh, how wrong I was. Shortly thereafter my mother got ecstatic when she came across an "opportunity" on instagram posted by one of her church friends. We set up a (physical, not that I think its wise) meeting not long after and by the time we arrived I know already - I'm being roped into a MLM by MY OWN PARENTS. For context, the MLM is some sort of forex trading investment company called NET89 I honestly would have refused joining, but with my mother there and my parents' pressure on me I was scared and didn't dare saying 'no' since in this pandemic & amid college sh** I don't have a chance yet to pursue a career, meaning I'm still very much dependent on my parents for sustenance (like most college students where I am - not in the USA, student loans are a foreign concept here). My parents used their personal money to pay for it though. A few months have gone by since, and with me NOT EVEN MENTIONING the MLM to anyone else and flat-out refusing to support the company in any way I decided to pull out the money from my account. My parents got furious at me, saying "What you've done was an obvious loss", "You're being stupid by acting that way", "All companies may as well be MLMs since they ask consumers to promote them" ... Yeah, so ... Here I am. Being involved in an obvious scam because of my parents pulling me in without an option to get out of it whatsoever. What do you think I should do ? How can I get out of this ? FYI ; I wish I could look for a job but like I said before, with my college being super busy right now despite being online (they think students are just slacking around at home, thus churning out assignments at breakneck pace) ... I can't, yet.
Creating a blog couldn’t be easier and yet more complicated in 2020. There are so many different things to think about, and yet so many different platforms you can use to streamline the process. Understandably you’ll already have an idea of what you want to write about, I, unfortunately, can’t help you with that, but what I can do is show you how you can set up a killer blog that will drive readers to your website. We’ll take you through what you’ll need to get started, our five steps to setting your blog up, the best blogging platforms to use, how to get your blog discovered, and the do’s and don’ts of blogging. But first, we need to establish what type of blog you want to set up.
What type of blog?
Firstly you’ll want to have a goal in mind. What are you aiming to achieve through your blog? Do you want to pull in more users to your sales pages by writing about your brand, to increase its publicity? Do you want to build a blog that promotes brands and products from other companies? Or do you just want to set up a blog documenting your travels around the world? In order to pick the right software for you, you’ll want to have a grasp before you start of how big this blog is going to be, whether you’re going to monetize it, and what type of blog it’s going to become. For example, if you’re planning on building an affiliate blogging programme, where you promote other brand’s products and call readers to action to but the products, you’ll be writing a lot of content and will benefit from having a more comprehensive blogging system with lots of plugins to promote sales. But if you’re looking to just set up a personal, or a personal brand blog talking about yourself and your brand, you may not perhaps need as many comprehensive features as you would if you were building an affiliate blog. You may also want to build an online portfolio of your work, which could require an entirely different piece of blogging kit, as opposed to the traditional blog that hosts articles and journals.
What you’ll need to get started.
There are 3 key things you’ll need to get up and running.
A blogging platform.
After you’ve identified the type of blog you want to set up, plus whether you’re going to make money from it, you’ll then need to pick a blogging platform tailored to your needs. Many people chose to operate on WordPress as it is one of the most comprehensive blogging systems going, but they forget platforms like Wix and Squarespace that are great for both helping you save and make money and are great options for those who are less tech-savvy and are new to the blogging game. Plus if you’re blogging for business, you might want to think about using LinkedIn for your business blog. We’ll go into more detail on what blogging platforms are best for your needs shortly, but make sure to keep in mind your objectives and technical experience when choosing the right platform for you.
A hosting platform.
Every website needs a web host to store their website’s information on the internet. A web host is an online service provider that will store your website’s information on one of its online servers. This will put your blog out there to the world. The best web hosts will perform a variety of functions for you, for example, Wix is an all-in-one package that will host your website for you, allow you to register a domain name, and has easy to use website design tools to help you start your blog. Web hosting can be expensive though so make sure you pick the best value for money host that can cater to the amount of traffic you have running through your website. Check out our post on the 11 best hosting providers. [Insert blog link here]
A domain name.
I’m sure by now you already know what sort of blog you want to set up, whether that’s a travel, blog, a blog accompanying your online store, or perhaps an affiliate marketing product review blog. You’ll have a niche and an idea and now all you need is a name. Every website online has what’s called a domain name. It’s included in the website address at the top of your search bar, for example, our domain name is www.digitalsupermarket.com. You’ll need to register a domain name after you purchase a hosting plan, to enable customers to find your site quickly and easily. One good tip is to find a hosting platform like Bluehost or GoDaddy that will provide you with a free domain name when you register for one of their web hosting plans as domain registration can be fairly pricey. Pick a great domain name that is easy for customers to read and type into Google so they can find it easier online. TOP TIP: To increase your blog’s search engine ranking, and to help more people find you on Google, try to pick a domain name that has either a .com or .co.uk ending. These domains often rank a lot higher in Google searches than .org’s, .net’s, and .info’s, and for that reason can be slightly more expensive, yet can help boost your site’s reach and credibility.
The Best Blogging Platforms For You.
There are a wealth of platforms out there catering to all your blogging or online portfolio needs. We have listed some of the main ones below shedding some light on what needs they service and why they might be a great option for you.
WordPress - The best software to give you full customisation.
WordPress is perhaps one of the most renowned blogging platforms in the world, running approximately 35% of the internet. It’s favoured highly by professional bloggers because it gives you total freedom to do whatever you want with your blog. WordPress can help you build your blog using one if its search engine optimised themes, you can customise using its drag and drop website builder tool to create a stunning blog. What’s more, is you’ll be able to use its professional blogging service to post your content online and take advantage of the hundreds of third party app plugins, you can integrate into your blog, to improve automation, add new features, and drive traffic to your site. The only downside of WordPress is that it can be quite technical and can take some time getting used to, but once you’ve got the hang of things, you’ll have great control over everything on your webpage. Pros: Cons:
Domain name registration
Tons of third-party plugins and apps
Technical and can take some getting used to
Not the best if you’re not tech-savvy or are just starting out.
Wix - Best for monetizing your site.
Wix is probably the most streamlined and easiest blog providers. It’s so simple and easy to use, it’s therefore great for anyone just starting out in the blogging world. You can customise one of its stunning templates with Wix’s drag and drop editor, and then upload blog posts to your site by slotting in pictures, gifs, social media buttons, sidebars, and other widgets that will help your blog stand out. One of the coolest features about Wix is its marketplace integration, where you can install a whole variety of third-party applications to your blog to provide your users with greater features and usability. Wix is the perfect all-in-one blogging solution to help you easily build a platform to amplify your business to the world, helping you to make more money, but it can also save you a lot of money as it’s cost-efficient plans roll up, web hosting, blog posting, and domain registration all into one product! Check out our Wix review and our comparison of Wix and Squarespace for a deep dive into Wix’s main blogging features. [Insert link here] Pros: Cons:
Streamlined and easy to use blogging software
Includes as a package, web building tools, domain registration, and web hosting
Tons of third-party plugins and apps on the Wix marketplace
Great platform to help make money and save money on its reasonably priced subscription plans
Don’t get the same full control as you see with WordPress
Locked into using Wix’s templates.
Squarespace - Best for creating visually stunning blogs.
Squarespace is very similar to Wix, in that it is an all-in-one web building and blogging platform that can help you build a blog you can monetize efficiently. It sets itself aside though through its better design and customisation features, making it one of the best platforms on the marketing if you’re looking to design a visually aesthetic blog. I’d recommend using this platform if you are a business operating in some sort of design, arts, or culinary industry. Although it offers minimal template options, Squarespace’s templates are works of art and offer you great customization when building your blog. Plus Squarespace offers a great blogging tool that lets you schedule posts and customize your blog to suit more mobile audiences. Pros: Cons:
Streamlined and easy to use blogging software
Can build a visually stunning blog on Squarespace with its streamlined tools
Excellent blogging features
All-in-one web host, domain registrar, and web builder
Can’t add third-party applications on Squarespace
LinkedIn - Best for blogging businesses.
Aside from setting up a blog on your own site, corporate entities can use LinkedIn to enhance and amplify their presence online. LinkedIn has more than 575 million users, most of whom are professionals and members of corporate conglomerates, and you can use this social platform to target some of the most influential people in the world. If you’re blogging about business this is the perfect platform to use a pre-existing community of people to enhance your social standing. You’ll then be able to build connections and followers on your profile who can easily share your blog on their platform through a couple of simple clicks. Pros: Cons:
Utilise LinkedIn’s pre-existing community of business people to amplify your brand
Target corporate directors and influential people directly through LinkedIn
Check out what people are looking at on LinkedIn and tailor your content to that market
Again you are confined within what LinkedIn’s platform will let you do, it’s not your site and you don’t have full customisation
Instagram - Best for the Artists.
Instagram is one of the biggest blogging sites in the world and without realising it, we are all technically bloggers in some way with our Instagram accounts, right? Ultimately for professional use, it is great for building a portfolio that has some form of visual or graphic eye-catching media around it. Instagram lets you post videos, photos, boomerangs, even write a blog in the photo’s caption if you wanted to! Best of all, Instagram is free, and you can use its business software to link up your online store, to drag users away from your profile, using its product tagging features, and land them in your online checkouts. Our top tip for using Instagram is to post regularly and keep on the theme of your blog. Don’t go off-piste as you’re followers will catch on quickly and unfollow you. And with 1 billion people using the platform each day, it is a great way to gain people’s attention and build your brand’s presence online. Pros: Cons:
Best for the creatives.
Totally free and easy to use interface.
Access to a pre-existing community of people.
Online selling capabilities.
Again you are confined within what Instagram’s platform will let you do, it’s not your site and you don’t have full customisation
The Do’s And Don’ts Of Blogging
Here are a couple of top tips to bear in mind when building your blog to help you create an awesome, lead driven platform.
Don’t use complicated language too soon.
With that in mind, do include language that your target audience will understand. But remember they are still here to learn, so don’t drop people in at the deep end right away by using complex jargon off the bat. Define terms and spell it out in layman’s terms for people at the outset, and as the post goes on, then introduce more complex writing. Introducing technical jargon at the start of your posts is an instant turn off for most readers.
Don’t waffle - Keep it succinct.
People want to get to the punchline now. 43% of people admit to skimming through blogs to get to the information they need, meaning to get your blogging site converting leads, you need to engage the reader early on and offer information succinctly throughout your post. Plus don’t make your blog too long. Depending on what you’re writing, a lot of people will see large volumes of text and will switch off immediately. There is no set limit for what a good and bad amount of text is, that’s something you’ll have to figure out per your industry, but from my experience, the shorter, the better.
Don’t make headlines too long.
Also ensure that your headline is not more than 60 characters long. If it gets too long it won’t rank well in search engines and people just won’t want to read it. Check out this headline analysis tool which will analyse the effectiveness of your proposed headlines.
Don’t plagiarise or use credited images.
Copying other people’s work is lazy and can land you in a lot of hot water in extreme cases if you breach a copyright regulation. But it’s also just unfair on the person who has worked hard or been creative to write that work. The same goes for images, people need to make a living from the content and photos they’re taking so don’t steal that off them.
Do write killer headlines.
People are like goldfish. You only have about 3 seconds to get their attention. That’s why it is important to write catchy, funny, and enticing headlines to draw your reader in. One good way to do it is to use the “How To” and “10 Best” strategies. These sorts of titles telling people ‘How to set up a blog’ or ‘the ten best web hosting platforms’ are search engine optimised, lead winning titles that rank highly in Google searches. Try them out and see!
Do post regularly.
The key to creating a great blog that builds leads is posting regularly. Although it is not the best idea to post regularly. Ideally, you want to post 3-4 times a week to get the best influx of traffic to your site. You’ll also want to check out when’s best to post for your target audience, for example, if you’re in the FOREX market, you’ll want to post your blogs perhaps at 8 AM, before the markets open when city workers are on their staring at their phones on their morning commuter trains to the city.
Do share on social media.
Share your content far and wide on your social platforms. Everyone is on social media these days and its outreach is simply phenomenal. That’s why you should always share your posts to your social channels to get greater traffic on your website, and include share buttons all-around your blog to invite your readers to share your articles too!
Do use SEO keywords to drive more traffic.
In a nutshell, SEO keywords are the phrases people put into search engines when they are looking for information on a certain subject. They are how you get found on your website. Depending on what you are writing about, there is always a set of keywords relating to that topic that you can implement, to help you show up higher in people’s google searches. For example, people might regularly search in google, ‘what is the best compost for growing sunflowers?’ When you come to writing about growing sunflowers in your blog, you might want to use these words or incorporate this question into your blog somewhere, to help you rank higher on Google.
Do use call’s to action to take your readers to the next step.
If you don’t challenge your reader at the end of your blog to follow you on Instagram, or check out your sales pages, you’ll never get the leads or sales you are looking for. With that in mind, build compelling calls to action at the end of each of your posts, to pull readers into taking the next step. Check out our post on landing pages to see a couple of cool ways on how to implement calls to action on your site [insert link here].
Do identify a target audience.
People will often tell you to write as though you were in the shoes of the person you’re looking to bring to your website, but it’s true! Identify what type of people you’re writing to, for instance, if you’re writing a business blog about FOREX trading, you’ll write with potential traders in mind who have one eye on the stock market and the other on your blog. Or if you’re a wedding florist, you’ll set your portfolio up to target those people looking to get married in the next year.
Leads, Sales, Results.
Blogging is one of the most influential marketing strategies in the world and the best bloggers can reap some awesome rewards for producing some truly awesome content. It is fairly straightforward to get started and we advise if you’re a small business, or someone with minimal blogging experience, to try out Wix or Squarespace first before you jump into using more technical platforms like WordPress. Once you’re up and running remember our top tips on what to do and what to avoid when writing your blog. Plus don’t forget to think about optimising and adding useful applications to your site to help you build and grow your content. Check out these 39 awesome blogging tools you can use to drive greater traffic to your site! Found this article useful? Make sure you share it with your friends on Facebook and Twitter and let us know in the comments if you have any other useful blogging tips.
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